Bean Hole Beans in the Snow

splitwood.jpgThis past week we brought our history lesson to the garden by digging a hole in the ground, burning lots of dry hardwood and loading in our bean pot to cook overnight. The activity was decided on after the students read about one of Maine’s oldest traditions of cooking in the ground, a process that was developed by the Penobscot Tribe.

News article – Click here

digb-ean.jpgThe Penobscots taught the early loggers of the North Woods how to cook in this manner. The Cook and Cookee working the logging camps could stay a day ahead and downriver from the loggers by leaving the beans cooking in a cast iron pot under ground for the loggers to enjoy for breakfast the next morning. This gave the workers a good high protein start to the day.

beandugup.jpgOur bean dinner worked out just right. It was the first snowfall of the season as we warmed up with hot bowls of bean hole beans. Many students brought in cornbread and our talented lunch ladies made molasses cookies to finish off the meal. Micheala and Kaitlyn recommended the Logger beans, while Tyler B. preferred the Penobscot recipe. Mr. Tanguay told stories about Maine logging camps, where beans were served at every meal and provided good nutrition and energy.

beanclass.jpgOther upcoming projects this month include the production of reusable grocery totes and aprons. Fabric, thread, sewing machines, and parent volunteers are requested. Trail repair and bridge building, hoophouse construction, wreath making and bird feeder design are also planned for December.

beanmeal.jpgBean Hole Recipes

4lbs. of Yellow Eye (Great Northern or Jacob’s Cattle are also good) beans soaked overnight. (We don’t par boil as it seems to make the beans mushy and toughens the skins). Dig a hole at least three feet deep and wide. Layer the bottom with flat rocks and burn lots of dry hard wood until you have a ten inch bed of coals. Carefully lay the pot in the coals with a wet towel placed tightly between pot and lid (wet burlap placed over the pot makes for cleaner beans). Cover with dirt, tarp and load with raked leaves for extra insulation.

*Consistant heat is the key to great beans.

The Penobscot Recipe (our interpretation):

  • 2-3 cups of wild onions
  • 1 cup wild carrots (Queen Anne’s Lace)
  • 2 cups maple sryup
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-4 teaspoons dry hot mustard
  • 4 sliced apples
  • 1 lb. moose meat or deer venison

goodbeans.jpgThe Logger’s Recipe ( my uncle’s version):

  • 2 THMS garden onions
  • 1 1/2 cups molasses
  • 1 cup maple sryup
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-4 teaspoons dry hot mustard
  • 4 sliced apples
  • 1 lb. smoked ham hock (sliced). Place at bottom of pot. Layer onion, molasses and beans. Cover remaining ingredients and pour in hot water to just cover beans.

Carefully pull out the beans making sure to brush away all of the dirt before opening the lid. Serve with lots of corn or brown bread, apple cider and molasses cookies.

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