Crispy Lima Bean Frizzle....and How Childhood Visits to a Historic Village Shaped My Life.

Not too long ago, I took myself on a little overnight R&R trip to the city I called home for the first 18 years of life.
I love those hours I am treated to a couple of times a year and love that my husband pushes me out the door; away from my duties as CEO, wife and mom for just a bit.

I didn't have plans when I pulled out of the driveway. Just a hotel booked and an overnight bag.
The day couldn't have been more perfect for a road trip.

I stopped at the bookstore and bought a How To Learn French CD (two notes here: 1. No, it never dawned on me that podcasts are created for such things until my husband told me. 2. Yes, I took French in high school and only remember "if fait froid" and "il fait chaud" thanks to a high school French teacher that was a little obsessive about the weather.)
With my French CD and a few new magazines (is it really possible to get out of a bookstore with just one item), I got on a long stretch of highway and thought about what would be next. There was a 7pm minor league baseball game that night....which was sold out when I called for tickets. Bummer.

I considered going to a movie, shopping, art museums....all indoors and a terrible way to spend a gorgeous Saturday afternoon.

Then I remembered one of my favorite childhood places. A historic village, replicating life in our State back in the 1800's. Bingo. I felt a tinge of guilt going someplace that I knew the kids would love. Still I forged ahead with my solo-date.

Let me just say....a lot changes over time, doesn't it? Those places that we have our fondest memories of~ when visited later in life, are dreadfully disappointing.  Thankfully this wasn't the case when I stepped through the welcome gates at the historic village and literally transported....not back to the 1800's but back to my most cherished memories.

I have an interesting sort of childhood. Good and bad...don't we all? Although the older I get, the more I learn that some of my 'bads' might have been a bit badder than some. And that's OK. I've never been one for crutches or excuses~ life is what you make of it.

At any rate, this day, while peaking into the schoolhouse, the pharmacy, the blacksmith's shop, the millinery store.....I had the most awakening experience I've had in quite a long time. It actually sort of blew my mind.

As I walked through this replica town that gave me some of my most beautiful, exciting memories as a young girl, I discovered.....I discovered that I had imbedded those feelings and images of comfort and happiness that this place gave me and I carried them through to my life as an adult.

And I never realized it until that very moment.

In essence, what I find most comforting and beautiful in my homestead that I have been creating for my husband and boys for over 15 years now, are those visual elements that I looked forward to so much as a child.

A phone pics I took that day at the village.

Isn't that BIZARRE!?!?!?!

Reality is...maybe its not so bizarre.

People so often ask me (especially those that know my family history), where I've come to possess such a passion for food~ for homemaking~ for creating home. There isn't a straightforward answer I can give. I'm really not sure what that evolutionary process has been except that there have been little things along the way in this journey of Megan Smith's life that I guess I cling to (unknowingly) and have built upon.

Both my maternal grandmother and grandfather were deaf. They were divorced but lived in the same deaf community~ where I spent a lot of my early childhood while my single mom worked across town. I knew just a bit of sign language....pretty much just the alphabet. So communicating with my grandma was a matter of signing out each word. And as a 5 year old~ holy moly that takes a while. C-A-N  I  H-A-V-E  A  D-R-I-N-K?  I  W-A-N-T  T-O  G-O  O-U-T-S-I-D-E.

It was an arduous communication process at best.

Needless to say, there was a lot of silence in my childhood. Which is probably why I'm a rather quiet person now.

My grandmother wasn't necessarily a homemaker~ she lived in a teeny tiny apartment community, almost like a retirement community, where meals were provided in a cafeteria downstairs. But I do remember her footstool which opened into a sewing kit. And I remember her recipes. I don't recall her ever mixing anything in her little kitchen except for pitchers of Tang (remember that drink!?) ....but she did have recipes.

After she died, my mom brought my grandma's belongings to our house. I gathered her recipes~ many of them handwritten, a lot of them cut out from the local newspaper too. And I started cataloging them. I was around 9 years old.

I kept it up until I left home at 18. I would sit down each week with the Sunday paper, open to the food section and clip the recipes from the week. I would tape them to index cards and then file them under the appropriate letter. At some point, I was gifted a word processor and I typed out a few of the easy ones. I felt so grown-up doing that.

I still have those recipes. All of them. And this blog, now nearly 10 years along, is a reflection of the passion I have for the pleasure and joy that food brings~ a nod, most poignantly, to those quiet, early years with my grandmother.

In our new home I have an old, white, wooden,
drop-leaf table and chair that sit right under the window. Next to it I keep my cookbook collection. I have always wanted a cookbook nook in my house. Now I have it. And I find myself there each day after work, while the boys do homework, looking through my recipes~ filing, organizing, creating, planning....just like I did as a child.

And I love it so.

One recipe I ran across this week in those old index card boxes was a recipe for lima beans. At the Smith Homestead we're in a week of 'try one new thing a day.' Lima beans are definitely new for my crew. I took the basic recipe for lima beans that I had typed out two decades ago, and built on it to create this side dish.

The results were delicious. Each element added from the beans to the sprouts to the squash were crisped up and flavored perfectly. There's a little touch of sweetness at the end. Don't neglect that. It makes the magic in your mouth.

Crispy Lima Bean, Brussels Sprouts and Butternut Squash Frizzle

  • friz·zle  [ frízz'l ] : to sizzle while frying or cooking, or fry or cook something so that it sizzles

  • 2 cups julienned fresh Brussels sprouts
    2 cups frozen (or fresh, if you can find them) fordhook lima beans
    1 cup butternut squash, peeled and then sliced super thin with a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Then diced.

    3 Tbsp. coconut oil
    salt & pepper to taste
    2 Tbsp. Sweet Chili Sauce
    *we use Mae Ploy ( This is found nearly everywhere now in the Asian section of your local grocery store. If you don't have this or want to keep any around, substitute with honey.

    In a skillet, heat the coconut oil until hot. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook at a high heat (think like a stir-fry master...lots of stirring and tossing to get these veggies cooked quickly and crisply).

    Once the sprouts start to wilt, add the lima beans and squash. Continue to cook and watch closely for development of bright colors and a bit of crisping around the edges of the sprout leaves and the flat sides of the lima beans. Gorgeous!

    Add a bit of salt and pepper towards the end of the frizzling process (I'm loving this word 'frizzle' right now.) Taste for doneness and flavor.

    When all is right in terms of bursts of flavor in your mouth, turn off the heat and add the sweet chili sauce (or honey). Stir to combine.

    Now eat up! This is great hot, room temperature or during next-days lunch right out of the fridge.