Monday, February 18, 2008

Broccoli Week

Thanks for your patience! Everything is back up and normal now. And for all that, I am calling broccoli week a resounding success!

The first thing I learned about broccoli, on day one of the week, was that it tends to make me gag a little (just a little though). Why then do I call broccoli week a success? Well, because, by the end of the week, I determined ways to make broccoli entirely edible. I've effectively transformed something un-liked to something reasonably tolerated. I'm slowly but surely gaining dominion over my taste buds. This, my friends, is what vegetablesarefriends is all about!

Helping broccoli's cause was the fact that the cafeteria does not know how to cook it at all. My first encounters with the substance (as in the hands of mass cooking it ceases to be what I can in good conscience term a "vegetable") were there, and as such I started the week with very low expectations. The broccoli cheese soup was viscous and far closer to a solid than any soup should feel comfortable being. My new rule on cafeteria soups is that if my spoon can rest on the skim on top for five minutes without sinking, I should probably avoid it. I also tried the cafeteria's steamed, seasoned broccoli with equally off-putting results. I was despondent, but luckily had the sage words of my broccoli-eating friends to assure me that broccoli in the world outside the cafeteria is significantly more palatable.

So began the transformation! I made the casserole suggested in the comments, and it was well received. At this point, I was still not entirely won over to broccoli yet, but I did find it went down much easier. I also made some broccoli cornbread, which was again tasty. Cheese and broccoli, as everyone kept saying, do go well together. I had intended to make a broccoli recipe I saw in the NY Times food section earlier in the week, but couldn't get all of the ingredients. But really, I feel like the intent alone should count for something.

I tried steamed broccoli again and outside the cafeteria and it was light years ahead of what I had previously consumed. I also gave raw broccoli a go, which, given the right dip, wasn't bad at all either. In fact, I think I prefer it possibly to cooked stuff. Next time I'm at a party or reception with a veggie tray and dip, I shall experiment further.

So ends another fun, veggie-filled week. Perhaps I'll buy some more broccoli soon and blend it with bell peppers for a mean stir fry! But for now, I'm looking to the future:

Next week: green beans!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Bell Pepper Week

Bell pepper week ended on a sour note. Though this has little to do with bell peppers themselves and everything to do with my developing a stomach virus that prevents me from keeping down any food item, bell peppers notwithstanding. Its actually kind of fortuitous that I had been about to grill some peppers on my friend's George Foreman when I realized I felt kind of bad and declined. Otherwise bell peppers might have gone the way of any food that is the last thing you eat before mass vomiting ensues-- blackballed from one's diet for years! As it is, I probably won't be eating cheese dip for a very long time.

Also, luckily, because I am too sick to go to class or (apparently) to get more than 20 minutes of sleep together, I have plenty of time to update this blog with the fond memories of when I could eat. I'll keep this short regardless though because I doubt I'll be making much sense right now anyway. In the interest of brevity then, here's a list of my bell pepper conquests of the last week
  • bell pepper omelet
  • bell peppers on pizza
  • fajitas (definitely the best of the lot--those suckers are pretty good grilled)
  • raw bell pepper
  • bell pepper rings (not successful at all)
That's about all I can remember at present, but I'm pretty sure I ate more than that. Today would be the start of broccoli week, but for obvious reasons I am going to postpone it until whatever I have subsides. I really, really hope that's tomorrow. At any rate, broccoli week's post might come a little late, or else I might just decide to shorten it and try to get all the broccoli goodness in a shorter time frame.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Carrot Week

Carrots do not taste good. There is no convincing me otherwise. Anyone who observed my face contorted in discontent while eating a carrot stick can attest to the futility of the argument. However, friends of vegetablesarefriends, do not despair! While I stand by the above fact, I also must include this hopeful addendum: carrots (thankfully) are easily camouflaged. After I initially discovered that despite their jolly color and excellent supply of vitamin A, carrots are entirely unpalatable, I spent the rest of the week looking for the best ways to disguise them, and came up with some that work well and some that don't.

For starters, there was ranch dip. Ranch dip is very tasty, and initially tasty enough so as to hide the carrot. The problem comes in when the liquidy ranch dip dissolves long before the dense-as-lead carrot, leaving behind the offending taste. I tried speed chewing the carrot in a race to beat the swallowing of the ranch dip, but in the end, it was a pointless pursuit. I also tried just eating smaller bites of carrot and reapplying ranch dip liberally, but this too proved silly as it begin to seem more efficient and enjoyable (though hardly as healthful) to just dispense with carrots all together and eat the ranch dip with a spoon.

Clearly, stronger measures were needed. Enter: curry. A friend and I made a chicken curry as I normally would, but mixed things up a little by adding carrots. The carrots were a little underdone, but had there not been that mild crunch (which could be eliminated as I grow more comfortable with proper carrot cooking times), I don't believe I would have noticed them at all. This same principle proved true with the curry carrot soup I tried a few days later (thanks to terryt for recipe...and phone call to talk me through said recipe!). Once curried and souped, the carrots lose all power to offend and yield their healthful benefits without a fight. Mmm, love that beta-carotene!

I also made the carrot salad mentioned in the comments (thanks susan!). I was worried at first that the peach yogurt would not be strong enough to do curry's job, but I now stand corrected. The salad was excellent and not at all tasting of carrots. Or perhaps a little tasting of carrots, but then then the yogurt brought out the sweetness that people keep insisting that carrots have, and the effect was even pleasant.

I wanted to test my night vision at the end of the week because I seem to remember learning in health class, though this may not in fact be backed by science, that carrots help with that. Unfortunately, the friend who I suggested go tramping through some dark woods with me, brought up the point that as I hadn't made any test of my vision prior to beginning carrot week, I really have no frame of reference. I can see the logic to this, but for the record, and without conducting any formal test, I'm going to go ahead and say I can see better at night.

As I final reflection on carrot week, check out this cuteness:
One final thing: an alert reader (who is, in fact, my mother) has suggested that my readers might be interested in knowing of my upkeep of past vegetables of the week. To that end, I can say that I am doing well with spinach and in fact had some spinach for lunch this very day! I continue my enjoyment of tomato soup, and bought more carrots to use with the rest of my curry paste.

Next week: bell peppers!