September morn

Too damp to try out the new horsey short-cut our neighbors cut between pastures this weekend. “You could drive a car through it,” promised Esker T., also promising Amish-made venison summer sausage after he and his wife and son bag their limit this fall, at least partly from the new tree stand installed in the short-cut.

That is so OK with us since, around these parts, we think of deer as rats with hooves (and just so you know, squirrels are rats with bushy tails, and pigeons, rats with feathers). Really nice-looking, picturesque rats but rats, nonetheless, that can be a source of Lyme disease-bearing ticks, leptospirosis and rabies and maybe more importantly, have been helping themselves to our green beans this year. Even with two noisy dogs just feet away from the bean patch. So they’re bold rats with hooves.

So this Labor Day we’ll have a short bike ride, freeze what green beans are left and shell field peas, feed the starving antique rose from my grandmother’s northern New Jersey home. Almost 900 miles driven in the 54 hours between 9 a.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Sunday, plus the world’s best Baltimore crab cakes made by son-in-law Mark, a stop at Ragged Edge coffee haus in Gettysburg, Bobby Flay’s Throwdown Macaroni & Cheese Carbonara (if that recipe serves 4, they’ve got to be Sumo wrestlers!), Belgian waffles, again made by Mark, and I’m feeling like a traffic cone this morning: Inert, stiff, big-bottomed.

I fell into all that food like a sailor on shore leave into his cups. But none of it was too horribly bad, and except for the Wheat Thins on the road, nothing too excessive. I just got back on and my bike this morning, recording again everything I eat and drink and aiming once again for 5 or 6 hours of real exercise per week.

We bike for 42 minutes, chased  by an Australian shepherd that wants to herd us. The air smells of rain on warm macadam, ripening sileage, pine needles, wood and charcoal smoke (tobacco curing and Labor Day cookouts). Now it’s raining, a lovely, light rain that might help along the faltering tomatoes, that definitely means I don’t have to water  today but makes me wish I’d finished fertilizing the asters.

Really, what I want to do when it’s rainy and cool is stretch out on the couch with Panda the overweight pit bull and at least one cat and read, but I have miles to go before I can do that. Those green beans, for starters.

What all the dove hunters do while it rains is get into position. I see at least 7 pickups-full “hiding” in the Renegars’ shooting fields on Sandy Springs Rd. I have nothing against doves, but my friend Cindy says they make really good eating on the grill. I can’t imagine bothering with anything so small — they must have two bites of breast meat each. Kinda like digging the sweet fresh crab meat out of the shells yourself instead of paying $16/pound for lump crab pretty much ready to enjoy.

Now onto these nice beans and a different kind of green bean salad. The recipe’s from the August issue of Better Homes & Gardens magazine.

Green bean salad

1 medium sweet onion, sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound green beans, washed, trimmed and strung if necessary

1 teaspoon snipped fresh rosemary

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 peaches or nectarines, local if possible, peeled and sliced

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Goose green bean salad with fresh peaches, rosemary and lime juice.

In large skillet cook onions in hot oil for 5 minutes or just until beginnning to soften. Add beans, rosemary, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 10 minutes more or until beans are crisp-tender, stirring now and then. Remove from heat and toss in fruit and juice. Serve hot or cold. Serves 4.


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