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Showing posts from April, 2005

Day 30: Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~
A keeper, magnificent in its simplicity especially on nights when the oven is already hot.

Roasting is especially good for fat spears of asparagus and takes only a few minutes to clean, trim and prep the asparagus and then only a few minutes in the oven, too.

Two great kitchen tools were put to use tonight:

Mister - Put your favorite olive oil in a non-aerosol olive oil mister, then spray vegetables, salads or pans. The mister makes a light, even coating of oil - the theory is (and I believe it) that you use less oil. I especially like the mister when roasting vegetables for it's easier to coat a big pile of vegetables with a light spray than tossing them in a tablespoon or two of oil.

Microplane - A microplane makes a big pile of fluffy parmesan in a flash. It's ten times better than your best grater. Multi-tasks with citrus zest, chocolate and coconut too. [Update 4/07 There are several models and I have now invested in two different …

Day 29: Beets in Orange Sauce

Quick 'n' easy, with ingredients already in the pantry. Okay, except for the beets -- canned, mind you! - that are easy enough to keep on hand. And the ruby color can't be beat!

Canned beets are pretty good -- not as good as fresh cooked but not awful, like canned peas or canned carrots. I tried two brands tonight, one a national name brand, another a local chain's house brand. There was a 10 percent price difference but no discernible difference in taste.

BEETS IN ORANGE SAUCE
Active time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon butter (omitted, didn't miss at all!)
1 cup orange juice
2 15 ounce cans beets
Salt & pepper

Place medium saucepan on MEDIUM heat. Working quickly while saucepan heats, mix brown sugar, cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in the saucepan with a wooden spoon, working out the lumps. Slowly add the orange juice,…

Mashed Potatoes & Carrots ♥

These are definitely not your gramma's mashed potatoes! (Mine either!) But they belong in the category of "Why haven't we been doing this forever?" or maybe even a "genius recipe"! Just cook and mash potatoes and carrots together. You'll need hardly any (if any) fat and they'll be creamy beyond belief. Canadian Readers, these would be a great addition to Thanksgiving dinner. Do enjoy!
~recipe updated 2016~
~more recently updated recipes~
2005 Original: Ooooo, if this isn’t comfort food, what is? Potatoes and carrots are verboten for Atkins followers but their extraordinary loss is our magnificent gain. Tonight I cooked and mashed a pound of Yukon golds and a pound of carrots with nothing more than a tablespoon of butter and salt and pepper. The color is extraordinary, the taste … well, let’s just say, oooooooooooooo.

Big TIp: Bypass those bags of prepeeled carrots for they have no flavor when cooked. And come on, it takes only eight minutes – EIGHT…

Day 27: African Pepper, Tomato & Spinach ♥

Today's vegetable quick 'n' easy supper recipe: A quick skillet from pantry ingredients, just five ingredients, not counting the water, salt and pepper, that is. Surprisingly tasty for something so simple. Just 4 PointsPlus for Weight Watchers. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". It’s a great defense to the onslaught of Easter and Passover sweets that will be tempting us over the next few weeks. Gird thyself!
~recipe & photo updated 2006 & 2014, & reposted 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~
2005 ORIGINAL POST Yum! A definite keeper! The start is pretty typical, just sautéed onion and bell pepper. The tomato and spinach are added later, then comes the secret ingredient, peanut butter! It adds flavor, texture and protein – though skip the boring details and tell the kids only that it tastes good. Will kids love this? Maybe? New lesson: Sauté vegetables in water or chicken broth, not fat, especially if there's fat (in this case, the rich peanut bu…

Day 26: Broccoli with Ginger & Garlic

Tonight was a disappointment. The taste was okay but the color unappealing, thanks to the soy sauce. Still, it'd do in a pinch, since it's Fast and Easy. Another time, I'd use fresh broccoli, hoping it wouldn't absorb the soy color.

But we're learning. New Veggie Venture lessons include:
In general, to serve four people, start with a pound of the main vegetable.
In general, a pound of vegetables cookied with 1 tablespoon butter or olive oil will result in each serving with 1 point in the Weight Watchers world, whose regimen, by the way, I recommend for both weight loss and every-day healthful eating.
BROCCOLI WITH GINGER & GARLIC
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from a jar!)
1 pound frozen broccoli heads, thawed slightly if time permits (see TIPS)
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
Salt & pepper

Heat oil in a hea…

Day 25: Glazed Rutabagas

Today's vegetable recipe: Diced rutabaga (also called 'swedes') boiled, then finished in a glaze of butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and lemon juice. Weight Watchers 1 point.
~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~
2005: Have you had rutabagas before? You'll find them in the produce section along with other root vegetables. They're often cooked like that too, roasted alongside parsnips, potatoes, carrots. This recipe comes from my mother's (and my!) long-time friend, a fellow Home Ec grad and terrific cook. She says she 'loves' these though her family only 'tolerates' them. Me, I'm somewhere in between -- including reminding myself how important it is to taste a new food more than once.

But the real magic here may be the cooking technique, so I'm going to suggest it as another "For Instance" recipe, a basic technique that can be applied to other vegetables. Tonight, for instance ;0), rutabagas, another time carrots or broccoli …

Day 24: Baked Beets ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~
2005: (F)ED, that is Easy and Delicious but no, not even close to Fast. Thus Baked Beets are a definite keeper but best saved for (1) eating some night when supper is 60 - 90 minutes away or (2) making ahead some time when the oven's already on anyway.

2008: Beets have turned out to be one of the great convenience vegetables. Once they're baked or roasted or cooked some way, they make for great quick salads. So I often throw a few into the oven whenever the oven's on for something else.


For more ways to cook beets, check out (what's turned out to be, as A Veggie Venture continued past its first intended month) a huge collection of beet recipes.

BAKED BEETS
Active time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 60 - 90 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound fresh beets, stems on
1 tablespoon butter, optional
Salt & pepper

Wash beets well, cut off all but about 1/2 inch of stems. (See ALANNA's TIPS.) If desired, peel. (See TIPS.) Wrap in foil and bake at 400F…

Day 23: Acorn Squash Stuffed with Quinoa & Cherries ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~
Veggie Venture Lesson: Try new foods more than once, even if you don't like them so much the first time. Here's why: Acorn squash is one of my favorite foods, reliably delicious. But tonight, it turned out bland and watery.

Was it a problem with the recipe? No. Then why? I don't know though it's possible that it was old, given that squash is harvested in fall not spring. But if I'd never had squash before, based only on tonight, I'd never try it again.

I don't often cook foods 'out of season'. But today felt more like winter than spring AND my good-cook, good-cousin recommended the recipe, so I did. And I'm glad! For even though the squash itself wasn't so great tonight, it re-introduced me to quinoa, a favorite from my vegetarian days.

Note 4/25: The quinoa is also great on its own, heated and served in individual ramekins.

2006: With subsequent attempts, I liked this recipe so much that the recipe is…

Day 22: Beet Röesti ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2006 ~
A real FED (Fast, Easy, Delicious) -- my favorite this month so far!

I bet you've never had beets like this. I bet, once you do, you'll cook 'em this way again and again. The recipe caught my eye because I well remember röesti, a traditional Swiss dish of wide, flat, crisp discs of grated potato often served with an egg: mountain-top ambrosia.

It comes from 'The Minimalist' Mark Bittman's 1998 How To Cook Everything, a terrific reference cookbook, very contemporary where the traditional ones (Betty Crocker, etc.) now seem dated. I turn to it often in learning mode and find 'just enough' detail. And it has nearly 90 pages of ideas for vegetables alone!

BEET RÖESTI
Active time: maybe 10 minutes
Time to table: maybe 15 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
1 large beet (about 1/2 pound), peeled and grated (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped (see TIPS)
2 tablespoons flour

Melt butte…

Day 21: For Instance I (bacon fat sauté with herbs & vinegar)

Yippeeeeeeeeeeee! From now on, when I think about vegetables, I want to be FED: Fast, Easy, Delicious.

It was a clean-out-the-freezer night and somehow I happened onto a great dish -- and, maybe, a new concept.

First, the dish: a simple sauté with bacon fat, some frozen vegetables and at the end, a splash of vinegar.

Second, the "for instance" concept: Perhaps the trick for cooking vegetables night-in-night-out is to have a few techniques, each one that works with several vegetables. For instance ... tonight I cooked a mixture of beans, carrots and peppers but it might as easily have been fresh broccoli or cauliflower. I'll continue to test this concept and report in!

FOR INSTANCE I (bacon fat saute with herbs & vinegar)
Tonight, For Instance,
MIXED BEAN, CARROTS & GRILLED PEPPER MEDLEY
Active time: maybe 5 minutes
Time to table: maybe 10 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon bacon fat (see ALANNA's TIPS)
16 ounces frozen vegetables (see FOR INSTANCE), preferably th…

Day 20: Green Bean & Cabbage Tagine

Recipe & photo updated in 2007
2005: Hmmm. Worth nearly an hour's time? Perhaps. But no, not in my emerging definition of a meal's "vegetable".

With three weeks of a veggie-a-day under my belt, I am thinking that the only dishes that qualify require fewer than 15 minutes of prep time and fewer than 30 minutes to get to the table. And even THIS is feeling excessive -- feedback?

Still, this dish is good. Another time, to save time, I'd use a bag of shredded cabbage, frozen green beans and diced tomatoes -- in fact, at least as far as the beans go, I believe frozen green beans would be of much higher quality than the fresh I found at the supermarket yesterday.

2007: This was quite good, a simple vegetable stew and served over a baked potato, was filling for supper.

GREEN BEAN & CABBAGE TAGINE
Active time: 25 minutes (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Time to table: 1 hour (with occasional stirring)
Makes 8 cups -- a lot

1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 2 - 3 tablespoon…

Day 19: Green Beans with Basil ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~
2005: Day 19! April is 2/3 gone and it feels as if we're just getting started! Is there a summer of experimentation in our future? We shall see. If tonight's green beans are a summer forecast, perhaps. Even with supermarket beans and basil, this has some essence of what summer should taste like.

2007: 'Beans with basil' is not a good name for this dish, since it suggests fresh green beans bright with summer basil flavor, yes? A better name would be 'stewed beans and tomato', a fall name, something suggesting beans cooked til they're soft (an idea which cause tremors in many, sorry), paired with tomatoes that turn deep and dark, and paired together, yes, entirely delicious. It just takes a long time for beans to cook in a skillet and they turn color. Know that. And by the time the beans are cooked, they'll be soft and the tomato will be broken into tiny pieces. Know that too. But know that together, they'll…

Day 18: Frozen Turnip Greens with Diced Turnip

Great lesson tonight: if I hadn't something in the freezer, nothing green, nothing fresh, would have made it to the table. It's good to have insurance!

And these green, leafy things are growing on me. In this bag, the bits of diced turnip were a sort of sweet contrast to the musky leaves, chopped very small.

I did wonder, although too late for tonight, whether a full-flavored fat like bacon grease might do wonders over butter or olive oil. There's got to be a reason why all those "southern greens" are dripping with bacon grease!

FROZEN TURNIP GREENS WITH DICED TURNIP
Active time: About 5 minutes
Time to table: About 20 minutes
Serves 4

1 tablespoon butter
16 ounces frozen chopped turnip greens with diced turnip

Melt butter in a large skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add frozen greens, stir, reduce heat to MEDIUM, cover and let cook 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 59 Cal (45% from Fat); 3g Protein; 3g Tot Fat; 5g Carb; 4g Fiber; 1mg Calciu…

Day 17: Ginger Asparagus

Love the new asparagus steamer -- if you love asparagus, think about an investment.

Make sure it'll fit in your cupboard, though. The steamer is tall (as tall as, well, asparagus spears) and narrow (as narrow as, well about 2 pounds of asparagus). The spears stand upright. while cooking; this means that that the tougher stalks are closer to the heat source than the tender tips.

Another tool I used tonight is called a mister: put in your own olive oil and spray -- all to use less oil. I like it and used it often but wouldn't call it a must-have either.

GINGER ASPARAGUS
Active time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound asparagus
Olive oil
Ginger juice (see ALANNA's TIPS)
Salt

Bring water to boil in an asparagus steamer over MEDIUM HIGH. Rinse spears well, then cut off and remove the woody ends. Place spears in steamer, cover and cook for 5 - 8 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove and mist with olive oil and sprinkle with ginger juice. Salt generously and serve.

Day 16: Lime Spinach

Tonight was a reprise of Day 9, Lemon Spinach.

Truth is, Lemon Spinach is delicious, Lime Spinach was ... nothing special. I did experiment with a fraction of the fat so that might have been the difference. I'll try again, with lemon and less fat. In the mean time, I'd recommend Lemon Spinach!

Day 15: Simple Swiss Chard

Today's vegetable recipe: Fresh Swiss chard quick-sautéed with garlic and ginger. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.
~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~
2005: A keeper -- if only because Swiss chard is so good for you! I'd give this a B+ hot and an A- cold on a salad the next day. Even so, Swiss chard may be an acquired taste. They say kids need to taste a new food many times (like a dozen?) before it tastes familiar. I'm on Taste #2 for Swiss chard and am beginning to like it.

SIMPLE SWISS CHARD
Active time: 10 minutes (8 to wash/chop)
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Generous 1/2 pound Swiss chard (see ALANNA's TIPS)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2005: from a jar, naturally 2008: fresh)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger (see TIPS), optional (2005: didn't add much, wouldn't bother again 2008: agreed)
Salt

Rinse chard well under running water. (Do wash very well. It's easy for grit to get caught in all the crevices.) Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil i…

Day 14: Green Beans with Onion and Almonds ♥

Today's green bean recipe: Beans cooked in well-salted water, then tossed with sautéed onions and almonds.
~recipe & photo updated in 2007~
2005: This recipe is a real keeper, thanks to the browned-buttery, nutty-crunch-ery almonds. How to serve beans in just 15 minutes? Use a bag of frozen French-cut green beans. You might re-acquaint yourself with the frozen vegetable section, especially if turned off by quality a few years back. Frozen vegetables are flash frozen so in a sense, they are 'fresher' than anything picked 10 days ago for shipping to your local grocery store. Do skip the boxes of frozen vegetables, focus on the bags. I think the supermarket brands are as good as the name brands and they are usually cheaper at regular price and more often on sale. There are only two frozen vegetables, so far, that I don't like, pearl onions (but then I think I just don't like pearl onions ...) and carrots.

2007 Update: I made this recipe with fresh green beans and wo…

Day 12: Carrots Glazed with Maple Syrup and Lime

~ recipe updated & photo added in 2007 ~
2005: A brilliant combination, maple syrup and lime, a sort of sunlit sweetness.

If you do the prep work ahead of time, reverse the order of preparation, that is, start the syrup and while it cooks, peel the carrots. The uncooked carrots can sit in the saucepan, no water, for a couple of hours without harm until you're ready to cook.

A light touch with the syrup is important. If it overcooks, as mine did tonight, the sugar will caramelize and turn into chunks of hard (and unusable) candy.

2007: This time, I used half the maple syrup, a good option for less sweetness.

CARROTS GLAZED WITH MAPLE SYRUP AND LIME
Active prep time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 8

Water to cover
Salt
2 pounds fresh carrots (see TIPS)

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 small onion, minced (about 1/4 cup)
zest and juice (about 1 tablespoon) from a lime
1/4 cup maple syrup (see TIPS)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, bring to boil just enough water to cover carr…

Day 11: "Stir-Fried" Frozen Vegetables

Ten minutes start to finish! While what I threw together last night isn’t yet perfect, it’s a great start. I especially like the technique of cooking the vegetables in virtually no-cal chicken broth (water would likely work as well since the source of flavor is soy sauce) rather than stir-frying in oil. I did add a bit of sesame oil to deepen the flavor but even it might not be necessary.

If you haven’t recently checked out the frozen vegetables at the grocery store, do. They are often on sale and of course can be kept in-waiting in the freezer. And they’re good (well, except for the carrots!) and terrific to have on hand for nights it’s frozen vegetables or no vegetables at all.

The mix used here was called “vegetable stand” and included broccoli, red pepper, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts. It would be easy to add an onion, mushrooms, zucchini, any vegetable on hand or that your family really likes.

This could be the start of a supper stir-fry – just cook tofu, chicken or shrimp be…

Day Ten: Asparagus with Dip

Very simple, very spare ... and to my mind, very good. The recipe (if you can call it that!) comes from a friend whose mother was born in Italy and says it's the "only way" asparagus was ever prepared at home.

It works as an appetizer too, especially when everyone's hungry and supper seems a long way off! One more great reason to buy and cook double portions of asparagus when it's in season.

ASPARAGUS WITH DIP
Active time: 2 minutes
Time to table: 2 minutes
Serves 1 (multiply as appropriate)

Cooked, chilled asparagus spears
1 tablespoon light mayonnaise
Lemon zest
Splash skim milk
Pepper

With a fork, mix mayonnaise, lemon zest and enough milk to thin to desired consistency.

Per Serving: 69 Cal (56% from Fat); 3g Protein; 5g Tot Fat; 6g Carb; 3g Fiber; 30mg Calcium; 3mg Iron; 123mg Sodium; 1mg Cholesterol, Weight Watchers 1 point

Day Nine: Lemon Spinach

THIS is my idea of a vegetable heaven! Fresh and fast and flavorful!

The inspiration for tonight came from this morning's visit to the farmers market. My favorite stop is to see Charles, a farmer in his late 70s, old and frail enough that I always breathe a sigh of relief when he returns each spring. Charles is a bit bent over but still spry, his eyes a bit bleary with cataracts but still sparkle for regular customers.

I came home ruby-red spears of rhubarb and a huge bag of fresh spinach, dirt still on the roots, leaves deep in color, deep in flavor.

The recipe comes from a favorite cookbook, French Food at Home by Laura Calder, one I turn to again and again for spare and simple -- and delicious -- food. I'll make this again soon -- trying supermarket spinach and halving the fat.

LEMON SPINACH
Active time: Maybe 10 minutes? (mostly washing spinach leaves)
Time to table: Maybe 20 minutes?
Serves 2

1 pound fresh spinach
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Grated z…

Day Eight: Balsamic Peppers

Decent! This "recipe" (really, just something I made up) makes good advantage of frozen peppers which are, out of growing season anyway, inexpensive compared to fresh.

BALSAMIC PEPPERS
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 12 minutes
Makes 4 half-cup servings

1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion
14 ounces frozen red-yellow-green sweet peppers (thawed maybe better?)
1 tablespoon garlic (from a jar, of course!)
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper

Heat olive oil in a skillet. Meanwhile, cut onion in lengths. Saute onion, peppers and garlic in skillet until soft, stirring regularly. Add balsamic vinegar, stir in and let cook down. Season to taste.

Per Serving: 61 Cal (27% from Fat); 1g Protein; 2g Tot Fat; 11g Carb; 3g Fiber; 20mg Calcium; 1mg Iron; 4mg Sodium; 0mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

Asparagus Tapenade ♥ Recipe

Today I'm bringing back the recipe first published on Day Seven – really!! – of A Veggie Venture, that was way back in 2005 when I thought it might be fun to cook and write about a new vegetable recipe every day for a month! (A month seemed ambitious at the time!) Nine years and 1200 vegetable recipes later, the rest, as they say, is history! But Day Seven's recipe for Asparagus Tapenade remains a total winner, an easy spread made from cooked asparagus, garlic and fresh herbs. It's low carb and Weight Watchers friendly. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". These days, I love to make it when fresh asparagus is kinda-sorta getting "old hat" but I'm not ready to gie up the season. I think you'll love it, enjoy!
~recipe & photo updated 2008 & 2010 & republished 2014~
2005: A Keeper. But then I knew that because this "asparagus guacamole" has been a favorite recipe for some years. But my definition of what qualifies as 'veget…

Day Six: Cauliflower with Lemon-Cilantro Dressing ♥

Today's easy cauliflower recipe: Just large florets of cooked cauliflower tossed in a lemon-cilantro vinaigrette. Low calorie. Low carb. Weight Watchers friendly, just 1 point for PointsPlus! Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".
~recipe & photo updated 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~
When I tried this simple cauliflower recipe for the first time on just Day Six of A Veggie Venture in 2005, well, honestly, I was un-impressed. "Maybe" I said, then conceded "probably not". I found it filling but oddly unsatisfying and time-intensive for a weeknight supper, all in all, not a promising combination.

When I tried it again nine years later, wow, what a difference: I loved its taste and found it very easy to prepare! It's a simple way to serve cauliflower. Large florets are cooked and then doused with a simple lemon-cilantro vinaigrette. I served it at room temperature, more cauliflower salad than cauliflower side vegetable. Frankly, two of us d…

Day Five: Sautéed Broccoli with Garlic, Orange, Oyster Sauce ♥

~ recipe updated & photo added 2007 ~
2005: A keeper! The basic technique is a great way to skillet-steam/sauté broccoli, then add other flavorings. I will definitely do again in other ways. Frozen broccoli crowns might work too.

But: this veggie business takes time! This took only 20 minutes but it was hands-on the whole time. Perhaps vegetable "recipes" are best planned for nights when cooking tasks are shared, when the rest of the meal is super simple like heating up leftovers, something in the oven, omelets or sandwiches?

2007: Agreed, this is a keeper! I skipped the sesame seeds. I toasted fresh garlic (gorgeous) in just a tablespoon of oil (which drops the calories and Weight Watchers points) and used lemon zest instead of orange. Next time, I'll use either the garlic or the oyster sauce, instead of both, with the zest.

SAUTÉED BROCCOLI WITH TOASTED GARLIC, ORANGE AND SESAME
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4 generously

2 teaspoons sesame seed…

Day Four: Honey Carrots

~Recipe updated &
photo added in 2007~

A favorite! Unfortunately for those of us who love shortcuts, frozen carrots don't work, nor do those little pre-peeled bags of carrots. But good news: it takes only 6 minutes to peel two pounds of carrots! (Yes, I've timed it ...)

No cilantro? Try honey and black pepper, or honey and curry powder, or honey and chive, or honey and basil as pictured.

2007 Note: This recipe was first published on only Day Four of A Veggie Venture, before I'd figured out standard serving sizes for vegetables and so the recipe specified 2 pounds of carrots for four (generous) servings. It's likely the quantity came from the source recipe, which unfortunately wasn't documented. But it wasn't too many days later when I determined that my standard would be, one pound vegetables = four servings, and so it continues to this day.

HONEY CARROTS
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 8 servings

2 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Day Three: Lemon Asparagus ♥

Today's vegetable recipe: Simple steamed asparagus with a lemon-garlic butter. Weight Watchers 1 point. Low carb.
~ recipe updated & photo added in 2008 ~
2005: Tonight I learned about a new must-have for the kitchen: an asparagus steamer. The spears cook upright, spears down, tips up. So even thick spears didn't need peeling, which is a pain. Even though it's a single-purpose tool, for my money (and space) it's a winner.

This recipe is so simple, who'd think it could be so delicious. Be generous with the garlic -- although I know purists will scoff, I'm happy with minced garlic from a jar.

2008: Ah, the simple pleasures of asparagus. This time I used my own asparagus steamer and fresh garlic. Delicious!


VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more asparagus recipes ~
~ more spring recipes from Kitchen Parade, my food column ~

LEMON ASPARAGUS
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound asparagus
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 garlic cloves, slive…

Day Two: Steamed Frozen Broccoli

Oh dear. It's only Day Two and already I'm resorting to an old standby, a bag of frozen broccoli (or green beans or ...) steamed, then sprinkled with good salt.

My excuse is that there was no ignoring spring's call today and I spent the afternoon hauling and spreading mulch for the garden, where every day, some times it seems every hour, new tendrils poke through with confidence. The laughing daffodils, the bright forsythia, the flowering trees bursting into blossom: if ever there were a good day to spend time in the garden, not the kitchen, this was it.

Day One: Roasted Cauliflower ♥ Recipe

Tips and tricks for roasting cauliflower, one of the classics of roasted vegetables, especially in winter.
~recipe & photo updated 2010 & 2015~
Roasted Cauliflower was the very first recipe that launched the year-long odyssey called A Veggie Venture back in 2005. Since then, it's a recipe that I've made again and again, some times without thinking, some times paying close attention. Here's what I've learned.

Roasting cauliflower – roasting it well, anyway – takes more than just cutting up a head of cauliflower and throwing it into a hot oven. A few tricks and techniques really make the difference between great roasted cauliflower and so-so roasted cauliflower.

Cauliflower needs to be cut into bite-size pieces, otherwise the cooking time is really lengthened.
When cutting the cauliflower, cut through the florets to create flat surfaces that will more easily caramelize against the hot pan. It's a little fussy, but when putting the cauliflower onto the p…

Q & A: Comments on Food Blogs

[ yes, I collect food cartoons! ]

QUESTION: Is it okay to comment on food blogs? A reader asked via e-mail, "I am not a blogger ... but a real 'food blogger' junkie. I have often wanted to comment but since I don't have a blog I wonder if I would be doing the right thing or would I 'sorta' be intruding? So my question is then, is it appropriate to comment when you do not belong to the food blogging community? Most of the comments I read are usually from other bloggers."

ANSWER: Yes! And everyone is welcome! For one moment, I'll speak on behalf of all food bloggers: we love, covet even, the comments from outside the blogging community!
If you're intrigued by a food blogger's post, or if it triggers a memory, or if you make a similar dish or ... whatever comes to mind ... SAY SO.
If you don't understand a technique, wonder about a substitution, question a quantity (most of us are writing fast, it does happen!) ... ASK.
If you tried a recipe and …