Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sunday Dinner: Green Beans and the Singer Sewing Machine

Sometimes on Saturday evenings, Grandmother would sit on her front porch snapping beans for the next day's dinner. The house was a small mill house, four rooms originally, with a bathroom added later. Every room intersected with one another and she actually had two front doors until Papa had one of the doors blocked in and converted to a window.

For some reason, I was with her that evening, just the two of us, which was unusual. If she had one, she usually had my other three siblings as well. I'm not sure what made me ask, the innocence of childhood or possibly overhearing again how this might be Grandmother's last year. According to my Mom and her siblings, Grandmother would never live to see the next Christmas. I think this went on for nearly thirty years. I asked her about her sewing machine. It is the old type, no electricity, just a foot pedal that makes it move. I loved that sewing machine. I could remember sitting at her feet, watching the pedal totter back and forth listening to the hum as the thread stitched the fabric. I asked her if I could have it when she died.

She laughed at me and asked me if I thought she was going anywhere anytime soon. And of course I told her no, but then she said of course I could have it. A few laters, her daughter asked for the sewing machine and Grandmother informed her I had requested it when I was ten. The family got a good laugh, but Grandmother saved it for me. Now it sits in my living room and I use it mostly as a table top. I have an electric sewing machine for the rare occasion when I must sew something.

I must confess that I often used canned green beans, but there is a trick to making them taste good. First you must drain off all the water and rinse them thoroughly. Place them in a saucepan and add fresh water about halfway to the top of the beans. Add a beef bouillon cube and simmer. Adding fatback is the typical Southern tradition, but I've found that the bouillon gives it a nice flavor without the added fat. My family loves them this way.

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