Saturday Night Beans

| 9/30/2015 10:01:00 AM

Mitch LittlefieldIt is a long standing tradition in Maine to have home-baked beans for supper on Saturday nights. This was certainly true in our family. In fact there was somewhat of a silent, but constant, competition between my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, and the wives of my uncles as to who baked the best pot of beans. Each of these ladies had something unique about their beans — something that set theirs apart from the others.

My Uncle Gene’s wife, Wilda, once whispered to me that her secret was the amount of dry mustard she put in the beans. Although it was never spoken, it was certainly implied that I was never, ever, to breach Aunt Wilda’s confidence and tell a living soul of this baked bean secret. I was no dummy … I loved her beans, and knew when to keep my mouth happily filled with her beans, and her secret locked away from “the enemy.”

My Dad was so impressed with my Mom’s baked beans, that he considered turning our garage into a small “baked bean factory.” He thought, with baked beans that good, he stood a chance of becoming the Andrew Carnegie of the baked bean world. I was all for it … I mean being the son of the wealthiest baked bean baron in the world, plus the endless supply of baked beans seemed like a win-win situation to me.

The problem was Dad never took into account that he and Mom were on the edge of divorce and hardly ever spoke to each other.

Aunt Bev, my grandparent’s only daughter, made, in Pup’s words, “A darn fine bean.” Aunt Brenda, Unc Stub’s wife, was no slouch either … her beans always got “good reports,” as Unc Stub was fond of saying. The queen bean baker though, was my grandmother. Mamie’s beans were always perfect … not too hard, not mushy, not too sweet, but not dry either. In fact, it was Mamie who gave me her own little trade secret in the art of bean baking: add a chunked up smoked sausage to the pot about two hours before the beans are done baking for that slightly smoky flavor that really makes the beans something akin to baked bean nirvana.

Another thing that set my grandmothers beans apart from the others was her homemade biscuits.

10/1/2015 8:52:09 AM

Thank you, each and every one of you for honoring me by reading my stories posted here in Grit...and sharing them. I truly appreciate you helping me get "out there". I invite each of you to visit my website or FB page Also, for those of you who may be interested, I have a recently published book of short stories about my life growing up on the three family farms my family owned and operated in the 60s&70's. It's a fun read. Thank you all.

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