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Under the Apron Strings: Green Beans and Christmas Pranks

Granddaddy emerges from the garden with an entire 5-gallon bucket spilling over with freshly picked green beans. Yikes!

It is time to get your stringin’ and snappin’ fingers ready to go. All would gather in the utility room outside the kitchen. Granddaddy was the ring leader. Any youngster would quickly learn that you must string the beans first on both sides and then snap into thirds. You’d get the hang of it. Grandmommie would follow up by often canning the legumes, but freezing was a great option as well.

My first attempt as a young newlywed to prepare fresh green beans was, let’s just say, not so good. I was cooking a batch to take to our Johnson family reunion, and they scorched, but I took them anyway not wanting to come empty-handed to the lunch.

A family opening stockings
Open stockings as a family after the Christmas tradition moved out of Grandmommie's house

My Uncle David Kirby, married to Aunt Nedra, was a prankster. He gave me a hard time about my burned green beans. Five months later as we opened our stockings on Christmas Day at Grandmommie and Granddaddy’s house, I spied a small white gift box.

Naturally, I thought that it was a piece of jewelry but opened to find some of those burned green beans from July, artfully placed on the soft cotton in-side. As was the case, he got me and a big kick out of it for himself.


1/4 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces, or a ham bone

3 pounds fresh green beans, rinsed and snapped

3 cups water or chicken broth

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 teaspoon garlic powder

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

12 to 14 small potatoes, scrubbed clean


  • In a large pot or Dutch oven, add bacon and fry over medium heat until lightly browned.

  • Add beans, water or broth, onion, olive oil, garlic, brown sugar, salt and pep-per. Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes.

  • Add potatoes. Check to make sure you have plenty of liquid, and if not, add more. Cook an additional 25 to 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and the beans have wilted.


You can find this recipe and many more summer favorites in Servin’ Up Summer available for purchase here. It’s my newest collection of recipes. Servin’ Up Summer includes my favorite summer dishes, cocktails, and desserts. It’s a taste of summer in the South on every page. Available now for only $29.95.

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