With a title like that you’d might expect I am going to tell you a story involving sitting on the deck with a great-grandmother, receiving pearls of wisdom that only come with a life lived, all the while snapping green beans that were harvested from the garden only moments before. It’s a nice story.
But not at all true.
Edith Rose was my family’s golden retriever. We inherited the name from her previous owners, but called her Edie for short. I wish I had a photo to share, but it was during a time long before digital cameras and cell phones. Fiercely loyal and protective, always with a smile on her goofy dog face, Edie was the most wonderful childhood companion. When our cat had kittens, their favorite place to snuggle and sleep was within the warm folds of Edie’s soft, golden fur. Jealously was always striking Silver, the mama cat, and we would often spy her taking the kittens, one by one, up the stairs and hiding them in the attic. Inevitably, the kittens would always end back with Edie.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Edie, thanks to my CSA. I’ve been drowning in green beans. With the weeks on end of hot weather and me still deep in the writing cave (although I am starting to see some pinpoints of light, indicating the end is near), I haven’t had the time or the inclination to spend much time in my kitchen. Which means the green beans have been piling up. That was never the case when I was a child – Edie would see to that. Of all of the things to that I loved about her, perhaps my dearest is that Edie was a foodie. One of her favorite snacks was green beans, fresh from the garden (or apples, just fallen from the tree). Every summer day, often on multiple occasions, you could spy her waggling butt (an adorable hybrid of wiggling and waddling – like most foodies, Edie was slightly overweight) making its way down the garden rows, ‘harvesting’ the green beans.
Like Edie, I enjoy my green beans fresh from the garden, but here I took it one step further and slathered them in batter, fried them up, threw on some flaky sea salt and paired them with a refreshing cucumber-mint dipping sauce (I dare anything with cucumber and mint not to be refreshing). A tasty alternative and a welcome reprieve from the writing cave. Not to mention the golden brown hues of the fried green beans is just about a perfect match for Edie’s fur and the long green beans with knobby pockets of batter look eerily like the gnarled fingers of an elderly woman, wise from all of her years (perhaps my fictional great-grandmother from the story)…Fried Green Beans from Mark Bittman Canola oil 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed 2 cups flour, divided 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 egg 3/4 cup beer (or sparkling water) Cucumber-Mint Sauce from Food and Wine 1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded 1 garlic clove 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup plain greek yogurt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint Freshly ground pepper **********
For the green beans:
Put at least 2 inches of oil in a deep-sided frying pan (the larger the circumference, the more vegetables you can fry in one go) over medium-high heat. Heat to 350 degrees.
Mix 1 cup flour with baking powder and season with salt and pepper. Whisk in egg and beer (or sparkling water) until just combined and the consistency of pancake batter. Place remaining flour in a shallow dish. Dredge green beans first in dry flour, then in the batter and place in hot oil (make sure the oil is hot enough or else your vegetables won’t get golden brown). Cook, turning once, for just a few minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
For the cucumber-mint sauce:
Set a strainer over a bowl and using a microplane, grate the cucumber into the strainer and squeeze excess water (note: use the cucumber for a cool and refreshing cocktail … maybe a little gin and some basil leaves? Just a suggestion). Using that same microplane (why do more dishes than you need to?), grate garlic clove into a small bowl. Mash in salt to a paste. Add yogurt, olive oil and mint, stirring to combine. Add the shredded cucumber and season with coarse black pepper.