If you don’t like green beans then don’t even bother reading this post. Unless you’re a good person. Then you should read it.

I picked the first crop of Blue Lake bush beans today. It was a touch overwhelming, because that’s the way it is with beans: one day they’re nothing but pale blossoms swinging gently in the breeze, then BAM, you’re drowning in beans.20140707_111037

So here’s everything I know about picking green beans:
1. You should pick them when they’re ready. Which is harder than it sounds because everyone knows what beans look like in the cans but on the vine they come in all different sizes. How small is too small? Where’s the cut-off? Should you save it until the next picking? Pick it now? There’s no definitive answer (other than, “pick them when they’re firm.” Umm. The only time a green bean isn’t firm–no matter how small–is when it’s a flower).

2. You should not pick them when the plants are wet because fungus.

3. It’s very easy to accidentally pull the whole plant out of the ground if you don’t snap the stem of the bean off cleanly. So either use two hands to twist the bean off or else look around to see if anyone’s watching and then shove the plant back in the ground and give it some water.

4. No matter how thoroughly you search the plants, no matter how diligently–or ruthlessly–you pick them, you will NEVER EVER FIND ALL THE BEANS. They will hide in the shadows, blend in to the surrounding stalks, disappear in the tangle of leaves, sometimes even in packs where they will grow sallow and fibrous and sad, like sullen teenagers smoking cigarettes behind the dumpster.

5. This is the most delicious way to cook those green beans:

  • STEP ONE: Saute them for a little while with some butter and olive oil (a little of both, but more butter is always better. No matter the situation.), onions, and garlic (or, if you’re me: onion flakes and garlic powder)
  • STEP TWO: Add chicken broth, enough that the beans are swimming
  • STEP THREE: Cover the beans leaving a little gap for steam to escape and cook until tender, 20 – 25 minutes.
  • STEP FOUR: A dash of lemon juice for brightness.
  • STEP FIVE: Salt and pepper to taste.

I’m telling you, so easy and SO DELICIOUS.

Finally today, in party in the back news. I have teenagers. This is what happens to the kitchen while I sleep:


They did this OVERNIGHT, people. Like Teenage Mutant Ninja RACCOONS!

Someone’s partying. But it sure ain’t me. Also, look closely, there’s an ironic bottle of dish soap just hanging out way way at the back.


Let’s talk about poop, baby…And tomato blight.

I’m feeling some pressure this year because last year’s garden was such a torrid success (TEN whole re-pins of that picture just above, people! TEN!). Particularly since last year’s tomatoes all got the blight (leaves that shriveled and fell off, black spots that eventually consumed the fruits entirely. Pure EVIL). No way I’m planting tomatoes in the same spot again. Though I have done some research on blight, and–according to those in the know at the Athen’s Farmer’s Market–the Amish farmers spray their plants with a baking soda/water solution once a week. Their tomatoes look beautiful. Trust the Amish. Which is good advice for lots of situations.

Still and all, tomatoes are overrated in our family. I mean, what do you do with bushels of tomatoes once salsa loses it appeal and your neighbors hide when they see you coming? Well. You freeze them. Except now we have bushels of frozen tomatoes stuck to the floor of the freezer because someone unplugged the freezer and they sort of melted into a pulpy mush. And then someone plugged the freezer back in without cleaning anything up. Of course. It’s a tomato glacier down there, which is to say: permanent. At least until global warming takes care of them.

So. No tomatoes (Well. Except for two plants that I’m hiding away in the back of the yard. I mean, let’s be honest here: it’s not really a garden without tomatoes). But I’m afraid that without such green, thick, tallish, luscious tomato plants behind the fence to anchor the whole composition, the garden will look like a dog with the mange.


I’ve decided to replace the tomatoes with asparagus. Here’s the trench and the mass of asparagus roots I haven’t yet planted.  I’m not convinced they’ll grow, but I’m planting fifty asparagus plants that I hope will create a feathery hedge behind the fence and a carpet of firm and delicious asparagus spears beneath. Pretty soon, three years or so, our whole family (and our neighbors) will have eight weeks worth of stinky pee.


Which reminds me.

Image courtesy of shopwithmemama.com


In Party in the Back news. This weekend my mother-in-law gave my daughter a game called “Doggie Doo” for her seventh birthday. It’s a game where you feed a wiener dog bites of neon, slimy goop, then roll the dice to figure out how many times you get to squeeze the dog’s leash to force air into the wiener dog’s bowels and try and blow the goop out of its backside. The winner is the person who collects three turds on her or his shovel. The pooping dog was a real hit. We had the Director of the University Creative Writing Program, three grown-ass men construction workers, my oldest son’s girlfriend who gave the wiener dog mouth-to-mouth whenever the dog got, um, “constipated”,  and a seven-year old all holding miniature shovels up to a plastic dog’s butthole.


I’ve married into a family not nearly as tight-lipped about bodily functions as the one I grew up in. My spouse, my in-laws, my children–it’s poop, poop, poop, all the time, poop. The other day my spouse came home from the job site to “rest” in the “restroom” for a little while (he’ll only poop in two places: home and WalMart), and my youngest daughter said, “Daddy, are you home?”

“No, sweetheart,” he told her through the closed door. “I’m just here to  use the restroom for a minute.”

There was a long pause and then she said. “Um, Daddy?”

“Yes, sweetie?”

“Do you want to talk about poop?”

“No!” he said. “I don’t!”

And neither do I.