The Princess is on her way to recovering from bronchitis. Not only is she coughing less, but her appetite is back. The last few days she’s been chowing down on some stir-fried green beans, ham, and rice with corn tea.
Anytime I’d ask her what she’d like to eat, she’d say, “Green beans, ham, and bpo-rhee-cha-bop (corn tea and rice), please.” “Bpo-rhee-cha” is actually roasted barley tea, but we also use it to refer to roasted corn tea, too—like some families use the word “Coke” to refer to other carbonated beverages besides Coca-Cola. Even though I’d suggest something else such as chicken or noodles, she’d insist, “Just the green beans and ham, and bpo-rhee-cha-bop, PLEEEASE!”
Anyway, although I feel strange serving her the same food for lunch and dinner, I’m just happy to see her eating heartily vs. picking at her food.
She won’t eat just any kind of green beans. It has to be Trader Joe’s frozen haricot verts (French green beans). Thankfully it’s always in stock and in season. Fancy though it sounds, it’s very quick and easy to make.
Her usual favorite way of eating the green beans is when it’s stir-fried with Spam. (Don’t knock it till you try it.) It’s her ultimate comfort food. She prefers her Spam in tiny cubes (no bigger than 1 cm all around) vs. cut in slices. When I’d make the Spam, it’d be slightly crispy and browned on the outside, while tender on the inside—a lovely counterbalance to the juicy and delicate crunch of the French green beans. No additional salt or flavoring is needed.
But HB has been pushing for us to cut down on the processed meats because of the high sodium and nitrates/nitrites, so I’ve been doing the bait and switch—using nitrate/nitrite-free ham instead of spam. However, the ham is a bit more chewy and dense—not quite the same as Spam—which has been making The Princess wanting to eat more of the green beans instead. Not necessarily a bad thing.
Or, could she be drawn more to the beans because of the new way I’ve been preparing them?
Instead of cooking the Spam/ham first and then adding the beans after the meat has browned a bit, I cooked them separately these last few times. For the haricot verts, I just sautéed the beans in oil, added a little bit of memmi sauce, and then sprinkled the sesame seeds at the end. The memmi imparted a little bit of sweet and saltiness, while the toasted sesame seeds added a bit of nuttiness and crunch to the beans.
Another twist is that I’ve been using some oil which I previously used to cook breakfast potatoes and onions and saved because I accidentally poured a little more oil than I should have. The oil has a carmelized onion flavor and smell, which seemed to work well with the green beans. The Princess is funny. She doesn’t like to see the onions or garlic with her green beans, but she likes the flavor.
Maybe I’m onto something here. Maman Sophia huile d’oignon (onion-infused oil) has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?