Channel Island Recipes - Guernsey Bean Jar
Righty Ho! Gather round! The following is a RECIPE like no other you have ever heard of and the taste at the end of it is like nothing else you will ever have had the privilege of tasting. You will be forever changed and wonder why you have voyaged through life without it thus far! Tell me you are not blissfully, excited already! A happy cross between a casserole and a stew but better than either and wait for it ... there's more.....it is quite inexpensive (that's a posh way of saying it's cheap). The only snag (ain't there always a fish hook in there somewhere?) it takes a looong time to prepare and cook. Oh well, not to worry, if you have patience, a long week-end, a shallow pocket and a slow cooker that runs on the smell of an oily rag you're set to go..
Guernsey people (even during the German Occupation, if they could get some meat), would trot (no pun intended) down to the local bakery on a Sunday when it was "closed" and, with a filled "Marmite" type crockery pot, use the lingering heat from the cooling ovens to slowly cook this dish to perfection and pick up the results on Monday morning when the bakery opened its doors to the world - well to Guernsey locals anyway. To prevent scrapping amongst this fractious lot, they would cover the crock with brown paper (remember that?) and string tie a label with "Property of Monsieur Le Page-Hands off MY Pot you Dirty, Rotten Rascal" or whatever....
The ingredients are as follows:
- 1 lb navy or haricot beans
- 1 lb of lima or butter beans
- 2 onions - large - diced
- 4 diced carrots
- 4 tbls oil of some good sort
- 1.5 lbs leg of pork on bone (or shin of beef), OR you could use a ham hock if preferred
- 3 or 4 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- S & P to taste, water for rinsing and to cover the beans.
- Stick of French bread to soak up the juices. Oh my!!
Caution: You MUST thoroughly soak the beans to get rid of bean toxins, rinse to get rid of the toxins and boiling also for ten minutes plus and they should be safe to use in the recipe. So, here goes:
As advised above, soak your beans for at least 5 hours OR, better still, overnight.
Throw away the water (you did use fresh water didn't you? That was good).
Rinse the beans once or twice PLEASE.
Boil the beans in F/W for 10 minutes.
Drain and discard the water.
Lightly grease, oil or spray inside your crock pot / slow cooker.
Sautee onions gently in a large frying pan for up to 10 mins or until you see that they are soft.
Put the onions into the SCP (Slow Cooking Pot).
Set slow cooker on "High" (Yes, I know that might seem daft but just bear with me).
Add carrots and stir.
Add beans to the SCP and push your meat into and under your beans.
Tuck bay leaves and a sprig of thyme around the meat.
Season with Pepper ONLY at this juncture, (i.e.NO salt).
You can add pork or beef stock but don't need to in my opinion.
Add boiling water until you see that it covers the contents.
Replace the lid and cook on High for one hour. (VERY IMPORTANT that you do this . You have BEAN warned - I couldn't resist that one).
Turn your SCP to LOW and cook for a minimum of 10 hours ( NO - that was NOT a typo), 10 hours.. Your Bean Jar can be cooked for up to 24 hours but from before dinner to after the following day's breakfast would be excellent.
Do not disturb this process for the first THREE hours.
ONLY then would you need to check that the tide has not gone out.
If the brew seems a bit watery you can add a bit of corn flour to some cold water to form a paste to thicken things up a bit.
Top up a bit to re-cover if required.
Season with salt.
Continue the slow cooking.
When your time is up, you may wish to skim off some of the fat.
Place in soup bowls or deep dishes with slices of French bread.
Honestly: the taste is "full bodied" and unique - you will be back for more!
You get the GREAT taste from the SLOW cooking process: it's not rocket science: why is everyone in such a hurry?
N.B. The beans MAY cause some disturbance. Try not to be alarmed. The sun will still come up again in the morning.
Channel Island Folk Remedies
Channel Island Folk Remedies
On the south-west coast of Alderney you could usually find some Kidney Vetch which has leaves that can be used to stop bleeding. It was always a bit tricky if you were unlucky enough to be at the opposite end of the Island though when they were urgently needed! (I once met an eighty-year old resident who had never ventured to the East of this small Island claiming, "There was nothing useful to see "Way over there" so why bother?"! That comment was a bit hard to figure out and left me perplexed for a while).
On the other hand, if you were unlucky enough to be stung by stinging nettles, help was always close at hand because it was always accepted that whereever there were stinging nettles there were always DOCKS growing close by. All you needed to do was scrunch up the leaves and rub them on the sore spots and no more stinging!
A tea made from those same nettles would purify and cleanse our blood however. Strange!
A preparation of a mixture of dock and dandelion roots could also prove useful for the health of the blood.
I well remember that it was accepted wisdom back in the 40s, 50s and 60s, that in any small community (especialy an island community), that there would be at least one "Healer" in that community to serve the needs of the residents.
United Kingdom Folk Medicine Section.
When I was growing up on Alderney, Channel Islands in the early 1960s, we had a terrible out- break of "Foot and Mouth Disease"! We had thought that being on a small island would insulate us from what was going on in France or England at that time. However, it was thought that a bird (or birds) must have flown across the sea (from France, only nine miles away) bringing this disease with them on their feet. Anyway, all the small farms were devastated by this scourge, except for one farmer, and for a while no one could point to the reason why his farm should have been spared! Apparently he always hung a bunch of garlic and onions around his farm house and out-buildings and he maintained that this was the reason why his cattle did not catch the disease. Everyone had to step through strong disinfectant when alighting from plane or ship. All the Island's cattle carcasses had to be thrown into deep pits filled with lime and buried/burned. You might appreciate the angst and trauma all this caused to a small island economy, shortly after the German Occupation, when farmers were just beginning to resurrect the Alderney breed of cow. It is now extinct I believe.
Once a year the farmers on Alderney were required to meet at an appointed hour, before low tide, in a central square with their horses and carts to begin the process of collecting "vrack" or seaweed. It was considered to be such an important fertilizer, that if even one farmer could not make it to the square, they would all have to cancel and meet on another day. This was in the days before imported, chemical fertilizers (and mobile 'phones! ). They were fortunate to have huge quantities of seaweed thrown up by the fierce, Atlantic storms on to their beaches. It would have given great health benefits to the cattle as well as to the soil with the full range of minerals in perfect balance. The vrack would have also improved the structure / tilth of the soil too.
Please explain what a cork table mat looks like or where we might be able to get it in USA. Thank you.
Bach Flower Remedies
The Bach Flower Remedies have worked wonders on my depression. I have been in and out of depression for the last 3-4 years, and only a few months ago I discovered the flower remedies and was amazed by the results. I use them still, whenever I feel I need to. Deciding which remedies to take is not easy. It takes alot of looking into yourself and understanding yourself and your emotions. You need to think about what you feel at that specific time, not what you might have felt at previous phases in your life. I hope this helps.
EC: Bach flower remedies are tinctures made from the flowers. More info here: https://www.earthclinic.com/remedies/flowers.html
Thought I'd share this remedy that my mum has used for 30 years. If you get cramp in bed at night, put a cork table mat under the mattress and you won't get any more cramp!