Tag Archives: green beans

The power of sunshine.

Sunflowers, Sungold tomatoes, baby figs and basil and hollyhocks – It’s summertime! I’ve been feeling it, and seeing the effects of heat.


First, the bad news: My beloved osmanthus/Sweet Olive could not transition to life without lawn water, and was ultimately killed by years of drought. Below is the last scene of its root ball being rolled into a truck. I will never forget this Garden Friend who gave me so much joy. If I ever live where it rains in the summer I will plant another one as soon as I move in!

Let’s get this next unpleasant picture out of the way, too, of Puncture Vine – the bane of my childhood bicycle tires and bare feet! This particular one was growing in the Central Valley, but I also saw some of this weed in my neighborhood yesterday! Its stickery seeds are certainly a product of summer sun.

My favorite rose at church

I’ve picked so many green beans, I was able to make two batches of Turkish Green Beans, a great luxury. This dish freezes so well, it’s ideal for using up the basketsful you get at peak of harvest. The evening that I was preparing the beans was one of those sweet times in summer, when the breeze and the neighborhood sounds of birds and wind chimes and happy voices are coming through the open window, the kitchen window, and I am satisfied and content, having made good use of my garden, at least this week.

All the carrots I harvested had been stashed in the fridge and I eventually made some coconutty soup with them.

There is one exciting thing that happened in my garden that is less directly related to the power of sunshine, and that is the hatching of bluebirds in the birdhouse! I had never seen a bluebird before, but I’d bought a bluebird house, and other people who did that got bluebirds where they’d never seen them before, either. So…

Last spring chickadees nested there, and they might have again if I had thought to clean out the house. They checked it out this year and found their old nest all soggy, and departed. I cleaned out the house, and next thing you know, there are bluebirds nesting in it!!! I took a few pictures and videos of them growing up, until the parents began dive-bombing me, and I left on a trip. This early one is the best that is a still shot. And now they have flown!

Even when I am lazing about in the mountains or hanging out with my children in faraway places, people like Kit keep making use of the sunshine and flora of summertime to make welcome-home bouquets like this:

When it was Kit’s birthday I cut some Queen Anne’s Lace at the creek and put the stems in different colors of water. The red and the green had an effect, but the blue did nothing.

Ground morning glory
One of Kim’s hollyhocks

Last and mostest, the Delta Sunflowers! They have passed eight feet tall now, and I can’t get in between the side branches to get an exact measurement. The poor things are like gangly teenagers, growing so fast and lanky that their lower branches snap off and lie down, but so far the sap is getting through by some means and those stems aren’t wilting.

I feel very proud of them when I come home in my car or from a walk, the way their exuberance displays the best of summer and the power of the sunshine.

Turkish Green Beans

Here is the recipe for the green beans I wrote about in my post on vegetable stews. I have seen versions of this recipe that don’t use a pressure cooker, but if you are comfortable with this kind of cooking it’s very convenient, especially when you have a lot and would like to save them. Most ways of preserving green beans end up with a product that I find lacking, but these are quite good after being frozen. Traditionally they are served cold, but we enjoy them at all temperatures. I put my adjustments in parentheses to the original recipe.

I tried making them with less oil, or with a different type of oil, and the result was mushy beans. But one commenter on my first post (who has a blog dedicated to pressure cooking) said to try pressure-cooking them only four minutes.  I may do that next summer, but this year’s pole beans are about done.

Turkish Green Beans in the Pressure Cooker

2 pounds green beans, trimmed and bisected lengthwise (I didn’t read this carefully and have always cut mine crosswise into 2-3″ lengths.)
1 medium white (I used yellow) onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, slivered
5-6 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or 1 16-oz can diced tomatoes)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 heaping teaspoon Turkish hot pepper paste (or 1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce)
1 to 1 1/2 cups water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup olive oil

Place the beans, onion, garlic and tomato in pressure cooker. Dilute the tomato and pepper pastes in 1/2 cup water and pour that over the beans. Add the remaining water, salt, sugar and oil. Cover and cook; once the pot is at full pressure, cook for 18 minutes.

Quick-release the pressure under cold running water or with the quick-release mechanism. Serve chilled (or warm, or room temperature).