This past year has been all about trial and error in my garden, as I transitioned from a kitchen windowsill herb garden and a few house plants to a devoted plot in my backyard. I always thought I had a black thumb growing up (I managed to kill even cacti), but I've learned that taking care of plants isn't about black thumbs and green thumbs. It's about patience, a willingness to learn from your mistakes, and a readiness to pay close attention to your plants and all the ways they communicate what they need (they are living things after all!). Gardening has become rather therapeutic for me, similar to how cooking became therapeutic while I was in law school. It's an escape from the manic technology-driven world we live in, and a way to slow down, refocus and get your hands dirty (literally). Additionally, there is something very rewarding about planting a seed and tending to it until it can make it to your table. You take care of it so it can take care of you. There's a harmony there.
My green beans were dormant throughout the summer. I planted them a little late in the season, sometime in July, as a replacement for a few tomato plants that kept getting too hot and dying in that location. Trial and error, like I said.
They grew quickly, winding happily up and around the trellis, but there were no flowers, no beans. Then in late October, when I had all but given up on them, I checked on my garden one morning before work and was met with dozens of perfect green beans. They had clustered underneath the outer leaves of their vines and I hadn't noticed them budding. I picked them all and thought that it likely was done. It was starting to get cold (for Southern California) and the plant had given me a healthy crop. Then in mid-December, when I wasn't expecting much from my garden, a second crop appeared, smaller than the first, but still a good amount and enough to make this recipe for the holidays.
Brown Butter and Sage Green Beans
1 lb green beans, washed and trimmed
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbs butter
8 large sage leaves, finely chopped (plus more for serving)
Steam the green beans in a steamer until they are tender but still crisp (5 minutes should be plenty of time). While they're steaming, melt the butter in a large pan on the stovetop. When the butter starts to brown, turn the heat to low and add the garlic and chopped sage leaves. Cook until fragrant. Add the green beans and turn the heat to medium. Cook the beans until they're slightly browned and crispy. Serve garnished with fresh sage leaves.