Tag Archives: vegetables

Fond garden memories from childhood. Um, not really.

You know how you always read heartwarming stories of people’s memories of their mother’s or grandmother’s gardens? About those carefree, neverending days of summer when they ate fresh, crisp green beans off the vine or nibbled on just-picked strawberries? How they helped their mother or grandmother and were rewarded for their efforts with fresh treats? Well, my mother had a garden but I didn’t do any of that. I thought everything that came out of my mother’s garden was disgusting. She didn’t trust her younger children such as me to participate in the vegetable garden either, relegating them to lesser, joyless yard tasks like digging plantain leaf and dandelions out of the lawn or collecting gumballs by the hundreds. Heart-warming no?

I always remembered my mother having a vegetable garden and I always remember her complaining about it. The terrible soil, the hard work, the marauding birds & squirrels, and so on. Gardening was not about pleasure. Most of the produce was subsequently canned (an arduous process my mother undertook each year in a hot kitchen) and eventually served limp and waterlogged with little or no seasoning. I’ll grant you I was a child and children aren’t typically known for their love of vegetables, but the way they were cooked sure didn’t help.

When one of us kids complained about  the taste of the vegetables at the dinner table my mother would invariably, defensively respond,

“That came from our garden!”

“It came from our garden” was supposed to be a conversation-ender, as if everything from the garden was above reproach.  Even the family salad, which, by the time it got to you at the table of many, was bitter leaves floating in the heavy-on-the-vinegar dressing at the bottom of the mud brown, chipped, ceramic bowl. Which you had to take.

I would be an adult, one who ate in restaurants and learned to cook, before I could appreciate vegetables, fresh ones in particular. The childhood associations had to wear off first and then I could find out for myself what vegetables were actually supposed to taste like. I simply didn’t know how good they go be. Other people helped. I didn’t know what a green pepper could taste like till a woman I knew offered me some from her garden when I was in my late twenties. I was reluctant, based on the lip-curling memory of the taste of uncooked peppers (why that one was served without the usual overcooking I couldn’t say), when she assured me that I should try it cooked as it became “a different vegetable.” It was true. Proper cooking took the edge off the pungent raw green pepper taste.

Over the years I tried more and more vegetables and was often surprised. Of course, a number of these were never served at our family dinner table, certainly nothing too exotic. I tried okra for the first time about five years ago. Wow! I loved okra. Who knew?

My mother considered me a “picky eater” and it took many years of eating foods not cooked or served by my mother (vegetables may have been a low point but it’s not like the rest of the cuisine was delicious) to discover I was, if not the opposite, definitely not picky. There was a world of food and vegetables to discover and I now consider them one of life’s true joys.  I’ve never lived anywhere I could have my own full-blown vegetable garden, but I am delighted by the small amount of food gardening I’ve been able to do. There’s such pride in growing things, food especially.

Vegetables, mostly from the store, have made regular appearances in this blog’s four+ years. Here’s a few.IMG_20180619_125250

 

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NOTE: I’m back to sketchy internet access; please forgive any delay in responding to comments.

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Easy Vegetables with Rice Noodles

In January I tried a dairy-free week. I didn’t mention it then but I didn’t have high cholesterol or anything – tested in the fall at a health fair – but dairy was just something on my mind. (Somewhat after the fact I heard there was a “sugar-free month” afoot in January but honestly, I cut back on sugar long ago and that really wasn’t where I needed/wanted to focus.) As a result, I’ve since cut back noticeably on cheese, oh love of my life.

Another resultant, although not exactly predictable change was that I started eating MORE vegetables. I needed to tweak my thinking to embrace or at least accept the idea that you really can’t over eat vegetables. I.was in no danger anyway. Mostly I think vegetables are too much trouble for the end result (HALF disappears on cooking for one point) so the easier they are to fix, the better the chance I’ll eat ’em.

This dish, made of ingredients on hand, was easy and very tasty. In the past I don’t think it would have occurred to me to combine fresh and frozen (or even CANNED) vegetables but now I think why not? I sauteed onions, fresh red pepper, frozen green beans, frozen diced green peppers, and a handful of unsalted peanuts in canola oil.
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I need FLAVOR to entice me, not just plain vegetables. To season I added a splash of lime juice, a tad of sesame oil (a recent splurge cuz that ain’t cheap, Sally) and a little bit of Liquid Aminos. Liquid Aminos are a healthier alternative to soy sauce with less sodium and actual nutrients in the form of Amino Acids. Do I really know what amino acids are and how they’ll add to my life? No but who cares. The taste is similar not identical to soy sauce. Initially it takes a little getting used to, but I figure it’s worth it.
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If I only ate vegetables, I’d be starving in no time. I need some carbs to round out a vegetable dish but in this kind of entree I try now to have at least as much vegetables as carbs. I LOVE noodles. Rice noodles, if you don’t know them, are just rice and water.


Here is the combined ingredients.
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So now that it’s fall…let’s still talk about summer!

Now that it’s Officially Fall you might think I’d write a fall-inspired type post. You’d be wrong. I still have a few pieces of summer show-and-tell that I hadn’t got to. And I really want to!

Earlier in the summer I bought my first solar string lights from Amazon for a few dollars. I put them on my seasonal screen tent and have loved them ever since. The photo doesn’t do them justice but here they are. They are so fun! Very colorful at night. They turn on as if someone flipped a switch (I try to “catch” them going on sometimes).

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A few flowers have continued beautifully into September.

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Thunbergia vine (an annual) took all summer to get “going” but it’s so sweet now

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Today. Morning Glory vine I grew from Dollar Tree seeds. How great is that?

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Morning Glory flower

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Best view is from above

 

Moving on… A few photos from when the “fair” came to town Labor Day weekend.

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I have never had deep-fried food like this. I thought I might try something – a deep fried Oreo perhaps – just once for the novelty but they were $5! And I said hell no.

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This did not look like a seat on which you would be doing either.

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I love merry-go-rounds/carousels. Yep I paid my $3 and rode it but it was too slow and kind of boring.

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I saw a squirrel run up this tall tree stump to get away from the fair commotion. Top left.

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He looked down at me while I talked to him and took his picture. Sorry, no “zoom” on my tablet! But I like his ears silhouette and the little paw hanging.

 

Finally, despite the fact summer is supposed to be about eating fresh vegetables, I found I wasn’t getting a lot of variety and was eating rather odd meals at times. Determined to straighten up, in late August I finally fixed an old favorite, “salad plate”, which is a mix of cold vegetables, whatever you want. I made a white bean dip to go with it.

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I needed to be *tempted* and this beautiful array did the trick. Geez, it tempts me now looking at the photo! But I’d have to actually get the stuff again and make it, sigh.

 

Roasted vegetables

I am a “mostly vegetarian.” This means I mainly eat pasta, beans, big-ass salads with lots of stuff added, breads, dairy, grains, (some) fish, fruit, and vegetables. I list vegetables last because when I want to eat, vegetables aren’t the first thing I think about. I DO eat them but like a lot of people I can always stand to eat more. Part of it is tempting myself.

I adapted this from a simple recipe I cut out of Glamour® magazine a long time ago. I always meant to get around to it and a winter day seemed just right. You can use whatever vegies you like.

I cut into bite-size pieces:

-4 potatoes washed but unpeeled

-4 carrots

-1 large turnip

-1 onion

-1 good-sized broccoli crown

In a large bowl I mixed the vegetables with olive oil, salt (I like coarse sea salt) & pepper, Rosemary & Parsley, and 2 capfuls of lemon juice ( I used bottled but if you have a fresh lemon go for it).

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I put them all on a  9×13 cookie sheet & stirred some more to make sure everything got mixed. You will notice my pan was overflowing; I tend to do that! This meant they took longer to cook thoroughly – you may prefer less vegetables but I figure if I’m going to this trouble, I want A LOT.

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I put the pan into a 400° oven and stirred about every 15 minutes. They made the house smell WONDERFUL. After about 45 minutes I sampled a few morsels to check for doneness, and added a little more salt & pepper and two more capfuls of lemon juice, stirring it all up yet again. Total cooking time was roughly an hour. The length of time again will depend on what vegetables you use (carrots & turnip took longest) and how packed in they are.

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They were DELICIOUS. I will absolutely do this again.

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Grocery shopping: healthy, healthy, healthy, junky, healthy

Which item doesn't belong?

Which item doesn’t belong?


This is my grocery store receipt from earlier this week: 3 lbs apples, 1 lb lettuce, 1 lb carrots, 1 lb pears, a bag of spinach, almost 2 lbs bananas, almost 2 lbs tomatoes, and… potato chips. Sort of a vegetable, yes?

This list pretty much captures my overarching diet philosophy, that is, mostly healthy with a little bit of junk. Does all the healthy stuff cancel out the occasional junk? I reckon it does, and if not, I am just not willing to never have anything “unhealthy.” How many people get to the end of their life and say, “If only I’d never had any chips. I coulda been somebody?”

I’m not a purist. I get cravings. Mostly I don’t give in, but once in awhile do. To stay honest – and I realize this stickler practice isn’t for most – whenever I have something junky, I jot it on my calendar. That’s how I know this is the second time this year I bought potato chips.

IF chips were healthy, I’d eat them every week. Salty, crunchy, greasy, oh my! A savory trifecta! The chips I got this week were a mixed pack, including two flavored kinds. I can’t say when I last ate a flavored chip (as I’m well aware their ingredient lists are appalling), but when I munched into that first barbecue-flavored chip the other day, my senses flooded with pleasure. Oh man was that good! Potato chips have a secret ingredient that changes an otherwise rational person into a dopamine-filled chip junkie whose only thought is “More, MORE, MORE.”

The bags are labeled in a way that caught my notice.

They're Made from potatoes? Is this anything to be boasting about?

Made from potatoes? Is this anything to be boasting about?