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Marissa Lingen

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Produce trio: defeated by wax beans [Aug. 11th, 2013|10:37 am]
Marissa Lingen
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Friends, I have been defeated by the wax bean.

I said, starting out this new blogging series, that I would give you three ways to eat a given fruit or vegetable. Three! Three is a culturally important number, and also it just isn’t that many, so the project isn’t overwhelming. But. Wax beans are delicate. Wax beans are subtle.

Wax beans are kind of wimps.

So I have two failed attempts and two successes, and you will have to pitch in and help me out here. The failed attempts: the first one was a hoisin sauce with rice vinegar, chopped fresh cilantro, and roasted (unsalted) peanuts. It was a really good sauce. Everybody ate it all right up and complimented the sauce. And the beans…disappeared. It was like eating bean-shaped sauce. This is not the goal! So we are going to put that sauce on something more robust, like salmon or broccoli or brussels sprouts. So okay, I thought. A bit more subtle. A bit more delicate. I sauteed the wax beans in sage brown butter. Sage brown butter! Everybody loves sage brown butter! (Especially me.) But again: the flavor ended up being bean-shaped sage brown butter. The beans just…disappeared.

Well, fee, I said, because I collect fake swears like that. So here are your two, count them, two wax bean suggestions, and please feel free to help me out in the comments:

1. Steamed with lemon juice. Yes, really. Simple. Nice. And it’s about all wax beans can take.

2. Roasted with a tiny bit of garlic. No, really, less garlic than that. This is one of the rare times where the phrase “one clove of garlic” makes any sense. For years and years I could not make it make sense, and now I know: it is for wax beans. Throw ‘em in the oven at 425 F for 12-15 minutes, and then eat. (This is also good with green beans. Green beans are more sure of themselves. Green beans stand up for themselves against other flavors. But we cannot live by green beans alone.)

Previous produce trio: cucumbers, and if you have more cucumber suggestions, please add them in the comments, because lordy do we have cucumbers. This morning in my weekly letter to Mark’s grandfather I told him I had been trying to remember to give cucumbers to all the people I see whom I like, and I was thinking of lowering the bar to people I see whom I am kind of lukewarm on. Because cucumbers. Uff da.


From: swan_tower
2013-08-11 05:33 pm (UTC)
Any chance you'd be willing to tag these entries, so they're easy to find en masse? Because I would like to be able to consult them later, in the hopes that this will help turn me into somebody who actually cooks. :-P
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[User Picture]From: timprov
2013-08-11 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'm going to go fix this at the blog site right now. Posting it so Mris doesn't do it on LJ when she comes back.

Edit: she has a decent tag cloud now, but she'll need to add the tags herself to get them propagating to LJ.

Edited at 2013-08-11 09:13 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: minnehaha
2013-08-11 05:43 pm (UTC)
Pulse them into something like hummus, but lighten up the flavorsome ingredients as you note above. Add a very gentle hard cheese, even green shaker cheese might work. Pile on toasted baguette, top with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. I make this with canned lima beans (yes really) and it's awfully good.

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-12 12:05 am (UTC)
Oh! I like hard cheese. I will try this.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2013-08-11 05:45 pm (UTC)
I keep trying to think up something. (Broiled wax beans dusted with nori flakes?) But it is very difficult. (Steamed wax beans with chive flowers and nasturtium blossoms?) As you say, wax beans are delicate, and all that. (I really really like them, myself. I mostly like them just with some butter and sea salt.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-12 12:04 am (UTC)
That's just it. I like them too. I did not think that a thing I considered to be a thing I like would be a harder thing than the next post I'm working on, which is chard, which is a thing I do not consider myself to like, although I am doing pretty well with it as I do post research.
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[User Picture]From: rushthatspeaks
2013-08-11 06:43 pm (UTC)
Even though the flavor of wax bean per se does not come through, exactly, hot and sour soup without them just is not hot and sour soup, and people the beanless soup is handed to will say that it is not that good and that it is missing something. This is not true of, say, the woods-ear mushrooms and lily blossoms that also traditionally go in. Those can be left out with impunity if they are hard to find. Wax beans, no.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-12 12:04 am (UTC)
I have never once had hot and sour soup with wax beans in. Never once.

Now I wonder if I am going to say, "O of course how marvelous!" or "Well, it's all right I guess but I don't feel the beans are necessary" when I do.
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From: arkessian
2013-08-11 07:32 pm (UTC)
I had to google wax beans and am similarly defeated if newly informed. I am not heartened to find they are available in a jar with citric acid from Tesco (don't ask). Were I to fall over them unexpectedly in my kitchen. I'd probably roast them with olive oil and then dress them with a lemon vinaigrette, or dip them raw in something tasty and creamy... But you should bear in mind that I am a goddess in my own kitchen. And Cthulhu in many other people's.

I used to have a recipe for salmon with a cucumber and cream sauce, that was tart and refreshing (not too much cream) but I can no longer find it, alas.

I have done a successful dressing for salmon with:

sesame seeds
light soy sauce
mirin and rice vinegar
golden caster sugar

but I vary the quantities to what's at hand, so that's probably not a lot of help.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-12 12:03 am (UTC)
I vary the quantities also, so sometimes a list like that is just what I need. Sesame seeds! I am greatly fond of sesame seeds.

Do you have wax beans and call them something else, or do you just not have them?

Also the Cthulhu line cracked me up, which most Cthulhu things don't.
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[User Picture]From: pameladean
2013-08-11 09:55 pm (UTC)
My grandmother used to boil them with onions and dress them with bacon grease and vinegar. Then again, she did that with a lot of things. (And they were DELICIOUS.) Neither my mother to this day nor I when I was still eating meat could get anything to come out the way my grandmother did.

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[User Picture]From: cloudscudding
2013-08-11 10:07 pm (UTC)
I was thinking that this was an interesting series of posts, but I didn't really have any problem vegetables to suggest. Then I went to the farmer's market and saw kale and remembered previous trauma trying to cook the dratted stuff. About the only thing I've done with kale that made me happy was white bean and kale soup. Kale chips were...dreadful.
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[User Picture]From: tiger_spot
2013-08-11 11:57 pm (UTC)
I know a couple of delightful kale things, but I love kale chips so they may not be to your taste either.

Er wait I guess I should wait until there's a kale post.
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[User Picture]From: rikibeth
2013-08-12 03:19 am (UTC)
I don't think I've ever had wax beans outside three-bean salad (which really has four beans). I love three-bean salad. But the wax beans in that are essentially bean-shaped vinaigrette delivery systems.
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[User Picture]From: columbina
2013-08-15 08:22 pm (UTC)
I have come to this comment thread too late to do more than agree that I have never successfully employed wax beans in anything other than three-bean salad.

Which is fine if you only manage to get wax beans about once a year, as I now do, but would probably grow tiresome if you had them more often.
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[User Picture]From: miz_hatbox
2013-08-12 06:43 am (UTC)
Oh! I forgot to tell you in the comments to the cucumber post that thin cuke slices are good in a pitcher of cold water. They infuse the water and it is lovely. I have no cukes right now (though the plants are trying their best)so I am infusing water with mint instead. Mmmm.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-12 11:02 am (UTC)
We have mint! We have more mint than we'll ever get through, but it's less urgent than the cucumber.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2013-08-13 12:42 pm (UTC)
My mother, who no longer has a livejournal, suggests steaming wax beans and then serving them with a little ground black pepper in cream.
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[User Picture]From: jennythe_reader
2013-08-13 05:41 pm (UTC)
If the yellow beans I remember my Mom pickling when I was a wee small Jenny were wax beans (and after looking at pictures of wax beans I'm about 85% sure they were), then I can testify that they pickle beautifully. Unfortunately I don't have a recipe I can give you. It's been in the neighborhood of 25 years, and all I remember is that they were sweet-dill and slightly crispy and delicious.
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2013-08-15 05:47 am (UTC)
Someone on Shakesville just suggested fenugreek on wax beans. I've never used fenugreek except in premade compounds or made into barely palatable tea as a galactagogue, so I have no opinion on the matter.

My sister makes an excellent cucumber/red onion/feta salad. I think she puts dill in it, but not a lot if so.
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