Happy Thanksgiving – What a Year It Has Bean

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ELV note: Anyone who knows us, knows that Thanksgiving is our favorite day of the year.  It is a distinctly American holiday that, despite every retail and marketing effort to the contrary, has yet to be  co-opted by capitalism and bad taste. Thanksgiving is all about food, family and friends and that’s it. As much as we love the holiday, though, this year has been a tough one. Illness, death(s) in the family, a busted toe(!), and lots of angst over everything from politics to getting old — a year of false starts.

Still, there is much to be thankful for:

  •  I still have my eyesight.
  • I didn’t get any fatter in the last year, and may actually dropped a few pounds.
  • I’m more regular than a Swiss train.

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  • I took up golf again…and may be progressing past the “old man hacker” level.
  • I walk more in a day than most people do in a week.
  • Those funerals meant spending more time with my family — one of the ironies of growing old.
  • My kids and grand-kids are doing splendidly.
  • Making some new friends and continuing to enjoy many old ones.
  • I’m now drinking even more expensive wine — thanks to Mom and Dad.
  • My wife continues to grow more beautiful.
  • We’re cooking more and restauranting less. (It was time.)
  • Neither The Food Gal® nor I have lost our sense of adventure. We will not go gentle into that good night, and neither should you.
  • And finally, I’m thankful that, for the tenth year in a row, we will NOT be making a turkey. This year’s theme is Britsgiving: featuring a feast inspired by the countries from which the Pilgrims escaped and the foods they were fleeing. Pheasant and beef Wellington will be on the menu, plus Spotted Dick and a Stilton Cheese the size of my head. Turkey is for the birds.

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Regardless of the asperity sprinkled throughout the past months, Thanksgiving is a time to feast and remember all the good things, like “The World’s Greatest String Bean Recipe” — which we now publish for the 19th year in a row.  As usual, we do this by including not one, not two, but THREE recipes (from its origins in the 50s to an updated, more gastronomic version. Make them once, your Thanksgiving table will never again be without these sweet and sour luscious legumes.

And remember: satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!

Before we get to cookin’, you might like to tune in here, where, in 2010, we explore the origins of this essential T-Day feast.

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GRANDMA SCHROADER’S SOUR BEANS (KNPR Version)

1. Fry and crumble a pound of bacon….which is really more than you’ll need, but half of it will miraculously disappear as you complete the recipe.

2. Take one 10 oz. package of frozen, French cut green beans. Microwave them for a few minutes (drain) and put ‘em in a nice serving bowl.

3. Bring to a boil:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. of salt
1 chopped up onion

4. Now this is the hard part so pay attention…Pour everything over the beans and garnish with whatever bacon hasn’t miraculously disappeared from your kitchen counter.

5. Serve hot, cold or any temperature in-between.

GRANDMA SCHROADER’S SOUR BEANS  (Authentic, Straight from the 50s Recipe):

2 cans green beans
1/4 lb. Bacon

Fry and crumble bacon

Bring to a boil:
1/4 cup vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. Salt
chopped onion

pour over green beans
garnish with bacon

 My Slightly More Gastronomic(?) Recipe

Fry and crumble a pound of good pepper-crusted bacon – which is more than you’ll need, but half of it will have miraculously disappeared before you use it as a garnish.

Trim and french-cut 12 oz. of fresh green beans. Cook (steam or par boil without salt) until tender. Drain and  put them in a nice serving bowl.

While the beans are steaming or simmering or microwaving, bring to a boil 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and one medium chopped onion (chopped not too fine).

Now here’s the hard part so pay attention: after the sugar/vinegar/onion mixture has come to a full boil, pour the entire mixture over the cooked green beans and 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 if you serve them once, you’ll serve them every year.

No matter which version you make, it is virtually idiot-proof, and won’t take you more than fifteen minutes. (Frying the bacon takes the longest and you can do that hours, or even days ahead. But good bacon is a must.)

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By now, you are probably besotted and bored by legumes. So we’ll beat it from beauteous beans soon enough pilgrim, but not before we refer you to one last homage to Phaseolus vulgaris– and reveal one final surprise.

As it turns out, neither Grandma Hazel Schroader, nor our mother, nor anyone related to the Schroader or Curtas clans had anything to do with Grandma Schroader’s Sour Beans. Turns out they came from a neighbor lady (Fran Kesler) who clipped out the recipe and gave it to our mother (Ruth Curtas) sometime in the late 50s while we were living on Via Venetia Avenue in Winter Park (Florida, not Colorado).

Ah the 50s….when cryptic recipes were clipped and shared across the back fence, to the sounds of kids getting dirty outdoors and moms mixing the martinis.

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No matter who invented them, Grandma Schroader’s Sour Beans is a recipe destined for your Thanksgiving table. They won’t taste the same this year without my mother telling me how I’ve done them wrong, but I’ll be serving them in her honor, nonetheless.

Happy Thanksgiving….and remember:

Every man is rich or poor according to the proportion between his desires and his enjoyments. – Samuel Johnson
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1 thought on “Happy Thanksgiving – What a Year It Has Bean

  1. Love ja, John, and happy thanksgiving.
    Those housewives may have been making martinis in general, but that’s a candy cane swizzling that little carafe which makes me suspect that’s a round of vodka stingers.

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