I’m about to talk about these beauties in a bit. Credit: EatingBirdFood.com
If there is anything which is harder to make adults do than eating their vegetables, then I don’t know what it is. Teaching critical thinking and reading comprehension are certainly up there, but cracking cognitive dissonance has nothing on enticing a hardheaded adult to chomp down some veggies. Grown-ups develop pants-shittingly awful food habits from about age 12 onward. Puberty hits around that stage, and then you are tall enough to reach the upper cabinets or have devised a method to scale them. Nothing is out of reach. Your parents have no more hiding spots because you have figured out where everything – including their dildos, much to your horror – is stashed.
Hence why teens grow fast and some go from pudgy to bloated, while others turn into rock-hard Titans until that Freshman Fifteen catches up to them at last. Metabolism run amok, eating sins put into place, the caloric intake you accustomed yourself to at 18 has stretched you to a plus size by 35. Along that whole way, you and most everyone else avoided broccoli like it was nightshade.
If you don’t eat vegetables, even just a couple times a week – because I’m no doctor and I’m not perfect, I slack on this often too – you’re dumb. I’m dumb. We’re missing out, really.
First here’s the problem with vegetables. Since we avoid them usually, we have no clue how to cook them. We think that mush from the can is how they’re supposed to be. Few among us go to farmer’s markets. Some of us frequent the produce section but it’s more common to throw a frozen bag in your cart, take it home, use it to heal some groin bruises, and then toss it into a pot for boiling. Boiling is probably the – no, it is undisputed, boiling is the worst form of vegetable cooking that exists. If you boil something then you are asking to have all the flavor drained from it, for the food to turn to slime, and for much of the nutrition to cook away. It’s good for making things which are supposed to be viscous or mushy, like syrups, sauces, reductions, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, and mash for liquor. Otherwise it turns all it touches to shit. Vegetables and boiling water hate each other, and should never be together.
Now for steaming. Steaming is good. It’s easy, keeps the veggies out of any carcinogens or fatty oils, and keeps them crisp. Crisp is also good. Vegetables, if nothing else have that going for them, the characteristic snap and crunch. It’s a thing of beauty. The one knock on steaming is because you don’t season them, your veggies come out bland. Bland is bad. Bland makes you not want to eat vegetables. You need flavor, spice, seasonings – you need the naughty stuff.
You see that beautiful jar over there? Those are pickles - homemade pickles. If you haven’t made them yourself, learn. Now. Those things out of the grocery store are shit. When you have control over the seasonings, amazing things happen. Imagine some cucumbers, cauliflower, and carrots hanging out in a bath made from brine, onion, fresh dill, vinegar, mustard seed, and garlic. You let them sit for a few nights sealed in a Ball Mason jar, then one day the seal pops as you remove it. Take a spear. It’s ready. Snap into that sucker. Briny, pickly flavor will punch you right in the mouth, and I swear it will be the best pickle you’ve ever had. Soon you’ll wonder about the carrot and cauliflower down there too. Oh my, those are awfully good as well! You’re in love and are searching for some bread, mayo, mustard, and roast beef for good measure. Lunch is served. You find yourself devouring half the jar. Congratulations, you have just enjoyed the hell out of vegetables.
Of course life is nothing without variety. Steaming is okay (Keep the butter handy is all) and pickling is wonderful, but what else is out there? I’ll tell you what – roasting. This is what you do for all those root vegetables. Those are your rutabagas, beets, potatoes, yams, celery roots, turnips, kohlrabis, and more. There are two ways to roast vegetables: the fun way (oven, hopefully with convection if you have it) and the awesome way. The latter is the grill. Beer in hand, your cut-up veggies splayed over a vegetable griller atop hot flame, you face a new vista. You’ve got peppers blackening, awaiting their turn for the salsa you’re preparing. Your roots are crisping on the outside while becoming fluffy inside. What’s the best way to season these? Plain, old EVOO, along with salt and pepper. That’s it. Easy as pie. The upside for roasted roots is basically you end up with amazing, technicolor home fries. Tomorrow’s eggs should have these babies resting beside them, if there are any left at least, and there might not be. Even the kids will wolf them down.
I think you understand now, friends. Get thee to a farmers market or produce department. Encourage the budding lust within you. You too will soon devour plants like a starving Brachiosaurus.