Do you get blog posts piled up in your head but then don't get them downloaded onto your blog? Sometimes I wish I had a wireless connection between my Apple and my brain. I spent the last month spinning so hard to stitch and Photoshop and bake up our holiday festivities that when I finally stopped, I spun down into a heap on the lap of my big red chair (a.k.a. Ruby Comfort, more about her later).
Now, at last, I've sprung back to the keyboard, prodded by the New York Times' most e-mailed list, particularly by an article called "The 11 Best Foods You Aren't Eating." Beets and cabbage are at the top of the list. And since I have borscht bubbling on the stove at this moment and since borscht is built around beets and cabbage from our garden, I feel compelled to throw our family's huzzah of support behind ten of these lovely foods. If all of us really aren't using these great ingredients, maybe we all just need refreshed inspiration for how to best enjoy them.
I have to admit we don't eat one of the eleven. (Well, Birch does, but the rest of us sidle out of the room when he's doing it.) I hope you'll share your ways of enjoying these enjoyable foods. Here's our variation on the theme...
We love them roasted then grated into caramelized onions and tucked into ravioli or roasted and tossed with walnuts and shards of parmesan. We like them, raw or roasted, heaped with goat cheese. We find they are especially good on an arugula salad with a lemon-and-walnut oil dressing (and since I hear President Obama loves arugula but doesn't love beets, I think he should try them together; next year, for sure, beets wouldn't get left out of the White House garden). Sometimes we grate beets raw and toss them with orange juice, lemon juice, salt, pepper and parsley. Yum.
We braise red cabbage with apples, red onions, red wine, and bay leaves on slow heat for four hours. We stir fry Chinese cabbage. We also pickle it, then stir fry the sauerkraut or dice it into nuggets to sprinkle over Chinese noodles. Birch does a mean cole slaw. Borscht makes the house feel so cozy in the winter, as do Italian bean-and-Savoy cabbage soups.
I admit that I love chard more in the garden than in the kitchen. But it's just that I don't like boiling it before sauteing it with garlic. Sometimes I balk at an extra step. But chard is great in bean soup. It is sheer wonderfulness as bright, tiny leaves in spring salads. By far, the best way I've found to prepare it is Tea's recipe for tzatziki.
One of our favorite spices, cinnamon ends up in granola and muffins and oatmeal and hot chocolate. Beyond breakfast, we use it in some of our favorite sauces. It is the secret ingredient in our famous spaghetti sauce; now you know.
One of my favorite childhood memories is of the time my best friend somehow procured a pomegranate. Up until then, I thought pomegranates only existed in Song of Solomon. I loved the strange cushiony bulb for the way it split into bright halves, spilling seeds. But I loved it most for the burst of astringent flavor from each taut juice pod, followed by the crunch of the grainy seed in the center. What an entertaining fruit! My girls love the fun of pomegranates too. More often, we drink POM Wonderful, which is such a clean sharp drink it has the zing of a cocktail. I think of it as juice for grown-ups, but my kids love it too...straight from the curvy bottle or mixed with lime, fizzy water, and maple syrup.
(Full disclosure: POM Wonderful did send us some juice. But I will only ever recommend something if it is a product we do love and use.)
They're still called prunes at our house. We like them in warm dishes, like oatmeal. We adore them in that old stand-by dinner-party recipe from our newlywed days in Brooklyn, the Silver Palate's Chicken Marbella. Whenever we make the dish, we have to be vigilant that the prunes don't get high-graded out with the first servings. Who wants leftovers without the prunes?
We eat them like popcorn, roasted straight from the pumpkin then salted or spiced up with Indian seasonings or Mexican or... We also sprinkle them on salads, rice dishes and couscous. But they are the cornerstone of Birch's amazing homemade mole sauce...amazing.
Can't do it. My parents used to bring canned sardines on vacation when I was a little girl and mostly I had no choice but to eat them. If I had a choice it was Vienna sausages. 'Nough said. I know I should eat them and relish every bite. The girls know they should too. But we just can't like sardines. We'll get our Omega-3s elsewhere. Birch chokes down a few, but he too can conjure a true craving only for fresh, grilled sardines...squirted with lemon and tossed with parsley.
We eat a lot of Indian food and grate a knuckle of turmeric right into the sauces. Birch adds it to yogurt dips too. He claims he sneaks it into whatever dish he can. You'd think that bright yellow zest would give him away.
If given the choice, we would graze blueberries off the backyard bushes all year. But they would be frozen if they were out there now, which they aren.t They are in the freezer, though they never last long enough because we toss them by the handful into pancakes, muffins, smoothies, and pies. I have particular fondness for a certain lemon blueberry bread from the Ozarks, but I lost the recipe. Lost it! Anybody got a good one?
It's not autumn until I've opened a can of pumpkin to make chocolate-chip pumpkin muffins. Following Grandpa Hickory's recipe, we also make canned pumpkin into something like a pie, only without the crust. We call it pumpkin pudding. Pumpkin pancakes are good. Pumpkin is also great stirred into risotto with sage butter and a little crushed-up amaretti cookies sprinkled on top. Really.
Let's help keep one another healthy. What are your favorite ways of eating these eleven foods we're all supposedly not eating?