I planted my green beans a little later then normal this year. Typically that would have been a problem here in Seattle. Since we have had ridiculously hot weather, their late start has had no impact on the crop and harvest. As I was cooking up this batch of beans, I became very melancholy. No other food has been such a constant in my life. I grow the Royal Burgundy variety of beans, because that is what my grandparents grew. I think Granddad started growing them when we were kids, to thrill us by their novel change in color when they are cooked. Growing up, green beans were the only vegetable my brother would eat. When they were out of season, Mom resorted to canned (yuck) green beans. Canned or fresh, my Mom and Grandma would add bacon, and simmer them on the stove FOR HOURS, as was the norm back then. There was never a doubt as to what the Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, or Sunday dinner vegetable would be. Once my brother had kids, the tradition continued in his own family. I think there was a streak of about 10 years, when little smokies had to be added to the pot, per my youngest nephews instruction! My nephews, now adults, specifically ask if we can have something besides green beans when they are invited to dinner at Grandma’s or Auntie’s house!
My first summer after college, my parents moved from Idaho Falls, ID to Washington DC. I needed a break and an adventure, and my Mom needed help driving across the country, so I too packed up for the move. Prior to hitting the road, we spent about a week at my Grandfather’s house. Since it was summer, the green beans were plentiful. I think we had them three or four times, all picked fresh and simmered for hours. On the road heading east toward I-70, our first night was in a little town somewhere in Montana. We had dinner in a little diner, close to our motel. When we asked what the vegetable of the day was, you obviously guessed, it was fresh green beans. Too tired after 9 hours of driving to think about, we ate quietly. This continued across the country, for 7 more nights. I’ll never forget Mom and I having dinner at the hotel in St. Joseph, Missouri, the 5th night on the road. The waitress was very perky as she related the specials of the day, and was extra excited to inform us they had fresh green beans. I actually screamed out loud, which lead to my Mom laughing so hard she launched her ice tea across the table. The poor waitress could not figure out what she had done. Once we calmed down, we explained our 5 day green bean odyssey. We watched as she went from table to table, telling our story. Bursts of polite laughter rolled through the restaurant, like the wave at a football game.
I learned to prepare green beans a little bit differently, while working in a restaurant. Did you know, a lot of vegetables are cooked with dry vermouth and often a spoonful of baking soda? The baking soda does help retain the bright color in most veggie’s, but it also adds a whollop of sodium. Therefore, I forgo this trick, unless I need a really special photo!
Laura’s Green Beans
1 sweet onion, such as Maui or Walla Walla, diced
3-4 Tablespoons of olive oil
1 cup dry vermouth
1 lb. fresh green beans, washed, trimmed, and strings removed
salt and pepper
optional – fresh dill
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet, that you can cover with a lid. Sauté the onion until soft. Add the green beans and continue to sauté about 5 minutes. Pour in the vermouth, cover and simmer about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and fresh dill, if using!
Thanks for stopping by.
I hope your summer was memorable and you have a great evening.