Here is the link, and here is the script for our Thanksgiving 2010 commentary this morning on News 88.9 fm – KNPR – Nevada Public Radio:
Grandma Schroader’s Sour Beans – Another Beanie Reveal
Here’s some food for thought…
Over the years, fifteen to be exact, I’ve done a number of Thanksgiving commentaries praising everyone from the Pilgrims to my dear, departed dad. I love Thanksgiving for many reasons, but most of all because it is the only incorruptible American holiday. No matter how hard they try, American business (aside from pumpkin and turkey farmers), have been unable to commercialize this most American, and non-denominational of Holidays.
Over these years, I’ve spoken of Squanto, waxed poetic over waxy pole beans, praised pumpkins and talked turkey, but the one thing I always end with is Grandma Schroader’s sour beans. This year will be no different, but with a twist. It seems I got the genesis of this essential Thanksgiving foodstuff all wrong. As much as the sweet/sour taste and texture of these beans screams for some kind of Pennsylvania Dutch origin, it seems this recipe began in Florida of all places.
Florida…I mean, how unromantic and un-Thanksgiving-like is that? No one thinks of Florida when they think of Thanksgiving (Let’s face it, they don’t think much of Las Vegas either)….but Florida conjures up images of tropical plants, beaches, palm trees and white, patent leather shoe’d coupon clippers hitting the early bird buffet.
There’s no romance in Florida….certainly not of the crisp autumn leaves, hearty New Englanders and the first locavore feast-variety. Florida is so un-Thanksgiving-like, that if William Bradford had been Ponce de Leon, we’d all be driving around in sedan de Villes, playing golf from the red tees and eating bagels on the fourth Thursday of this month.
But it turns out Grandma Schroader’s sour beans stems not from my Grandma Hazel slaving at her Pittsburgh stove during the Depression, but from a recipe a neighbor-lady gave my mother in the late ‘5o’s while we were living in Winter Park. It seems I’ve gotten it wrong for 30 years, and now my mother, in her 87th, has decided to set the record straight. I was crestfallen to say the least – having assumed for decades that my family could claim some sort of tiny culinary cred from inventing something so delicious.
Facts may be facts, of course, but I say: When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. And let’s face it: Grandma Schroader’s sour beans sounds a ton better than Fran’s Floridian beans, so I’m going with it.
So here it is food fans, for the umpteenth year, the actual, authentic straight-from-the-fifties recipe, that’s delicious no matter what you call it:
GRANDMA SCHROADER’S SOUR BEANS:
2 cans green beans, heated up
1/4 lb. Bacon
Fry and crumble bacon
Bring to a boil:
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
Pour over green beans
Garnish with as much crumbled bacon as your cardiologist allows.
Serve hot, cold or any temperature in between. These beans co-exist wonderfully with any Thanksgiving dinner, and taste even better the next day. I promise – if you serve them once, you’ll serve them every year.