Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Veggies that make me ask the big, existential question

I visited friends with a lovely vegetable garden a couple weeks ago and came home with delicious fresh parsley, lettuce, basil, and cucumbers. Since that gave me veggies on the brain, today we're looking at Favorite Recipes of America: Vegetables Including Fruits (Favorite Recipes Press, 1968).

Apparently it's a pretty good book, as something chewed up the top edge of the cover. Will the recipes inside be as appetizing as the cover?

The picture has a nice assortment of veggies, but to me something seems weird about the only ones that are part of a recipe. There's just an awkward family photos vibe about the peppers trying to stand tall in the tomato sauce. It's like dad is in the back, standing tall, while mom, off to the left, is starting to lose her balance (Maybe had an extra glass of wine before the photo shoot?) and little sis, off to the right, is about to go under. Big brother is front and center, trying to hog the camera, and NOBODY seems to realize their crumb topping isn't all that brown. (Is that the stuffed pepper equivalent of forgetting to comb one's hair?) So many questions....

The book itself has plenty of tried-and-true veggie recipes, but you're not here to see how to make baked potatoes or fried green tomatoes. Today we're looking at recipes that made me say, "You could do that, but why?"

I'm not confused about why people deep fry veggies. French fries are awesome. Batter-dipped fried mushroom or cauliflower? A fine way convince yourself that you had something healthy at the fair. Ever tried crispy Brussels sprouts generously sprinkled with salt? Amazing! My point is, I do not necessarily object to frying veggies. This, however...

You could french-fry celery, but why? Frying is a lot of work and a big mess. Why waste the effort on something that will just be a hot stringy mess?

I mentioned that I liked Brussels sprouts. They can be great fried and salted, or coated with a delicious sun dried tomato sauce like my husband makes once a year or so.... whenever I can coax him. I haven't had the sprouts with slivered almonds and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce, but I imagine that would be pretty tasty.

Of course, you could throw in white grapes and American cheese too, but why? This dish, as they say on Chopped, could use a little editing. (Or maybe a lot.)

I have no objections to a fluffy, creamy plate of scrambled eggs. Bring some mix-ins to the party, like cheese and broccoli, and so much the better.

You could add "bite-sized chunks" of head lettuce cooked with onion juice to what would otherwise be a nice skillet of scrambled eggs, but (Say it with me, girls and boys!) why?

Maybe we should just tie this all up with some nice dumplings. (Full disclosure: The dumplings I've tried always seem bland and gummy and I don't understand why people don't just serve a stew with some nice crusty rolls or biscuits instead. I'm going to play along with the idea that dumplings are delicious comfort food for the sake of this bit.)

What do you like with your dumplings? Chicken with plenty of peas and carrots? Maybe chickpeas and dumplings or corn with cornmeal dumplings since this is a book about veggies? How about...

You could boil biscuit mix dumplings in salted water and then dump in a  bunch of sliced cucumbers, but why? Why? Why?

The recipes may not be great, but they do make me more philosophical and ready to ask the big question in life: Why?


  1. My Chinese friend once served me stir fried iceberg lettuce. She followed Chinese cooking tradition of using high heat, an oil with good flavor (bacon grease), and short cooking time. It worked. It was good. These recipes on the other hand, are an abomination in any culture.

    1. I know grilled Romaine can be pretty good too. The recipe above looks more like it's on the level of the only way someone I know will eat a salad-- microwaved iceberg. *shiver*