Monday, January 28, 2008

Tomato Week

Well, friendly readers, another week, another vegetable. Of course, tomato week brought with it the usual slew of controversy, which I will address first and foremost. Namely: is it appropriate to include tomatoes on vegetablesarefriends or is this particular friend, in fact, a fruit? My research on the subject (by which I mean wikipedia) led me to this helpful information:

Botanically, a tomato is the ovary
, together with its seeds, of a flowering plant, a fruit or, more precisely, a berry. However, the tomato is not as sweet as those foodstuffs usually called fruits and, from a culinary standpoint, it is typically served as part of a salad or main course of a meal, as are vegetables, rather than at dessert, as are fruits. The term "vegetable" has no botanical meaning and is purely a culinary term.

Additionally, the Supreme Court (for those readers who prefer that authority) ruled on the matter in 1893, stating that for tariff purposes, the tomato would be considered a vegetable. However, as I imagine the bulk of my readers are Arkansans, you should know that our fair and unbiased state has chosen to avoid all controversy by declaring the "South Arkansas Vine Ripe Pink Tomato" to be both the state fruit and the state vegetable. On an unrelated and fairly uninteresting note, the state soil of Arkansas is Stuttgart.

I hope you will consider this adequate proof of the integrity of allowing the tomato to slip in. As a final argument (and I promise to get off wikipedia after this one last fun fact) the specific name of the tomato translates to "wolf-peach" and how awesome is that? So yes, without further ado...tomato week:

I'm afraid that tomato week did not go quite as successfully as spinach week. Which is not to say that I ate fewer tomatoes, but that at times my heart just wasn't in it. It started off well enough with a kind donation to the cause of tomato herb bread. As appreciation of this donation, I feel some free advertising is in order: if you live in Little Rock, you should definitely trot down to Old Stone Mill Bread (yum!). I also made some tomato sauce the first day and that went rather excellently. I then made some salsa that went somewhat less so. It seems that simply chopping up a tomato and calling it salsa leaves you with an end product that tastes much more like chopped tomato and less like salsa.

I ate a good deal of tomato soup throughout the week, but this was a bit cheating because I already liked tomato soup. It was nice to have the solace that even if I don't come to like raw tomatoes, at least I can still get my tomato fix through warm liquidy tomato soup goodness. At some point this weekend I made some bruschetta, which also came out very well. Unfortunately, we didn't allow enough time to eat it after painstakingly making it, and had to take it on the road. While not the most travel-friendly food, it was so delicious that one friend had no problem scooping up fallen bruschetta from the floor of the car. Luckily, not my vehicle, lest I be remembering tomato week longer that I'd like.

The final test was eating a slice of raw tomato (with some salt and pepper) which was just plain not that good. Of course, in defense of the wolf peach, I realize they are woefully out of season and I'm probably eating more ethylene than tomato at this point, so I promise to give them another chance come summer. Until then, I think soup and tomato sauce will have to tide me over.

Next week: carrots!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Spinach Week

So spinach week happened. Overall, impressions are favorable. I’m not going to say I didn’t have set backs, but I feel I learned a lot about myself and my relationship to spinach in the past seven days.

I began the week by learning to make a proper spinach dip. I’ll be honest, and say my first attempt was something of a failure. It had the dip consistency, sure, but I had clearly not added enough spinach. Luckily, as I had a surplus of pita chips, I steeled myself, supplemented my fresh spinach supply with some frozen chopped spinach, and tried again. Results were, by all accounts, yummy.

While spinach dip was a success, I had to pause and wonder if the healthy benefits of the iron rich spinach weren’t perhaps somewhat negated by the artery clogging cream cheese (or mayo in some recipes). This led to more serious measures, and I decided to get back to basics with a nice spinach salad. Or at least what I would call a spinach salad, but was later informed was really just a plate of raw spinach. My roommate came in half way through to find me watching Air Force One and grimacing over my lunch. She pointed out that people generally eat things with spinach. Lesson learned! But while not especially palatable on its own, I find spinach does work nicely with most other things. Perhaps I’ll experiment with dressings as I get more comfortable with spinach.

The need for spinach in other contexts inevitably led to a spinach calzone and a spinach quiche. The former I tried only a bite of, but seemed, as one of my friends said, to be a “spinach dream.” The latter I made myself tonight, and was not too shabby for not following a recipe. With such varied possibilities, I see no problem integrating spinach into my regular diet.

That about wraps up spinach week. I’d like to post pictures of me proving my new found love of spinach pictorially; however, when vegetablesarefriends takes off and becomes the new “it” blog, I do want to maintain some anonymity. To that end, please accept this reasonable facsimile:

Next week: Tomatoes!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In the Beginning

I am 22 and have the eating habits of a five-year-old. That's right, I don't eat vegetables. This is the painful confession I so often have to make when an observant acquaintance notes that I am avoiding my bean sprouts or politely refuse salad. Beyond that, I have never found my pickiness especially crippling, but nevertheless I have decided to finally give vegetables another go. Perhaps, I've judged them unfairly, after all.

To this end, I have a grand plan wherein I will introduce a new vegetable into my diet each week. I can consume it in any way I like (also a chance to try out some creative recipes!), but must consume all of it throughout the week. I haven't worked out exactly how much I should buy, but I suppose that will naturally sort itself out. I'm keeping a blog at the suggestion of my friend Barbora, but hopefully also for the benefit of all seeking personal betterment. Comments of encouragement or recipe suggestions are encouraged! Hopefully I'll update this weekly with my thoughts on the past week's vegetable.

For the first week I am starting with spinach. I've always thought spinach dip seemed like a good idea, and no longer will I miss out on it in casual party settings! Let the vegetable liking begin!