Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dinner Party Series: Beans is Beans

Durned if it wasn’t a dark and stormy night! We was goin’ campin’ but it was rainin’ so hard that we had t camp indoors!

Who says a dinner party has to have witty adult conversation, pretty china, and an elegantly served meal? Who says everyone has to use their adult manners and indoor voices and be on their best behavior? What if we all just ... let loose?

We don’t want none o’ them fancy plates or lah-de-dah drinkin’ cups, neither. Anythin’s good nuff fer us. An’ beans! We gotta have beans! That’s what camp cook-outs is all about!

We hosted a very special dinner party Friday night. 
We took our grand-daughters camping. The sounds of the night, the warmth of the campfire, and the satisfaction of a simple but filling dinner all worked their magic, so that each of us fell fast asleep by 8:45. Because it really was a dark and stormy night, camping outdoors was out of the question.

The night sounds were delivered via iPod, the campfire was safely behind glass in the living room, and dinner was a mess o’ beans with Skillet Biscuits on the side. 

All you need to employ this idea - part of a series indexed as Dinner Party - is a tent, grandchildren d'un certain âge, and beans  ... lots and lots of beans! For an authentic “camp feeling, we provided a few optional extras, as the photos below will show. 

What they don’t show - I was moving too fast to take pictures - is the open-flame Japanese cooker I set up on the living room coffee table. After preparing beans + bacon + wieners in the kitchen, I reheated everything in a large cast-iron pot over the cooker before slopping the beans onto the metal pie pans that served as plates. The same cooker warmed the chocolate for the marshmallows that were dessert (see the Index under Candy and Confections: Marshmallows in the Embers). But I’m getting ahead of myself here. 

It all started with the tent. Ours, I must confess, was slightly on the stinky side, thanks to our not having dried it well enough after a camping adventure with a different batch of grandchildren. A heavy dose of pine-scented room deodorizer and plenty of airing more or less fixed the problem (“Grandma ... What’s that smell? “It’s the pines, dear! Eat your beans!”)

It all starts with a tent.

And ahhhh! Those beans! Just as beans are essential to any cook-out, watching the Bean Scene from Blazing Saddles is also essential.

I combined our canned beans with softly fried chunks of bacon (see Note) and three boiled wieners, chopped into pieces.  

Beans is beans, even when you gussy them up

The shock of the night came in seeing that my usual brand of beans had gone all hoity-toity on me with fancy flavors. There are now Beans with Pork and Molasses, Beans with Smoky Molasses Sauce, Beans with Brown Sugar and Bacon, and Beans with Pork and Tomato Sauce. They all tasted the same to me, but let’s ask an expert. Tex ..?

Everbuddy knows beans is beans!  Everbuddy that’s sensible ordnary folks. Put all them beans in a tastin’ contest and they’s all the same - anyway, anyhow, you betcha (’ceptin’ fer them Etta Mammy beans them high falutin’ New York folks eats with their fingies).

So now you know! Beans is beans. All three flavors bubbled away on the cooker on the coffee table. At the end of the day, they tasted exactly as beans always do - no better, no worse. 

But back to our tent! Campers need books to stimulate the mind!

Perhaps todays kids are more sophisticated than we were ...

We provided our young campers with flashlights, and with an amazing device theyd never seen before - a transistor radio!

The kids lost interest in the radio after discovering they couldnt play Super Mario 3D World on it, but they put the flashlights to good use once night came on.

The kids insisted the kitchen-sink water they drank from Mason jars had actually come from “the old watering hole.” As campers do, they endured hardships, washing their hands and faces in an old tub and hanging their towels out to dry. 

It was difficult, but they whiled away the long, lonely hours with only the comfort of their iPads and an old Stars Wars movie ...

Morning found the children greatly refreshed. 

And why wouldn’t they be? They were full of beans!

It wasn’t long before we’d rustled up a camp-fire breakfast to send them on their way. 

Seldom have we had more fun at a dinner party! We’ll hang on to our tent for awhile. The next generation of campers is growing up fast!

My recipe for Skillet Biscuits appears in the post, below.

Note: Save the bacon fat for frying these camp-style biscuits!

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