-- And the most delicious, I bet. Last night I put together a simple meal from leftovers and fresh veggies, realizing that, as usual, I was spending more time and love on my own meal than on the meals of the others in my home. I don't feel guilty about this, since all are welcome to partake of my delectable creations if they wish. I always offer it to everyone else first. I do provide alternatives as well, though my heart is not always into the preparation or ordering of these items. Reminder: for those of you who don't know my family, I have one adult(ish) husband and two near-adult kids, all of whom are still getting used to my major lifestyle change which happened abruptly on February 11, 2010.
My son had a friend over for a sleepover, so I also had to consider a guest. I ordered pizza, extra large, extra cheese, and a box of cheese breadsticks, exactly the same as the pizza, but with no tomato sauce. Pretty unhealthy, huh? I offered collards, no takers, except for my husband. Still, some had spinach salads (no bacon or egg). My husband usually requires an animal to eat, and sometimes he is on his own with this, as I am finding it tougher and tougher to touch dead flesh. Last night I just took a frozen (still rock-hard, so not as offensive to me as thawed would have been) tilapia filet and put it in a pan of vegan butter and deglazed it with a splash of chardonnay. He loved it with some of my famous salsa on top. This batch of salsa included one of my homegrown cucumbers I couldn't fit into the jar of my latest batch of umeboshi plum vinegar pickles (from Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet, but I was using cukes instead of radishes since I had 'em). I also had some cilantro from the store that I chopped and added to the salsa. Each batch is a little different. I really love going out to the garden every single day and picking enough tomatoes and other veggies to whip up the next batch of salsa. It is a summer staple, best consumed fresh, and we can eat it in so many ways.
Now, to the rest of my plate: The evening prior, I had prepared the Broccoli Polenta from Isa Chandra Moskowitz' and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon. I love this cookbook. To me it is like The Joy of Cooking for vegans. The polenta, like everything else I have yet prepared from this book, was sustaining, inventive and yummy. The first night I made it I served it with a jarred marinara sauce, and last night I topped it with my salsa -- just as good, maybe better. The little muffin-tin timbales of polenta reheat well in a warm oven for about 15 minutes. I like the outside to be slightly crunchy, the inside firm, moist and springy.
The batch of sauteed collard greens was perhaps my best ever! It was so exciting -- my family laughs at me as I get so jazzed up about greens. See the giant bouquet of greens at the top of this blog? While I am washing and chopping these, I often find myself bursting into song, with gratitude, "Greens glorious greens!" (to the tune of "Food, glorious food" from the musical, Oliver). Really, collard greens prepared well are my most favorite food. I believe I finally have the preparation down to a science. I heat a dry pan to medium high heat (7 on a scale of 0-10). When all ingredients are ready to go, I pour some very good extra virgin olive oil into the pan and immediately plunge the chopped collards into it, still moist from being washed. A smashed, chopped garlic clove then goes on top of the greens. Snap, crackle goes the hot pan as the water droplets explode -- make sure the pan is covered for this part. Then I let the covered pan sit on the hot burner, unstirred, for about 3 minutes. The oil will burn at this heat if the greens are not added right away, and the garlic will burn if you put it on the bottom, it has to go on top. At about 3 minutes of undisturbed cooking, I begin to smell, not something burning, but almost. I quickly take the top off and stir, stir, stir the greens and garlic with two spoons, like one would toss a salad. This only takes about a minute. Then I take the whole pan off the hot burner and set it aside, covered. At this point it looks like some greens are overcooked and some are barely cooked at all, only starting to wilt. By the time I set the table, everything in the pan is PERFECT! I really love the crispy, brown pieces of greens with the very lightly cooked pieces. This cooking technique has resulted from a lot of trial and error, so it may take a while for you to get it just right too. I rely on a certain smell to tell me when to start stirring, this is the trickiest part. But once you take the pan off the burner it can sit indefinitely. It won't overcook and will remain warm for quite some time.
I rounded out my meal with some storebought fresh bread -- this time sourdough with roasted garlic. I topped mine with storebought hummus with olives. Everyone else had the bread too, guess they didn't have enough bread in their pizza and cheese bread sticks.
So you see we are still a funky little household, where I am just going to keep doing what I do for myself, and hoping it is rubbing off, if only a little bit, on those I love. On this night, I was happy to not be the cause of the death of a land creature (just her suffering while she produced the milk for the cheese --see Chapter 3 of The Kind Diet) and I did care for my husband's cholesterol needs as I prepared the food he ate. Baby steps . . . but in the meantime, I sure do love the food I eat! Thanks again, Alicia, Lindsay, Morgan, Isa, Terry and the rest of you who continue to inspire me!