Comfort food keeps the soul warm when the temperatures plummet well below zero. Deceivingly simple food made with love and care has a powerful effect on the psyche. To me, that food tastes even better when I have a connection to where the food came from. Unfortunately finding local vegetables from the fall harvest are difficult to come by this time of year.
I often hear stories from older people who grew up on farms and they tell me about how their relationship to food has changed over the years. They tell me there was more exchange within the community for sustenance and less dependency on large scale agriculture and grocery stores. More common were cold storages dug into the ground to keep the harvest for the winter months. The knowledge, need and passion for preserving food was common then and now seems to be held by fewer people. Thankfully, there is a newfound value and interest in exploring food preservation techniques, with folks like myself looking to revitalize those skills.
As a person in search of a deeper understanding of food in community, I often find myself overwhelmed trying to fill my gaps in knowledge. To stay focused I remind myself that I’m not alone on this journey to reconnect with the land. I find comfort in knowing that there is a community of people walking a similar path towards similar goals.
This time next year I’d like to make this dish with ingredients I grew or sourced through community, perhaps substituting rendered animal fat for the sunflower oil.
Apple Maple Baked Beans
3 parts Dry Beans
1.5 parts Canned Tomatoes
0.5 part Onion
1 part Apple
0.5 part Maple Syrup
Apple Cider Vinegar
Pre-soak beans overnight. Cook on stove with tomatoes and enough water to cover the beans by ¼ inch while they cook.
In a separate pan cook onion in sunflower oil until soft. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme and sliced apples and cook for a couple minutes more. Add to the baking dish.
When beans are nearly tender add them to the baking dish and stir in maple syrup.
Cover and bake at 300F until beans are tender, check at 1 hour. Add more water if the beans seem dry. Once tender and the moisture level is where you like it, add a splash of cider vinegar. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
The recipe is written in ratios, so that it may be easily replicated and scaled to a larger or smaller portion. For example, you can read the recipe as 3 cups beans to 1.5 cups canned tomatoes to half an onion to one apple to half a cup maple syrup.