2014 – the year in review


TARDIS Mk VII (Photo credit: Rooners Toy Photography)

(Sans a TARDIS, I have mentally jumped ahead one year to see what has happened to this blog. Kind of like making your New Year’s Resolution after the fact. Hmmm. This may merit further investigation.)

Well, 2014 was a heck of a lot better than 2013. And 2013 wasn’t too bad. This past year, the culinary-themed mystery novel (The Apple Pie Alibi) was completed, as was the sequel (Burger Bytes and Jail Breaks.) ¬†And the newest cookbook is almost on the shelf (“Time to Pray – The Pastor’s Husband is Cooking Again”.)

It took some doing, but there was a new blog post every week. And the blogger himself actually interacted with other bloggers and food professionals, moving beyond the nice interview in the Dallas Morning News in late 2013. Exploding Potatoes has, in 2014, put more social in the social media construct.

And we had healthier recipes, smaller carbon footprints, less to no genetically modified anythings and greater emphasis on locally sourced, renewable fare. And wine. More wine.

Thanks for reading these past few years. WordPress tells me Exploding Potatoes has been read by people in over 90 countries. That tells me we all like to eat. And there’s nothing wrong with talking about that.

I can’t wait until 2015!


Green Beans fresh from the farm!


One of our neighbors recently had an excess of fresh-picked green beans from their farm. How fortunate we were to receive a large brown bag of these string beans! Unfortunately, with only two of us regularly living in the parsonage, there was no way we could possibly eat all of those beans before most of them would go bad. What to do, what to do?

Green Beans from the farm

Give them away? A noble idea except most of the people we know probably received their own bags of green beans.

What about all those stories from mom and dad? You remember – schools closing so the kids could be forced encouraged to help out with the family farms by “bean walking,” that (I am sure) ever so popular activity of hand-picking the bean pods from the stalks. My parents are probably laughing right now. They worked hard to get away from the truck (vegetable) farms, and here we are, decades later, living across the street from a field that alternates soybean and wheat. Behind the parsonage is the other field, one on the wheat and corn plan.

At least the guy with the bi-plane that used to buzz the house crop dust has retired.

Why not spend a few hours of “together” time? Time without an electronic screen? Time where people can [gasp] talk – to each other? We tried it yesterday. It wasn’t as bad as you think. And we had sharp knives, too.

In case your parents, or even grandparents now I suspect, did not show you the easy way to freeze those fresh green beans, let me share!

1. Sort through the beans, picking out the obvious bad ones and pulling the remnants of stems off the pods. This is a great time to wash the beans in cold water. Since you didn’t farm them yourself, you just never know what may have come in contact with the veggies.

2. (optional) Trim the ends of the beans and then cut the long pods into halves.

Green Beans ready to par boil

3. Par-boil the beans. This means boiling the beans in lightly salted water for a few minutes, then stopping the cooking process by placing the beans in ice water, then draining and packaging into freezer bags. I used a long-handled strainer big enough to hold 2 cups of trimmed beans. This way I could safely hold the beans in the boiling water while watching the clock on the stove. It was also easy to move the beans to the bowl of ice water and finally into the colander to drain.

There is no exact science to this process, since every bean is different. However, if you are using bean pods that have been trimmed and halved, I found that 2 – 3 minutes in boiling water will bring out the deep green color in the pod. After you see that change of hue, put the pods in ice water for about 30 seconds. (Whole pods would take about 3 – 4 minutes in the boiling water, at the most.)

We used 2 cups of beans as our unit of measurement since each bag of frozen beans would be enough to make a nice side dish for the two of us here. If we get visitors we can just pull another bag or two from the freezer. Since the beans have already been partially cooked, it won’t take long at all to steam them, stir fry them, bake them, add them to whatever casserole. And they’ll be just as fresh as the day you froze them. Fresh frozen beans prepared in this manner will be good up to 8 months in your freezer!

Is it easier to buy flash-frozen beans in the freezer section of your supermarket? Easier, yes. But – by snapping and freezing the beans yourself, you actually ‘know’ what went into the process. No preservatives. No chemicals you cannot pronounce.

Just fresh from the farm green beans!

Don’t have a neighbor with a truck farm? No worries. Just go to the supermarket and buy your own fresh green beans. And as more and more markets are becoming carbon-aware, fresh vegetables may soon be available only when “in season.” For those old enough to remember, this is the way it used to be. And maybe the way it used to be wasn’t such a bad way to be.

Green Beans ready to freeze

We spent a few hours of quality time together and ended up with 11 bags (22 servings) of fresh green beans!