Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Eat Your Beans

A garden allowed to grow at its own pace.
After a brief hiatus, I've returned to my garden, and to my blog. The garden is a jungle, and the blog, well, it needs a little more attention than the garden - finally! Plants are notorious for beating the odds. Part of my love for gardening comes from my admiration for plants' tenacity - their dogged resolution to push towards the sun, their ability to snap back from drought, and their persistent and creative reproductive capacity. So what does this have to do with a pot of beans?


Before leaving town for a few weeks, I tossed some 'Kentucky Wonder' and 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' bean seeds in 4 long rows in my raised bed. I place them where salad greens were previously grown, hoping to restore some nitrogen to the soil, if nothing else. (For more detailed info on how to plant and harvest beans, here's a previous blogpost: How To Harvest, Store, and Cook With Dried Beans). Kentucky Wonder' is a bush bean and doesn't necessarily need a trellis. In fact, only pole beans will grow up a pole. I interspersed some bamboo poles and trained a few of the early 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' vines to wrap around them. I don't recommend this type of haphazard gardening for people who are counting on a strong harvest. However, this is what I had time for before getting ready to go out of town. If you're pinched for time, it'll give you some results. This falls under the category of "ten minute gardener."

Beans growing between the poles.
Pole beans will find them; bush beans don't need them.
Since 'Cherokee Trail of Tears' is a rare seed with native American roots, I planted a row of squash between rows of beans. A truly Native American planting would have included corn, as well. If you're not familiar with the Native American tale of the Three Sisters, take a moment to enchant yourself with some folklore that still holds true for gardeners today. The third sister, corn, won't make an appearance in my garden this year. No space. And besides, it's pretty cheap at the farmer's market. 

Upon arriving home from vacation, I hacked my way through the overgrown tomato vines to find myself knee-deep in squash blossoms and green beans. I harvested enough beans for a single family meal. The squash will ripen later this month, and the beans will continue to produce the more I pick them. Meanwhile, broad squash foliage is shading the beans' roots, while the beans are restoring nitrogen for the heavy-feeding squash. Perfect harmony!

How To Prepare Fresh Green Beans 

Fresh beans simmering in boiling water.
Fresh beans are delicious with minimal preparation. A quick blanching will preserve their crunchy sweetness, as well as locking in nutrients.

Recipe: Green Beans With Almonds

Ingredients

  1. One bunch (about 1/2 lb.) fresh green beans or haricot vert 
  2. 1 T. butter
  3. 1/4 cup slivered almonds
Blanch beans to lock in nutrition and color.

Instructions

  1. Rinse beans under cool water and snap off the ends.
  2. Bring a pot of water to boil. 
  3. Add beans and boil rapidly for three minutes. 
  4. While beans are simmering, fill a large bowl or colander with ice. 
  5. Drain the beans and immediately place them on the ice, running cold water over them. Expose them to the cold water and ice for three minutes. 
  6. Heat 1 T. butter in a saucepan until it begins to brown (I reuse the same pan - saves dishwashing). 
  7. Place the beans back into the pan carefully - ice water will spatter when it hits the hot butter. 
  8. Sautee for three minutes. 
  9. Add the slivered almonds and cook for one more minute. 
  10. Serve hot.
Green beans with almonds.
Alaskan Black Cod seared in flax oil, with fresh parsley and lemon.
Our meal also included freshly harvested beet, arugula, strawberry, and tomato salad; Alaskan Black rockfish; and Bhutan rice with slivered almonds and dried blueberries. And yes, everyone in the family eats the same thing. If they're hungry, they'll eat.






1 comment:

  1. I’ve always wanted to garden, but our frequent moves and tiny apartments haven’t been conducive. I think I might try growing tomatoes and herbs on our balcony this spring. Thanks for the inspiration!

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