Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bacony Garlicky Carrots and Green Beans

We are in Cairo and counting our blessings.  Not the least of which is having internet again.  And a Carrefour hypermarket about 20 minutes away from our new home.  

Years and years and years ago, we lived in a little oilfield town on the island of Borneo, called Balikpapan.  When I would tell people the name, they would say, “Oh, Bali!”  And I would have to reply, “Don’t I wish!”  They were worlds apart.  We didn’t really have a proper grocery store and there was no fresh milk or cheese unless we managed to get into the Huffco commissary, and even there, shipments arrived so sporadically that I caught them covering the expiration labels with future dates so that they could sell old stuff that had somehow just arrived or hadn’t sold.  We ordered meat from Jakarta and it came frozen, packed in dry ice.  There was only one decent restaurant at one decent hotel, the Benakutai. And the vegetables in the market were limited to local greens, potatoes, carrots and green beans. 

But you know what, those were two wonderful years!  Elder daughter was born while we lived there (not actually THERE, of course) and I made great friends.  One of them was an old friend of my mother-in-law’s from Peru named Clara Hart.  A sweeter, more gentle person, you could never hope to meet.  She showed me around and told me all of the places to get things we needed.  She tried to teach me Bridge, bless her.  She was also my pass to the Huffco commissary, until Vico took over and they finally made it open to the public just before I left Balikpapan.

I picked up this recipe from her.  I don’t know if I make it just like she did but this is how I remember her dish and how I have been making it ever since.  This is one of the things that gives me hope when I move to a new place, that I have gained something from every friend over the years and that gain accompanies me forever, even in a new place like Cairo, where I don’t know many people yet.  There will be much to gain here.  I just need to be patient.

250g or 1/2 pound green beans
1 good-sized carrot or two small ones
2 slices of bacon
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper (optional)

Cut the stem ends off of the green beans.  Holding your knife at an angle, cut the beans into more manageable pieces.

Peel your carrot and cut it into pieces about the size of your green beans.  Rinse the green beans and carrots in a colander.

Slice the garlic very thinly.  Cut the bacon into little strips.

Fry the bacon and garlic in a little olive oil until semi-crispy making sure not to let the garlic burn.

Tip in the green beans and carrots.  Give the whole pot a good sprinkle of salt, black pepper and cayenne, if desired.  (I’m pretty sure that the cayenne is my addition and that Clara would have used only black pepper.)

 Cook, covered, until you are happy with the tenderness of your vegetables.

 The last two nights I was cooking with only the one saucepan and pot I had bought at Carrefour on the house hunting trip, so no lid.  But our AIR SHIPMENT ARRIVES TODAY! YAY!
 Give them a quick taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary before serving.  Enjoy!

The complete meal included mashed potatoes and roast chicken with onion gravy.
On biodegradable plates bought in Singapore. :) 

Here's a photo from our Balikpapan days.  Let's see how many people read all the way to the bottom!

With us is our first Boxer, Bogus (his father named him!) who traveled from Houston to Abu Dhabi to
Balikpapan to Paris. It's good to have a Boxer on one's traveling journeys. 


  1. love your new blog header, and your great stories. Keep 'em comin'!

  2. Thanks, Lauren! The talented Victoria is responsible for my header. I love it too!

  3. Bogus was a lovely boxer and he had the beautiful clipped ears.


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