January was always the cruelest month when one grew up in Northern Saskatchewan. The excitement of Christmas still a warm memory, but January was a biting, bitter, angry cold that left you weeping. Freezing eye lashes together. Turning feet into numbing blocks of ice. A January cold that groaned and complained. A cold that split the ice on our outdoor rink into large cracks catching the blades of our skates and sending us tumbling into snowbanks. We loved it.
Night come early in the Far North. Darkness by four o’clock. Snow crunched with every step. The evening sky dazzled with a light show of a million stars. Scarf wrapped, double layers of hand knit mittens and socks, we waited. The Northern Lights lite up the sky with breath taking brilliant colours. They flashed, soared, danced filling our world with a show we never took for granted. Mittens were discarded. Hands clapped. We were absolutely certain we had the ability to make The Northern Lights dance to our applause. Then chilled to the bone hunger drove us home for supper.
Remembrances of things past. The crackle and smell of a wood burning wood stove. The small, warm kitchen filled with the comforting aroma of baked beans. Crusty bread lavished with butter. A childhood recollection of home. Marcel Proust wrote of the joys of madelines. For me it will always be baked beans. Fragrant beans simmering all day until the pork dissolved into a rich sauce and beans become tender bursts of flavour. This is the baked beans of my childhood. The remembrances of things past. This is not an exotic recipe. The ingredients are those of more than seventy years ago. Most important is – what is not in this Northern Saskatchewan recipe. No molasses. Ginger gives the beans a counter balance to the sweetness of the sugar.
Quoting Proust wrote “Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls bloom.” May you be happy with this simple recipe. May your January skies be filled with Northern Lights, and may you enjoy the simple pleasure of skating on an outdoor rink in the mysterious darkness of the night.
MRSBUTTERFINGERS has the recipe. Bon Appetit dear friends.