6 May

The Oregon Coast is known for many wonderful things: the fishing, logging, rugged and picturesque beaches, amazingly horizontal rain, and knock your socks of wind.  During the summertime, the berries are so abundant, juicy, wildly out of control, and ready to burst in the sunlight.  While hiking, the smells of nature overwhelm the senses, and the lavish growth provides oxygen in a way that only Vegas casinos try to mimic.  It’s almost blissfully intoxicating.

But then, there are specific facets of our little unique area that make Coastie wives, like many of us here, count down the days for the next tour orders.  Most of us have lived in many areas and, for better or worse, follow our devoted and honorable husbands to wherever their duties lead.  Some places are great, some are debatable due to preference and weather, and some, well, downright takes some getting used to.  Actually, some make us seethe.  We bubble, foam, and stir during needed girls’ nights, finding comfort not only in the local cuisine, but in each other.  I think this is typical girlfriend-venting fashion, and it is definitely in style in Coos Bay.

A while back, I met Chef Michael Chiarello at one of his retail stores in California.  He was very friendly and we spent a good deal of time chatting about my mom and The Lazy Susan, storytelling, cooking, and my blog (which is my favorite mixture of the latter two).  He also told me about how he cooks his asparagus – in a sauté pan with only a little water, a fat of some sort, s&p and that’s it.  Cook them over fairly high heat until the liquid is gone, and you are left with the most vibrant green, crisply tender asparagus to where even roasting can’t compete.  Well, being a true fan of roasting veg, I had to give it a try.

I have been cooking my asparagus, and many other sturdy veg (including springtime green beans) that way ever since.

Today, as I whipped up a quick lunch to eat in the backyard and soak up the extremely needed Vitamin D filled UV rays, I stared at my cooking green beans watching them jump, bubble, spit, and spat.  It was kind of a simple violent, yet exhilarating way to cook, the oil and water keeping true to their non-emulsifiable nature, yet continually working together until only the memory of a sheen remained in the pan.  A quick finger-poke-test, and sure enough, the veg was perfect.  How funny it is that a perfect result comes from such a bustling process.

The seethed green beans, concentrated with flavor, mixed with sliced SoCal strawberries (only the best), roasted chicken breast and the salty, tangy bite of shaved Manchego cheese, made the perfect Sunday afternoon spring lunch (and honestly, I think the sun made it even better).

The term for this type of cooking preparation is called seething.  It fits; heat and agitation and opposite viscosities mixing, releasing, venting, and finally leaving a very clear finish of comfort and joy.  Kind of like the girls’ night venting about the frustrations of our chosen/forced environment, over beautiful wine and delicious food.  It always ends with hugs and smiles, all around.

Chicken, Green Bean, & Strawberry Salad (serves 2)

  •  1 roasted chicken breast, roughly chopped (I bought the pre-roasted one from the grocery store… makes a quick meal so much easier!)
  • 1 handful green beans, woody end snapped off
  • 1 c strawberries, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved
  • juice ½ a lemon
  • ¼ c water
  • ¼ c grape seed oil
  • s&p

In a sauté pan, heat the water, oil, green beans, and s&p over med-high heat.  Stir occasionally, and let cook until all liquid is gone and the beans are tender. 

Slice the green beans on a bias, mix with the chicken and strawberries, and squirt the ½ a lemon over the salad.  Sprinkle with just a touch of fresh s&p, and top with the shaved Manchego cheese. 


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