Except for quick and furtive trips to the grocery store I haven’t ventured off our street very much. The Covid-19 shutdown has curtailed our activities in so many ways. I haven’t strolled through any antique shops, weighed the life-changing pros and cons of various waterproof mascaras at Target, haven’t had a French 75 at our favorite bistro or visited a single book store. We do get outdoors in the garden, and Luke the wonder dog and I take our twice-daily walks, but this week we had a couple of rainy days, so Luke was reluctant to set his dainty paws onto the wet sidewalk. (I wonder how he can possibly enjoy diving into the river whenever he can, but I suppose there is a subtle difference that, as a human, I will never understand.) Once a week, though, I am sallying forth with my mask and my re-useable bags to the farmers’ market near us.
I like seeing the people who have been growing and harvesting fruits and vegetables. They are rightfully proud of their display of triumph over weather and market conditions. It’s nice knowing that the tomatoes gleaming in a homemade vinaigrette on our supper table came from a good home; that they were nurtured and fussed over. And they weren’t trucked in from California: buying local is virtuous – it lessens carbon footprints. Pat yourself on the back!
As a child I did not care for cooked vegetables, with the exception of corn and potatoes. And pizza. I have always preferred the crisp snap of fresh beans, the cool orbs of peas as they slide out of their pods, and cold, peppery radishes, floating in Pyrex bowls of iced water. It was probably part of my mother’s wily ways and means that my brother and I were assigned vegetable duties on the back porch steps in the summertime. It might take us forever to shell the peas, but we were quiet, and out of her hair. Even then we might not fill the cooking pot with peas, because we had gobbled a few handfuls as we performed our chore. It was a quid pro quo situation, one pea for me, one pea for you, one pea for the pot. The same fate met the string beans. Later, once Mom was assured that we wouldn’t slice and dice our fingers off, we graduated to a place at the kitchen table peeling carrots and trimming radishes. Do you remember mastering the vegetable peeler? Curling orange ribbons flew away from the carrots, and sometimes even into the trash can.
Last year we planted some beans in our raised garden bed. We had no idea what we were doing. The vines grew like crazy, like kudzu, with the velocity of a runaway train, up the strings, and over the poles, practically covering the neighborhood. And yet, all we harvested were about six bean pods. We did not plant green beans this year. We are relying on the agricultural skills of our farmer neighbors, to protect us from ourselves, and our utopian dreams of a suburban hanging garden of Nebuchadnezzar.
Beans are in season right now. Eat your way through the alphabet, and try some blueberries and then some broccoli, too. Work your way into zucchini season.
For the purists: https://farmfreshforlife.com/how-to-cook-fresh-green-beans/
Here is a tasty approach to having fresh, crisp green beans, with a good dose of bacon: https://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/green_beans_with_bacon/
Here’s one that big enough to share, if we ever get out of the house again: https://food52.com/recipes/72759-balsamic-green-beans-salad
“When they say every flavor, they mean every flavor- you know, you get all the ordinary ones like chocolate and peppermint and marmalade, but then you can get spinach and liver and tripe. George reckons he had a booger-flavored one once.”
Ron picked up a green bean, looked at it carefully, and bit into a corner.
“Bleaaargh- see? Sprouts?”
They had a good time eating the Every Flavor Beans. Harry got toast, coconut, baked bean, strawberry, curry, grass, coffee, sardine, and was even brave enough to nibble the end off a funny gray one Ron wouldn’t touch, which turned out to be pepper.”
― J.K. Rowling