Friday, April 18, 2014

Fava Beans and King Snake!

I am in the midst of student teacher evaluation – a  detailed process – so my blog this week is brief…

Biology teachers are marked individuals.  Any time anyone finds an interesting insect, flower, bird or snake his or her first thought is to “take it to Mr. Zlatnik”… of course I love it! – I love seeing what people have found and sometimes I take the organism home to care for it and usually I release it into the wild. 

This week my across-the-street neighbor came to my door late in the afternoon telling me that a maintenance man had found a “big snake” in his truck – He was concerned that the snake might get into the cab of his truck and he wasn't particularly fond of them.  He wanted to kill it. The snake was in the wheel assembly when I looked for it– I poked at it trying to get it to move and it finally did – into the battery space – also well protected.

Another poke and it moved into the light assembly – the maintenance man  (who spoke primarily Spanish) and I were trying everything – he went to the back of his truck with a steel rod and used that to get the snake to move – it finally dropped to the street – a lovely lively three foot king snake!  I reached out and gently stopped it with my shoe and then reached right behind the snake’s head with one hand and near the tail with the other hand.  I am always amazed by the strength of a snake.   This one was doing its best to escape but I held tight.  If I turned it loose in my yard the dogs would be sure to get it – so I walked it to a vacant area with some wild growing amaryllis   plants – and tossed it into the middle.  The snake quickly scurried away with tales to tell his grandchildren!

FAVA BEAN - The only bean that Europe had before the  time of Columbus
This is the year that I discovered fava beans… they seem to be little known in American home gardens – but are common in England, Spain. Italy, and Mexico… as well as Africa, China, and South America.  They are a delightful vegetable and so easy to grow.  Along about November, before the first rains, I found some seeds in my garage.  I thought – “ OK, this year I am going to try something new – rather than plant a row of fava beans like most people do – I will plant them here and there throughout the garden where ever there is an empty space.  After the first rain – still in the cold months – the seeds sprouted – they didn't do much until the end of January – but I suspect they were creating a root system – With the first ‘little bit warmer’ days – they started growing and by mid April they are fine big bushes – quite attractive in their own right – but now  they are producing great big seed pods with 4-5 big seeds in each – larger than a lima bean.  

Open Fava Pod - seeds are almost an inch long.

We shell them and drop them into a boiling water bath for about 7 minutes… then drain and soak in cool water – drain again – and drouzzle with olive oil and a dash of salt.   They are amazingly tasty.  If you should like to try them next year – you can go to your local Hispanic market and look for dried “Haba” beans – they are large, flattish, and a light brown in color.  Stick them anywhere and they will grow!

Dried Favas as you find them for sale...