Thursday, October 29, 2009

I like big beets (and fennel) and can not lie

Since moving to Bend, I've tried to eat organic, healthier meals. When I used to think about organic, I thought expensive. In the midwest, organic meant shopping at Whole Paycheck and spending more to get healthier more nutritious options. Yes, I was naive. I sure thought those graham pretzel cookies were good for you. Now that I look back at it, I was living in the midwest, around a bounty of  fresh produce with a longer growing season. That is one perk I would say about living in the midwest -- you can grow more vegetables.

As a child, my mom had a garden and we'd have fresh tomatoes, peppers, beans and squash. Of course, my brothers and I all turned up our noses. My mom used to roast homegrown acorn squash and I'd still turn my nose. I look back feeling pretty stupid. We had peach and apple trees along with strawberries too -- jam all winter, apple pies - I can smell the memories. I remember at a young age my mom giving me a pail to pick strawberries and I'd eat one strawberry and then put one in the bucket and then repeated until one day I picked up a snake. I never went into the strawberry patch again.

Where was I? Oh yes, now that I have a child, I feel like I need to make home cooked meals. I plan them out in great detail and shop each week for our fresh meals. We joined a CSA which helped dictate what our meals would be week. Even though we split it with Kate, we still could eat salad each night. Then we started getting items that I've never tried in my life -- beets, kale, chard, different squashes, fennel, leeks. Eek! What do I do?  I can't let the $11 a week I'm spending go down the tub. Must eat things I've turned my nose up to before.

First up were beets. Instead of flipping through the internet, I flipped through my cookbooks. Lo and behold, my good old standby cookbook came through with a roasted beet salad recipe with goat cheese and red wine vinaigrette dressing. It was to die for YUMMY. I've roasted my beets each time and tossed them into my salads along with some candied nuts from TJs.

Fennel was the next victim in my pursuit to expand my culinary adventures with vegetables. Fennel smells like licorice

[caption id="attachment_56" align="alignright" width="180" caption="Chicken and fennel are a natural match together"]Chicken and fennel are a natural match together[/caption]

I hate black licorice but I still went ahead and cooked up with chicken and carrots. YUM. My husband and I were fighting for the seconds. Next time I made pork chops, tomatoes and fennel. We discovered that Lil B was a fan and kept piling more on his plate. It takes an act of congress to get him to eat any vegetable unless it's a spinach and artichoke veggie nugget. Next week I plan on buying fennel in the store and roasting a whole chicken with fennel! You see, I'm branching out.

This week when my husband came home with the CSA and he exclaimed we were having brussel sprouts for dinner. I did my icky face but then decided that I'd give them a shot. Twenty minutes later steamed with a tiny bit of butter and I was sold. Even Lil B ate them up.

I'm also a squash convert. Acorn squash. Spaghetti squash. Butternut squash. Delicata squash -- I could go on and on. Squash lasagna is on the meal plan for next week along with roasted acorn squash wedges. My mother would be SO proud.

I will admit some of my CSA went to waste. We always had way too much lettuce, spinach and tried our best to eat a salad each day. I also discovered that I don't like kale at all. I have a bunch of fresh kale going to my co-worker tomorrow. When we do our CSA again, I will make sure the kale goes to a good home. I'm sure someone out there will take it off my hands.

I hope I'm teaching my toddler the joys of vegetables. I can't believe it took me 34 years to develop a love affair with vegetables.

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