Back in the day, my parents had an 18-inch television with rotary knobs, a blown speaker and a hole smashed in the top from having to bang on it repeatedly. This TV introduced me to Pinwheel, Scooby Doo, and The Flintstones, among countless other shows. I was one of those kids whose life revolved around TV; Dad used to measure time for me in Scooby Doo episodes, I had a major crush on Alex P. Keaton, and one of my first memories is sitting on the couch in my nightgown, laughing hysterically at Eddie Murphy’s epic James Brown impression in the SNL skit Celebrity Hot Tub Party. “Ungh! Hot Tub! Full’a water! Gonna make you sweat-ah!”
Another show that was a regular on our TV was The Victory Garden. Mom would watch this show for its tips on gardening and cooking, and try to recreate the show’s culinary victories in our kitchen at home. She even bought the show’s cookbook, used it regularly, and stored it among the other greasy, tattered cookbooks on our kitchen shelf.
Fast forward 25 years. I’m sitting on Bestie Bev’s couch in Kansas City, nursing the remnants of the previous night’s fourth glass of wine with a cup of hot coffee, blankly staring at the TV. One of the weekend rituals around the Weidner house is watching cheesy DIY shows on PBS on Sunday morning; so there we were, parked on the couch, sarcastic banter at the ready. After a quasi-torturous quilting show, an ad popped up for the upcoming series: Victory Garden. “This show is still ON?”, I said. Indeed. Granted, these days, VG is a little more hip and a lot less frumpy.
A few weeks later, Mom brought Hubs and me a wonderful tub of Portuguese kale soup, a recipe out of her old Victory Garden cookbook. The soup was divine, with chunks of chorizo, soft kale and plenty of tomatoes. I raved to Mom about the soup, and she brought me the cookbook, complete with a note about the recipe stuck to the front, and random notes on treasury bonds and dad’s shopping list stuck inside (peanuts and fabric softener – gotta love my Dad). And for those of you looking at the pictures: Yes, my nickname is Potoni. No, I don’t know why.
With all this Victory Garden business, I thought it only appropriate that I heed to the cosmic vegetable energy surrounding me and peruse the cookbook myself. Not that I’ve got a whole lot going on out in the ol’ garden; the epic floods of April and May and the staggering heat of June led me to believe my garden was toast. However, it seems to be gradually coming back with sleepy enthusiasm. My radishes are growing bigger by the day and my tomatoes are finally looking like they’re having a good time. My eggplant? Ugh, that’s a different story.
Two things that are taking off in the garden are our snow peas and our green beans. Sage gave us some dragon tongue beans to plant last year, and I bought a snow pea mix from Burpee over the winter. I flipped through the cookbook Mom lent me, and came across the VG recipe for succotash. While succotash is traditionally a mix of corn and lima beans, I couldn’t just let it be. I scrounged through my crisper and my cupboard, and came up with zucchini, asparagus, edamame and black eyed peas. A quick rinse and chop to the veggies, and they were sizzling away in the pan.
While the veggies cooked, I grilled some chicken I had marinating in the fridge, and whipped up a quick batch of couscous. When it was all said and done, I had a nice, fresh little dinner ready in just under 30 minutes. We parked our butts in front of the TV – granted, I didn’t have to bash the top with my fist – and Hulu’d an episode of The Victory Garden in honor of our dinner. My, how times have changed. Enjoy!
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Chicken & Succotash with Couscous
For the Chicken:
1 lb. chicken tenders, rinsed & patted dry
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 c. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp. red pepper
1/4 c. chopped basil
Salt & pepper
Goat cheese (optional)
For the Succotash:
1/2 c. green beans, chopped to 1/2″
1/2 c. asparagus, chopped to 1/2″
1/2 c. zucchini, chopped to 1/2″
1/2 c. frozen corn
1/2 c. frozen lima beans or edamame
1/2 c. canned black eyed peas, rinsed & drained
Olive oil, salt & pepper
For the Couscous:
1 box plain couscous
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. chopped basil
1 Tbs. chopped parsley
Light your grill. Combine the chicken tenders with all ingredients for the marinade and toss to combine. Set in the fridge while you get to work chopping the veggies.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat and add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the chopped succotash veggies and toss to coat in oil. Sauté over medium heat until the veggies begin to soften, about 7 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, grill the chicken tenders. Once they’re done, remove them from the grill and tent loosely with foil. Set aside.
Cook the couscous according to the package’s directions. Once it’s done, add the 2 tablespoons of butter and chopped basil and parsley.
Serve the chicken on a bed of couscous and succotash. Top with goat cheese, if desired.
* If the above slideshow doesn’t load, you can view all the photos from this recipe on Flickr.
Laura is a regular contributor for the Fayetteville Flyer. She was born and raised in Fayetteville. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and avid cook. For more of Laura’s contributions, see her Flyer Foodie author page. For more cooking, recipes, and other food-related inspiration, visit Flyer Foodie on Facebook.