Beans…beans

Although it began with a dismal start (the Scarlet Runner beans mysteriously disappearing), the pole bean crop has turned out to be pretty good.  The Kentucky Wonder beans have really taken off and more than made up for the poor showing of Scarlet Runners.

Kentucky Wonder Beans

Kentucky Wonder Beans

So what to do with the beans…serving them boiled as a side dish is unimaginative and downright boring.  They certainly are great on a Nicoise salad but what else?

Beans...Beans

Beans…Beans

My mother used to make a good dilled potato and string bean salad and, luckily, I had that recipe:

Dilled String Bean & Potato Salad Recipe

Dilled String Bean & Potato Salad Recipe

Her recipe called for S&W canned dilled string beans but I thought I’d give it a try with steamed green beans and it was delicious!  I added a little more than a “sprinkling” of dill weed…I like that dill flavor. 

I also had snipped a recipe years ago that I never tried (have lots of these interesting but untried recipes).  This one was for “Stir-Fried Tofu with Mushrooms, Sugar Snap Peas and Green Onions”.  I figured I’d substitute my string beans for the sugar snap peas.

Stir-Fried Tofu with Mushrooms, Sugar Snap Peas and Green Onions

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon oriental sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 12 ounce package extra firm tofu, drained, cut into 3/4 ” cubes and patted dry
1/4 water
1 teaspoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps quartered
8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 green onions, sliced on diagonal

Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend.  Add tofu and stir to coat; let marinate 30 minutes.  Drain, reserving marinade in small bowl.  Whisk 1/4 cup water and cornstarch into marinade.

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add tofu and saute until golden, about 2 minutes.  Using slotted spoon, transfer tofu to a plate.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil to skillet.  Add mushrooms and stir-fry until tender, about 3 minutes.  Add sugar snap peas; stir-fry 2 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry 30 seconds.  Return tofu to skillet; drizzle reserved marinade mixture over.  Stir-fry until marinade thickens slightly, about 30 seconds.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Transfer to bowl.  Sprinkle with green onions and serve.

First of all, I have to say that this marinated tofu is delicious.  The combination of soy sauce, vinegar, honey, sesame oil and crushed red pepper was marvelous and I will use this marinade over and over again for tofu.  However, after I removed the tofu from the marinade, there really wasn’t that much marinade left in the bowl as the tofu had absorbed most of it.  So I made another batch of the marinade, added that to what was left in the bowl, and then added 1/2 cup of water and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch.

I used a 8 ounce package of regular sliced mushrooms.  And since I was substituting the string beans for the more tender sugar snap peas, I blanched the string beans first before stir-frying them and this worked out well.  I served this on brown rice.  Sorry if the picture below doesn’t look too appetizing…this is a photo of the leftovers.  I forgot to take a photo the first time around!

Tofu, Mushroom & Green Bean Stir Fry

Tofu, Mushroom & Green Bean Stir Fry

And although not string beans, the following butter bean recipe is another one of my mother’s recipes that I’ve made lately.  I love this dish. 

My Mother's Savory Lima Bean Recipe

My Mother’s Savory Lima Bean Recipe

My mother insisted on using Ritter’s Butter Beans for this recipe…no other brand would do.  But I don’t think the Ritter brand exists any more.  It’s not in the stores and I can’t find it on the internet.  So out of desperation I used Hanover’s canned butter beans and I thought they worked well.  And I added about 2 ounces of chopped pimento to the recipe (as the Ritter brand had little pieces of pimento in it).  You might have noticed that her recipe card has an “over” in the lower right hand corner.  On the back she noted that you could fry the bacon slowly in a skillet (make sure you don’t burn it) and then remove the bacon to drain on paper towels and transfer the bacon fat to the pot you’re using to cook the beans.

Savory Lima Beans

Savory Lima Beans

My mother took great care to sprinkle the top of this dish with the crumbled bacon just before she served it…so the bacon would still be crisp.  That crispness added a pleasing crunchy texture to the creamy beans and savory sauce.  I remember one time she made these beans for a ladies luncheon.  We lived out in the country and there were many hills and the roads had many curves.  The carefully placed crispy bacon had combined with the beans as the result of driving on those hills and curves…she was so annoyed!  Not the presentation she was hoping for but I’m sure they were still delicious.

So that’s it for the beans.  However, I did learn that a spoonful of unflavored yogurt added to beaten eggs makes for a light and fluffy omelet.  I tried this the other day.  I added two teaspoons of yogurt to two eggs and just combined the mixture until the yogurt was fairly incorporated but there were still some streaks of white.  I poured this into a nonstick pan in which I had sauted some chopped onion and sliced asparagus.  I cooked the omelet over low heat until done and sprinkled a little goat cheese on top.  The omelet texture was incredibly light and not rubbery as it sometimes happens (to me at least).

And did you hear about the cat in New Zealand who ate rat poison and was at death’s door?  No, this is not a joke…this is true. He needed a transfusion in order to at least get a chance to survive but there was no time to search for an appropriate blood match.  The cat’s owner’s friend had a dog (Labrador) which she volunteered as a donor and the vet took the chance as the cat was going to die if she didn’t at least try.  And the cat made it!  She’s fine now.  This was called a rare inter species transfusion.  The article follows:

http://news.sky.com/story/1131354/dog-saves-cat-in-rare-blood-transfusion-op

And that’s the news, today, Labor Day, September 2, 2013.  Happy Labor Day!

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