Oh, I've been a bad blogger! I started this blog to find the humour and joy in my often too packed life. But instead of coming here for that I've been overwhelmed by work and obligations. Bad Duckie!
So what have I been doing? Well, working mostly. Cleaning some too (although you wouldn't guess to look about me. I may never clean again if this is how long it lasts!) I read a collection of Sherlock Holmes stories, almost entirely on the bus, and cooked a whole lot of vegetables.
I was, for the vast majority of my life, a very picky eater. I refused many foods based on their names and appearances. I rejected anything that may have had spices in it. I ate mashed potatoes, noodles with Parmesan cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches. As I reached adulthood, I came to be embarrassed in public of my reluctance to eat anything out of the ordinary, but I was still mystified by exotic options and overwhelmed by heavy applications of pepper.
I think, in my study of wine I found the root of my problem. I'm over-sensitive. I read a criticism of wine super-critic Robert Parker which basically said that he had smelled and tasted so much, his senses have become deadened and he only likes very strong wines now. I think I have the opposite problem, I smell and taste things too much. I've known for years that I have an overdeveloped sense of smell. I can smell a cheap vanilla body spray from 4 cubicles away. I've decided that's why I often find heavily seasoned dishes to be too much for me. So I've decided to focus on finding a variety of foods with more delicate flavours based on garlic, butter, oil, a dash of salt and pepper, and light seasonings to make meals that are aromatic and delicious, but subtle.
This is where the vegetables come in. For most of my life I would reject vegetables based on the fact that they were green and ugly. I began eating them with a steely determination for health, eating them raw or steamed because they are healthiest that way. Recently I've decided to be kinder to vegetables. To understand that they need different techniques and time to bring forth their proper flavour. And what flavour! They subtle differences between kale, romaine and spinach or between Brussels sprouts and cabbage have shown me a spectrum of colour I didn't know was possible. The sweetness of a carrot, the crunchy bitterness of broccoli send me into ecstasies of joy. Vegetables! Who knew?
Some of my new favourite vegetable recipes:
(Adapted from www.gourmet.com)
Butter-Seared broccoli, but calling it BSB puts me in mind of the backstreet boys, which automatically increases the joy of any endeavour.
Chop the florets off a head of broccoli and wash. Melt a tablespoon or two of butter in a skillet on high heat. The butter will foam, then subside. At this point add the broccoli and stir constantly. Marvel as your dull broccoli turns a vibrant shade of green, putting your spring lawn to shame! After a minute or two the butter should be absorbed. Remove from heat and sprinkle a pinch of coarse salt over. Run around your house insisting everyone eat your delicious broccoli, then sulk when you don't have enough left.
Adapted from a recipe from my lovely and talented roommate: http://www.blogger.com/profile/14863524897893517543
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil. Chop sprouts in half, removing any icky leaves as you do. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, then arrange on the sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn, give another little brush with oil and return to the oven for an additional 20 minutes. (Although if they're small you might want to check on them after 10, I overcooked them the first time I tried it)
Mashed Butternut Squash
Adapted from Orangette. She does this as a puree, but I like a mash better. www.orangett.blogspot.com
Peel, seed, and chop up your squash. Boil squash until tender. Drain off liquid and mash vigorously with a glob of butter and a tablespoon or two of maple syrup. Eat for lunch out of a bowl on a cold and rainy day.
Also from orangette. What can I say? The girl understands veggies.
Remove the outer leaves of the cabbage, rinse and pat dry. Chop into eighths and arrange the wedges in a baking dish. They can overlap a little, but shouldn't be layered. Chop up three or four carrots and a big onion and distribute around the cabbage. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup chicken broth, a few pinches of coarse salt and a couple good cranks from the pepper mill over the whole works. Cover tightly with tin foil and bake at 300 degrees for an hour. Then take it out, turn over the cabbage, add more liquid if it's at all dry, re-cover and put it back in for another hour. Yes, this takes a ridiculously long time, but you can't believe how delicious this is. Try it!