More beans than you can shake a stick at

Over the past few weeks, warmish temperatures and a steady dose of rain have helped our beans — bush beans, pole beans, and string beans — proliferate like mad! The beans have been growing far faster than we could ever eat them, and this past weekend, we found ourselves with a definite surplus.

This was our most recent harvest – a nice selection of purple and wax string beans, along with hearty Rattlesnake pole beans (the large green ones with the red streaks). Oh, and also a couple cherry tomatoes for good measure. 🙂

We also made our first harvest of shelling beans!

A couple varieties, still in their pods.

These turned out to be Tiger Eye beans (a bush variety) and Fort Portal Jade (a pole variety).

On the left are the extremely pretty and green Fort Portal beans – dried at top and raw at the bottom. On the right are the Tiger Eyes – raw ones at the top and dried ones, with their distinct maroon markings on gold, at the bottom. The ones in the middle are also Tiger Eyes, but they turned out all maroon for whatever reason.

While there are more Fort Portal beans to come, it looks like the Tiger Eye plants have had their say. As with beans, they might be done, or they might re-blossom later in the summer.

But, back to the busload of string beans. A much as we’ve been enjoying them simply steamed with dinner, we decided to do something a little different this past weekend, and make them into a light and delicious salad. We regularly make a Three-Bean Salad, but we wanted something a little different, so we turned to our trust Betty Crocker recipe book and found a little inspiration in the form of a “Tangy Vegetable Salad.” But we didn’t have everything on hand for that particular recipe, so we improvised. Here’s our version, which we’ll call “Simple Vegetable Salad (That’s Mostly String Beans).”


Simple Vegetable Salad (That’s Mostly String Beans)

Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups of coarsely chopped fresh string beans
  • approximately 1/2 cup (or so) each of chopped onion, carrots, peppers, and squash (we used a red pepper and summer squash, but any varieties could work)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Instructions

1. Gather all vegetables together; gather together ingredients for dressing.

Veggies, check.
Dressing ingredients, check.

2. Boil a little water (about 1/2 cup or so) in a large saucepan, and dump in the vegetables. Cook in boiling water for five minutes.

So pretty. It’s a little sad that the purple beans have to turn green when cooked.

3. After five minutes, drain the vegetable and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

See…no purple. Still delicious, though.

4. Place dressing ingredients into a small screw-top jar and shake vigorously to combine.

More shaking needed…

5. Place drained vegetables in a large bowl and pour over dressing. Stir gently, cover bowl, then place bowl in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Delish!

5. While salad is chilling, stir occasionally until ready to serve. When serving, use a slotted spoon.


This is an excellent summer salad – light, filling, and refreshing. And it’s super quick to make! (Who wants to turn on the oven in 100 degree heat, anyway?!) One thing to note is that you could also used white wine or red wine vinegar for the dressing. And really, you could use just about any combination of vegetables. The original recipe called for cauliflower and the addition of sliced olives at the end. But our results turned out to be simply delicious. And that’s what’s important. 🙂

 

 

 

 

Beans! Glorious Beans!

After recovering from last week’s mini-flu and being merry this past Labor Day weekend, we got back out into the garden to pick…BEANS! If there’s one thing in the garden that’s doing better than just about everything else it’s the beans. Not the string beans (their season has passed), but the pole beans and bush beans, both of which require shelling and drying.

Just a handful of said beans, waiting to be shelled.
Just a handful of said beans, waiting to be shelled.

Or, in our case, just shelling because the pods and beans have already dried! That’s the really nice thing about thee beans — if you happen to forget about them, having them dry on the plants is no problem. At least them you’re sure that the beans are ready to store. (Though it’s always a good idea to set them out to dry for at least a few days, just to make sure they are all really dry. In the case of beans, one bad, wet bean can spoil the whole bunch, so no sense in letting your harvest go moldy.)

With having yesterday (Labor Day) off, we go to picking and shelling. We’ve got plenty to save now, and looking at what’s left on the plants, there are lots more to come! So let’s see just some of what we ended up with.

It’s kind of a short story, because once we shell all the beans…

Shelled and ready to sort.
Shelled and ready to sort.

…then it’s time to sort.

The first few of many piles.
The first few of many piles.

In the picture above we ended up with Blue Goose cowpeas (top left), Red Ripper cowpeas (top center), a few unripe black beans (top right), Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans (right), Holstein cowpeas (bottom center right), a couple Christmas lima beans (bottom center left), and Turkey Craw beans (bottom left). It’s a veritable cacophony of beans!

Seeing as how pretty the beans are, we couldn’t resist taking a few “artistic” shots.

The Blue Goose beans are very pretty, and they aren't really blue. More of a light gray speckled when they are raw. They become more brown when dry.
The Blue Goose beans are very pretty, and they aren’t really blue. More of a light gray speckled when they are raw. They become more brown when dry.
The Red Ripper beans start out very pink. They eventually dry to a deep maroon color.
The Red Ripper beans start out very pink. They eventually dry to a deep maroon color.
The speckled Turkey Craw beans also start out very pink and white. When dry, the pink part turns a dark, dull red, and the white part browns a little.
The speckled Turkey Craw beans also start out very pink, and white. When dry, the pink part turns a dark, dull cranberry red, and the white part turns beige.
The black beans are the prettier of them all. When raw, they take on various shades of dark blue and violet. They all dry a deep black.
The black beans are the prettiest of them all. When raw, they take on various shades of dark blue and violet. They all dry a deep black.

In addition to making a good harvest of these beans, we also managed a decent if small crop of soybeans this year.

Edamame, anyone?
Edamame, anyone?

Last year the squirrels and rabbits got to the soybeans before they even had a chance. This year, we planted the soybeans in one of the back barrels (when tomatoes would have been if they hadn’t died off early), and they did pretty well. We might try this placement for them again next year.

As more beans come in, it’ll soon be time to plan out all the bean soups and stews we’ll be making this winter! That is an exciting prospect, indeed. 🙂