July 22, 2013

Garden Series Part V: Green Beans & Chiles

This week the garden has been neglected.  It was not intentional, but for once I was busy doing more traditional thirty-somethings' pass times.  If you live in the Denver area, you may be aware of the UMS (Underground Music Showcase) and that it can take up a lot of your time.

It was fun and I saw some long-overdue shows.  I saw many friends and had many drinks.  I happened upon Residual Kid, and holy shit, they were awesome.  But if I'm being honest, I normally tend towards the nerdier of hobbies.  Like this poor garden, overgrown with runner beans and turnips and dill.  And wilting in the July sun.

Most of the time, friends are surprised about the gardening habit.  I'm not sure they are more surprised that I actually have a back yard in the city or that I would willingly do all the work.   I usually meet the astonishment with confusion, because I see it as more than rewarding for not much work at all. Sure, digging up 300 square feet of compacted soil by hand is serious labor, but I only had to do that once four years ago and there is machinery available for that sort of thing.  And I don't mind working when I'm properly compensated.

If you really want to know about why I do it, it's not just about the produce or eating off the land.  It's not about making any and all guests take my garden tour (which is pretty high on the things-I-love-about-gardening list). Although I am concerned about the food industry and I like to know where my food comes from, I'm not even trying to reach some high level of local eating.  It's mostly because I find the entire process endlessly fascinating. Every summer I am shocked to see what I get from a handful of seeds in March.  I am enamored with the hundreds of heirloom and unusual varieties that you just never see at the grocery store.  I consider getting some sort of advanced degree in botany.

Plus, I'm growing quinoa this year.  Quinoa, guys!

As for my other nerdy interests, like cooking and sewing and learning about things...uh, I'm not much of a camper or an athlete. Ahem, but when the world ends and we sink into survivalist indecency, I will have clothing and food and a warm quilt and I will know stuff.*  And I share.

Oh.  How about a recipe?


  • Large handful green beans, trimmed
  • Splash olive oil
  • 1 hot chile, sliced thinly
  • Salt to taste
  • Sesame oil

Set a medium pot of salted water to boil and meanwhile prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Once at a boil, blanch green beans for about 2-3 minutes.  Strain through a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Drain well and blot them with a towel to dry before adding them to hot oil.  Ouch.

Put olive oil in a medium saut√© pan and heat to medium-high.  Toss in chile and allow to sizzle.  Once hot, add the blanched green beans and toss to coat.  Stirring or flipping the pan only a few times, allow the beans to cook until blistered on all sides.  Season with salt and plate them up.

Drizzle a very small amount of sesame oil over the top.  Pretty delicious.

*I'm feeling a little ornery this time.

**The purple beans in the first picture are Trionfo Violettos.  They turn dark green when cooked.  The purple chile is a 5-Color Chinese Chile.  These make for such beautiful plants - the chiles start purple, then turn white, yellow, orange, and red.  The purple stage is quite spicy enough.

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