The first time I ever tasted Green Bean Bundles was at a wedding reception. The food had been prepared by the finest cooks in the county- well, at least in a twenty mile radius of Methuselah Baptist Church. The groom was Brother Joe’s boy- they had the same coloring- honey blond hair that waved just right. Brother Joe had done right by the boy, he’d had a good wholesome life. The bride was a striking redhead with bright blue eyes; both the bride and groom had that fresh scrubbed look- pink cheeks, sparkling eyes- corn fed and well bred.
She didn’t look it, but the bride was a few years older than Brother Joe’s boy, John Roy. John Roy had fallen in love at first sight of Babs in a sequin suit twirling her fire batons. He was a freshman in high school and she was a senior- a high school majorette- Babs didn’t even know John Roy existed. She went off and got her education and he got his… One evening he pulled up at church and there was the pretty fire twirling majorette- except now she was leading a step sing at Methuselah Baptist Church. One thing led to another… John Roy and Babs decided to get married.
It wasn’t a big church but not too small either, big enough to have an active Deacon Board, WMU, quilting circle and even an Altar Guild led by a local florist who kept a pretty bouquet there every Sunday. The church was one of those sensible red brick buildings with clean white trim, Brother Joe made sure the grounds were neat as a pin. The church folks were thrilled John Roy had come back home- he had a steady job as production manager at the local plant; Babs taught the pre-school music program, was majorette sponsor in addition to her teaching job. The ladies of the church wanted to help with the wedding reception to be held in the paneled Fellowship Hall, kept fresh with lemon scented polish.
The bride was a cream puff of tulle and lace- the groom was as solid as sawmill timber. The wedding was simple but sweet as could be. The reception was a spread, I can tell you now… The Deacons supplied the Ham, the Bride’s family furnished the wedding cake, bowls of roasted pecans and one of the church ladies specialized in wedding mints. Every once in a while when I’m washing my devilled egg plate I think of that wedding reception still. Egg Plates in every hue came out of the little church kitchen- amber and green pressed glass, a pretty white ceramic with pink roses and at least two white ones- were swapped out as each was emptied of devilled eggs. Sitting beside the egg plates were long casserole dishes, too delectable to name…
with the exception of the unforgettable Green Bean Bundles … glistening with spices and oven roasted bacon. Now, all of these years later, I think of that wedding reception every time I make Green Bean Bundles … It’s the kind of dish that elevates even simple Roast Chicken, Fried Pork Chops or Meatloaf into an occasion! I’ve adjusted the recipe over the years and made them my own but they still take me back to a sweet wedding at Methuselah… Here’s how to make ’em-
Camellia’s Cottage Green Bean Bundles
- 1 lb. package of frozen whole green beans thawed (fresh may be used if in season, ends trimmed and blanched quickly- some use whole canned green beans as well)
- 8-10 slices of uncooked bacon- cut in thirds
- 3/4 cup of Italian Dressing- Use your favorite bottled brand or -Blend 1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning, I teaspoon of garlic salt, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 2 teaspoons brown sugar,1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup oil- preferably olive oil
- Method: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take small bundles of green beans and wrap with portions of uncooked bacon. Line the bundles up in an ungreased 8×8 glass baking dish until filled. Drizzle Italian Dressing Mix over the bundles. Bake for 30-45 minutes until bacon is done. Serve warm. Makes 4-5 servings. Recipe may be doubled or tripled to fill larger glass baking dishes.
Do not make these when you are alone- you’ll eat the whole dish! Over the years, I’ve eaten at many similar gatherings- dinner on the ground, potluck suppers, family reunions and Holiday Dinners…and the romance of a small country wedding reception at little red brick church- put on by the best cooks in a 20 mile radius! Oh me, like all Southern tales- this one is part truth, part fiction and part outright lies, but those Green Bean Bundles are the real deal!
Love y’all, Camellia
* Let me set the record straight a bit. The bride, groom and Brother Joe are fictional, embellished for humor! The details of the wedding have long since been forgotten, though typical of many sweet small weddings I’ve attended throughout my lifetime. Methuselah Church is fictional as well- though the description fits so many ‘neat as a pin’ small churches throughout Alabama that I have loved. However, the recipe for Green Beans Bundles is real, the places they’ve been served including a wedding reception are real too. The devilled egg plates at all of these gatherings always amaze me! The 20 mile radius? Well, let’s just say, I don’t have a good sense of direction- but I’ve heard that term my whole life- and somehow, in some places I think it surely must be true!