Saturday, October 29, 2011

Snap Beans and a Little Cooking Philosophy

Not green beans.  Not plain old beans.  Snap beans.  That's what we always called them growing up, and that's what I call them still.  I'm sure my French Creole ancestors called them haricots verts, but their twentieth century counterparts have always referred to them as the above.  They are snap beans because you have to snap off the ends, at least if they are fresh, which mine happily were.  Instead of the proverbial midlife crisis, my father planted a garden.  And then he made a bigger garden.  And finally an even bigger garden.  He grows all the best of South Louisiana, including the delicious Creole tomato, my favorite variety of tomatoes.  We have a long growing season here, and my dad takes advantage of it.  Right now he has lettuce just coming up and sugar snap peas starting to bloom.  But back to the snap bean, that crunchy, green delicacy.  Here is how I cooked my snap beans on Sunday evening:

1/2 lb of green beans
1 slice of bacon, cut up (I kept it at one because I was trying to keep down the fat, but you could go for more)
balsamic vinegar

Fry down the bacon.  (I used my wok, but you could use whatever is convenient.)  Throw in the beans and toss around with the bacon.  Add balsamic vinegar; I used about a quarter to a third of a cup, but you can do it according to your personal taste.  Cover and cook on medium heat for 10-15 minutes (less for al dente beans, more for beans with less bite).

Can you tell I am all about personal freedom in cooking?  Be aware of the main rules of cooking (don't put red wine in the fridge, use wine that you would drink while cooking, salt your pasta water, etc.) and then build upon them.  By main rules, I mean most basic tenets.  Truly, there are only a few from which you cannot deviate.  If you've mastered the basics, you can start breaking the smaller, more inconsequential rules.  You can experiment, add, subtract, and multiply ingredients.  The key is to know your own palate and that of your family and to create dishes that suit those needs.

(Sorry for the awful picture.  I forgot to take a photo right after cooking and wound up using my camera while sitting at my desk eating during lunch at work the next day.)