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. 🙂

 

 

 

 

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Harvests: Beans, Tomatoes, Basil, and More!

It has been a typical summer round here: mostly warm with the occasional soaking rain. We’re on the tail end of our second (or third?) heatwave, but the garden is standing up to it fairly well. And we’ve started watering on a regular schedule of every other day or every two days, depending on the weather, as opposed to every day. It can be tough to discern the difference between overwatered and underwatered plants. The leaves of at least one squash plant and a few cucumber plants appear to have been attack by a mold of some kind. Meanwhile, the tomato plants, especially those in the “jungle,” despite our best efforts to keep then from doing so, are falling all over themselves with weight. Even some of ones that we have in those cone-shaped cages have become too much to handle. It’s all a little overwhelming, but were grateful that the things that are doing well in the garden are doing really well. And as it is now mid-July, there’s been lots to pick in smaller arrays of harvests.

First off, the two varieties of shelling bush beans that we planted: Pinto and Jacob’s Cattle, have mostly reached the end of their cycles. Not sure of they’ll make a return like the string beans, but we came away with a decent collection of both. The ones that have dried and are drying will join our collection of Red Ripper cowpeas that we saved from last year.

The Pinto beans are brown speclked, while the Jacob's Cattle Beans are red/pink/white speckled. Very pretty!
The Pinto beans are brown speckled, while the Jacob’s Cattle beans are red/pink/white speckled.

Then, how about some basil? Because we’ve got loads! Our Genovese Red Freddy basil really took off this year, and the Sweet Leaf green basil isn’t doing bad either. This is the second of two big harvests that we’ve made so far. The first batch was dried. Most of this batch is destined for pesto.

The smell of fresh cut basil is simply outstanding!
The smell of fresh cut basil is simply outstanding!

And finally, there are the tomatoes (along with a few banana peppers, cucumbers, and ground cherries!)

A meal waiting to happen.
A meal waiting to happen.

So, what of the “tomato jungle?” Well, turns out that the bulk of the plants are producing either Roma-shaped, elongated tomatoes, or cherry/dwarf tomatoes of one sort or another. While the Roma-types haven’t ripened yet, the smaller tomatoes have been, and we’ve been picking small batches of them each day over the past several days.

Our mostly full haul, after eating some, of course. :)
Our mostly current haul, after eating some, of course. 🙂 Plus, more ground cherries.

Last year we planted three different types of cherry tomatoes: Super Sweet 100s, Rite Bite, and Yellow Gooseberry. And last year, the Super Sweets and Rite Bite (either or both) hybridized with at least one other larger variety we planted: Rutgers. This year is seems that we’re getting both Super Sweets and Rite Bites again, again along with small Rutgers hybrids, Black Krims, and possibly, somehow, Marmandes. And we say that mostly because a number of the plants are producing purple/ruby fruit or lobed fruit typical of the Marmande tomato. We’re not 100% certain on any count — these are just our best guesses at this point. And some of the fruit are pink, so who knows! Besides that, the little yellow tomatoes on one of our Sun Sugar plants are coming along. They are so very sweet! And the little Indigo Blue Berries have…stalled? They’ve still only got coloring on the shoulders of each fruit, but no ripening beyond that. Some upcoming hot and sunny days may push they forward a bit.

We’ll sign off this week with a few more signs of life in the garden, including a picture of some of our lovely squash blossoms. Got to get up early in the morning that catch those!

Squash blossoms may be tasty, but we prefer to see if they'll become zucchini.
Squash blossoms may be tasty (and pretty), but we prefer to see if they’ll become zucchini.
Happy to see flowers on our pole beans -- these are Blue Goose cowpeas.
Happy to see flowers on our pole beans — these are Blue Goose cowpeas.
And finally, it wound;t be our garden without marigolds. They are blooming everywhere!
And finally, it wound’t be our garden without marigolds. They are blooming everywhere!