Perfect fare for a rainy evening
There are mornings when we all fly out of bed ready to seize the day and conquer the world.
Other mornings inevitably make me want to snuggle down, cuddle up and listen to the rain drumming on the roof and hear the branches of the vine maple dancing against the deck in the wind.
That's my kind of morning, and this past Monday was definitely one of those.
I knew without ever opening my eyes it was a day deliciously destined to be spent in the kitchen, giving an occasional stir to a bubbling pot and keeping an eye on a batch of bread mixed, kneaded and on the rise.
I also knew I had all the makings to pull off a perfect rainy night supper -- something lifted right out of the pages of my childhood, and one of Daddy's absolute all-time favorite things. Ham and beanders, as he called it.
A nice tossed salad and a favorite hot bread -- garlic, corn, beer bread, biscuits, damper or a plain homemade loaf of whatever suits your fancy -- are all you need to round out the menu.
Will you like, let alone love, this humble old-time classic of my family's? Maybe. Maybe not. But I sure hope you will, so here we go with:
Ham and beanders
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large or 2-3 small ribs celery, thinly sliced (limp celery is fine for this)
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 meaty ham bone (figure at least 2 cups or more edible ham)
1 bay leaf
Pinch marjoram (optional)
2 cups uncooked great northern beans
6¼ cups water
Johnny's Dock or other favorite seasoning salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Tapatio or other liquid hot-pepper seasoning to taste
Chopped sweet onion to taste
Turn onion, celery and garlic into Dutch oven or large, heavy saucepan with a lid.
Shove ham down into vegetables and move it around so it's on the bottom of the pan, surrounded by the vegetables.
Break bay leaf in half and drop into pan along with marjoram.
Pick over, rinse and drain beans; add to pan, sprinkling around ham on top of the vegetables. Add water and bring to boil; cover and simmer slowly, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 3½ hours, give or take, until beans are tender but not mushy.
Lift pan off heat, lift out ham bone and ham and set aside until cool enough to handle. Cut meat into bite-size pieces, discarding fat, gristle and bones; return to pan, season with Johnny's Dock, pepper and Tapatio and heat until hot and bubbling, stirring frequently.
Serve topped with chopped onion.
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