August 20, 2008
I planted scarlet runner beans this year because I wanted the beautiful flowers to make the garden prettier. Well, they do look great and taste great but they are infested with Japanese beetles. Ugh. The beetles seem to prefer the foliage, which leaves the tender pods for me, but I find the beetles creepy. When I was a child living in Philadelphia, we always had a large population of Japanese beetles every summer. One of our neighbors, who had lots of roses, used to pay the neighborhood kids to pick the beetles off his bushes. He told us his wife made them into "beetle cookies," and while I didn't quite believe him, part of me wasn't sure. He always gave us a certain kind of flat raisin cookie after each picking session that he said were his wife's beetle cookies. I remember years later, as an adult, I came upon these cookies in a store and was shocked to discover they were packaged cookies, not homemade. I think we should be more honest with children, or at least make sure they know when we're joking.
The beans Aaron likes to use for this dish are the long skinny ones.
Oven-roasted green beans
Preheat the oven to 450˚
Toss a pound of long, skinny green beans, washed and with stem end removed, with one to two tablespoons of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place the beans in a cast iron skillet and roast in the oven until shrivelled and cooked. This takes about 30 minutes. Halfway through cooking, stir the beans. A few minutes before they are done, stir in a clove of minced garlic. The beans will be crisp-cooked and brown in spots when done.