Chapter 55: COVID Chronicles

By Karen

Day 72

Fat Chives & A Big Batch of Beans

I think the chives (scallions, whatever) are ready to harvest. It’s amazing how they regenerated in just 12 days. The pointy ones are new shoots, the flat-tops are regrowth of the originals from Food Lion…

And here’s the poor runt, Day 10 to Day 12…

It grew, but come on, runt! Over the weekend I’ll cut them back and plant the bulbs (including runt) in potting soil to see what happens. The cats will take more interest in this new phase of the experiment because they love digging in dirt.

Last night I made pork and beans for my father because my mother isn’t much into fiber. I use 16 oz. of dried Great Northern beans, and usually soak them overnight. But time was short, so I just rinsed and boiled them hard. Naturally, my culinary kitty supervised…

Once boiling, I added kosher salt to the water, lowered the heat to a simmer and covered. They took about 90 minutes to soften. Meanwhile, I assembled and had my ingredients inspected by the FDA (Feline Dietary Authority), who made sure there was extra bacon so I’d have to offer a bribe in exchange for his approval…

I eyeball everything, so I can’t give specific quantities except there’s a large diced onion and six strips of crumbled bacon.

Originally, my intent was to make beans that look like what’s in a can, but not mushy. Depending on whether you want them tomatoey, tangy or sweet, you can go heavier on whatever you like. You can’t break this recipe.

First, I add the onion. Usually I’ll sautée it, but I was on a deadline so I threw it in raw.

Then go heavy squirts of ketchup and BBQ sauce, followed by lesser amounts of mustard, molasses, honey, and the bacon crumbled. I used to use brown sugar instead of honey, but found honey is tastier. This is what they look like after I throw in everything…

Then I stir…

Covering again, I left them on very low heat to cook the onions and meld the flavors. For richer color, I did end up adding more ketchup and BBQ sauce.

After an hour of simmering, they were done, but a bit too tart for my taste, so I gave them another heavy squirt of molasses. That did the trick. I think molasses is the key to the richness I’m going for.

Once cool, I put half-cup servings into Ziploc® bags for freezing. This batch made 5 1/2 cups. Bags save a lot of space; the beans slip out cleanly after thawing. Tony gave his final inspection before I put them in the fridge overnight…

My father just picked them up. He likes them with a couple of hot dogs. It’s a New England thing.


8 Responses to Chapter 55: COVID Chronicles

  1. Anita says:

    Karen, I’m making Santa Maria style beans to take to my friend’s country home on Sunday. She is grilling tri tip. I make these with pinto beans. So happy I grew up with a southern mother that cooked beans all the time. My husband likes beans too. I have friends that think they are gross. I was just reading about using baking soda in my beans and my mother didn’t do that. Have you tried that?

    Your scallions look wonderful! My continue to grow in the wet paper towel. Maybe I’ll never have to buy green onions again.

    Our restaurants are opening here at noon today. Everyone is wondering what will happen although I think lots of people are going to be gone this weekend with school officially out as of yesterday. i’m not certain where they are going but they aren’t here.

    I saw in Germany where a town opened its beer gardens that you had to show up with a mask and give them your contact info before you were able to go in. That way if someone came down with Covid they could contact you. Can you imagine that happening here? People could remove their masks to eat but had to have them on otherwise.

    The best news out of the Covid world this week is the virus doesn’t spread easily on surfaces. I bought groceries today and still sprayed things down when I came home. It’s just becoming second hand to do that.

    Wishing you a safe and healthy weekend whatever you may (or not) be doing.

  2. catsworking says:

    Anita, what do you put in Santa Maria beans? I’ve never cooked with pinto beans. The only other ones I use are baby limas and kidney beans. I don’t think my sister or mother like beans.

    I once made veggie burgers with kidney beans that weren’t too bad.

    I’ve never put baking soda in beans. It’s supposed to make them less gassy.

    My father just got home and wrote that his favorite liquor store was closed (they’ve been closing if an employee tests positive), and the other one he went to, half the people weren’t wearing masks.

    I saw the news about surfaces and hope they’re right. That would make things a bit easier, but I’m sure it’s like cold and flu germs. If someone infected touches and doorknob and you go in right behind them, then touch your face, you could get sick.

    I didn’t bleach the groceries I got at Food Lion two weeks ago before putting them away, so I guess nothing I brought in was infected.

  3. Anita says:

    Karen, here is the recipe. If you googled it you would see 1000 different variations but this is the “classic” style. Santa Maria is a town on the Central Coast of California and the Santa Maria BBQ was born there. I didn’t know anything about this until I once again married my husband. My sister in law is from there. It’s traditionally service with Tri Tip, these beans, salsa ,pan fried garlic bread and other yummy things. In August they have a huge Santa Maria BBQ festival that I’ve never been to and always wanted to go. Guess it won’t be this year.

    Santa Maria Style Beans
    1 pound pinquito beans
    1 strip bacon, diced
    1/2 cup ham, diced
    1 clove garlic
    3/4 cup tomato puree
    1/4 cup red chile sauce*
    1 teaspoon dry mustard
    1 tablespoon sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    * Las Palmas brand, not to be confused with chili sauce, which is like hot catsup. Similar to enchilada sauce.

    You make the beans like normal. This says “pinquito” which are small pink beans but Safeway didn’t have them so I bought pinto which is an acceptable substitute. Fry the bacon, and add the ham and garlic. I have leftover frozen ham from Easter. And put the rest in and cook for 30 minutes. I was happy to find the Las Palmas chili sauce today. Sometimes it’s not in stock.

    Everyone at Safeway today was masked up, except for some older customers. What in the world?? I can only think they must be Fox viewers because they are really the ones that should be wearing them.

    Don’t think I would be happy that someone had Covid at my liquor store. Or even my grocery store.

    Have you see Dr. Osterholm on MSNBC? I am so impressed with him I downloaded his Podcast. So interesting to listen to the first one he made on March 23. He said a world of hurt was coming and he was right.

    He said it’s possible cases could stay low, or it might just flame out but it could also come back in the fall even worst and we need to prepare for that now. I told my husband I am stocking up on things again in August when the Covid cases could be low and people think it is over when it’s not.

    But one thing he did say was to keep an eye on cases in your area and if they start spiking then you know to take extreme caution again. i’m doing just that! They publish a daily total in this county by town of active cases and deaths, so I can easily track this. We have about 80,000 people where I live and only 49 cases and 3 deaths. I think that’s pretty good. People really did stay home.

  4. catsworking says:

    The big difference I see in this recipe is the type of beans, garlic, and chili sauce. I would like it for myself, so maybe I’ll try it.

    My county has had a tad over 1,000 cases but only 29 deaths. I haven’t been out in two weeks so I don’t know how the masks are going. I was glad my father showed up today at my door wearing his. I had mine on.

    I went into this mess pretty well stocked because I buy a replacement when I open something (in fact, I still haven’t even opened that last 6-pack of TP I had when this all started 11 weeks ago. Wegmans toilet paper lasts FOREVER). But over the summer I will be stocking up for when this hits again in the fall, because we know it will, and it may be even worse. They’re saying it’s already starting in the South.

    The only silver lining is that the ones most likely to die are maskless Trump supporters. Fuck them all to hell. May they strut around all summer with their guns until they get sick and die horrible deaths. Hope the hospitals have no room for them and they die in the streets and stray dogs feast on their corpses. They will not be mourned. The world will be better off without their evil stupidity.

    My callousness is not their fault. They can thank Trump. I was thinking the other day that I leave the room when TV shows get too violent, but I would actually buy pay-per-view to see Trump subjected to any barbaric medieval torture or execution you could name. And I would laugh and applaud watching him suffer. I hate him that much. Now that he’s killed tens of thousands of people through his own selfishness and ignorance, we haven’t invented a torture heinous enough to inflict on him.

  5. Anita says:

    Karen, I totally agree. Sounds like he went golfing today or at least was going to try. Honestly the 4 hours he is on a golf course is 4 hours he isn’t causing trouble, so I really don’t mind.

  6. catsworking says:

    Anita, he’s at his Trump golf club in Sterling, Virginia. I hope somebody infected coughs or sneezes right in his smug orange face.

    But you’re right. As long as he’s playing golf, he’s not destroying anything important.

    Little tidbit I got off Twitter just now. Photo of Trump in his SUV this morning. He wears glasses. Too vain to ever let himself be seen in them in public, and it may also explain some of his difficulties reading and walking on stairs. Like wearing a mask, he thinks nothing must hide that hideous, bloated blob he calls a face.

  7. Anita says:

    Karen, I had to get on Twitter and find that photo. You are right. And his driver is wearing a mask! He is such an asshole. Did you also see on Twitter about how Trump is thinking of moving the pandemic response to Pompeo in the State Department and put Birx as the head of it?

    I hate Pompeo almost as much as Trump. Not certain if I told you when I was in Rome in October, Pompeo also happened to be there. He shutdown my pre-paid tour of the Vatican the first day he was in town and also closed part of the Coliseum tour I was on the 2nd day. I couldn’t believe it! We actually saw Pompeo and his 30 black car entourage and police escot service arrive at the Coliseum. No wonder he is drunk with power. He caused all of that commotion and a waste of both the US and Italy taxpayer dollars for a 5 minute photo op in the middle of the Colliseum.

    We also saw Newt Gingrich and his wife (the Holy See Ambassador, can I barf now) at dinner just down the street from our hotel. Here I left this country to escape these assholes and they were everywhere I turned.

  8. catsworking says:

    Anita, I think I saw that everyone in the White House is now required to wear a mask — to protect Trump. But he can go around spewing virus on anyone he pleases.

    I don’t think you told us about Pompeo, but I do remember you and Newt. I’d like to see Pompeo stood before a firing squad. I’d have been royally pissed to have my vacation disrupted in any way by that fat bastard.

    It’s like they’re all throwbacks or reincarnations of people who lived in the most decadent royal courts in history. They think we exist for their pleasure and to provide unlimited wealth for them to whatever they desire. And we know what happened to a lot of them when the people finally had enough of their bullshit.

    I’ve been tied up most of the day (as you’ll see from Chapter 56), so I didn’t see about Trump moving the response to the State Department, which makes utterly no sense. And Birx? I think yesterday she was telling everybody it’s fine to play golf. And lo and behold, today Trump DID IT! It’s so funny, you can’t even see his hand up her dress making her mouth move.

    I’ve begun to tune that zombie bitch out as much as I do Trump. You can’t trust a word she says. If she’s actually an MD and not a PhD, her license to practice should get yanked.

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