(Recipe follows my ramblings)
I finally admit it. I am a food snob.
I could easily demand all my food to be organic, preservative and additive free, and preferably locally sourced. I mean...why does frozen food, a form of preservation, need preservatives? Why do cows need to be fed corn and drugs? But I would go broke trying to live out this fantasy.
Also, I am supposedly picky. I do not like mayo, regular old mustard, ketchup, cold cuts, or cheddar cheese which kinda nixes the typical American diet. Oh and monosodium glutamate gives me a rash and severe migraines. And to boot, my body goes through stages where it refuses to tolerate dairy and or wheat.
I was trying to think though, where did my food snobbery originate?
My parents are both very picky eaters. My dad must have his meats cooked to mummification, and he can and does live off of salmon, toast, oatmeal, milk, cheese-it's, and eggs. My mother has only recently explored the wild side just a bit...at any "Asian" restaurant she gets teriyaki beef, at any Mexican restaurant, cheese enchilada and any other ethnic restaurant..well she never goes. She could easily live off of brownies (guilty pleasure), burritos (which have since been replaced by cheese enchiladas), cereal, and salad. In fact that is all she really eats.
Growing up, my mom was all about health. She never salted a thing (although if she used a processed food which was rare, it contained salt such as chicken broth) and dessert was a rarity; any home made dessert like a pie didn't contain sugar or sugar substitute. Things like ramen, boxed Mac and cheese, hamburger helper were forbidden... Until I learned to make Lipton noodles at age nine, then those were allowed.
We also had a limited repertoire of meals. Until post-college, the only sausage I knew of was the tube of Farmer John's breakfast sausage or hot dogs, and I had never eaten steak or sweet potatoes. Before college, the only ethnic food I had had was pizza and our 1950s style Chinese restaurant in town, and my mom's Mexican food using lawry's slice packets.
I was thinking, what did my mom make for meals? I cannot blame her for her food decisions but they made me picky even into adulthood- now I am the "feed me not ethnic or fancy foods" type.
Here are the foods my parents made or purchased or what have you- we are out maybe a few times a year.
Spaghetti with beef and squash
Corn on the Cobb
Burger patties braised in A-1
Store bought rotisserie chicken
Leftover chicken and canned bean burritos
Ground beef and red leaf lettuce tacos (no hot sauce or cheese)
Toast with jam
Microwaved hot dogs on toast
Shit on a shingle (canned chip beef over toast, flour and milk shaken in a jar and heated to make sauce)
Boiled dinner (pot roast beef, water, an onion, a carrot, pinch of pepper, a few gallons of water, a few red potatoes, boil all day)
Chicken breast baked with Russian salad dressing and onions
And on holidays, mummified prime rib and my favorite (honest!) green beans booked with broth, onions, bacon.
And then there were a few fads where we ate a certain food a ton and then never again. Milk fish, which was frozen orange roughy cooked in the oven with milk and a slice of tomato. Fish cakes which was tuna, cheddar stuffed into pillsbury dough and dipped in cream of celery soup. And lastly, a split pea, muenster cheese and ham hock puréed soup.
Sure, you may say, my mom never cooked more things than that. But see I a sure she did, even just once, or you went out to eat and ordered something different. Not us.
And also, my mom was the breadwinner and my dad cannot cook well so she was the family chef. Over tired (and the kind if weirdo where one burrito lasts her 3-4 meals, no joke), we would just have Russian chicken. Or salad. Not together. In college I had a boyfriend and went to his home and his mom mad chicken, rolls (heat and serve), rice, and salad. Afterwards, I pulled him aside and said he needed to tell his mom not to prepare a special feast for me. Aside from holidays, we would never have four things on our plate- rarely would there be two items on the plate.
See, my grandparents were...different. One set was a crazy broken family type so meals were not always, well, meals. The other side, the adults never cooked and were in dire poverty so it was kind of "fend for yourself".
So there...my long winded journey of food snobbery. I'm off to eat Italian beef sandwiches, another "new" food for me. Yum!
Mom's green beans (family recipe so it is all a pinch of this a bit of that)
Bunch green beans (when I go to the farmer's market they sell a bunch in a bag..a pound maybe?), chopped into 3" pieces
Diced yellow onion
Salt and pepper to taste (ok so my mom never used the salt)
3 slices bacon
Cover green beans in broth and begin to bring to a bubbly but not quite boiling temperature. Meanwhile, chop the bacon and fry; you can dice and sauté the onions in the bacon fat or add raw to the beans.
Add bacon and onions to beans, season to taste.
Cook until they are the desired tenderness- some like chewy beans, some like soggy ones. It should be like a green bean soup and you can strain and eat or eat soupy.
Alternate version- my take
Same ingredients plus a small can (12-16oz) diced tomatoes, pinch of cumin, teeny pinch cayenne.
Cook bacon, then sauté onion in the grease. Add the tomatoes with juice and a splash of the broth...this is not a soupy version but you want enough liquid to soften the beans. Add the spices. Cook until beans are desired tenderness.