Perfect gift: Six-pound can of green beans?

News-DemocratJanuary 4, 2014 

Excuse the late Christmas column, but before we kiss the season goodbye, I need to share this.

It's just that I get so excited when I find the perfect Christmas present for someone.

I was walking through a large discount store when, right there on the shelf, sitting in solitary splendor, was a large can of green beans. And I do mean large.

It weighed in at six pounds, five ounces. It cost less than $4. It was perfect for my mother-in-law.

So I bought it.

A little background. My in-laws have lived in the country for pretty much all their lives. The country roads where I was born are notorious for drifting shut every time it snows even a few inches.

This used to mean that there was a high probability they would be stranded in the winter. So they always made sure to have a good stock of essential supplies on hand, like green beans.

I kid her about that.

Still, during our Christmas celebration, when she looked in the plastic grocery bag with the giant can of green beans, she was confused.

"What in the world is this?" she asked.

It was pretty obvious what it was, but the joke needed to be explained. She didn't seem to be amused. But she laughed because she is a pretty good sport.

Just for my own curiosity I checked the shelves downstairs in the basement. She already had 10 cans of green beans, each weighing 14.5 pounds. So my 101 ounces of green beans paled in comparison to her 145 ounces.

Still, there we were with all those extra canned green beans to do something with. That can be a problem. I have dealt with these large cans before.

Years ago we bought a large can of pork and beans for a family gathering. We ate and ate and ate and a couple of weeks later still had to throw beans away.

This time we were prepared. My wife had bought three aluminum pans, three cans of mushroom soup and a giant frozen bag of tater puffs.

I split the green beans among the pans, tossed in some water with the soup to thin it a bit and topped it all with taters.

Some time in the oven and we had plenty of green bean casserole for the big dinner.

Then we had plenty of green bean casserole to freeze for those days when they get snowed in.

There is just nothing in the world like finding the perfect gift. Except maybe getting to eat it for months afterward.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 618-239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email:

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