Mighty Fine Beans Cookie!
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Diary and Notes
The sun beat down, hot on Kwai Chang's neck, his arms ached from the long day of pounding rivets into the ground. He had taken work building the iron road between Sacramento and Marysville. It was hard being here in America, but the search for his half-brother must go on and moving with the Chinese labourers afforded him annonymity and shelter. His Shaolin training gave him the discipline to labour hard, to take joy in the work, but even the a Shaolin priest must rest and eat.
Cain avoided the other Chinese for he knew that it would be amongst the American's that the information he sought would be found. He often walked the long dusty road into town from the base at Sutter Creek, suffering the abuse of the locals who didn't take too kindly to Chinamen. Dusk had fallen and Cain sat resting, in deep meditation, his mind an empty vessel, alert, sharp.
"Hey Chinee." A voice called from behind him, "Which way's I go to get to Plymouth?" Cain opened his eyes to see an old man pulling an overladen mule. The poor beast was weighed down with bulging saddlebags, picks, shovels, pans and a beat up old guitar.
"The road North leads to where you are going." Replied Cain in a softly spoken voice, "But as to where you wish to be, all thought, is just a flag, blowing in the wind."
"What..?" The prospector began to unload pans. "You yellow men talk round in circles. Anyways, it's getting time for some food."
Cain stood up and bowed low, "My name is Kwai Chang Cain."
The prospector never replied, but began attempting to light a fire using a flint and some kindling. "Dang wood's all wetted."
Cain moved forewards and crouched low over the kindling. From inside his pack he pulled some black moss. "May I?" He reached a hand out to the old timer, who handed him the flints, within seconds the moss was alight and soon the fire was burning.
"Join me for some beans, chinee?" The old man began to chop vegetables and meat and place them in a large pot. "It aint much fancy food like in 'Frisco, but it's better'n trail biscuits."
Cain smiled and then reached into his pack again, bringing out a small, brown, leather pouch. "I have some simple flavourings from the Orient. If you would care for some to enhance your meal."
"Any soya sauce?" Asked the old man
Cain Shook his head.
"Little bit of star anise or black cardamon? Maybe some five spice powder?" Again Cain shook his head, "Hmm, aint much of a Chinee after all are ya? Take a knee my Oriental friend and a lesson from an old soldier." The old man winked and then reached into the saddlebags and began to remove pots and jars, all filled with strange and wonderful things, "Blowin' in the wind eh? Huh, I might use that in a song one day." The prospector held out a hand, "The name's Bob."
I promised some time ago that I would spend a week cooking nothing but traditional American food and a day or two ago I promised I'd make something using canned baked beans. Today is time to start delivering.
Whether derived from the French cassoulet, or from Mexican frijoles, this is a classic, the old cowboy favourite. The recipe I'm outlining below may not be one that anyone ever used when out on the range, but it's mighty fine and as a start to 'Salute to American food' week can't be bettered. It may not be haute cuisine, but is mighty tasty and can feed an army of cowboys and cowgirls for less than a dollar (1850's prices that is).
Giant lemon and white chocolate muffin. I'll try to eat American style cakes this week as well. Maybe I'll work through every possible muffin that I can buy. This one was very good (tesco's 65p).
Pork and Beans
Vegetable Oil, Onions, Carrots, Celery, Garlic, Green Chilli, Ginger, Pork Shoulder, Cinnamon, Wine Vinegar, Red Pepper, Smoked Pork Sausage (Frankfurter type, I favour Matteson's), Baked Beans, Salt, Pepper, Fresh Coriander
Finely dice the onion, celery and carrot and mince the garlic (same as yesterday in fact), sweat gently in some oil until soft. Add a little ginger and some chopped chilli and the chopped pork shoulder. Fry until the pork is brown, add a little powdered cinnamon and a dash of wine vinegar and the chopped red pepper. Put the lid on and allow to cook gently for about 3/4 hour. Next add the sausage and the baked beans and cook for a further 20 mins. Season and stir in some fresh coriander before serving (parsley would be more traditional, but I didn't have any and I like corainder anyway).