Our family lived in the suburbs of St. Louis, MO, when I was young. Each summer, we took a vacation to Southern Illinois, where most of our relatives lived. Our Aunt Helen and Uncle Lloyd were farmers and Aunt Helen canned most of the vegetables. She always cooked a big lunch for us and I loved her green beans cooked with onions and bacon grease. They sure were good!
Nasturtium – A flower used to flavor foods; all parts are edible.
Salt Pork — The layer of fat, usually with some streaks of lean, that is cut from the pig’s belly and sides. Salt pork is salt-cured and often must be blanched to remove the excess salt before use.
Stock – The liquid produced by simmering meats and/or vegetables and removing all the solids, leaving a highly flavored liquid.
Try Out – To cook out fat from salt pork, bacon, beef suet, etc.
INFORMATION BELOW FROM 1800s COOKBOOKS:
VARIETIES OF STRING BEANS
There are two general types of string beans: the yellow ones, which are commonly known as wax beans, and the green ones, which are the ones meant when the term string beans is used. Some varieties have strings, but others are stringless and consequently are easier to prepare.
SELECTION AND CARE OF STRING BEANS
The beans should be picked from the vines before the beans are old enough for the pods to develop woody fibers. Otherwise, they will not be palatable, for when they have reached this stage it will be impossible to cook them soft. The beans should be just beginning to form, and should snap crisply. If possible, they should be cooked immediately, but if this cannot be done they should be kept in a cool, damp place to prevent them from becoming limp.
PREPARATION AND COOKING
To prepare beans for cooking, wash them thoroughly in cold water. If the beans have strings, break the ends and strip off the strings together with the ends. If not quite fresh, have a bowl of spring-water with a little salt dissolved in it standing before you, and as the beans are cleaned and stringed, throw them in. Beans may then be cooked whole or cut into inch lengths before cooking. If it is desired to cut them, the most convenient way is to place them in an orderly heap on a cutting board and then cut a handful at a time, drawing a sharp knife across them as they are held on the board. Any imperfect portions should be removed before cutting.
BOILED STRING BEANS
Cut off the ends, remove the strings, and cut into two or three pieces. Wash in cold water, drain, and boil until tender in salted water. Drain, and serve with melted butter. A bit of bacon or ham, for flavor, may be boiled with the beans.
CREAMED STRING BEANS
Not only an appetizing dish, but one whose food value is increased, is the result. The cream sauce served with the beans may be made entirely of milk, but a very satisfactory sauce can be made by using half milk or cream and half liquid in which the beans were cooked. To prepare creamed beans, clean the beans in the usual way and cut them into inch lengths. Put them to cook in boiling salted water and cook until they may be easily pierced with a fork. Pour off the water, but keep it to use in the dressing. To dress a sufficient quantity of beans for four persons, a sauce should be made as follows:
SAUCE FOR CREAMED STRING BEANS
You need one tablespoon butter, one tablespoon flour, one-fourth teaspoon salt, a pinch of pepper, one-third cup rich milk or cream, and one-third cup liquid from beans. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour, salt, and pepper. Pour in the heated liquids and stir until the mixture is smooth and thoroughly cooked. Add the sauce to the beans, heat together, and serve.
STRING BEANS WITH SOUR SAUCE
Remove the strings from a quart of beans, cut in pieces, boil with a pinch of soda until tender, and drain. Add one tablespoon butter blended with one teaspoon flour, a tablespoon of vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for five minutes. While stirring, add in a well-beaten egg, and serve immediately.
SAVORY STRING BEANS
Wash and remove strings, then put the whole beans to cook in boiling water with a little salt, and cook until tender. Cut two small onions into thin slices, fry golden brown in butter, dredge with flour, and add a little white stock. Cook until thick, stirring constantly, and seasoning with salt and pepper. Add the cooked beans to the sauce with a crushed bean of garlic, cook for ten minutes, sprinkle with minced parsley, and serve.
STRING BEAN SALAD
Marinate cold, cooked, stringless beans with French Dressing. There should be enough beans to make a generous border around a cold veal loaf. Sprinkle beans thickly with small onions thinly sliced and the rings separated. Garnish the edge of the dish with sprays of parsley and nasturtium blossoms. The finely chopped seed-cells may also be sprinkled over beans and is quite an addition.
STRING BEAN SOUP
Boil one pint of string beans cut in inch lengths, in one pint of veal or celery stock and one pint of water. Add a few slices of potatoes, a stalk of tender celery chopped, half a small onion, two or three leaves of summer savory and a clove. When soft, rub through a sieve. Put in a saucepan and cook together a tablespoon of butter, a heaping tablespoon of flour and a pint of rich milk. Add this to the stock and pulp, season with pepper and salt and serve.
STRING BEANS PICKLED
Boil beans until tender, and then put into strong vinegar. Add green peppers to taste.
STRING BEANS DRIED
Cook beans until half done. Drain, dry in the sun, pack in paper bags, and keep in a cool place. To cook, soak overnight, and cook a shorter time than usual.
STRING BEANS WITH SALT PORK
Besides improving the flavor, salt pork supplies the beans with fat, a food substance in which they are very low. After washing the beans, remove the ends and strings, but do not cut into inch lengths. Put the whole beans to cook in boiling water and add one-fourth pound of pork for a sufficient amount of beans for four persons. Cook until the beans are tender, and serve with the pork without removing from the liquid.
STRINGLESS BEANS WITH BACON
Cut three thin slices of bacon in shreds crosswise, try out in a frying pan. Cook until tender two cups green, stringless beans, and three or four small new onions, in boiling salted water. Drain and add to bacon, mix well, add salt (if necessary) and pepper, and turn into a hot serving dish.
STRING BEANS, SPANISH
Take two pounds of green string beans and chop fine. Put one tablespoonful of bacon drippings in a frying pan and one onion, cut fine, and half a dry red pepper, cut fine. Let the onion and pepper fry brown, then add three ripe tomatoes, cut fine, and stir in one tablespoon flour. Then add one quart of cold water, then the chopped beans, with salt and pepper to taste, and let the beans cook until tender. Keep adding water as needed, so as not to let them get too dry.