So I made some green beans…so big deal right? Wrong. They were a huge deal. A ‘I think I could eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner deal’ even. Was it the bacon fat? I’m sure that did not hurt. How about the chicken stock…that too. But what I really loved? Though made smack dab in the middle of summer; they are already on my list of planned dishes for Thanksgiving. I have found the Holy Grail; the dish that will get others to follow me and leave that horrid canned mess called a Green Bean Casserole. Me, green beans and my new green Le Creuset French Oven! C’est tres magnifique!
I’ve been cooking for some time now. Almost since I can remember. I’ve shared the special moments of cooking with my Grandmother; those moments were the fun ones and especially important to me as my own mother was an alcoholic and not the pretty, funny kind either. No, my mom was the worst kind; the could not admit she had a problem kind. As the oldest daughter that left a lot on my shoulders because I had five brothers and sisters; one who was born when I was 16. I loved them, I did, but the situation made me weary. Weary of having to stay home from high school, quit college or quit jobs so I could be the stand-in mom when she had an episode that required hospitalization or even if she just felt like staying in bed all day.
I started doing all of the cooking for our family the summer after my first year of college when my mother was in a facility for months and I was expected to fulfill her role full-time. Though I admit I was intimidated by those demands then, I was always the girl to get it done when a challenge was set in front of me. So I took care of the baby, kept the house clean, did the grocery shopping and started looking at cookbooks and upping my game for meals. By the time I moved out a year later I had a greater sense of confidence and really enjoyed the process of taking a set of ingredients and making something that tasted good and nurtured those I cared about.
It took someone else suggesting to me that if I could manage working full time, tend to a large family and pay room and board at 18; then maybe I should move out and live on my own. I have to admit, the thought had never crossed my mind. I was so used to caring for people around me, being the dutiful daughter, that it NEVER occurred to me that I did not have to stay, that I could make a decision based on what would improve the quality of my life. So, with a great deal of trepidation, that is what I did.
I wish I could say that something magical happened, that it changed the relationship with my father who expected a lot from me yet could never acknowledge my value, or that my mother stopped drinking but that would not be true. If I don’t share much of my growing up it’s just because I don’t have those ‘Father Knows Best’ memories to cull from. Why stories about cooking with my mother will never appear and why those with my beloved Grandma are so important.
On my own I had very little equipment to cook with so when that salesman showed up at my door and I could get an entire set of cookware and make payments for it? Some might have thought I was a sucker then but I will never regret that choice. I used that same set of pots and pans for over 30 years. I cooked for friends and boyfriends, husband and children with those pots and pans and even today still have the egg poaching pan and insert that was a part of the set! I gave everything else to my oldest daughter when she graduated from college and moved into her first apartment and as a reward to myself, I bought a full set of All Clad pans (not without my standard modis operandi of finding the BEST deal in the land, promise!) and have loved using them and yes, have them hanging in plain sight in my kitchen!
So…though I’ve heard the name Le Creuset whispered with reverance…I never got it. That much money for one pan? And an orange or yellow one at that (Full confession? Hate orange). I have a tendency to often decry name brands and the excessive amounts paid for them in comparison to other goods. C O A C H – those letters don’t really seem to guarantee anything much better than just an overpriced purse in my mind. (Shh, don’t tell, I might have an outlet one that I do love).
So, when the adorable Julie at http://thelittlekitchen.net had a contest for a Le Creuset French Oven, can I tell you that I left a comment as much to support Julie as anything and never in a gazillion years expected to hear some time later that I had actually won. And what a hypocrite I am. I was actually EXCITED! Really…who doesn’t win something with a retail price of $260 and think Whoo Hoo!! My mailing information was gathered and I went on with life not waiting for Mr. GoodBar exactly but I might have been waiting for
Santa FedEx to arrive. I admit surprise at how quickly the pot IN THE COLOR I WANTED showed up at my door. I can not deny part of the excitement was the color…I love their new Fennel Green. It is oh so not orange!
You might think that this post was planned out meticulously to make green beans in my new green French oven but that is not true. I had gone shopping at Costco with my friend Karen from Eat, Drink, Washup and when she went to grab some green beans I asked her to get some for me too. Not something I usually make but I had a ‘why not?’ moment. I mean Karen has won cooking contests for crying out loud…she must know something, right? By the time the present/pot showed up at my door within the week, both the green beans and the mushrooms in my fridge needed to be cooked and I had a new fabulous pot to cook them in…it was fate I tell ya!
Was I happy with the results? Should I be embarrassed to say I was beyond overjoyed? Le Creuset is cast iron that is enameled coated so it’s the best of both worlds. Great heat distribution (I mean GREAT heat distribution; there is simply no way that onions sizzle like that so uniformly in my stainless steel) coupled with ease of cleanup. And as much as I love my All Clad, I have to admit, this is a ‘pretty’ pot so it can be used for serving right from the table. I was most impressed with how very long it retained heat once I removed it from the stove. I sort of did this post bass ackwards. I used the pot first and then went searching for information. I have to admit I do love a 101 year warranty; it will most certainly outlive me and I’m sure will be something that is fought over. Something I especially love? I can use it on my grill! So, thanks Julie, thanks Le Creuset. I’m sorry I doubted you. I love you both and I love you my new, beautiful green pan.
Green Beans and Mushrooms with a contemporary take!
- 2-3 Tbsp butter
- 2 lbs mushrooms, cut into thick slices
- 1/2 lb bacon
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 2 lbs fresh green beans, french or regular style
- 2 -3 cups of chicken stock
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Melt butter in heavy, large pan. Saute sliced mushrooms until 'just' tender; approximately 5-7 minutes. Do not overcook!
- Remove mushrooms from pan and reserve, boil down liquid in pan if necessary til just a glaze remains.
- Chop bacon into 1 inches pieces and cook in pan, rendering fat. Cook until just beginning to brown.
- Add the chopped onions to the bacon and cook until the onions are translucent.
- Add the green beans and the chicken stock and simmer until the green beans are just tender, approximately 10-15 minutes, turning them occasionally in the liquid.
- Add the sauteed mushrooms to the green beans, stir gently and serve.