Fried string beans. FRIED STRING BEANS Y'ALL!

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Some of my favorite recipes are ones given to me by my mother in law Jane.  She cooked for her four sons and husband in a tiny galley kitchen in the same house she still lives in, and she always made the best dinners!  I love the whole experience of eating at her house.  The table is always set, and we always drink her perfect sweet tea.  

When I married Jane's youngest son Steve, she shared some of Steve's favorite recipes with me.  I've still got the index cards in a drawer in my kitchen, and I still pull them out every once in a while when I can't quite remember how to pull a recipe together.  Most of the recipes I have memorized though, that's how often I make them, that's how much Steve and I love them! 

Right now I'm all about the fresh local string beans piled high each day at Emily's Produce!  There are green AND yellow beans.  It's funny, I was talking to Kelly Jackson (Emily's mom) about the color difference, and we both agreed, it's all mental!  They really taste exactly the same...for some reason though my brain prefers the green ones.  String beans are my favorite vegetable year round, but I really love snapping my own beans by hand in the summer and cooking them up in one of my favorite "Jane" recipes...fried string beans!  

Snap and wash enough string beans for four people.  Boil the beans in boiling water for about seven minutes.  Drain and set the beans aside.  

In a large fry pan over medium heat fry four slices of bacon that have been chopped into small pieces.  Chopping the bacon before you fry it really speeds up the cooking time.  When the bacon pieces are crispy, remove them from the pan.  DON'T DRAIN THE BACON FAT!  We're going to use that bacon fat to brown two or three cloves of garlic that have been minced.  To the garlic we are going to add a healthy dash of red pepper flakes.  Like it really spicy?  Add a lot of red pepper flakes.  Don't like any heat?  Skip 'em.  I like a little bit of heat, so I add a reasonable dash!  Now stir that all around for a minute or two, and then add back in the string beans.  Toss it all together in the fry pan until the beans are shiny and heated through.  Then, add half the bacon pieces and toss to coat.  Now finely chop four or five leaves of fresh basil and a handful of fresh oregano leaves.  I grow basil and oregano in my little kitchen garden but I also keep freeze-dried basil and oregano in my fridge.  Sprinkle the basil and oregano on top of the beans and give it all a good stir.  Just about done!  Transfer the fried string beans to a serving bowl and top with the remaining bacon and salt and pepper to taste!  Go light at first, but I always need a bit more salt than the bacon delivers.  

These beans make a super easy, super tasty, super healthy side dish that goes great with any meat! I always make enough for four people even though Steve and I in the "empty nest" phase of our lives.  That's right...leftovers baby!  

The best recipes are the ones that you make over and over because they taste like home; they feed your soul AND your tummy.  I don't use the handwritten recipe card from Jane any more; this is one recipe that takes me all the way back to her dining room table and I've got this one memorized.  

Pinterest and The Real World....

Do you remember that first week you discovered Pinterest?  You know, that week of your life you would like to have back? Because you spent 22 hours a day pinning delightfully adorable garden projects and you lived in an apartment on the 4th floor with a balcony the size of a bathtub? Yup...that's how my first week on Pinterest went.  Then I got to the point where Pinterest was politely pointing out that I had already pinned that idea....six months ago.  That's when I knew that I had not only a terrible memory but also a real addiction to cute ideas that were never going to happen.  

Who are we fooling?  I'm never going to use my crockpot as much as my crockpot recipe pins would suggest.  I'm not going to make all those jello shooters or decorate my home for the holidays with all that glitter.  But we can dream right?  

One thing I do love about Pinterest is there are tons of great ideas for photographers for posing, props, locations, and tricks and tips for creating great photos.  And the same goes for Pinterest and potential clients!  I love it when a client says, "I saw this on Pinterest....can we do that?"  And my answer is almost always, "YES!"  And I know exactly what they are hoping to get out of their photoshoot.  That's pretty handy.  I also love it when a client just gives me some general guidelines and I fill in the blanks.  But having Pinterest as a common ground to start a discussion is really nice.  

A photoshoot is a pretty fluid chunk of time, so having lots of ideas to bounce around can be pretty helpful.  And when you've done five shoots in two weeks and your brain is a bit fried, it's nice to have some fresh visuals to help you get back in gear.  I do like to tell my clients that Pinterest is pretty and perfect.  Real life, just like a real photoshoot, is messier but so much more fun!  

I always want my shoots to be fun.  I want my clients to be genuinely smiling, giggling and happy. I want there to be room for improvisation and the tiny surprises that pack the most emotional punch!  There's no blueprint for that.  It just happens.  It really is magic.  But luck of course always favors the prepared....so we will keep looking at Pinterest and pinning ALL THE THINGS.  And just like those beautiful French pastries that we pinned to our "THIS YEAR I'M BAKING" board, keep pinning those gorgeous photos and using them as a starting point for your own special and perfect photoshoot.  I'm going to keep pinning ALL THE THINGS too....so, I'll see you on Pinterest!  

XO Robin