Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Beans of Love

Dear reader, I have discovered a true love potion. It was not what I imagined, not at all my vision of oil of rose and powder of dove with a pinch of mystery mixed under the light of the full moon.

Turns out it's Baked Beans.

I know, I felt the same way. If you told me Boston Baked Beans paved the road to true love, I would've refused to date you. But hear me out: on 4th of July, my boyfriend and I went to his mom's house to celebrate the holiday with the fam. My contribution was homemade Boston Baked Beans, prepared in my slowcooker from scratch. It's a dish I feel all native Californians could learn more about; I was doing my part. They were a hit; I made them with turkey bacon because his family is 'healthy'~ they can't help it, they're from here~ and the beans turned out nicely balanced between sweet and savory with a teensy kick from the cider vinegar to keep it interesting.

When the festivities ended, he and I headed to the LBC (Long Beach, that is) to see if we could catch the fireworks down by the water. Snoop Dogg blaring, wheels bouncing, we finally made it off the 710 to discover the cops were blocking all roads into the LBC. I guess the party reached capacity.
"Why don't we drive up the coast and try to find another spot by the water where we can watch fireworks," he suggested. He's not usually a 'let's go to the ocean' kind of guy, but I love to be by the water and it wasn't that late. Why not? As we drove the cars thinned out and the surroundings became increasingly suburban. We ended up somewhere in Palos Verdes, and I thought, 'We're lost. He has no idea where he's going. It's getting late, the fireworks are done for tonight.' I looked at the clock and decided I'd go another ten minutes before saying, 'Baby, I'm tired. Can we go home?'
30 seconds later we pulled off the side of the road onto a bluff overlooking the ocean. There were no streetlights. In the moonlight the ocean was vast and black, and when we looked up the stars shone brilliantly where the water began. We pointed out the few constellations we knew, "Is that w-shaped one the crab?" and then fell into silence.
He turned to me after a few moments and said, "Tory, I'm so glad we're best friends," and I answered, "I know, this last year has been wonderful with you Adam. I'm so glad we found each other."
Pop! About 50 yards away there was a hiss and crack as a wily teenager set off two elaborate (and illegal) glorious purple fireworks. We both were stunned and still for a few seconds as the lavender lights faded. As I turned I said, "Wow, I guess we got fireworks after all," and there he was on one knee, ring in hand.
"Tory Davis, will you marry me?" Before I could respond he jumped up and said, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you!" My hand shook as I said, "Nothing would make me happier."
We spent the rest of the evening tearing up and making out. I feel like we said our vows that night, in between weeping and kissing.

So here is my favorite photo of us, and the recipe for slow-cooked Boston Baked Beans. They taste best the day after you make them. I can't guarantee they'll bring you love, but it worked for me!

Beans of Love

serves 6 as a side dish

2 cups dried great Northern beans (they're white in the bag)

2 strips thick-cut bacon, sliced into thin strips (I like Niman Ranch)
1 small white or yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
5 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup maple syrup, ideally B grade
1 bay leaf
1 tbs. dry mustard
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
pinch ground cloves

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tsp. salt

Rinse and sort beans. Soak overnight in enough water to cover, or pour boiling water to cover and let sit for an hour. (Or do neither and just let them cook longer at the end.) Drain.
Saute bacon, onion and garlic in slow-cooker until bacon is crisp and onion is soft. Add beans, water, molasses, maple syrup, bay leaf, dry mustard, ginger and ground cloves. Cover; cook 6 to 8 hours on medium until beans are tender.
Stir in cider vinegar and salt; cook at least a half hour more, until beans are tender and tasty.
Serve immediately, or the next day when they'll taste much better.