full of beans = a. (idiomatic) Energetic and enthusiastic
b. (idiomatic) Incorrect; uninformed; exaggerating or
How we hated and feared the stern-toned, foreboding voice all mothers of our generation (and their predecessors) used to warn us girls of the disproval of our prospective “in-laws”.
Pure conjecture this, but somehow our mothers "knew" that our future in-laws would string us up for any or all of our failures and shortcomings.
This sinister tone and proviso would creep in to the matrons’ teachings at the most unexpected times and junctures.
They would go “…and you must always string all types of beans before cutting them, open their pods to check for worms, as you would check okra … and of course, brinjals – OR your in-laws will blame me for not teaching you even this much!”
Or it would be any of the following: (pardon the literal translations)
“…what will your in-laws say!”
“…don’t lower my head in your husband’s home!”
“ …this will cut my nose!”
Sometimes the subject of this rhetoric would also be that nameless/faceless adversary and decrier called “people”. At such times their tone would become even more severe.
Now don’t get me wrong, we weren’t rebel kids by any standards. Only, a little reluctant and resentful that we had to learn dud domestic tricks like
- rolling mustard seeds down a large steel plate tilted by one hand while with the other hand stopping non-round foreign materials
- sieving, winnowing and picking grain before cooking or sending it for milling
- panning sand, stones and grit from soaked rice or pulses
- setting immaculate curd with fresh milk
- kneading dough with one hand
- hand-pounding chutneys and seeds and nuts without spilling
- sorting and stringing greens and yes - the famous beans – (I’ll come back to the beans soon)
It took us a while - and the wisdom of our growing years - to call their bluff.
Well, how could we? We were only mortal kitchenminions for these demigoddesses!
But, by then it was too late – we had learnt to do all these things. And also learnt to “want” to speak to our girls in the same ominous tone…
I hope you haven’t missed the “want” bit…
So going back to the beans – I was most happy when I saw this bean salad on a friend’s table that didn’t need to be stringed, trimmed or chopped. So simple and quick and crunchy!
Green Bean salad
200 gms tender green beans, washed
8-10 cherry or grape tomatoes, washed
A handful of slivered almonds
1-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp white or balsamic vinegar
A pinch of any herb of your choice – I used some dried rosemary
A pinch of sugar/sweetener (if required)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Add the oil to a hot pan and toss the beans and chopped garlic around until lightly roasted and tender but still a little crunchy. Halfway through this, add the almonds and the whole tomatoes.
Season with vinegar, herbs, sweetener/sugar (if required) and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve warm or cold.