Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dilly Beans

The mountain of beans has been tamed...for the time being. I owe the red pepper heart idea to my friend Suzy in Bellingham, Washington. She is full of inspiration, and usually takes projects to the highest possible heights with extreme artistic devotion, charming everything she touches.
The garden is requiring regular harvests which then require a place to put them. The fridge is chaos. Supper generally includes zucchini three ways, beans three ways, cucumber three ways and maybe a poached egg. It's impossible to eat it all.
So an entire afternoon was reluctantly devoted to canning. Honestly, this method of putting-by is a mixed bag for me. I enjoy an aspect of it, but canning requires following stringent instructions (so you don't unintentionally gift your loved ones botulism over the Holidays), and the humid nature of the project isn't always fun. Gladly we are in a bit of a cool snap, and yesterday turned out to be the perfect day for leaning over a massive pot of boiling water and hot brine.
This is the time in the season for pushing ahead and getting things dealt with as best possible, despite being a little worn out, and possibly a bit uncomfortable throughout the process. There is still a large scoop of satisfaction in it all, and of course---little red pepper shapes to remind us to keep a grateful heart.

For Dilly Bean recipe, I referred to the National Center for Home Processing, and only added dill seed to the brine. Please note to carefully follow an official recipe without altering ingredients to maintain a safe pH.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grand Design


for the 

phenomenal architecture 

that idles

 on a blade

 of grass.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fresh Green Bean Casserole with Buttermilk Biscuit Top

Green bean casserole was one of my most favorite memories from Thanksgiving. Mom would crank the top off Campbell's cream of mushroom soup, mix it with canned green beans and top it with a whole tin of french-fried onions. It was dirty. And perfect.

Times have slightly changed, but green bean casserole still holds a special place in my heart. I will be honest, although this version includes cream and a biscuit top, and does its part to reduce the continuous heap of green beans coming in from the garden, I will always pine for my childhood version. But this one does contain some serious pull. So without trying to compete with childhood loyalties, I give you:

Fresh Green Bean Casserole with Buttermilk Biscuit Top:
*8 cups loosely packed fresh green beans, tops removed and chopped into quarters
*2 cups quality whole milk
*1 cup fresh cream
*3 tablespoons unsalted butter
*3 heaping tablespoons AP flour
*1 small sweet onion, chopped
*3 cloves garlic, minced
*sea salt 
*fresh ground black pepper

Buttermilk Biscuit Top:
*2 cups quality AP flour
*1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
*1 teaspoon sea salt
*5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cubed
*1 cup buttermilk

Place a large pot filled 3/4 with salted water over high heat. Bring to a boil. Add prepared green beans. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes or until beans are tender but still bright green. Strain. 

Preheat oven to 375. Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. 

Melt butter in same pot over medium heat. Add flour and mix into a roux with a wooden spoon. Brown roux stirring often then add the onion and garlic. Stir. Once aromatic, add milk and cream. Whisk. Bring to a simmer whisking constantly. Season with sea salt and black pepper. Allow liquid to reduce by a third, and thicken before adding the strained green beans. Stir. Transfer mixture to the prepared baking dish. Set aside. 

Make biscuit topping by mixing the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Cut in the butter and blend with fingertips into the flour until it resembles a course meal. Mix in the buttermilk with a fork until completely incorporated. Do not over mix.

Gently flatten about 3 Tablespoons of dough into pieces and place over green bean mixture to create a top with small gaps between dough pieces. 

Bake until cream sauce bubbles and biscuit top is golden, about 20-25 minutes. 
Cool slightly before serving. 

And toast your mom.