QSJ’s baked beans flop; historical society to the rescue with recipes

SOMESVILLE, Dec. 4, 2020 – I attempted to make baked beans myself, after Mainely Meats BBQ closed for the season, but made a total mess of it. Or more precisely, I made a total mush of it. I cooked the beans too long. Every time I tasted the beans it felt under-cooked so I just kept going.

Luckily, there will be a cookbook out soon for errant bean counters like me.

MDIslander file photo shows Mount Desert Island residents choosing from more than a dozen varieties of baked beans at a supper held by the Mount Desert Island Historical Society. 

This year the Mount Desert Historical Society is going virtual with its annual baked beans supper. In lieu of the usual $10 donation, the organizers are aggregating a digital cookbook to commemorate the recipes enjoyed over the past 10 years. “We are charging $10 for the Cookbook in PDF format. We hope to have them available for purchase in the beginning of January, ” said Leah Lucey, director of operations.

In the past the supper was held at MDI High School in the cafeteria and sponsored by Hannaford. Members of the community volunteered to bring a pot of beans, a side, a pie, or cookies. Volunteers were coordinated by Bill Horner, President of MDI Historical Society and more recently the addition of Kathy MacLeod, chair of the Program Committee. MDI High School staff and students volunteered to help us as well. After the dinner, attendees would enjoy a historic presentation in the auditorium.

This year the society is attempting to host an event by Zoom. A date, Jan. 28, has been targeted although details need to be sorted out.

“The bean supper has become an important community event over the past 10 years, drawing almost 200 people out on a cold January night to share food and stories,” said Raney Bench, executive director. “Cancelling it as an in-person event was a difficult, although necessary, decision. So, in trying to recreate the spirit of community and connection people love about the event, we wanted to draw on the long held winter tradition of storytelling, bringing people together to listen to old tales and traditions told by really great narrators. 
“For speakers we have Dennis Damon, Earl Brechlin, Sharon Joyce, and Bill Horner. As I mentioned, we are inviting people to pick up the cookbook and try a recipe on the night of the virtual event. People will be invited to share their own cooking and bean supper stories through the Chat feature. 

Raney said Bill Horner, founder of the baked bean supper, is renowned for his knowledge and passion of beans in Downeast Maine.

“Bill will speak about the different varieties of beans common to the region, how they came to be so popular, and some of the health benefits they offer. Sharon Joyce is a local chef and author of ‘A Culinary History of Downeast Maine’ and she will talk to us about the various bean recipes that are traditional in the region, including ingredients and preparation. Dennis Damon is a renowned storyteller and local islander who served as a representative to the state for several years. He is well versed in local story. He is an expert on community fishing culture and industry, and the works of Ruth Moore and how she projected small island life in her books. Earl Brechlin is an author, historian and journalist who has written extensively about the history of the region’s people and environment. Earl’s latest book ‘Wild! Weird! Wonderful! Maine.’ was released earlier this year and perfectly captures the tradition of Maine storytelling, sharing myths, legends, lore, and truth from Maine’s strange past.”

I hope someone will tell me how long to cook the beans.

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