Let me preempt this blog by first stating that I do not – ever – endorse cheating. And if you asked me two years ago if I'd ever cheated on an exam or a test before in my life, I would have proudly, loudly said no. That was, of course, before I discovered the beauty of kitchen shears. Let me explain: It was the final exam for one of my culinary courses, and we had three hours to prep, cook and plate the menu, which included a side of sautéed green beans. I was running late, as usual, and beginning to worry if I would be able to make the deadline to have my finished meal presented to the chef instructor for grading. There were many rules set in place during the exam – no talking, no cell phones and absolutely no kitchen shortcuts. That meant no garlic presses, food processors or kitchen shears. Everything had to be done the old-fashioned way, using a knife, by hand. So around 8:30 pm, when the 9 pm deadline started to push its hefty weight down on my sanity and my list of tasks to complete was still incomplete, I decided to take a chance. The chef had stepped out for a quick smoke break and a pair of kitchen shears I'd guiltily stashed in my bag were tempting me. I knew that with them, I could make quick work of that pile of beans that needed trimming. Without them, the task would have pushed me over the deadline. And so I did it. I hauled out the contraband scissors and feverishly snipped off the stems off my mountainous pile of beans. I grabbed the beans by the handful, pointing all of their stems to the ceiling and with one fell swoop of the shears, trimmed the entire bunch. Miraculously, I was able to stuff the shears back in my bag and resume business as usual just as the chef stomped back into the kitchen. I still feel a little guilty about that moment – I'm a goody two-shoes at heart – but it's also a slight point of pride. That slip of innocence shaved precious minutes off my kitchen prep time, and allowed me to proudly place my finished meal in front of the chef right on time. Even if you're not cooking on a deadline, I do highly recommend this technique for trimming green or yellow string beans. Simply grab a handful of beans, point the stems upward and use kitchen shears to snip them all away at once. If you're cutting the beans into short lengths, continue working down the beans to cut them into your desired size. Once you've snipped all your beans in a flash, put them to work in one of our amazing green bean recipes!
(Photography (top to bottom): Gilean Watts, Gilean Watts, Jeff Coulson, Jeff Coulson.)