A Good Cooker - Memory Lane Revisited

I pack my kids’ lunches and have for years because a hot school lunch just isn’t what it used to be.  While a few places are striving to make healthier options available, far too many are packed with preprocessed, prepackaged salt, fat, and crap.  (Have you seen the pink slime/school lunch story in the news lately?)  Alas, it seems there is little to no cooking involved in this heat and eat school lunch world.  

But…it wasn’t always like this.

I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and my small Catholic elementary school was treated to delicious lunches every day by a stout, happy German woman with large arms and an even larger bosom.  I don’t remember her name, but I will never forget the love with which she prepared our food…nor will I lose the memory of this one particular German dish she used to make.  

It was simple fodder – indeed it only had three ingredients – but even the most hardcore veggie hater loved it and begged for seconds.  I’m not sure of its proper name, but I found this scrumptious one pot meal on numerous German recipe websites.  They all call it the same thing I do – German green beans, potatoes, and ham. 

On Sunday, I cooked a ham – the last white-paper-wrapped package of the half-hog I purchased last spring from a local family farm – Three Sisters Beef – to clear out the deep freeze in preps for this year’s bounty.  I intended to make bean soup with the stock I made from the bone but opted to make this quick, easy, and delicious much loved dish instead.

Presenting…German green beans, potatoes, and ham!


-6 cups of ham stock (in enough water to cover, simmer the bone and any odd bits left after carving over low heat for 6-8 hours, strain, chill, and remove congealed surface fat.  Add additional water as necessary to make 6 cups.  Salt may be added to suit personal taste, but I find the sodium in the ham to be sufficient)
-3 lbs russet potatoes, scrubbed but unpeeled, cut into 1” chunks
-2 lbs frozen green beans
-10 ounces chunked ham


In 6qt. pot, in order, add stock, potatoes, frozen green beans, and ham.  (Really – just pile it in and turn on the burner.)  Bring to simmer over high heat.  Stir gently to evenly distribute ingredients.  Cover.  Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Serve in bowls with a scoop of broth.  Eat.  Repeat as necessary.   

The recipe may seem like it makes a lot, but my family of four can pretty much polish it off in one sitting with maybe a bowl or two left for lunch the next day.  Try it and I’ll bet even your pickiest of pickies will love it. 

If anyone comes up with the real German name, I’d like to know.   And, if anyone can remember our wonderful lunch lady’s name…I’d love that information as well.   


  1. Hi A Good Cooker! It was nice chatting with you today (or more like yesterday). After my son went to Kindergarten, I saw "hot lunch" they serve for elementary school kids. I was shocked. They don't look nutritious or even tasty at all! Our school is pretty good academically but I was shocked to see nutritious-wise... not very good. How come things changed over the past years? Hope school lunches will get better again. Your German green beans, potato, and ham look really delicious and healthy!

    1. Hi! I had fun chatting and I hope to do so again. I love to talk about food and Japanese food is one favorite. And yes, the lunch is sad. One time I went to eat with my daughter and they served the children a slice of cheese pizza, a chocolate chip cookie, and a bag of Doritos. I felt good that I was packing their lunches! I don't know why they don't cook for the kids anymore. Easier, I guess!