Our Stories: Liberating leftovers banished to die

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By Jamie Miles

Nothing like a national crisis to heighten one’s appreciation to everyday blessings. The dogwood’s bloom, a child’s laughter and the epicurean delight found in a can of green beans.

With the seriousness of the COVID-19 outbreak and its ease of transmission, I decided, as all good patriots, to live off the bounty found in the outer regions of our pantry and the dark frozen tundra of our freezer — liberating leftovers banished to die. 

The other night after readying a Chicken Noodle Casserole: frozen chicken breasts, open pack of egg noodles, two cans of soup, along with some questionable sour cream, I searched for a side. Hidden amongst the cans of Chef Boyardee, Navy beans and diced tomatoes, I spotted a can of green beans hidden as a gem.

What was it that set my taste buds a flame? Not memories of my mother’s cooking. Only because my father preferred the pole bean. God as my witness, I’ve tried to like them out of principle. Years ago, Lofton Taylor helped me produce a hedge of pole beans as long as the bottom of the triangle that is Morgan County but fresh (or canned)— all I taste is wax. Nothing compares to the hint of tin found in canned beans just as nothing satisfies like the refreshing aluminum aftertaste found in a swallow of Budweiser from a can, cultivated from memories of long ago sips from Daddy’s beer. Bottles can’t master that. Nor can dirt alone for the green bean. 

Maybe it was grade school lunches? Aubudon Park Elementary followed the barbaric practice of mandating students taste everything from the four corners of their plate. A sentinel stationed at the plate return inspected each lunch. Father, I must confess to squiggling a many a hole in glops of spinach or wadding portions of cooked carrots in my napkin. But if green beans were on the menu — those were salad days, my friend!

If time allows, I sauté a little sliced onion then drain the juice into the pan. Let it cook down a bit. Then I sprinkle a healthy bit of garlic powder and pepper before adding the Stars of the Show. Viola!

I feel a stigma lifting! Join me in the perfect self-isolationista meal: frozen hamburger patties, instant mashed potatoes with a side of canned green beans. For the discriminating palate, it pairs nicely with Bud from a can, ice cold. But most importantly — God bless you MoCo. Stay safe and sane!

A long ago columnist and sometimes blogger, Jamie uses these shelter-in-place days to work on her first novel “Point Me in the Direction of Alburqurque”. 

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