New tricks with old favorites

Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
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It is commonly said that you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Being an old dog, Mr. Potato Head is painfully aware of this. Sometimes, however, it is possible to come up with a few new tricks when it comes to cooking vegetables. I'm thinking about two old favorites: cauliflower and string beans. Both are currently being harvested from gardens and available at farmer's markets and stores. The traditional way to cook them is to boil them, hopefully not too long. Overcooked vegetables lose some of their flavor, color and texture. Boiling veggies works fine most of the time. A microwave oven is also a quick and easy way to cook most vegetables. However, there are ways to cook cauliflower and green beans that add more flavor. The first involves cauliflower and cooking it in the oven. This method is very easy and very tasty, the cauliflower will get slightly browned and have a wonderful flavor.

Baked cauliflower


1 head of cauliflower, divided into florets

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine the cauliflower and seasoning.

Drizzle on the oil and toss again.

Transfer the mixture to a small nonstick baking dish.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, tossing as needed, or until lightly browned and crisp tender.

Serve immediately.

This next recipe has a few more steps and is cooked on top of the stove. Again, I think you will find it to be pretty easy and very tasty. You could use yellow beans instead of green if that is what you have.

Braised green beans


1 pound of fresh green beans, trimmed

2 slices of bacon

1/2 onion, minced

1/2 cup boiling water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste


Cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet until crisp

Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel-lined plate Return the skillet with the reserved bacon grease to the stove.

Cook the onion in the bacon drippings until soft, 5 to 7 minutes.

Stir in the green beans; cook another 2 minutes.

Pour the boiling water into the skillet and cover the skillet immediately

Steam for about 15 minutes

Shake the skillet occasionally to keep the beans from sticking

Add the butter, lemon juice, salt, and pepper

Cook and stir until the butter is melted, 3 to 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the cooked bacon over the beans to serve.

This is how we cook veggies at my house all of the time, except we only use bacon on special occasions. We usually start by cooking the onion in a little olive oil. When it comes to healthy cooking, bacon and butter are not your friends. Sure they taste great, but olive oil is a much healthier alternative.

Enjoy all of the fresh veggies now while they are in their prime. When the winter winds start blowing all we will be left with is fond memories of how great they tasted!

If you have gardening questions or suggestions for Mr. Potato Head please e-mail him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Mr. Potato Head is Stearns County Master Gardener and Kimball resident Rick Ellis