Our next stop on the 50 states, 50 recipes tour is;
State capital: Boston
Largest City: Boston
Admission to the Union: February 6th, 1788
As of 2005, there were 7,700 farms in Massachusetts encompassing a total of 520,000 acres (2,100 km2), averaging 68 acres (0.28 km2) apiece. Almost 2,300 of Massachusetts’ 6,100 farms grossed under $2,500 in 2007. Particular agricultural products of note include tobacco, livestock, and fruits, tree nuts, and berries, for which the state is nationally ranked 11th, 17th, and 16th, respectively. Massachusetts is the second largest cranberry producing state in the union (after Wisconsin). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts
In my search for all things Massachusetts I discovered these sites that tell all about tourism- one of the biggest industries in the state;
I have to face the fact that even though the state of Massachusetts has more to it than the city of Boston, when you think of Massachusetts that’s what comes to mind first. In our early American history classes we discuss the city of Boston and events that made it famous. There was Paul Revere’s infamous ride that occurred near Boston. There is the Boston Tea Party in which our rebellious forefathers dumped English tea into the harbor in protest of high taxes. And there is Plymouth Rock and Plymouth colony near Boston, the cradle of America as we know it’s birth. If you are a real history buff perhaps you know about another famous city in Massachusetts where witches were burned during the American version of the Inquisition. Salem holds a special interest for me and if I ever have the chance to visit Massachusetts it’s on the list of places to visit. And of course there is the fictional Boston as well, where the TV show “Cheers” makes us all long for a place where everyone knows our name. I couldn’t visit the state of Massachusetts without making one of it’s most famous dishes- Boston Baked Beans. In my journey I also discovered another dish that is often served with Boston Baked Beans- known as Boston Brown Bread! So this week you get 2 for the price of one!
BOSTON BAKED BEANS
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes Total Time: 2 hours, 40 minutes
1 (16-ounce) package navy or pea beans
6 cups water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 pound bacon, diced
1 small onion, chopped
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
In a large pot, soak navy or pea beans overnight in 6 cups water. Next day, drain beans and return to pot. Add another 6 cups water and baking soda. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and drain in a colander over a large bowl; reserve liquid. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In an ungreased bean pot or large casserole dish, combine beans, bacon, and onion. Add molasses, salt, brown sugar, ground mustard powder, pepper, and a cup of reserved liquid; stir until well blended. Cover bean pot or casserole dish. Bake, covered, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Add remaining liquid and stir again. Bake another 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. Uncover last 30 minutes of baking. Remove from oven and serve. Yield: 8 servings
Source: What’s Cooking America by Linda Stradley and Andra Cook (Falcon Publishing)
Reprinted with permission. http://homecooking.about.com/od/vegetablerecipes/r/blv117.htm
BROWN BREAD-This is best made the night before, this way the flavor will be enhanced and you can clean up some of the mess the night before. I wrap the bread in foil, freeze a couple and just reheat in the oven. This is also a nice bread to bring camping or hiking. Keep in the can and just heat near the campfire (away from direct flames).
Sift together 1 cup sifted rye flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon soda, and 1 teaspoon salt; stir in 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Add 2 cups buttermilk, 1 cup raisins, and 3/4 cup dark molasses; beat well. Divide batter among 4 greased and floured 16-ounce fruit or vegetable cans (labels removed). Cover tightly with foil. Place on rack in deep kettle; add boiling water to depth of 1 inch (cans should not be resting in water). Cover; steam 3 hours, adding more boiling water if needed. Bread is done when it has risen almost to fill the can and the center has puffed slightly. (If center remains indented, steam 15 minutes or so more). Cool 10 minutes. Remove bread, best done by removing bottom of can and pushing bread out of can. Wrap; store overnight. Makes 4. http://www.worldpath.net/~hiker/recipe.htm
I’ve been cooking for several years and the one thing you think I would learn early on is to really read the recipe before I make it. If I were giving these recipes a road trip analogy this recipe would be a detour, or let’s just say in all honesty that if I had read the map I wouldn’t have gotten so lost! The first issue was finding all the right tools for the brown bread- it’s a unique bread because it’s prepared by steaming it rather than baking. Thankfully I’m a canner and had canning supplies to use when making the bread but finding the right size tin cans became an issue for me. I ended up with 20 oz cans rather than the required 16 oz cans.
The beans presented another issue in that I didn’t read correctly how long they would take to cook. The recipe says 2 hours 40 minutes… but truthfully it’s more like 5-6 hours of total cooking time plus soaking beans overnight. And to carry through the road trip analogy I’d have to say like any good road trip there are places you fall in love with and places you’d rather not visit again… I’m not a huge fan of beans of any kind… so I wasn’t enthusiastic about my visit to Bean Town! Our stop in Boston was longer than I has anticipated and the outcome was delicious, but not something I’d ever have again. In other words- it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there!
I am lucky enough to have a grocery store nearby with a large organic section that had the beans, and all the flours available. The second blessing is that the store’s organic section allows you to pour your own ingredients, so I was able to get just what I needed in flours and beans rather than have a package with ingredients that would go to waste.
For the bread I had most of the staples of cinnamon, allspice, baking soda, baking powder and Crisco to line the cans. Molasses is usually found in the syrup section of the store, buttermilk comes in a small pint which is exactly what the recipe took, and rather than use raisins I substituted Craisins to honor Massachusetts’ other export of cranberries- not to mention SGM Martha hates raisins!
For the beans I used salt pork rather than bacon… salt pork has more fat than bacon and is a little more difficult to dice, but the taste is far superior to me. Luckily the molasses from the bread was more than enough to use in the beans and everything else I had on hand aside from the beans.
mix dry ingredients, mix in wet ingredients, batter will turn out dark brown
prepare tin cans for baking, pour batter into cans, steam bake in canning pot
cans cannot rest in water! remove from cans and serve!
BOSTON BAKED BEANS-
boil beans with baking soda, dice onions and salt pork
drain beans and save water, mix in pork, onions and 1 cup bean water, stir in molasses and other ingredients- bake for 2-3 hours then add rest of bean water
bake un-covered for last 1/2 hour and serve with brown bread!
A nice place to visit, but again I wouldn’t want to live there. Cooking both the beans and the bread took the night before and most of the following day. You start the beans by soaking the night before, in water. This softens them and makes them take the flavor more easily. The bread is supposed to be done the night before so the flavor can settle in and be enhanced. Having not read my directions carefully, I didn’t make the bread until the day of, but it seemed fine to me.
The other issue with the bread is that it steam bakes. I used my canning equipment which included a large pot and a rack for holding the cans above the water. As SGM Martha said, “This is hobo bread” and I kind of like the idea that this bread is made the same way it would have been made in colonial times.
The beans easily took 5 hours to cook, and I would imagine the longer they cook the more flavor they have- but I was on a tight schedule. After last week’s debacle of almost burning down the house I decided to share the recipe’s outcome with more than just my family and the fiery oven made me think of sharing with the fire department. Given that we all keep a different schedule having a sit down family meal on a Friday evening wasn’t happening, but my local fire department has at least 4-5 people on duty every Friday evening. My plan was to deliver everything by 6pm and the length of cooking time almost kept this from happening. Luckily with a little planning and attention to detail the meal was done in time for delivery to the fire department.
Review: scale of 1-5 stars; the more stars the better
Ease of preparation: * must have all the correct tools for recipe to be followed and literally an all day cooking time
Cost of ingredients: *****All the ingredients are inexpensive and easy to find
Taste: ****I am not a fan of beans, but this was very sweet- even the guys at the fire station liked these recipes. The bread is an acquired taste, to me it was very much like an oatmeal cookie Nutrition: ***** very low in calories, good source of protein with the beans, no white flours all natural ingredients!
The beans have a watery texture to them more akin to a soup than the canned version of baked beans you can get from the store. The bread as I said before has an oatmeal cookie texture and flavor to it- with a bit of a gingerbread taste that lingers as well. The boys at my local fire department gave the beans and brown bread the seal of approval. I suspect they were just being polite, but SGM Martha assured me that the beans were delicious- I had a taste, but as I don’t like beans to begin with have no way to judge the quality. The boys at the fire department are very excited about next Friday’s meal which will be from Connecticut. So until next week- May all your journeys be safe and your eats be good!