Little Sister makes a stew

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This post, from 2011!, comes to us from my sister Peggy, our yahnieh-maker extraordinaire …

As the youngest of five in a Lebanese family, you get used to a certain amount of teasing especially when you have three older brothers and a precocious elder sister. There are earlier stories of my childhood affinity for a certain pair of white snow boots, or hiding a full dinner plate under a table in a different room, that will not be recounted here. Just because we’re now all in our 40s doesn’t mean the teasing has come to an end. Of late, the siblings have taken to teasing me about my love of this dish, yahneh, even as they eat every last bit of it when it’s on their plates. Sure, it’s a dish usually made with leftovers, more an afterthought than a direct destination, but it’s delicious nonetheless.

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Lebanese green bean stew, Yahneh, is a peasant dish and one that my father loved dearly. His mother made it regularly and must have made it with peas, something my own mother never did, but that fact didn’t stop him from asking every time, when I told him I was making it in my Chicago kitchen, “Are you making it with peas or beans?” I’ve never once had this dish with peas but I would always respond, “Green beans this time, Dad.”

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I’ve been the recipient of family ire for using leftover prime rib or tenderloin to make the yahneh, as evidently some believe such luscious cuts of meat have higher purposes. But it must have been one of these preparations that started to turn the corner of some of them because last winter we received a text message from our oldest brother, Tom, requesting the recipe for yahneh. The great irony of it all was that the one who teased me the most about loving this dish was my sweet sister Maureen. And when the request came in from Tom for the recipe, who was the first one running to her laptop to type out the recipe? You guessed it, Maureen.

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