Beans for Brekkie

Sun’s comin’ up. Time to get to work. Breakfast…an afterthought.

Summer is always a time of early-to-rise (but perversely late to bed!) and out of the house, off to work before the day’s heat really sets in.  I like to strike an early, vigorous blow at the day’s task list, and there’s nothing like the cool morning air to put some zippedy-do-dah into one’s work pace.  Breakfast is often an afterthought while zooming away in the car, or it is a brief, obligatory fueling of the tank (my tank, not the car’s) with cereal or a bagel, knowing that otherwise the well will run dry after a few hours’ work.  At that time of day, though, I’m not really savoring anything – eating is a purely dutiful act, really an actuarial act calculated to forestall the chance of hunger later.

My first stop of the day is usually the rooftop garden, and it is there I  really begin to think true thoughts about food….mainly that I may have forgotten to eat anything and probably forgot to pack a good lunch to boot.  Well, thankfully, my profession surrounds me with victuals, but, since I am not a rancher or a fisherman, I am mainly surrounded by vegetable victuals, and those raw.  So my first meal of the day may be a sequence of crudité, the uncooked, unadulterated offerings of the roof garden.  At this point I have awakened enough to tune into the world (coffee has assisted), and so I am ready to taste and savor, not just gulp.   Right now I am enjoying a perhaps unlikely breakfast combo, but a delicious one nonetheless.  You see it here below: Malibu pole beans and the Numex Suave Orange pepper. Yum, yum!  I’ll treat the beans here and the pepper in another post.


 We grow a lot of beans on the rooftop, but they are mostly bush beans.  There’s a practicality to this.  Bush beans grow to their determined height (12-18″ or so), then bloom.  They fruit, the fruit matures, it’s harvested within two weeks, then it’s over.  They are pulled out and something new goes in.  It’s a perfect crop for the time-sensitive garden.  In that Warholian world, every crop gets its 15 minutes or 15 days of fame, then it’s done and time to move (or be moved) aside for something else.  I grow a lot of the bush variety called Jade which produces really tasty, beautifully straight beans…gobs of them per plant.

See, gobs!  Full disclosure: not my beans, not my hand, not my garden.

Pole beans are quite another thing altogether.  First, as the name implies, they require poles, and they require them because they are indeterminate….that is, they don’t have a fixed end-point to their growth and so keep growing and growing and growing.  Unlike their bush cousins, they don’t branch so much as vine, each stem relentlessly seeking to find and twine around any support, implacably growing up and over the “competition” (in this case the inanimate pole, but in nature, another plant) to seek the sun.  They don’t just “finish” growing and get ready to move out of the way.  Each plant keeps producing more blooms further up the vine, while flowers lower down mature into harvestable beans. Clearly under this regime the harvest period is longer, though there are fewer mature beans to get from any one plant. I consider them more work than bush beans, both because you have to install poles or some other trellis and because you can’t kick them out of the garden after a big, productive flush, thus making way for the next big, productive crop.  More work, less yield, grumble, grumble, but, and here’s a big but (one “t”, please), they are way better tasting. 

Pole beans are very suited to the architecturally-inclined as they require structures for their support.

I mean it’s not like bush beans are lousy – au contraire. They are crisp, snappy, and full of rich, beany flavor.  But pole beans have bush beans beat any day of the week because in addition to that  rich, beany flavor they add a tantalizing beany juiciness and sweetness which their lower-growing brethren cannot seem to match, which is why I have been practically chain-eating them for my summer breakfasts. Confession: while eating some Malibu pole beans ( the other morning, I actually found them so sweet that I wondered if anyone had ever thought to make an ice cream out of them….but that may have been a bit of early-morning, low-blood-sugar incoherence.  Whatever the case, that just shows they are GOOD!  Good, as we all know, for the dinner table, but equally good as a raw breakfast bite.

Beans beckon to become breakfast.