Toot! Toot!

A few weeks ago I was passing through the aisles at the grocery store (something I rarely do) when a small red polka-dotty thing caught my eye - it was a bag of Jacob's Cattle Beans.  Now, I'm not sure who Jacob was nor do I know what kind of cattle he had, but those cows must have been colourful for the beans named after him are absolutely beautiful.

I picked up the bag and had a closer look.  They were produced, packaged and sold under the label Maritime Grown.  Because the beans were beautiful, the label somewhat local and the price absolutely right, I put them in the cart for a test-drive.

Every now and then I'll buy something on a whim, simply because it piques my interest in some small way.  Sometimes this adventure results in a cooking epiphany, other times not so much.  However, as it turns out these were no ordinary beans - they were magic beans!

(I'm going to interrupt my story here for just a moment.  It would seem that during the last warm day - Sunday +12 - a fly wandered in to the house.  It is now buzzing around the ceiling and distracting me.  Here we are, in Nova Scotia, where in January we've experienced weather in the double plus digits. Any other time of year this fly would be d-e-d, but because it happens to be the middle of January, he's an anomaly and a reminder of the coming spring when hoards of these annoyances will be hovering around the window screens, banging their tiny fly-fists, begging to get in. Anyways, back to our regularly scheduled program).

It has been quite some time since we had beans and toast for supper and it always reminds me of being a kid in my parent's home.  And because I thought of it early enough in the day to prepare the beans properly,  it was baked beans or bust!

I have not been terribly successful in making this dish, so I consulted Epicurious, my first go-to recipe source.  Unhappy with the results, I next went to Mark Bitner's How To Cook Everything.  I was almost going to prepare the recipe in HTCE, when the bean package itself caught my eye.  Of course, written on the back were instructions for soaking the beans as well as a recipe for baked beans.  Why not?

While preparing the beans, I assumed that "Maritime Grown" meant that the beans came from somewhere in New Brunswick or PEI or something.  After reading the fine print, I discovered Maritime Grown meant the beans actually came from Nova Scotia, in fact were grown and packaged by Webster Farms - only 40kms from us!

Well, that sealed the deal for me - we'd have a locavore supper! Beans from South Mountain, Tim's home-made maple syrup, Valley onions, Clyde's amazing maple-smoked bacon and organic bread from Marie Et Guy's!  Sadly our supper wasn't 100% local - the brown sugar was from Montreal and the spices from across the globe.

I prepared the beans (I can now finally say I've soaked beans properly) by boiling method.  Because the beans come in 2lb bags, the bag recipe differs from the online recipe by a factor of 2. So, I halved the recipe on the bag except for the bacon - doubled that - substituted maple syrup for the molasses and threw everything in to the slow cooker.   Throughout the day I'd get a whiff of something sickeningly sweet, and wonder if I'd be able to eat the results.  But suppertime came and we were all hungry.  I cut the bread, popped it in the toaster, slathered some local butter on top and served the beans. Yummy!

Even the boy finished up!

(...and there was enough for breakfast this morning!)

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