12/18/2011

Half Baked


They are half baked you know...the beans that are simmering in the oven, and have been doing so since about 10:00 am this morning.
I rarely make baked beans, but yesterday I passed the little white rocks in the baking section at the grocery store, and thought..it's time.
The recipe I'm using is a combination of what's on the back of the Thompson Pea Bean package for Old Fashioned Baked Beans, and my mom's recipe in her book, the The Northern Cookbook. Her's calls for stewed tomato as well as ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard etc. Thompon's omits the tomato and uses less salt, less sugar, less everything really.
So used  the lesser bits of Thompson's recipe, and added the stewed (home made!) tomato as well.
I put all the ingredients together into a traditional bean pot and stuck it in the oven hoping to be able to eat it for dinner. That will work.
Then I went Christmas shopping, gathering up the last gifts I need to make family and friends feel appreciated. It's so un -Christmassy here this year...no snow, mild temperatures, rain sometimes...just plain weird. The Ottawa River is still wide open and it's December 18th! While  family is spread across Canada and the U.S.,  some of us will be getting together while others will be dearly missed. So, must say, I'm not feelling the Christmas spirit so much.
The older I get, and the further away from the day to day involvement in my kids lives, the harder it is to find those little moments that say, "Ahhh, so this is Christmas."
But I do find it it eventually. Found some of it today in fact, when I was driving to town to shop and listening to CBC Radio and the Vinyl Cafe. Today it was  Dave Cooks a Turkey story day read by Stuart McLean. And it felt like putting on a comfortable pair of slippers after finally taking off the ungodly high-heeled boots that always scrunch my toes!
Dave got me to thinking about other Christmas traditions that I have -and carry just for me in my heart. Another one also involves CBC Radio, and Alan Maitland's reading of The Shepherd every Christmas Eve. Makes me cry every time I hear it, but they're happy little tears.
Another tradition I have is to read the Letter from  My Grandfather to his children during the World War II. It's a poignant, heartfelt letter from a father that I can't read without a kleenex at hand. I'm so proud of his talent and literary genius, and prouder yet to be a part of his legacy. My kids always used to roll their eyes and silently smirk the smirk of kids being uncomfortable with love expressed publicly...but they listened, and they each "get it" now. The love of family that defines who we are every day, not just Christmas day.
So the beans...back to what started this whole thought process. I finished my shopping, and drove home. I arrived to a quiet house, with a fire softly glowing and the whole place smelling like home made bread and baked beans. It was like walking in to a warm, gentle hug from my Mom. The feeling was immediate and comforting. Mom died in January, 1979 and I haven't felt her prescence in a long, long time 'though I do think of her often. This was different. This felt like home, a hug and Christmas.
And so I think I'll have to add home made  baked beans to the list of where Christmas lives traditions.

7 comments:

David said...

Not half baked at all! A lovely story.
Merry Christmas Susan!

Susan said...

Thanks David...and Merry Christmas to you too.

Dave said...

Very good Christmas story. I am having a hard time feeling the Christmas spirit this year, myself. I am very busy. Moving into a new house this week and so my focus has been on the preparations for that. My boys are far away - Kemptville and Vancouver. But distance can have a way of shrinking at Christmas and I will be in touch with them this weekend.

Kelly said...

...really enjoyed reading this one, Susan. Merry Christmas!

Red said...

You made excellent mileage out of the beans and told a great story to boot.

robin andrea said...

A wonderful story, Susan. So warm and lovely. I don't celebrate Christmas, but I do appreciate the heartfelt festivities that take place at this time of the year.

Interesting that you are having a warm December. Here too. No snow and dazzling blue skies. A little bit scary to consider a dry winter, but so pleasurable to be this warm.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

DUTA said...

I'm all for traditions, roots, faith, belonging. We live in a harsh world and all these keep us going.
You're a great narrator. I've enjoyed reading this post.