Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Little Scraps of Paper

Suddenly I am unemployed. It's my own fault for not starting my job the second I realized that the end of my big editing project would coincide with the end of the school year, and hence summer break for the kid's magazine I write for. I was so caught up in finishing the bloody project, that I did nothing but finish the bloody project for weeks. And then, all of a sudden, it was over, and for the past two and a half weeks I have been waking up every morning and thinking, what do I do today?
So what do I do? Mostly, I look through job-listings, write cover letters and play Tetris with my resume (why yes, I can write for your economics think tank). I've also made myself a list of useful tasks- you know, all those little errands and housey things that you've been meaning to get to for years but somehow something more important always comes up. So, in the past two weeks I have: bought a cast iron pan, signed up for the gym/pool, organized my room and finally, finally, dealt with my big mess of recipes.
For years now I have had a purple folder where I keep all the newspaper clippings and little scraps of paper that is my recipe collection. It is, to put it lightly, a mess. Nothing is in it's it place. When you open it up papers flood out into your lap. I can never find anything I need. The time had come to get it in order. So, one by one, I have been transferring the recipes onto my computer. I have found recipes I had long forgotten, and recipes I now know by heart. I found recipes written in my mother's neat cursive and recipes that I jotted down on the back of envelopes. It's been a nice reminder that there is something in sharing recipes that is like storytelling, or history. Each little scrap of paper is an artifact.
In going through my recipes I came across this green bean salad. Because it is written on a small scrap of paper, I actually have no idea where it is originally from.  I had a vague recollection of making it years ago, and liking it. I decided it was time to take it off the shelf, dust it off and see how it ran. I was not disappointed. It is sweetly grassy with dill, parsley and tarragon, and is sharpened with a hit of mustard. At the end, a double finish of red wine and lemon juice give it acid and brightness. In other words, it runs like Secretariat. Not bad for a scrap of paper.

Green Bean Salad
The original recipe called for 1/3 pound of gruyere and 1/2 cup of olives. I felt that they muddied the salad a bit too much, so I left them out. Feel free to reinstate them if you so desire.

1 ½ lb green beans
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp tarragon
1 tbl dill
½ tsp salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
½ cup parsley
1 small yellow pepper, julienned
1 small red pepper, julienned
3-4 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl red wine vinegar
½ cup toasted almonds

1 Steam the green beans in a vegetable steamer until they are bright green and tender, but still have some bite. 

2. While the beans are steaming combine the garlic through the lemon juice.  Add the green beans and allow to sit at room temperature for 2 hours. 

3. 15 minutes before serving, add the lemon juice, red wine vinegar and almonds. Taste, adjust seasonings and serve.


  1. I believe that I actually have a couple scraps of paper in my recipe binder that belong to you, as well as the beginning of a speech which starts with a quote from Douglas Adams....don't know how that ended up there.

    Looking forward to trying the salad this Shabbat. Thanks for posting!

  2. A speech that starts with a Douglas Adams quote? I would never do that! (Yes, I would) :)