Wasn't really in the mood for carving a jack o'lantern. This was just as well since Ampersand decided to pay a visit:
We had eight kids come for treats: not as many as I've had in past homes, but more than expected given last year's dismal numbers (just two). We still had boxes of raisins left over from last year and Pavel wanted to give them away. I wasn't about to let that happen, so (thank heavens), there was good candy (york patties and necco wafers).
Happy thing, too: a few friends came over for dinner. Nothing spectacular: just some (sadly overcooked) pork chops, a bit of squash soup, stuffing, cabbage and traditional baked beans:
Be's Maple Country Baked Beans
1 lb dried beans (I used 1/2 kidney, 1/2 navy)
1/2 lb salt pork (cut into strips and scored)
1/4 c maple syrup (I used grade B. Love the lower grades for their dark richness. This particular one was Trader Joe's brand. Very surprised to see that, to be honest.)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t salt
4-5 t (depending on taste) dry mustard
a couple of squirts of ketchup (again: depends on taste.)
Soak beans overnight; boil until tender (skins split when you blow on them). In the cooking water, I normally like to add a couple bouillon cubes and 3-4 bay leaves. When the beans are ready, do not drain. Just mix the syrup, mustard, salt, brown sugar and ketchup in and transfer to a bean pot or oven-safe (covered) ceramic bowl. Press pork score-side-up and put everything in the oven at a low temp (I did 275 degrees) for 6-8 hours. Check every hour or so and add water if stuff starts looking dried out.
Serves 8+ as a nice little side dish.
It was really nice to catch up with folks, to cook, to be chatting in the kitchen. It brought to mind earlier Halloweens. I think I need to do this more often, if folks are willing to schlep out.