I occasionally (grrr, as usual I had to backspace and correct the spelling for occasionally since I added two s-es—I am such a consistently—oops, it’s -ent, not -ant—bad speller) scroll down through the recipe indexes of other food bloggers and am amazed at their huge selection of vegetable recipes. They post about salads and braised leafy green things and artichoke hearts (I don’t think I’ve ever even had an artichoke heart, unless you’re counting the mush that you can buy in a can) and it all looks really, really good. And then I develop a mild case of I’m A Bad Cook-itis because I only have six or seven recipes (I think that’s an accurate number; I’m not online so I can’t go check right now) under the vegetable section and most of them are potato-based.
On the other hand, my dessert section is really long, making me feel lopsided and one-dimensional. Today I attempted to redistribute the wealth, adding some new categories to thin out the well-endowed sections and I think it worked. I now appear to be a more well-balanced person—that is, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the new titles: Cakes, Cookies, Pies and Tarts, and Soups.
But seriously, seeing those long lists of vegetable dishes (here’s one example and here’s another) makes me stop and wonder. We eat an above-average amount of fruits and veggies, but it’s plain, down-home cooking, not even worthy of a recipe. I spend the summer packing quart-sized bags full of green beans, corn, broccoli, chard, and peas. We can tomatoes out the whazoo. Cherries, applesauce, peaches, pickles, jams, jellies, juices—the list goes on. And on and on and on (and now I’m getting tired, just thinking about all the work that will need to be done in the next six months).
When it comes to cooking the food that we preserve, say green beans, it couldn’t be more simple. I dump a bag of green beans in a kettle, sprinkle them generously with salt, put about an inch of water in the bottom of the pan, bring them to a boil and then turn it back to a simmer for another twenty minutes or so, until they’re tender. Before serving, I drain off the water and sprinkle them with more salt, and if I’m feeling fancy I’ll brown some butter and drizzle that over them, too. But that’s it, really. Peas and broccoli are cooked likewise, boiled and salted—corn sometimes gets a little sprinkling of sugar and a dab of butter along with the salt.
Like I said, my methods aren’t very note-worthy. But when you’re working to get a decent quantity of vitamins and minerals down the throats of four children and the food has been grown on your own land, you don’t need or want a bunch of fancy recipes. At least that’s my excuse.
In conclusion, do not be deceived by my recipe index. We do eat our vegetables, and lots of them. I just wanted to be clear about that.
Truth-telling addendum: The homegrown veggies in the above post are mostly hypothetical. Because we didn’t do a full-scale garden last year, we have been eating lots of boiled, store-bought peas. The store-bought broccoli is anemic, so that’s been disguised in soups, and the frozen corn has the texture of field corn, so that has also been disguised in soups. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that we’ve mostly been eating either boiled peas or boiled green beans (and half of the green beans came from my parents’ garden), and while we eat a lot of them and we eat them consistently, it’s not very exciting.