Thursday, October 7, 2010

please, eat your vegetables

The New York Times has been running articles about how we Americans don't eat enough vegetables. In fact we are eating less and less. This is a pity for all the obvious reasons. I am an admitted omnivore yet I consider vegetables to be one of the greatest joys of life. The fact that they are healthy for our diet is only part of the story. I am enamored of the way they grow, the way they look, taste, and smell. Jane E. Brody who writes a weekly science column for the Times has challenged her readers to propose ways to increase vegetable consumption in this country. Marketing schemes are already under way but certain obsticales have to be overcome. The fact is that vegetables are much harder or should I say, more confusing to cook than meat. Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, they may have to be peeled, or cleaned of sand and grit or cored or seeded or destemmed. Some can be eaten raw, some have to be cooked. Some taste great both ways.  A lot of variables need to be considered. Storage, freshness, provenece are also considerations.
There are plenty of fresh greens in the farmers markets right now. I simply stir fry any mix of greens with some garlic, olive oil and a squeeze of lemon to finish.

Let us begin where we can by trying to eat some vegetables everyday. Salads are easy, no? A head of romaine lettuce roughly chopped with a drizzle of oil and vinegar can be part of a daily meal.

Look for cook books that have simple recipes so you can make a meal quickly.

Kylie Kwong Simple Chinese Cooking is a wonderful book to find really flavorful yet easy to prepare recipes for vegetables.
Look for vegetables in Asian markets, where they can be found in abundance and at very good prices because of the large demand.

Kylie Kwong's really simple stir fry of snow peas took no more than 10 minutes to prepare.

Heat oil in wok, stir fry snow peas and a pinch of salt for 2 minutes, add crushed garlic and a pinch of sugar, stir fry another minute, add a splash of water to get the snow peas simmering till tender for another 2 minutes. Splash on some sesame oil and serve.
The splash of sesame oil at the end of cooking seems to be Kylie's signature flourish and boy is it good!

This is a subject I will continue to revisit. As for now I am off to Paris for a week to see what the French do with their vegetables and wine!

A bientôt!

I definitely need to check out these articles in the NY Times! I have not seen them. But I have to say, I don't necessarily think that veggies are more difficult to cook - I think it's more about what we're used to. Take for example, a whole chicken. I wouldn't know the first thing about carving it or cutting it up properly. Or all of the numerous cuts of beef out there - which one to use for which preparation. Stews, roasts, steaks, stirfrys, etc. And then, what to do with them once you have them in your kitchen, as far as trimming, prepping, seasoning, and cooking. I think in general, for the mere fact that people don't eat a lot of veggies, they just seem more daunting. It's what we're used to. People are "comfortable" with meat. Not so much with veggies. I would venture to guess that the majority of people find meat easier to deal with only because that's what they eat most of the time. But I think those who normally don't eat many veggies would actually find them quite simple (relatively) to prepare (with a little education and patience, of course).

Take, for example, the recipe at hand. How could any meat dish be as simple to prepare?  Not to mention healthy. I find vegetarian cuisine so much more exciting than meat or fish dishes these days. The possibilities are endless. In my opinion, there are limitations to what you can do with meat and fish dishes. This is really what led me to adopt a more "vegetarian" lifestyle - boredom.  I am constantly reading and learning about new ways to incorporate veggies into wonderful, new dishes (thanks, Deb!), and I fall in love with each new recipe a little more than the last!

As for wine, Deb's snow peas really call for a crisp, light white. Something simple and inexpensive. I would love to sip a Gruner Veltliner, or Albarino with this delightfully light, healthy dish. Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand would also be a great choice.

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