Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Solitude, with vegetables

Yesterday I spent the entire day at home, in my nightgown, no makeup--I did wash my hair. Other than brief conversations with my brother and my youngest daughter, I didn’t talk to anyone but the dog. Believe me, I talked to her a lot. It wasn’t all bad—I got back to work on my novel and feel good about it. And the long day made me most grateful for breakfast, lunch, and dinner plans for today.

But last night, in an effort to divert myself, I decided to make the cauliflower cakes I’d found a recipe for. They sounded good, with lots of cheese, and I had the cauliflower in the fridge, so I set to work on it. When I got the batter or whatever ready to fry, I knew I was in trouble. The mixture had eggs for firmness but it needed some sort of filler, like bread or cracker crumbs. Too runny. The cakes didn’t stick together and were almost impossible to turn. Plus they didn’t brown well and didn’t look too appetizing. No, I’m not showing a picture but should anyone want one, I have cauliflower cakes for Cox’s Army in my fridge—and they are big because I didn’t have the patience to stand there and cook lots of small cakes (that may have been part of my problem). The one I ate was pretty good--needed more salt, but it was flavorful. I probably won’t eat the rest and after a few days they’ll go in the garbage—the few days will assuage my conscience about wasting food.

But the whole thing made me think about vegetables. I am surrounded by vegetable-challenged people. My youngest daughter is medium picky—no squash or zucchini, just learned to like asparagus, doesn’t like cooked spinach. I can count on one hand the vegetables that both my sons-in-law like. Christian is particularly fond of canned green beans, so I dress them up with vinegar, bacon and onion. He loves it.

Sunday night I had company for supper but had the forethought to ask one neighbor if he eats spinach. His reply was that he loves it raw in salad but won’t touch cooked greens. There went my main dish—layers of cheesy polenta (like cheese grits, I guess) filled with spinach. I still plan to cook that sometime, but I needed to cook a hot dog dish and photograph it for a guest blog, so I made German potato salad with hot dogs chunked up in it. My three guests all professed to love it.

To me the logical accompaniment was cabbage, and I had seen a recipe that called for buttering one side of cabbage wedges, sprinkling with onion and garlic salt and wrapping in heavy-duty foil. You were then supposed to put them on the grill, but I didn’t want to ask anyone to fire up the grill, so I put them in a moderate oven. I thought it was good, and the spinach-challenged friend said he liked it. Don’t know if he had his fingers crossed or not, but he ate most of it. But one of the other guests took one bite, at my insistence, didn’t touch the rest, and asked me not to tell his wife, who is traveling, that he didn’t eat his vegetables.

Cooked cabbage and cauliflower are not generally on my menu, but I like the idea of expanding my repertoire. Now if I could just figure out what to do with kohlrabi and get over my hesitance about kale.

I will keep experimenting with vegetables. The solitary days not so much.

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