Thursday, January 22, 2009

Slow is the new fast - Slow Cooked Green Beans

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Ed writes The Slow Cook blog. He lives in Washington DC and often writes about the food appreciation classes offered to encourage school children to eat healthily and to connect with the food they eat. He also introduced Freddie and Alex to the delights of slow-cooked green beans. For this alone we are eternally grateful. These have now featured as a perfect lunch for our food flasks....And are proof that when it comes to food, Slow is the new Fast.
Slow Cooked Green Beans

450g green beans, topped.
1 medium onion finely chopped
400g can of chopped tomatoes.
A twist of freshly ground black pepper.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Half a teaspoon of smoked paprika
2-3 slices of thick-cut bacon, cut into small chunks or use gammon steak

Use a flameproof casserole dish or pan with a tight fitting lid. On the hob, cook the onion in the oil on a medium heat until it is translucent and soft. Add the paprika,tomatoes and green beans which have had their stalks cut off. Add the bacon pieces. Mix together and simmer on a low heat for at least three hours. You may have to add a very small amount of water every now and again if it needs. The beans will break down and become far less fibrous.

We are looking for inspiration on hot puddings. These have got to work when decanted into a little insulated food flask...rice puddins, semolina - that kind of thing.


  1. Charlotte, can you tell us which flasks you use? We have not tried flasks before - do they keep the food hot effectively? What temperature does it go in and what temperature does it come out? Do you prefer a specific make? A little advice would be ever so much appreciated. Thanks, Anna.

  2. Charlotte at GBVC9:51 AM

    Hi Anna - delighted to help!
    Well I am using at the moment three different Thermos flasks. (Two sizes as Freddie tends to need less food than Alex)
    He has one called Thermos Coolkidz Steel Food Jar. Here is the amazon link -
    The other one they have which has a bigger capacity which works with bulkier pasta type meals and for more adult appetites is this one -
    It is called the Thermos Everyday Food Jar, Stainless Steel, 0.5l
    Link on amazon is here -

    The metal or steel ones all keep the food hot for longer. I think the everyday steel one is for five hours - but you can get even more insulated ones that keep things hot for 8 hours. I am not endorsing any product as I only have experience of these ones - but here is the pdf which I found on the Thermos site giving all the specifications for each of their flasks.
    I put their flasks together at about 0720 in the morning and they eat between 1230 and 1300 - and they tell me the food is hot. I find that it is better if you heat up the flask first by putting in some boiling water for a few minutes before adding your hot food. That helps the whole process of keeping it hot I think. I have in the past used a microwaveable one which obviously is made of plastic. These are easy in that you can heat up the food in the flask but they do not hold the food hot for as long and they are nothing like as robust as the steel ones. If you think how much these things get bashed about each day they need to be tough.
    I do though have a plastic one which keeps things cool which I use for ricotta puddings - things with fresh fruit and a yoghurt topping.
    My daughter walks to school with a classmate and her mum bought a Stanley flask - they are also on Amazon and Lakeland Plastics also stock them. They are again made of metal and are really tough and I am told they also work really well - so that range is worth trying if you prefer - they have a different set of designs.
    I would hope that both these brands are well made and work as their specifications say.

  3. These green beans would be a welcome addition to my lunches too Charlotte. Did Freddie give it 10 out of 10!!!

  4. Hi Charlotte!
    What a fabulous sounding recipe. I am going to make this one. Hope you are well.
    Lori Lynn

  5. Surely cooking a vegetable for 3 hours destroys much of the nutritional content?

  6. Greetings GBVC. Ed is a trooper isn't he? A lovely recipe. Hope you are all well?


  7. These beans look great Charlotte, although I would miss out the bacon. I am going to give one of the flasks a go. I am tempted by a pink one. Thanks for the link :)

  8. charlotte at Great Big Veg8:55 AM

    Go get that flask - its the way forward!!
    The key is to look at the capacity to make sure it is enough for lunch for an adult appetite.

    David Hall - I am well. Like everyone I suppose a little anxious about the recession unfolding around us all. But the family is well thank you.

    Trekkie - Yes I know - but sometimes, as with casseroles and stews the long slow cooking brings about a beautiful flavour. And in this case it reall works. Most days we eat vegetables raw or cooked lightly - but this dish is different.

    Lori Lynn - I am well thank you - how are you - what are you up to?

    Bellini V - It was a nine out of ten this not at all bad. Freddie's scoring is not consistent though!

  9. Anonymous10:10 AM

    Hi: This dish looks great. I wonder why you cooked it on the stovetop rather than in a slow cooker / crockpot?

  10. You have to be careful with rice pudding. My brother made it for his masterchef audition and took it along in a flask but as it was hot when he put it in it carried on cooking and when he opened the flask it had solidified into a solid lump! Luckily he had taken another dish with him and he still managed to get on the show!!!!
    Will put my pudding thinking cap on! Hot rhubarb soup perhaps?

  11. Were students trying to improve our unhealthy diets and blogging about our experiences, so blogs like this are very interesting to us!

    I have no idea how you've managed to eat so many vegetables! On campus, We cant buy half the vegetables we need for recipes, they dont even have simple things like parsley and celery! So I admire your dedication to try so many new things!

    This recipe looks yummy!

  12. You are right that slow is the new fast - in these times of credit crunch we can cook cheaper cuts of meat slower to save money. Doesn't quite apply to your (delicious looking) recipe though.

  13. Purps4:01 PM

    Hi Charlotte,

    Glad to see you are all well :-)

    Puddings - On cold days I love hot home made custard with some banana & fresh raspberries in:)
    Also good with stewed apples at the bottom, sprinkled with nutmeg or any left over cake crumbled into it.

    I'm dreaming of jam rolly poly with custard now.


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  15. Charlotte, I am so glad you and your family are enjoying these beans. They are one of my all-time favorite foods. We like to serve them with corn bread made in an iron skillet. Now that is traditional food from the U.S. South.

  16. MMMMMM....simple but yummie:)!!! thanks!!

  17. This looks so easy to do but it looks
    really yummy.I would love to try this at home.

  18. This looks good even without bacon.

  19. As Ed said above, long slow cooking - usually with a hunk of very fatty pork, fatback- is a traditional southern way of cooking green beans. W/o the tomatoes, they come out quite gray looking. This makes them look a lot more appetizing.

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  21. Anonymous11:26 PM

    I use a food flask a lot when I am walking to the great envy of the other hill walkers. I find chunky soups work particularly well. Not everything comes out well out of a food flask. One tip tho... Never put it or its components in the dishwasher.. Damages the seals. Why does noone make a tiffin flask with two compartments ?


  22. Those beans look absolutely delicious and will be tried on my vegphobic husband - yeh I know a grown up. What's his excuse?!?

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