BOOK REVIEW: From Red Flannel Hash to Bean Hole Beans: New Cookbook Dishes Out Village Secrets

by Carla Occaso

“The Adamant Co-op Cookbook” contains recipes, original art by Janet MacLeod and more from the “oldest cooperative food store in Vermont and the United States,” according to its cover. This treasure trove of food, art and essays was compiled by volunteers and staff of the Adamant Cooperative and serves as a fundraiser. The co-op was founded in 1935 during the Great Depression as a means of allowing local residents of this remote hamlet to pool resources.

Because of the rich and varied collection of MacLeod’s exquisite water color paintings, the book is a feast for the eyes. The non-recipe content lends itself to the reader getting to know Adamant more deeply by reading the poetry, observations and memories of the writers. Many of the recipes are accompanied by stories as to their origins, such as the Volhynian beet soup recipe from Richard Czaplinski’s family, dubbed “rotten apple soup” by Czaplinski’s daughter — though the recipe does not call for rotten apples. It is an inside joke and you have to read about it to get it.

The book is dedicated to the founding members of the co-op and to Lois Toby (1926 to 2015), former post mistress who also provided the locally famous “bean hole” baked bean recipe on page 98. The long-kept secret recipe includes the ingredients for enough baked beans to feed a village and instructions on how to prepare the bean hole. The chicken barbecue and bean hole bean dinner was the primary fundraiser for the Adamant Community Club for many years — and I have eaten many a serving of the yummy beans, which raise the bar on anyone else’s recipe. Note: The beans have to go into the ground hot and must stay in the ground for 8 hours or overnight!

The book is available in Adamant at the Co-op, Bear Pond Books in Montpelier, Morse Farm on the County Road in East Montpelier and Bragg Farm on Route 14 in East Montpelier. For more information, call 223-5760.

From the Cookbook:

Andrea’s End of Summer — Whatever-is-in-the-Garden Soup

  • 2-3 tablespoons butter
  • Leeks and/or onions (as much as you want)
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • 2 or 3 potatoes (depending on size)
  • 1 quart or more chicken or vegetable stock, warmed
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Fresh parsley and dill
  • And whatever’s in the garden: corn, green beans, zucchini — whatever you think is fitting. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Diced leftover chicken may be added.

Saute onions and leeks and carrots slowly in butter until soft and transparent. Stir in the flour until thoroughly mixed, then add the warmed stock slowly, whisking as you do. Bring it all to a simmer. Cover and let simmer until the potatoes are close to done.

Add the other vegetables and the herbs. Simmer until tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken at the very end. This soup tastes best if you let it sit for an hour or so, then gently reheat.

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