Thursday, November 10, 2005

String Beans for Sister Fabian

James Lileks mentioned en passant that he sets aside particular days of the week for different subjects. I don't remember what he listed; it was awhile ago. But the idea stuck. I thought of his categories: probably one is "Cute Things Gnat Does/Says" and another might be: "Things That Bring Out the Curmudgeon in Me." They sound like him, don't they? And there's that obsession he has for matchbooks. Somehow I doubt he ever smoked. I pick up a matchbook and breathe a sigh of relief. I really don't need the stupid things anymore. He picks up a matchbook and it makes him nostalgic. Chacun à son goût, eh what?

Anyway, I remember thinking what a good idea that was! Now, no blank computer screen and blank mind -- just a matter of coming up with a subject a day. Unfortunately, I came up with lebenty-leven subjects so I may be awhile sorting them down into just seven. All three regular readers here may or may not notice the morph of my subject days. It's not on their A list, though, so I'm safe.

Today started to be about recipes and then I decided that was too confining. Writing about food is much more fun. It may be more fun than actually eating it, but for damn sure it's more fun than cleaning up after dinner.

Dinner for me used to be supper. It happened every single blessed day at 6:00 p.m. To this day, fifty years after leaving Saint Mary's Orphanage at 1211 Ocean St., it still seems to me that this is the proper time to eat, even though I'm not usually hungry then. I've forgotten some of the days' menus, though I do recall Thursday was liver...which fortunately, I liked. On Sundays we had green beans, which I loathed then. They were canned, which were not like Momma made, and they were slimy. Never mind, all two hundred and fifty pounds of Sister Fabian stood there rolling her eyes until all the slime was gone. Now I love green beans.

I found out last month that Sister Fabian continued to struggle with that two hundred and fifty pounds long after I left her sight. They even sent her to have a gastric by-pass, hoping it would help. But it didn't. Essentially she died of her obesity: a brilliant mathematician with a rebellious body. Sister Fabian, if you can hear me, when we were on the playground, I’m sorry my elbows were so sharp when I used to lean on your knees and ask questions. That’s what I remember: you rolling your eyes as I gagged those canned green beans and saying “Child, you have such sharp elbows. Don’t lean so hard..”

My second-youngest grandson is obese. The first time his mom went into the hospital, he ballooned. When she died, he became even heavier. I feel such sadness for him. When Shelagh died I offered to bring him to the doctor and pay for any special foods or counseling. No go. For those of you inclined to prayer, send a few for this little boy who hates how he looks and has to endure a lot of teasing.

Green Beans for Sister Fabian:

1 lb fresh green beans or Italian pole beans (the latter should be small and not left on the vine too long), left whole (just chop off stem ends)
a tomato, diced
a clove of garlic, thinly sliced
2 scallions, shredded
2 sprigs sage
¼ package of artificial sweetener
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil spray

After you have heated it a bit, lightly spray a saucepan with oil.
Sauté thinly sliced garlic and shredded scallion for a few minutes until wilted.
Add tomato and sage. Stir until softened.
Add green beans, a little water, and seasonings.
Cover and cook on low until green beans are done to your liking.
Remove the sage if you must, or chop into the mix.
Serve at room temperature.
If you must, drizzle a bit of olive oil over all..
Sister Fabian, if it’s not too much trouble, please keep an eye on my grandson. He could use someone to watch over him. And you’ll know his own particular Purgatory...


At 3:44 AM, Blogger Headmistress, zookeeper said...

Sorry it took me so long to get back over here. In the meantime I figured out the email thing at my blog so I now do have email.=)
Um- a book about Presidents for an 8 year old. These questions are hard because we have odd tastes. But we like :
Story of the Presidents of the United States of America by Maude Petersham. oop
The Buck Stops Here: The Presidents of the United States (Updated Edition) by Alice Provensen (Paperback)- more like a picture book, but still has plenty of good information- some trivia, but just enough to keep it interesting.
newer than the first one, so has more presidents.

The Saturday Evening Post once published a book on the Presidents called The US Presidents.
REvolutionary war, federal period- egads, woman, that's a tough question. Gerald Johnson wrote a trilogy called A History for Peter that includes America is Born; American Grows Up; and the third, which might be the first and which title I can't think of. Oop.
I also like biographies by Clara Ingram Judson, and she did several about Revolutionary War heroes.
Also Genevieve Foster's books, especially titles like George Washington's Word.
Robert Lawson's Mr. Revere and I is sweet.
We like Tree of Freedom by Rebecca Caudill, but it is more historical fiction.
Which would bring us to Johnny Tremain.
You might also consider This Country of Ours, which covers a greater period of American History, but it is very well written. You can find it online at Gutenberg- it's be Henrietta Marshall.

Not knowing his reading level, I didn't recommend Jean Fritz's books which are perhaps too easy. But if not, they are very informative and fun at the same time (we don't like Around the World in a Hundred Years, but we do like nearly everything else she has written).

You might also look to se if Bethlehem Books has anything to interest you- they almost never publish stinkers.


At 2:52 PM, Blogger erico said...


My office-mate just offered me some of her elk barley soup for lunch. She lives on a ranch she runs with her husband, and they like to hunt. She mentioned the soup was supposed to have more string beans. I replied that I don't like string beans, but in her soup they sure were good. And the elk wasn't gamey. She passed along that if you cut off the fat, that takes a lot of the gaminess out of the meat. I may be able to get a recipe out of her, if it sounds interesting. I had two bowls.

I once wrote a paper in college about The Canterbury Tales that I titled, "Food, folks, and fun". That sort of summed up what the stories were about, to me. It also strikes me that the sharing of the eucharistic meal is the same. Reading your evocative prose in this post reminds me of the essentials. A good meal, and good conversation.

A short prayer for your grandson. And though I was ambivalent to ask, in my private email to you I had intended to ask you to ask for the intercession of St. Dymphna for the person alluded to in the email. All the best.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Dymphna said...


email me with your person's first's more effacacious that way. Easier to hold them in mind, maybe?

Game meat: my son-in-law says the taste depends on what they eat. No elk around here, just marauding deer who eat landscapes.

Anyway, he says marinating the meat helps, as does grinding it with herbs, etc.


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