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“There was [a] time when I was leaving a garden, and home for a long, long stay,” wrote Jean Bothwell.  “I was never to see it again; nor to taste any more fruits at all of my father’s raising.”

Where she was going and why she never returned are Miss Bothwell never reveals, but the leave-taking described here may have been on the occasion of her departure for India where she was, for many years, a missionary and history teacher under the auspices of the Methodist Church. Later, Miss Bothwell returned to the United States, settled in New York City, far from her native Nebraska, and found a second vocation writing children’s books.

“Though I did not fully sense the reason,” she continued, “There was a quality about the soup I made that autumn which I have never forgot–the garden had been particularly rewarding that year and father’s pleasure in going with me to bring in the…things that he had grown was a deep, quiet feeling…It’s the condiments one cannot buy, after all, that count the most…”

Memory, as Miss Bothwell rightly observed, is a powerful condiment.  Certain meals and dishes are seasoned by events and circumstances surrounding them–both the bitter and the sweet.

For some, this time-honoured method of slowly cooking green beans with bacon, onion and a little sugar may evoke warm memories of kitchens in their pasts and the loved ones who made good food in them…and enhance the flavour of an already fine, old traditional dish…To everyone who will be celebrating Thanksgiving this week, the diplomatickitchen wishes you a very happy holiday.

Braised Green Beans with Bacon (for 6 – 8 people…For 4 people, reduce the quantity of green beans by half and leave the quantities of everything else the same.)

Note: To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.

A Timing Note:  Braised Green Beans with Bacon may be made a day ahead, cooled, refrigerated and reheated the next day.  Their flavour will only improve.


  • 2 pounds of Green Beans:  For 4 people, reduce the amount of beans to 1 pound and leave all the rest of the quantities in the recipe the same.
  • 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
  • about 2 ounces or 3 heaping Tablespoons of chopped Bacon or Lardons (small strips of bacon cut into matchsticks or small cubes)
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon of Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of Coarse Ground Black Pepper (aka Steak Poivre)
  • 1 cup of Water or more…enough to just cover the beans


  • a heavy-bottomed Pot or Casserole with a Lid

1.  Trim the ends off the green beans and cut them into pieces about 2-inches long:

2.  Heat 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil in the pot over medium heat, add the pieces of bacon or the  lardons and fry them.  When they become golden brown, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

3.  Add the additional 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the pot.  Add the onion and sauté it, stirring, until the edges begin to turn golden.  (Sautéing is a form of frying…it’s the term used to describe slow, even frying–without browning or just until whatever is being fried begins to color– over moderate or low heat while stirring.)

4.  Add the garlic and sauté it, stirring it about, for a minute.

5.  Add the beans, bacon or lardons, sugar, salt, and black pepper:

6.  Add 1 cup of water or enough just to cover the beans and bring it to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer the beans, partially covered until the beans are very tender and the liquid is reduced to a few spoonfuls of golden ‘liquor’ in the bottom of the pot.  (The beans probably will be done in about 45 minutes – 1 hour.).

7.  Taste the beans and season them with more salt and pepper if they need it.  (Likely they will not.)  Divide the beans among the plates, and dribble a tiny bit of the ‘liquor’ at the bottom of the pot onto each serving.

A Note:  Braised Green Beans with Bacon is served alongside the Main Course in the Dinner Menu:  Magyar Accents ~ a Dinner for Four.

An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012