Sauteed Green Beans with Soy and Garlic: Table Traitors

For all the home cooks who have a table traitor

There is nothing quite like working hard (or not so hard) to get a hot meal in front of your family only to have someone (or some TWO) eat politely the required few bites and then quietly leave the table to go eat McDonalds or something else that appeals to them.  Sometimes it takes the form of a bowl of cereal, other times it takes place in the form of outright treachery when said culprits sneak out of the house to eat something entirely different from what you’ve worked hard to make.

My new term for these people are table traitors.  They leave the table, and what’s been prepared for them and run off to the enemy to enjoy the bounty of someone else’s work, oftentimes not necessarily the best food for them.  In my house, Daughter #2 is the most traitorous as I know, and as soon as she is able to drive a car, she’ll be driving off to some location (probably one with food that is bad for her) and eat to her heart’s content, spending her hard earned cash, because there is NO WAY I’m supporting THAT.  Her number one cause for treachery is the green vegetables at our table, and she just can’t get her head around them.  If she sees a meal full of vegetables, the whines begin, and the immediate “Can I have rice and seaweed” beg and deny routine begins.  (She begs, I deny.)

The face as she sits at the table, needing to eat her vegetables, is one that I see almost every evening, and I know that in that tiny little brain of hers, she’s looking for different ways to get out of eating the thing that she hates the most.  I’m pretty relentless however, as I continually stick the vegetable on her plate and insist that she consume them.  It pretty much doesn’t matter what the vegetable is (she does like raw carrots and raw bell peppers), as she’ll look for ways to either bolt from the table or negotiate for something else.

Because of this desire not to eat vegetables, I push them more.  They make up a large part of our diet at home, therefore increasing her distaste for the food on the table.  Her face, when she gets to the table and sees the green, and says, “AGAIN” is not one that sits all that well with me, but I’m stubborn and I figure if she can’t join us, she’ll be hungry.  This green bean dish was consumed by her, albeit reluctantly, but she got down her portion that I asked her to eat.  Daughter #1 and Son, however, DEVOURED them, and I ate my fair share as well.  It was so well received by other members of our eating team at lunch that I made them again for dinner to Daughter #2’s dismay, where Husband ate through a large pile of them as well.

If you too have a table traitor (wait – am I the only one who does?) I want to encourage you to keep trying to feed your family the food that they should eat, and keep up your hard work in the kitchen.  Even if your table of eaters doesn’t fully appreciate your work, know that I, in some small suburb town, am thinking of you and supporting you in your conquest to conquer the table traitor.

Wish me luck with mine.

Sauteed Green Beans with Soy and Garlic
adapted from Food and Wine, September 2002
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ small onion, thinly sliced
1 pound skinny green beans (haricot vert), cut into 3-inch lengths
½ red bell pepper, cut into ¼ inch dice
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sugar
¼  cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderately high heat, until lightly browned. Add the green beans, red pepper, and garlic and stir-fry until the beans are slightly softened and browned in spots, 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar. Add the water, cover and cook over moderately low heat until it has evaporated and the beans are tender, 5 minutes. Add the soy sauce and pepper and cook for 1 minute. Taste and sprinkle with salt, if necessary.Transfer to a platter and serve.

Printable recipe

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