I had an empty nest this afternoon. The Pony went to spent the night with his grandma, and the #1 son went to watch a basketball tournament.
My peace and quiet was shattered after a mere 70 minutes, when Farmer H called to brag that he was bringing home a ham bone. Oh, yes. He was OH SO IMPRESSED with my usage of the dogs' ham bone that he scored one himself from a guy at work. In the words of Farmer H: "It still has a lot of meat on it. You can put in in the pan with last night's beans, and cook them some more."
Obviously, Farmer H has never cooked a pot of beans. Like a fine wine, a pot of beans attains a certain level of maturity. The optimum beaniness, much like the optimum wininess, reaches a point of no return. I could no more toss that ham bone into the pot of last night's beans and expect legume ambrosia to result than I could drop grapes into the bottle and turn the Christmas Eve St. James Pink Catawba into a palatable Dionysian delight. Not gonna happen.
To begin with, the Farmer H ham bone was about 14 inches long. It would not fit in my favorite bean pan. I hacked at the bone a bit, filled the pan 1/3 full of water, put it on to boil, and jammed Mr. Ham Bone down as far as I could before topping him with the pan lid. A jaunty metal ham bone chapeau of sorts. I boiled him for about 45 minutes while I washed up some dishes. The old-fashioned way. Somewhere in the blog over the past five years, I might have accidentally let it slip that I do not have a dishwasher. I am sure that even George Obama, in his $10 a month shack, has an automatic dishwasher. But I digress.
I would have added some fresh beans, but I was fresh out of beans. The #1 son, you see, had used a package of my Great Northerns to construct his Mole for chemistry class. That, and about 200 yards of duct tape. But I was not in need of duct tape for Farmer H's supper. After some fat chunks of meat fell off of Mr. Ham Bone, I removed him from the pot and set him aside to await his eventual fate of dismemberment by dog teeth. The chunks continued to boil in my effort to reduce the stock. It sort of worked.
I tossed in a little minced garlic, some sweet banana pepper juice, a pinch of salt, and a shower of black pepper. Then I added last night's beans to the mix, chopped an onion, diced some sweet banana peppers, set out the leftover corn muffins and cornbread (the boys are partial to the muffins, while Farmer H and I crumble our cornbread into the beans), and called it a meal.
I don't anticipate my own cooking show any time soon.