“I’m making green beans and bacon to go with the steaks for this event,” Joan said as she twisted the can opener around an industrial-sized can of green beans. A crowd of twenty gathered awaiting their upcoming feast while holding glasses of red wine in the adjoining banquet room.
“They’re going to love it,” she said with exasperation.
Pressing the lid to prevent spillage, she poured the green tinted liquid into an adjacent sink. Then dumped the can’s contents into a buttered hotel pan. Several feverous shakes of imitation bacon bits and a heaping handful of slivered almonds blanketed the beans before receiving a quick blast in the oven.
At 16, I was hired by the local golf club in my hometown of Manton, MI. I first began as a cart boy whose sole existence was to move carts from one end of the clubhouse to the other. It was a terribly boring job and I wanted nothing more than to work in the clubhouse kitchen.
After strategically baking cookies for several straight weeks, the clubhouse manager finally took my cooking abilities seriously and I was quickly moved into the kitchen. Joan, the supervisor at the time, ruled the kitchen with her most prized weapon – a can opener. Her long resume of fast food management experience also included a peculiarly unconventional management style for a business catering to Manton’s “elite” clientele.
She didn’t last long working at the golf club. I don’t remember where she ended up. Perhaps she moved on to pursue her dreams of owning a salvage yard somewhere across other side of the state. Who knows…
I too left after a few seasons to attend college and pursue other adventures. Particular recipes, like my version of green beans almondine below, still conjure up memories of my early cooking days when canned green beans and imitation bacon bits received top billing at a banquet event. It is those memories that remind me of how far I have grown.
- 1 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
- 4-5 strips of bacon
- ¼ cup of sliced almonds
- 1 Tbl. minced shallot
- salt and pepper
- Cook the green beans in boiling water for 4-6 minutes. They should be crisp tender. Drain and set aside.
- Dice the bacon into quarter inch pieces. Sauté the bacon in a large fry pan over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy. Spoon the bacon onto paper towels. Save about 3 tablespoons of bacon grease in the pan
- Return the pan to medium heat. Add the almonds and minced shallot. Cooking, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the green beans and bacon. Toss until the green beans are completely coated and heated through. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.