I love fresh green beans. The feel of them in my hands as I put them in my basket or bag, the fresh smell of them, and the texture of the outside skin. I have been known to eat them raw right off the plant on hot summer days. Snapping beans reminds me of what it must have been like in the “olden days” when green beans didn’t come in a can with a giant on it or in a plastic bag in the freezer section. Back to the times when if you wanted green beans… you had to go pick them off the plants in the garden.
Snapping beans is one of those activities that is usually passed down from grandmothers or mothers to daughters. Whenever I hear that first “snap” of the tip of the green bean, I am immediately taken back to my Grandma’s back porch, sitting on the chair balancing a bowl of green beans on my lap. That fresh, from-the-garden smell when you snap the beans in half takes me back to hot, lazy summer days.
It takes me back to heading out to Fulton Farms with my mom (Nana) and buying green beans, then taking them home and snapping them for dinner. Snap both ends, then snap them in 2-3 pieces. Grandma and mom would usually throw them in a pot to cook all day with a ham hock. Simmering on the back of the stove, the house would begin to smell like green bean goodness. Most of the time, this delicious smell was mixed with baking cornbread.
Last year, on the way home from a day-trip to buy spices, we stopped at a local farm with the kids. There, just inside the door was a huge bin of fresh green beans. I immediately could hear that snap and the smell of the freshness as I separated the ends from the bean. I bought two pounds.
We took the kids home and with two huge bowls, sat on the living room floor and showed them how to snap their first beans. Now, if you have snapped beans before, you know there is an art to this. You snap the ends, then snap them again. If you don’t do it right, you don’t get that “snap” and you tear the bean. That meal, we had a lot of torn beans, but it was the memory that I passed on to my children that will stay with them forever.
One day, my kids will be standing in their kitchen or on their back porch, with a huge bowl in their lap snapping fresh green beans and will be immediately taken back to us sitting on the floor when they were four years old snapping beans. Its a memory they will always visit when they hear that snap.
This year, I had grabbed some beans from the local farmers market and was standing on the counter snapping them for dinner. These beans were destined for the pot with some fresh red potatoes and a pound of center-cut bacon. As I reached into the basket, and wrapped my hand around the first handful of beans, placed my fingers and thumbs just so for that satisfying “snap”, I was immediately transported back in time.
Back in time, sitting on the back porch with a bowl balanced on my lap and hearing Grandma snapping as she hummed. Hearing that satisfying “snap” of a fresh green beans that signals the end of summer. Hearing the birds chirp, dogs bark, and the wind rustling through the field.
I can only imagine what memories the sound of that crisp snap brought to my grandma’s mind those hot, summer days.
Green Beans, Potatoes, and Bacon
- 1 pound fresh green beans washed and snapped
- 1 large sweet onion quartered and separated into layers
- 1 pound center cut bacon roughly chopped
- 1 pound red potatoes cleaned and quartered
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Spray slow cooker with baking spray.
- Layer green beans, onion pieces, bacon, and potatoes in Crock Pot.
- Add water.
- Sprinkle with seasonings and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.