Wednesday, November 23, 2011

With thanks to the millions of green beans who will give their lives for Thanksgiving dinners everywhere

Dear Boo,

Did you see this article in the Science section of the Times on Tuesday? It's all about how good an 'attitude of gratitude' is for our health. It's an age-old sentiment found in ancient texts and espoused by new-age gurus alike, and yet somehow I always feel I need to be reminded of just how essential gratitude is to our overall happiness. It's like going to the gym--I know it'll make me feel better, and I know it's good for me, but somehow, somehow, I'm pretty much always tempted to skip it. Sure, I give good lip service to gratitude, saying thank you probably hundreds of times a day, and often following a complaint with a quick disclaimer that I know, I know, this is a good problem to have, and I know, I know, I should be grateful for what I do have instead of focusing on what I don't. But how often do I actively practice gratitude? I'll be honest. Not very. The Husband and I tried to start a habit of silently naming three things we're thankful for, just before bed. It came out of an effort to sleep better, to put aside the worries of the day, and to reset our brains to focus on the good (and there's a lot of it). And it was great for a while, until, well, we forgot. But, rather than beat myself up for doing Life wrong or having the luxury of taking my blessings for granted, I'm taking a gentler approach. I'm going to take tomorrow as an opportunity not only to slip comfortably and guilt-free into a turkey/sweet potato/gratin/pumpkin flan/pecan pie coma, but to reintroduce conscious gratitude into my life. It doesn't have to be the major things always--sometimes being consciously grateful for Health and Privilege and Freedom feels to immense or too abstract to be genuine. I have a lot of big things to be thankful for this year: love, a new family, a new marriage, a new job, my education, my artistic community. But all those big things are made up of lots of tiny bits of grace, and they all deserve some acknowledgement. So I'm starting small. Because isn't life, and gratitude, really in the details? And maybe being grateful for the small things will help me keep the big stuff, good and bad, in perspective.

So, here we go. Today's Moment of Gratitude:

yes, really, I'm talking THAT small.

This green bean recipe, which is so, so much yummier, and healthier, and more interesting than the traditional casserole, and which as a bonus, can be made ahead and served at room temperature. With tiny bits of minced garlic, lemon, parsley, and parmesan mingling together over slowly sauteed silky beans, there's a lot of things to be thankful for in this one simple dish. You're welcome.
I mean, Thank you!!
(still learning)

Happy Thanksgiving!


The Mouse

Green Beans with Lemon, Garlic, and Parmesan Gremolata
Thanks to the Splendid Table

Serves 10 to 14 as part of a large meal (like the one we'll be having tomorrow).

extra-virgin olive oil

3 pounds green beans, stem ends trimmed

Salt and fresh-ground black pepper

1 cup water

5 large garlic cloves, crushed

1/3 cup water
Shredded zest of 2 large lemons (organic preferred; after all, you are eating the entire rind)

1 tight-packed cup Italian parsley leaves
1-1/2 cups coarsely-grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Lightly film the bottom of 2 straight-sided 12-inch sauté pans with oil. Heat them over medium-high heat. Add the beans and generous sprinklings of salt and pepper, and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the beans begin to brown. Add 1/2 cup of water to each pan and immediately cover it. Turn the heat to medium-low. Cook the beans for 15 to 20 minutes, checking them often for burning and adding a little water if necessary. You want the beans very tender.

As the beans cook, make the gremolata. Put the garlic and 1/3 cup water in a coffee mug and microwave 1 minute, or simmer in a small saucepan to 1 to 2 minutes (this mellows the garlic just a little). Then, in a food processor, mince together the garlic (with its liquid), lemon zest, and parsley. Salt and pepper the mixture to taste.

When the beans are tender, uncover them, cook off any liquid in the pan, and turn them into a serving bowl. Toss the beans with the gremolata and the grated cheese.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen to gratitude, and to string beans with gremolata....yummy.
Love, the Aunty