Saturday I went to the Market. Yellow and green beans are in and beautiful. The recipe called for canned beans and Jiff peanut butter. When I googled green beans and rice vegan this recipe appeared:
Shortcut Asian Green Beans Author: Mrs. Herb
• 1 can of green beans, mostly drained (leave about 2 tablespoons of liquid)
• 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
• 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
• 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• Salt to taste
Add all the ingredients to a small sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat for about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. That’s it!
It would have been faster to do it their way but I had fresh beans. I stood at the sink to wash and snap the beans. Each bean needed to be examined and the two ends snapped off; each bean taken separately and snapped twice. The house was quiet and I am just snapping beans. I tried to do it just right. Where to place the beans and how not to use too much water? Where to put the compost bin so it was a smooth process from wash, to snap, to colander? I thought about the generations of women before me who have snapped beans.
I remember growing up, our neighbor would bring a big pan of fresh beans out to the porch and sit and talk while she snapped. She would put them in a pot of water with potatoes and onions. It was an occasion every year when she brought home a huge batch of green beans and new potatoes. She cooked the daylights out of them – added bacon and it was a feast.
Standing at my sink, I felt the connection across generations, across time and distance to women’s work. Proudly I stood at the sink feeling good to be so connected to the women of the past; feeling so good to be connected to the food I eat. I felt connected and useful. I hesitated for just a moment feeling “placed” at the sink, feeling the burden of generations of back-breaking, leg aching women’s work. And there is more.
I choose to go to the market. I choose to be connected to each bean as its ends are added to the compost pile in my garden. I chose honey instead of brown sugar. I choose a garlic bulb hanging on the back porch and used my press instead of the powder. I think these are better choices. What makes them better? I have bought into the idea that fresh is better, slow cooking is better and connected is better.
I am lucky to have these choices. My mind drifted to those who have no choice; canned beans because they are cheap and easy, garlic powder because there is no place to get it fresh, and a need to hurry to prepare the food because there is so much else to be done. I am lucky.