Sunday, August 14, 2011

Vegetables: Boil Until They're Dead

Favorite Recipes from Caldwell, IdahoI know it's not at all fashionable to say so, but I actually do like vegetables boiled until they're good and dead sometimes. Mmm, greens cooked until they're sort of green grey, and then doused with capsful of vinegar! I have been known to eat and enjoy canned green beans, right out of the can. A little mushiness on occasion is okay by me.

I come by this honestly. First off, I was a child in the 70s, and cuisine was not yet haute. Secondly, I come from my family. For your approval, one of my aunt's recipes in
Favorite Recipes from Caldwell, Idaho:
Robbie Busse

Green beans (fresh)
Tomatoes (fresh)
1 onion, diced
3 strips bacon

Clean beans and tomatoes; cut into bite sized pieces. Place in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and dash of salt. Fry and crumble bacon. Add to vegetables. Let boil together until beans are tender (about 20 minutes).

Canned vegetables can be substituted for fresh.
Before we start getting all appalled at the idea of cooking green beans for 20 minutes at a boil (honestly, either cook 'em for 10 minutes, or for over 40 minutes -- half measures aren't doing you a kindness in most cases), let's embrace the surprising goodness of this recipe: Yes, it's from the 1970s, but it explicitly calls for fresh veg.

I've not been to Caldwell in decades, but when I did go out that way, I remember lots and lots of farmland outside of town. My first real exposure to asparagus was seeing it grow like a weed in irrigation ditches. So, when my aunt specifies fresh veg, you can trust that they are fresh fresh veg.

About the only ingredient I really question in this recipe is the salt. I'd think that the bacon would bring enough salt to the party, and, if it didn't, that the correct way to fix it would be to add more bacon. This surprises no one. There's always room for more bacon in my pots.

I will have to ask Aunt Robbi why this recipe isn't called "Green Beans" or "Green Beans & Tomatoes." Is it "Vegetables" because the method is to be used with any fresh (or canned) veg you have on hand? Is it "Vegetables" because that was the easiest shorthand when it came to saying "eat your vegetables"? My Idaho cousins were too young or too not born yet to be veg eaters when this cookbook came out,'s a bit of a mystery. I don't recall having this dish at my dad's table, nor my grandma's, so I'm guessing Aunt Robbi picked it up once she left the nest.

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