It’s the season when vegetables inspire. For example, I had no idea what I’d do with these baby artichokes when I saw them on sale at Whole Foods, but I knew that I had to have them. The weather turns warm and, suddenly, I find myself craving green things. Not just adding them to our menu, but literally walking around imagining what a green vegetable would taste like and counting the hours until dinner. Sorry kids.I know it’s crazy. I should be craving chocolate and cookies, and maybe bread too, which I do, but add vegetables to the list.
Long time readers might remember that artichokes and I go way back. Stuffed artichokes were served as a long-awaited treat at the holidays in my family. It was probably because they were both expensive and time-consuming to prepare, therefore only reserved for special occasions. This blog was originally called Artiechokes.com in honor of that tradition. And that name is not misspelled – that’s how my family pronounced the vegetable – Artie Chokes – although for the life of me I don’t know who Artie was. I can hear your groans. Sorry.
After looking at these artichokes in the refrigerator for a few days, I realized something needed to be done with them. And then I read on one of the foodie sites I follow, Leite’s Culinaria, a recipe for grilled artichokes, a cooking method method I had never tried with this vegetable.
I began my prep by trimming the pointy leaves and boiling them in a large pot with lemon juice and lemons to try to preserve the color which, in my opinion, only partially works. After they were cooled in a bowl of ice water, I sliced them in half to discover they were too little to have a choke – what a bonus! I placed them on a baking sheet, drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on salt before heating the grill on high. They were grilled approximately 5 minutes per side.
In the meantime, I prepared a sauce from a recipe I modified from a different site. I mixed a half cup of mayonnaise with two chopped, canned, chipotle chiles and their adobo sauce. I’ve never had such a tasty vegetable dipping sauce, and think it would work great for green beans, too.
I don’t really know if I feel the grilling added much to the artichokes, even though the sauce definitely did. They were met with the usual response around the table – Joe is still only lukewarm about them, because he “can’t figure out what to do with them”. You eat them slowly, pulling them between your teeth, and savor them, dear. Annie is also lukewarm about artichokes, but she ate without complaining, although she skipped the sauce after a brief sample. Finally, Louisa, my non-vegetable eating daughter, ate several of them, with the sauce. You see, she likes artichokes, contrary to expectations. But, she commented that “normal people don’t like artichokes.”
Do normal people like artichokes? Do you? If yes, how do you like them? Stuffed? The classic method with a butter dipping sauce? Some other way? Are you normal? (I should have asked that first!)
Did you ever think about how a lettuce leaf must feel when it’s plucked from the garden? I could almost hear these leaves screaming as I gleefully picked each one from my new container garden.
I’ve been told never to speak in hashtags – because it’s just not cool to do that. On the other hand, at my age, there’s no hope that I can be called cool, so why not try? In my initial experiments on Instagram (follow me at DonnaVit) I’ve been told by Louisa that to gain followers I need to use hashtags of the right sort. I’m so confused about this hashtag business that I may need to return to middle school, since they have all of this hashtag business figured out. Trust me, they do.
So, Louisa has a tee-shirt that reads #TheaterKidProblems which often explains many of the dramas in our lives. But yesterday I would say our issues would be better summed up with #14YearOldProblems. Since I try to keep personal information about the girls off this blog – except when it relates to food – I will explain last night’s #TaleOfTwoDinners without revealing the specifics of last night’s problems.
Let’s just say that a certain 14-year-old was not having a good evening. It was such a not good evening that her mother was driven to the hard stuff that had been sitting in the basement refrigerator for several months. In fact, mom was driven to consume two of the hard stuff it was so bad. Perhaps we need a new hashtag for that - we can call it #MomOfTeenProblems. Sorry the photo isn’t prettier – I was too hashtagged last night to take a photo, so this is what it looks like in the recycling bin this morning.
After Louisa stormed up to her room carrying her homework and declaring that she wasn’t eating dinner, I popped open my first hard lemonade and cooked a very good dinner for the rest of us. I had discovered a new smoked sausage at Whole Foods – Jalapeño, Pecan-Smoked Beef Sausage and decided to use the kale I had picked up at the farmer’s market to mix up an easy pasta dish. I sautéed some garlic, added the sliced up sausage and cooked five minutes until browned. I mixed in one of the chopped bunches of kale that I picked up on Saturday at the farmer’s market, added some chicken broth and let the whole thing simmer until the kale was tender, about another five minutes. Next, I mixed in a pound of cooked orrechiette pasta, covered it all with a mixture of grated mozzarella and monterey jack, and baked it in my roasting oven until the cheese melted. It was really tasty for an improvised recipe.
Oh, but back to #14YearOldProblems. I opened my second hard lemonade and had a small discussion with her where I insisted, threatened, cajoled her into eating SOMETHING for dinner, even if she couldn’t face the yummy meal that awaited the rest of us (you know, that nasty kale stuff wasn’t going to sit well with her current mood). She finally dragged herself into the kitchen. found some ham steak that had been left over from one of our dinners last week, and chose that for her dinner. After we insisted she eat something from the produce family, she had a serving of cut up pineapple that was also in the refrigerator. Thank goodness for leftovers.
And that’s how we had #TaleOfTwoDinners.
Am I doing this #Hashtag stuff right yet?