Pickled Dilled Beans

Anyone who has green or yellow beans growing in their garden knows that there’s no stopping them if you keep picking them on a regular basis.

I’ve been harvesting beans (both green and yellow) for about three weeks from one row that’s about 40 feet long, and there’s no end in sight. A friend, Penny Cieklinski of Grand Forks, told me earlier this week she picked two supermarket grocery bags full of beans in her garden plot one night.

A lot of people just eat their beans fresh, while others like to can them. Personally, I prefer blanching and freezing beans. Most of those are used in soups, so it really doesn’t make much sense to can them.

We do, however, like to can some pickled beans. It’s been a couple of years since we did some. The last effort produced more than a dozen quarts, which have lasted two years. We generally eat them only on special occasions. We’re down to one jar, however, so I’m comtemplating doing another batch soon.

And here’s the recipe that I will use. It’s from a 1990 Kerr Kitchen Cookbook, billed as a home canning and freezing guide. It contains numerous recipes for canning fresh fruits and vegetables, including pickles, relishes and juices.

Pickled Dilled Beans
4 to 5 pounds fresh green or yellow wax beans
8 to 16 heads fresh dill
8 cloves garlic (optional)
4 cups white vinegar (5 percent acidity)
4 cups water
½ cup canning salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Wash and trim ends from beans. Cut into 4-inch lengths. In a 3- to 4-quart saucepan, combine vinegar, water, pickling salt and pepper flakes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, in each hot pint jar, place 1 to 2 heads dills and 1 clove garlic. Firmly pack beans upright in jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Pour hot vinegar mixture into jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Carefully run a nonmetallic utensil down inside of jars to remove trapped air bubbles. Wipe jar tops and threads clean. Place hot lids on jars and screw bands on firmly Process in boiling water canner for 10 minutes.
Yield: 8 pints.

Holiday Casseroles

One of my friends took an informal poll today at the gym. He was asking everybody if they liked green bean casserole, which is a tradition in many homes on Thanksgiving Day.

I would guess that at least 90 percent of my fellow exercisers said they dig the dish, which contains green beans, cream of mushroom soup and french-fried onion rings.

While I like the green bean casserole, it’s not one we have at the holidays. Besides the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, we have so many other foods (such as baked oysters, buttercup squash, sweet potatoes and a carrot and onion mixture in tomato soup, just to name a few), that there just isn’t room for much more.

However, another one of my exercise compatriots, teacher Susan Zukowski, mentioned one of their traditional holiday dishes  — corn casserole — which piqued my interest. Susan said it’s her grandaughter’s favorite. Besides corn, it also contains pasta and Velveeta cheese. I’m hoping to get the recipe from her so we can try it sometime.

Although I don’t have her recipe, here’s another that’s probably pretty close to it, as well as one for a green bean casserole, but not the traditional one you might be used to having.

Corn Casserole
1 can whole-kernel corn, undrained
1 can cream-style corn
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup small cubed velveeta cheese
½ cup margarine, cubed
In a bowl, combine both corns. Add macaroni, chese and margarine; mix well.
Pour into a lightly greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer.
Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Green Beans with Mushrooms, Almonds and Carmelized Onions
2 pounds frozen cut green beans
Cooking oil
2 small yellow cooking onions, peeled and finely sliced
1 12-ounce package white button mushrooms, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
¼ to ½ cup butter (½ to 1 stick)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook beans in microwave according to package directions. Drain well. In a large skillet or saute pan over low heat, place 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil. Once heated, add sliced onions and a sprinkling of salt and saute slowly, about 20 minutes, until onions are wilted and take on a rich caramel color.
Remove onions from pan and set aside. Increase heat to medium and add sliced mushrooms. Saute mushrooms over medium heat until they turn dark brown, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.
Add butter to pan and melt, then add garlic and saute quickly, 1 to 2 minutes, watching so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add beans to garlic butter and stir to coat. Toss in mushrooms and caramelized onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place in serving bowl and sprinkle with almond slices.
Yield Serves 12.

Green Beans and Shiitake Mushrooms

I’ve had my hands full with beans lately. Not only are my green bush beans and yellow wax beans still producing (at both gardens), the scarlet runners and pole variety are going crazy, too.

That’s means more three-bean salad, speaking of which I must give the recipe to a co-worker, for his wife, and also to a friend from the gym, who’ve both of whom requested it.

Of course, green beans, like most veggies these days, are available year-round, but there is nothing like ones straight from the garden. Sometimes, when there are too many, I blanche and freeze them for later use. Then, they’re good either cold (tossed with a homemade vinaigrette ) or warmed up (cooked in a pan with a little butter or lemon juice) — a nice change of pace.

While most recently I’ve creamed some beans with new potatoes, my thoughts have turned to another recipe. It’s for green beans with shiitake mushrooms. I love mushrooms, too, so this recipe is sure to suit my fancy.

Green Beans with Shiitake Mushrooms
6 tablespoons butter
8 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and caps sliced
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds slender green beans, trimmed
2/3 cup low-salt chicken broth
Melt 3 tablespoons butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.
Add shiitake mushrooms and saute until tender, about 5 minutes.
Transfer mushrooms to medium bowl.
Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter in same skillet. Add shallots and garlic and saute until tender, about 2 minutes.
Add green beans and toss to coat with butter, Pour broth over green bean mixture. Cover and simmer until liquid evaporates and green beans are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.
Stir in shiitake mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 120 calories, 2 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 9.5 grams fat (5.8 grams saturated), 25 milligrams cholesterol, 2.5 grams dietary fiber, 161 milligrams sodium, 1.1 gram sugar, 32 milligrams calcium.

Four-Bean Salad

One of my favorite dishes during the summer is three-bean salad. Even before I had a garden, it’s was near the top of my list.

Actually, the last few years, we’ve had four types of beans in our salads — green, yellow wax, scarlet runner and kidney. And the green ones have been both the bush and pole varieties. The salad is very nutritious. It’s low in fat and high in fiber and protein.

I recently came across another four-bean recipe, this one substituting edamame for the scarlet runners. Edamame is a preparation of baby soybeans in the pod commonly found in Japan, China and Korea. The pods usually are boiled in water together with condiments such as salt and served whole. Outside East Asia, the dish most often is found in Japanese restaurants and some Chinese restaurants but also has found popularity elsewhere as a healthy food item.

I can’t wait to try the new recipe — especially the second day, since the longer the beans are in the dressing, the more flavorful they’ll be.

Sweet and Tangy Four-Bean Salad
8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed
¾ cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup tomato juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons dry red wine or apple juice
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
1 clove garlic, minced (½ teaspoon)
1 12-ounce package frozen shelled sweet soybeans (edamame), thawed
1 14½-ounce can cut wax beans, rinsed and drained or 8 ounces fresh
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch green onions, finely chopped
4 large carrots, coarsely shredded
In large saucepan, cook green beans and wax beans in boiling lightly salted water for 10 minutes or just until tender; drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
In extra-large bowl, combine vinegar, tomato juice, oil, wine, sugar, Worcestershire, mustard and garlic. Stir in beans, green onion, and carrot. Refrigerate, covered, 4 to 48 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon.
Yield: Serves 12.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving 174 calories, 6 grams fat (1 grams saturated), no cholesterol, 231 milligrams sodium, 24 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 7 grams protein.