Grandma Mabel’s Green Beans

My grandmother grew up in the hills of Kentucky. Being in Nashville reminds me of her. I write about Mabel often because the smell of her house is the memory that inspires me to cook. She never went a day without bacon and always made a cast iron skillet full of cornbread.

Mabel had 6 children. She was a very small woman with a huge heart and very strong will. She had every little thing in the world wrong with her but still lived on her own and cooked every day until she was 89.

I walked into a honky tonk in downtown Nashville last week and the doorman looked at my license and said: “California! You’re a long way from home.” This was most likely meant to be a friendly ribbing and I let it pass, but it really pissed me off. I thought, my kin are from just up yonder and probably ate your kin for breakfast. But I AM now from California and it is a long way from home. I am happy to be reminded of my roots and am happy to know that I have had many great adventures that started with having the good sense that I inherited from my family.

Normally I write recipes that have optional ingredients or can leave out things like bacon. There is no point making these without the bacon. There are other green bean recipes that are great and I may include some here this year, but this one is Mabel’s and she would NEVER leave out the bacon.


  • 1 lb Fresh, Crisp Green Beans (half runners if you can get them)
  • 4 Medium Potatoes
  • 2 Onions
  • 4 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 4 Slices of Bacon
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Water


  • Large Stock Pot
  • Chef’s Knife
  1. Rinse the beans under cold water, trim the ends and either cut of snap into one-inch pieces.
  2. Cut the potatoes and onions into bit sized chunks.
  3. In the bottom of the stock pot cook the bacon for a few minutes, just long enough to give off it’s fat.
  4. Add a splash of olive oil and scrape any stuck bits off.
  5. Add the beans, potatoes, onions and broth. If the liquid doesn’t cover everything, top up with a little water.
  6. Salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to a boil then simmer for a long time, at least an hour. The potatoes need to be really soft and a lot of the liquid should have evaporated. 
  8. Adjust salt and pepper and serve with something southern. 
In my cookbook, I have paired the beans with grilled sausages (pictured) and fresh tomatoes. I will be having this once a week when the tomatoes come in.

One comment on “Grandma Mabel’s Green Beans

  1. Judi Kocher says:

    A very classy woman…with a cast iron skillet I remember, too!

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