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On the menu this week . . . June 22, 2009

Kentucky Wonder pole beans in our garden

'Kentucky Wonder' pole beans in our garden

On the menu this week . . . June 22, 2009

Tomatoes – the very first!

Cherry Tomatoes – yes, they are orange

Lettuce ‘Oak Leaf’ – the very last . . .

Summer Squash

Peaches ‘Harken’

Sweet Corn ‘G-90’

Green Beans ‘Kentucky Wonder’



Farm fresh eggs

What to do with Green Beans . . .

Green beans are suited to a variety of preparations, from elegant to country style.

Begin by giving them a good rinse in cool running water.  Snap off each end from the bean – and if a “string” happens to be attached, just pull down the bean until it comes off.  I haven’t encounter many strings with this Kentucky Wonder pole bean – but some green beans are very stringy and called “string beans”.  Leave them long for an elegant presentation or snap into pieces about 1 1/2 inches long if you prefer.  Now they are ready to cook.

There are two approaches to cooking the beans.  One is to keep them crisp and bright green, the other is to cook until very tender.

I like both ways, but the way I most often prepare green beans is a very Southern, country style.  Fry a few pieces of good bacon in a large cast iron skillet.  When crispy, add the snapped green beans to the pan with a little water, maybe a cup. And let cook, covered, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally.  As the water cooks off, the beans will start to brown a little.  This is the effect I am looking for – the beans have a lot of natural sugar and they will caramelize a bit and have a rich flavor, and it looks beautiful.  Keep adding a little water if the pan is getting too hot, and keep stirring.  Add salt.  When the tenderness is to your liking, turn it off and serve hot.  The leftovers are even good cold with a little vinaigrette, like a green bean salad.

Other popular variations are to cook the snapped beans in a pot with new potatoes until all are tender.  Serve with salt and pepper and butter.  Also, cooking in plenty of salted water and serving the tender beans with fresh cornbread is an old fashioned hearty meal.

To achieve the crisp bright beans, it is necessary to either steam or simmer the beans briefly – maybe 10 minutes or so.  If you are serving hot, do so promptly or the color will fade.  To serve cold, like on a vegetable tray for dipping, you must stop the cooking by “shocking” the beans, plunging them into icy cold water.  They should stay green and crispy.

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