I’m back from a lovely week at the cabin at Francois Lake in northern B.C. – and what a glorious week it was. Hardly any fish, and no morels, but lots of saskatoons and wild blueberries, hot saunas and relaxation. A perfect holiday.
This was the view out of the front windows. We could watch the kids coming and going in the boat and see the fish jumping (but those crafty creatures weren’t gonna take the bait or hook this year).
We climbed up the hill behind the cabin for a fantastic view of the lake. We picked berries, and had campfires. We did lots of cooking and eating.
I wanted to write down the recipes, really I did, but somehow it never worked. My mom and sisters are all wonderful cooks, and we all enjoy hanging out in the kitchen together, so the meals were always 5 star, and with all the teenage boys in the crowd, the quantities were ginormous (that must be a word because spell check didn’t flag it!)
Besides, the cooking was always a handful of this and a smidgen more of that – so how do you write that down?
Since I’ve returned and sent the youngest back to school, I’ve been taking care of the stuff that went wild in the garden during the week-and-a-half I was gone. . . plus fighting the wasps for the last of the sour cherries on the tree – bumper crop this year. I’ve been mostly making a cherry juice from them, and 5 gallons soaking in brandy for Christmas giving.
But before I left I made a very tasty succotash from my fava beans and corn (took a pail full along to the cabin to shell there and made it again). There’s something rich and simple about the pairing of beans and corn, with a good measure of cream to blend the flavours – I could just eat a huge bowl full of this for my supper (I did do that for lunch a few times).
Fava beans are one of those crops that are really not that efficient in the garden. They take up a lot of garden space for the amount they produce, at least here in northern Alberta – maybe they produce more in warmer climates. Plus they also take a lot of labour – shelling the cumbersome pods, blanching them, then slipping each individual bean out of its skin before you have a tiny bowlful to use – seems like a lot of fuss for nothing.
But wait – it’s not nothing – definitely not. Those bright green little jewels that finally emerge to be eaten are so worth the labour. They are silky and sweet and meaty. They are a bean, but so much more, and they are bright and fresh on their own, but also pair well with many other ingredients. And I personally, find the job of shelling the beans relaxing (maybe not quite as much as a lovely spa massage, but this one has a food reward at the end!)
Definitely worth the work.
And then combine them with fresh sweet corn and cream – heaven.
Kitchen Frau Note: If you don’t have access to fava beans (or broad beans as they are also known), frozen baby lima beans work very well (they are actually the traditional beans used for succotash). Don’t use the canned broad beans you can sometimes find in the store – they are bitter and slimy and gross.
Traditional succotash, a Native American recipe, just uses lima beans, corn, a bit of butter and salt and pepper. The addition of cream and tarragon make this extra special. I think tarragon goes wonderfully with fava beans, but I have often made it without, too, and it is still delicious.
This succotash is a decadent side dish, great for any meal, but special enough to be served for Thanksgiving, too.
Rich Creamy Succotash
- 2 cups (480ml) prepared fava beans (broad beans), see below
- 2 cups (480ml) fresh corn kernels, (or frozen corn)
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) butter
- ½ onion, finely chopped
- ¾ cup (180ml) whipping cream
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) salt
- ½ teaspoon (2.5ml) pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh chopped tarragon (or 1 teaspoon/5ml dried), optional
Shell the fava beans (a good twist of the pod makes it easy), then drop them into boiling water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Strain them and plop into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain them again, then slip them out of their outer skins to reveal the gleaming spring green beans inside. Measure out 2 cups.
In a medium saucepan, saute the onion in the butter until translucent, then add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer, uncovered, until the cream starts to thicken (about 10 minutes), stirring gently every few minutes.
Serves 6 to 8