A Kaleidoscope of Vegetables
Mr. Fortesque was once again the only guest at our supper table. “This is the most wholesome nourishment I’ve eaten all week. Such a kaleidoscope of vegetables in this soup,” Mr. Fortesque praised. Lessons at Blackberry Inn
The daughter of the Lady-of-the-House made a purple potato salad for her son’s birthday party. It is a reminder to us to eat our colors. Are you in need of a restorative? The Lady-of-the-House knows how admirably her readers love and serve, love and serve some more. Meanwhile her friends are recovering from surgery. Some are nursing a baby. Others are living with various ailments and chronic pain. The Lady-of-the-House can empathize and in this post takes on the role of big sister (naturally bossy) and mother hen (provokingly protective).
“The best doctors in the world are Doctor Diet, Doctor Quiet and Doctor Merryman.” Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) satirist, author of Gulliver’s Travels.
Lifting vegetables and fruit up to a higher status than it is given in the standard American diet is the urging of the Lady-of-the-House. The benefits of eating vegetables are numerous. The fact that they prevent cancer reveals their astonishing power to keep us well.
When eaten in abundance – rather than being tacked on to a meal as an afterthought - they help lessen pain as they contain anti-inflammatory properties. They are a soothing aid to digestion. Eaten in place of processed carbohydrates they politely balance weight without the impertinence of calorie counting. The benefits of a palette of colors (eaten raw or lightly cooked when possible) are attracting the attention of more and more women who have decided to use their kitchens for supporting the health of those they love and serve. And themselves.
Because they seem to be the most tender, the Lady-of-the-House keeps an eye out for the smallest spaghetti squash. It is cut in half, seeded, baked skin-up at breakfast time. Most mornings you can find her doing some sort of vegetable preparation. Spaghetti squash can be fluffed with a fork, gently seasoned, and served at lunchtime in its own skin.
While a pot of oatmeal is simmering the Lady-of-the-House may be simultaneously steaming broccoli. This super food takes five minutes to peel and cut (peeling the stalks makes them more edible) and five minutes to steam bright green. Cooled and set aside makes it handy for adding to a green salad, a pasta or rice dish or blending it into a creamy coconut milk soup. It is almost hidden to the eye when chopped (or minced) but will add one of the biggest boosts of vitamins on your table.
Butternut squash baked at breakfast makes it ready for a lunchtime side dish or a light but nutritious dinner desert served individually with a few drops of honey and a pinch of pumpkin pie spice.
Romaine lettuce cleaned, cut and spun at breakfast can be used in a green smoothie. The Man-of-the-House started this custom. His wife followed suit. They also place dandelion greens or beet greens and orange beets into a Vita Mix smoothie. Orange beets do not stain the hands during preparation but the Lady-of-the-House doesn’t mind red beets when a few frozen strawberries are tossed in the Mix. It makes a pretty pink smoothie.
Peppers can be diced and added to bean soup or a quick 30-minute simmering soup of red lentils near the end of cooking.
Petite-diced vegetables and grated carrot make a refreshing addition to a bowl of protein-rich quinoa sprouts.
“There are ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is ripe to eat.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Unlike the ever-ready apple a pear is stubbornly precise about when it can be eaten. The day the Lady-of-the-House came across the above quote she smiled and immediately related it to the avocado. Since that day she started keeping these two temperamental fruits in the same “waiting” bowl. The avocado is a super food that makes a wonderful baby food.
Brussels sprouts lightly coated with olive oil and a drizzle of Italian dressing can be roasted in the oven until fork tender. This is the preferred way the Lady-of-the-House cooks them. Still, the Man-of-the-House and his son will not be cajoled into eating cabbage no matter how she prepares it. “That’s okay, it just leaves more for me,” she tells them with her nose just a bit in the air. And the next day the leftover Brussels sprouts are mixed into pasta that is tossed with juicy roasted red pepper, Greek olives, grape tomatoes halved, with oregano and thyme (or pesto) – fabulous.
Is there any plant food you don’t like, you might ask the Lady-of-the-House? She admits to once repressing a gag over tofu. But when marinated and heated in the sweet and sour glaze out of Terry Walters’ Clean Start cookbook, she has even acquired a taste for it. This sauce flavors vegetables, too and is liked by her menfolk.
Bok choy cut into bite-sized pieces takes five minutes to steam. The Lady-of-the-House combines bok choy with green beans and broccoli. The sauce is pungent enough to turn a patter of vegetables into a flavorful dish for a family four to six.
In a custard cup have ready:
2 Tbl olive oil
1 Tbl grated ginger root
Wisk together in a bowl:
2 Tbl tamari
2 Tbl real maple syrup
2 Tbl lime juice
Heat grated ginger in olive oil in a wide pan for 1 minute. Add steamed vegetables to the pan to heat and mix with ginger. Pour sauce over vegetables. Mix to coat. Serve on a platter.
There are many ways to serve vegetables, many ways to eat a kaleidoscope of colors – some simple - some fussy -with new sauces, salads and soups to try.
This grace in First Prayers is reprinted from The New England Primer. It makes a fitting finish.
Bless me, O Lord,
And let my food strengthen me to serve Thee,
For Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen
Discussion is invited.
Snowdrops along the shady wooded roadside were spied on a recent walk. Being one of the Lady-of-the-House’s most appreciated blooms the Man-of-the-House took a photograph for her when a sliver of late afternoon sun had shone through the trees.
To Your Good Health,