I remember having a conversation with my sister a few years ago about how she loved roasting vegetables. I have been such a ‘boil or steam the veggies’ (if there are any veggies at all) person, it really took me some time to get my head around cooking a vegetable in the oven. I knew that it was going to be one of the techniques I was going to try this year as I grow my friendship with this food group.
My first attempt to roast included string beans. I have had string beans in some places where I was surprised that I could actually like them, and I have had string beans that I didn’t like at all (and that didn’t surprise me). This recipe was… okay. Or, I should say, this attempt with this recipe was okay. It will likely be revisited and I will continue to experiment with this recipe, this veggie, this method.
I think this method helps a vegetable show off. Whatever you put with it for seasoning (done correctly) is like a perfect scarf or hat near a woman’s face. Additional flavors can show off different features of the string bean, but the string bean (or whatever the veggie is) can be the star.
One of the results of the Oriental Ginger meal was a surplus of broccoli and cauliflower. I was determined to not have them go to waste – which may have happened once or twice with fruits and vegetables under my care.
I figured there must be some sort of meatloaf that I could include them in – I don’t know why – I’m not a big meatloaf maker or eater, but it is what got in my head.
Searching for such a recipe, I didn’t really find any. So, I decided to make it up.
I had a pound of ground turkey, a bunch of broccoli and cauliflower, and some other stuff in the fridge. I steamed the veggies, then pureed them in the food processor. I threw in some garlic cloves, salt, and pepper. I dumped the puree in a a bowl with the turkey. Too loose. Looked in the fridge and found some leftover rice. Much nicer than bread crumbs. Added an egg (whisked) to help with the binding. Put it into a greased bundt pan, because this mixture was ugly and I hoped it would be helped by a fun shape. I also threw in a bunch of seasonings, but I can’t remember what I used.
Baked the ‘loaf’ until the meat thermometer registered 165.
Turns out, I throw together a ‘dump-loaf’ pretty well, and everyone liked it. It even was enjoyed as a leftover by those that enjoy leftover.
Don’t know that I will make the effort to cook another broccoli and cauliflower loaf – but I’m pretty pleased to know that I could, IF I wanted to.
Fix It or Forget It Lightly
I have had this cookbook for years. I have in no way come near to exhausting all the possibilities that are in it. I rarely find one that we don’t all enjoy. I usually change at least one thing about each recipe based on my mood, the moon, and what is in the refrigerator. I have a few favorites that I use all the time. I am convinced that the crock pot is the greatest kitchen invention of the twentieth century.
In my quest to become friends with more veggies, I began to flip through the cookbook look ing for something new and something easy. Enter Oriental Chicken Ginger. It looked like something we would enjoy, similar to a couple other ‘oriental’ meals that I make, but with a good dose of broccoli and cauliflower.
So I did the food prep and dumped it into the crock pot. I left the house for an afternoon of errands with Anna and came home to a house that smelled amazing. Really anything with a bunch of ginger couldn’t not smell wonderful, right? Marc had started the rice to be served with the meal and we were ready for dinner when I walked into our home.
One bite, and I was sure this was NOT meal I would make again. It was too salty, and too ‘broth-y’. I can’t even think of what I would want to change in this recipe, except to mark with a Sharpie in the cookbook – DON’T TRY THIS ONE AGAIN. I don’t know how else to say it. But it was a healthy serving of veggies and a new way to try them. So even though it wasn’t a winner of a recipe, it was a winner of a meal.
Forgot to take picture, but this pic by ‘acriley’ found on flickr looks pretty close. But I don’t have that sweet bowl.
Sweet Potato, Carrot, Apple & Lentil Soup
This was a super yummy, relatively easy vegetable feast. With this soup, you do your food prep and then let it just make your house smell yummy for about an hour. At the end, you use a blender or an immersion to make it all creamy and smooth. This reminded us of a pumpkin soup that I make sometimes (both of these soups hold texture issues for Caleb) but that soup calls for brown sugar. I love brown sugar, but this was just as sweet (how can something as healthy as a sweet potato taste so yummy?)!
My first introduction to sweet potato included boil or bake and then mash. That prep often felt grainy in my mouth, but it was ‘so good for me’ so I would get it down with a smile for the kids sake. Over the last couple years, I’ve found some more fun ways to include sweet potatoes and now they feel like a real treat. Is there such a thing as too many sweet potatoes?
Dad’s Garden, 2014
Vegetables and I have a terrible relationship. They are like that friend that calls ALL the TIME and wants to BE MY BEST FRIEND, and I feel like they are so faithful to me, I should at least go out for coffee with them once in awhile. Vegetables are all guilt for me. I don’t like them. And I should. I don’t eat nearly enough. But I should. Plenty of people like vegetables. And I should.
The first time I went to India, I worked and prayed for a whole semester to be able to eat a banana. I started by eating a quarter of a banana. And praying “God, help me like bananas.” The week before we left for India I managed to get a whole banana down – barely.
Vegetables have never gotten that much effort. We’ll go through spurts where I get almost the required amount of servings on the table or at least into the house. But vegetables, as I know them, are just not that fun to hang out with.
And then it occurred to me, what if I’m hanging out with them in the wrong way? What if I stopped trying to include vegetables because it is Right and Good, and found a way to make it FUN? What if I learned to cook and prepare for flavor and enjoyment, not for DietVirtue. What if I let the enjoyment I have in baking flow over into cooking – and cooking with vegetables in particular?
This journey began in two places during the year of 2015. My friend Carlene had some great kitchen knives. I got some great kitchen knives (and a great cutting board) and now I am kind of enjoying prep work a whole lot more. My journey through Replenish 365 with Lisa Grace Byrne (best decision for me EVER) also taught me to be gentle with myself and my goals – in a really sustainable way. (There is still time to sign up for Replenish 2016 and can’t recommend it enough. I’m going to take a second time around this mountain!)
While I am NOT stating a goal or a resolution (because those don’t work so well for me) – I am saying that I have an intention to learn to prepare and enjoy vegetables this year.
And maybe next year, I’ll tackle bananas.