Bean Salad

June 4, 2011 at 8:39 am | Posted in Beans, Welome to Kansas | 24 Comments
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As a kid, growing up on a farm in the middle of Kansas, the Memorial Day weekend was a declaration of  “let the summer games begin”.  School had just let out, swimming pools in town were open for the season and summer softball leagues were in full swing.  The horseshoe pit in the back yard was open for business and June bug wars with the cousins was in full swing.  Three action-packed months lay ahead of us before school started again around Labor Day.

However, growing up on a farm, Summer meant very long hours of hard work for my parents. Tractors were buzzing in every field every day but Sunday. I remember my mom and I would deliver a cooler of lunch to my dad in the field. Mostly white bread sandwiches filled with bologna or ham salad, or nothing but butter, with some potato chips, and always dessert. Usually a square of chocolate sheet cake, or a slice of homemade pie. Sometimes he’d sit in the car, which was always a Dodge or a Pontiac, and visit with us while he ate, and sometimes take it with him on the tractor, which was always a John Deere. He would however, come back to the house every evening, calling us on the CB Radio to let us know he was on his way,  to have supper around the dinner table, only to return to the fields to take advantage of every minute of daylight. 

Memorial Day also marked a whole change of food that appeared on our table. I don’t remember any of us owning a grill until my high school years when Dad won one at the local John Deere dealership. A black kettle grill with a big green John Deere logo on the front.  He assembled it and promptly placed it in the corner of garage and looked on it as a suspicious, exotic and confusing contraption. I finally drug it out one day determined to grill burgers, which ended in disaster and confirmed the piece of equipment to be new-fangled and useless. So Summer food for us consisted of lots of fried chicken, baked beans, potato salads, bean salads, boiled fresh sweet corn dripping in butter and a never-ending array of desserts. Iced tea and Kool-aid were consumed by the gallons.

Sundays were reserved for all the aunts, uncles and cousins to gather at our house after church for a big pot luck.  My Aunt Lena was famous for hauling in enough food for an army and as soon as their Buick roared into the driveway, we’d rush out to help carry in the arsenal of  Tupperware containers, hovering as she uncovered them in the kitchen. Man was she a good cook. Aunt Alice never disappointed always bringing her famous macaroni and cheese along with even more Tupperware containers filled with “Summer Food”. Dad and Uncles would take turns hand churning homemade ice cream in the back yard while us kids ran wild and sticky with slices of watermelon in our hands.

DVD’s, computers or Wii didn’t exist, so the day would end with us gathered around the large dining room table playing board games and cards followed by watching  Gunsmoke and Ed Sullivan.

I made Aunt Lena’s Bean Salad recipe last weekend and served it alongside some flank steak that I cooked on that new-fangled out-door grill and some Bush’s Baked Beans. We’ve never had Bush’s canned beans before and I must admit I was skeptical, but we’re pleased to report that their new Grillin’ brand combinations are really good, a new staple for the pantry.

Aunt Lena’s Bean Salad Recipe:

1 can green beans, drained
1 can wax beans, drained
1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 can lima beans, drained
1 whole onion, diced
1 whole green pepper, diced
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp celery seed

1. Mix all ingredients

Servings: 8

Aunt Lena’s Bean Salad….It’s What’s for Summer Food.

One Year Ago: Chipotle Cheddar Bacon BBQ Burgers

Two Years Ago: Flank Steak With Onion Marmalade



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  1. Nice story and it sounds very familiar except for the farming part. Bev is a giant fan of bean salad and I’m sure she’ll want to try this.

    • That’s the simplest of bean salad recipes Larry, she probably has 10 better than that. Nonetheless, it’s a tasty one. Remember those hand crank ice cream makers that you packed with rock salt? I do believe I like my little electric one better. 🙂

  2. Oh yes, I remember Summers on the farm. I especially remember wheat harvest when dinner (or “supper” as we called it)wasn’t until 9 at night. It was hard work, but very exciting.

    • My mom just scolded me for the millionth time yesterday that it’s “supper” not dinner. 🙂 Harvest was exciting. I was always afraid to drive those big old klunker trucks to the elevator, but would love to ride along. And of course loved to ride on the combines.

  3. What a great story! It is amazing how much simpler life was before digital, isn’t it? Though I didn’t live on a farm, I remember the same sorts of food and activities. I also remember a bean salad recipe similar to this – my dad LOVED it. Hadn’t thought of that in a long time – thanks for the nice memory! ( and I noticed that cool bowl – another one you’ll have to hide from me.)

    • I love those bowls. Called rice bowls because the pattern in the bowl is actually made by pressing rice into the material, and when removed they create areas in the bowl that let light through. Wish I could find more.

  4. Great photo Lea Ann…I’m so hungry and now dying for all of the above! We didn’t live on a farm but we always had a big garden…it was part of my daily chores to work in it; I hated it sometimes but now wish I had one with all of those veggies. Loved your story…things I’m finding out about you…more, more!!

    • I agree Barb, my mom had a huge vegetable garden on our homestead acreage. I miss it so.

  5. I love your story. My grandparents had a “retirement” farm and we were lucky enough to visit them often. My grandfather let us name his cattle and scale perch from his tank. I have great memories of trucking lunch out to him and his helpers. I also remember lots of fried chicken and watermelon as lunch was the big meal of the day for them. Your salad looks so good. Great photo.

    • Thanks Karen, I was a little surprised with the photo, it was rushed. 🙂 Oh yes, every single one of our cattle had names.

  6. I enjoyed your story Lea Ann. Are you named for your aunt?
    Sundays must have been really special at your house. We loved Ed Sullivan & Gunsmoke too. I was sad to hear James Arness died this week.

    • I don’t think I’m named for Aunt Lena…I’ll have to ask for sure. I agree, his death is a loss for our generation. He was such a presence in our childhood.

  7. This salad reminds me of the ones I used to sample at potlucks when I first got here; delicious dressing!

    • Thanks Joumana, it’s a simple one.

  8. What wonderful family memories you have. We have always been such a small family and I’ve often lamented the fact that we didn’t have big family gatherings like yours. How lucky you are! The bean recipe sounds fantastic. It’s one of my mom’s favorite salads. I’ll send this along to her. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

  9. Lea Ann, thanks for sharing your childhood memories. One of my best friend’s dad in Germany was a farmer and I remember their long work days in the summer. She had to help a lot, too. I also wish my kids could get together with family more often, but here everybody lives so far away. Growing up my family always got together on Sundays at my grandma’s house. There was always lots of homemade food and cousins to play with.

  10. My wife’s parents make this! I don’t like wax beans, but I love kidneys.

    • It’s a pretty standard recipe that most people should have some sort of version of. Thanks for stopping by Rufus.

  11. Love hearing about your childhood!!! We will have to talk about it over wine next time we see together, Love you sister, Kristie

    • Are together!!!!!

    • I’ll talk over anything if there’s wine involved. 🙂 Love you too.

  12. […] Vinaigrette that I found over at Nibble Me This.  Thanks Chris, delicious. And a bowl of Bean Salad. These lamb chops are certainly worthy for an elegant dinner party as well as a casual summer […]

  13. What a GREAT story. It reminds me of visiting my grandparents’ farm in NC each summer. Hilarious about the new fangled grill.

    I liked this type of bean salad as a kid but have never made it as an adult which is ridiculous since it would be a great side for BBQ dishes.

    • And that salad is soooo easy…all those canned beans. Can you believe we didn’t learn how to use that darn grill??

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