Tuesday, October 12, 2010

An Unusual Dinner Inspiration . . . to a Seasonal Feast

I forgot to take a picture of dinner . . . but it was really rather a local seasonal veggie feast, if anyone would care to try to replicate any of it without visual stimulation.  I realize no one cooks from recipes they can't see a picture of, but I'm going to describe it anyway, and just kick myself for taking no pictures.  I mean, really, when the three and five year-old are carrying the plates and glasses (full) and silverware to the dining room table, and I'm running into that scary too-late-the-kids-will-probably-wet-the-bed dinner hour, and Owen's getting in later than usual, and the three month-old is about 15 min. past ripe for a nap, I can't imagine how I forget to photograph our food before we eat it.

The Background . . .

So we actually grew some lima beans this year in my neighbor's yard (thank you, Jean and Scott).  They watched me frantically cultivating my 1/1000 of an acre (or so) of land and offered to let me use part of their garden (their yard is about four times larger than ours).  I said, "Hmm, how about lima beans?  We could split the crop."  And lima beans it was.  My mom started the vines from seed, and we planted about five plants at the base of big poles making a teepee.

The teepee soon became covered with leaves and vine, occasionally even flowers.  But by August, we had nary a bean.  It wasn't until September that we started seeing some, but they weren't big enough to pick.  But on Sunday we finally realized the beans were big enough to pick.  So the neighors banded together for a good ol' city-dwellers bean pickin'.  We got enough for about a small pot of beans each--and there may be about that many in two weeks again.  Anyway, these beans were in very different size categories, ranging from babies to big chokey pig food (as Owen described some of them).  Jesse and I separated them into two piles and combined them with some we had bought from the farmer's market.  I was left with a small pot of big hoggy limas that I knew I couldn't just boil (well, ok, I tried to anyway out of laziness and they were gross).

The Inspiration . . .

So the inspiration for the entire meal was basically chokey lima beans.  I realized that the "big ones" were probably tasting close to the rehydrated dried ones they put in baked lima beans, a dish they sell at the local grocery store in Lancaster.  So, unable to follow a recipe to save my life, after browsing through recipes of baked lima beans and not liking any of them, I made one up:
Baked Lima Beans

Boil fresh (or overnight-soaked dried) lima beans in salty water for about 20 minutes or until soft. 
While boiling, cut up leeks or scallions (I used leeks) into thin slices.
Strain and put beans into a small casserole dish.  Add leeks.
Pour tomato sauce (homemade or store bought will work) over beans.
Add a dollop of maple syrup and stir mixture.
Bake for at least an hour.

I don't measure, but I had a small pot of beans, and I added 2 leeks and about 15 oz. of sauce and a few tablespoons of syrup.
The Spaghetti Squash

Now it so happens that I bought a spaghetti squash about a month ago, and while it looked very fall-like sitting on my counter, I thought I might just want to go ahead and cook it with the beans.  So that I threw in the oven whole, with holes poked in it, with the beans.  I will say that next time I will revert to hacking it in half and removing the seeds first and baking faces down in an inch of water like I did last time, it took too long this way.  It's really easy to remove the strands of squash with a fork and it really does look like angel hair pasta.  Hmm, maybe they should call it angel hair squash.  I salted the squash and tossed it with butter, parmesan cheese, and chives.

The Roasted Potatoes

Not too profound.  I wanted a starch.  I cut up small red and yellow potatoes in small chunks, put them in a roasting pan (uncovered), tossed them with olive oil, salt, rosemary, and a few tablespoons of water, and roasted them next to the squash and the beans.

The Main Dish . . . 

Then I thought, oh dear, I'm running out of time and I need a main meal.  Luckily, I had meatballs in the freezer.  My friend Rachel had wowed me with a meatball in barbecue sauce kind of dish, so I thought I'd wing it and try for something similar.  The meatballs were made of ground beef and cornmeal and onion and egg, and they'd been in the freezer for a good long time since I'd made extra with spaghetti some months back.  I took them out of the freezer, and put them in a small glass baking dish.  I covered them with tomato sauce.  Then I sauteed red onion and green pepper in a saucepan and mixed that in with the sauce.  Finally I sweetened it with a little maple syrup.  I put it in the oven until it heated through.

We ate all this in the dining room, the height of fancy living at my house.  The kids call it eating at a restaurant when we do it.  Sad commentary on our kitchen-centered life perhaps.  :)  It was great!  I thought I'd share it in case anyone else wants to try something similar.


  1. The secret sweetener in the meatballs I made...ketsup. Very down home. That meal sounds awesome.

  2. Ketsup . . . Very tricksy, and very tasty. :)