I'm starting this blog with entries about what led up to me wanting to keep it. This post is backdated to approximately the date it happened.
Once I got back on solid food, my plan was to cook a large amount of food every Sunday so I could eat it for lunch and dinner during the week. I decided to stick to raw and cooked vegetables and fruits I prepared myself for a while. I also wanted to try new vegetables I'd never really worked with (or even knew I'd eaten) before, so I made Mediterranean Swiss Chard and Artichokes in Tomato Sauce (second recipe).
Mediterranean Swiss Chard: This is so fast and easy it's almost silly. I didn't follow the recipe precisely. Instead, I used one enormous bunch of swiss chard, two cloves of garlic, a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice and not so virginal olive oil. I also let the chard sit in the dressing for ages because I just didn't feel like bringing two separate containers to work with me. Once I saw what boiled swiss chard looked (and smelled!) like, I didn't expect to like this, but did. It's probably not something I'd make again, but I liked it enough to eat all of it. Unfortunately, I ate it for dinner on my way home from work. Everyone in that train car must hate me. The smell of boiled chard + lemon + garlic isn't pretty.
Artichokes in Tomato Sauce: OMGYAY! This recipe is yay for so many reasons.
1. It tastes SO good.
2. It's ridiculously easy, once you know what you're doing.
3. It tastes SO GOOD.
4. It impresses people because fresh artichokes look so intimidating.
I generally assume everyone knows more about cooking than me, but I got a lot of blank stares when I told people I was making artichokes, so here's some of what I learned:
1. You can't eat over 80% of the artichoke.
2. Artichokes are pointy both inside and out, so be careful with them.
3. Be sure to check and clean your artichokes really thoroughly. One of mine had a worm in it. If you miss the worm, it's no longer vegan!
4. They have fur inside.
5. The have a choke (prickly) inside that needs to be removed before eating. So you neither eat the outside nor the center, but a layer of leaves in between.
The recipe said to "Clean the artichokes by removing the tough outer leaves". Once I ripped off the first few layers of leaves, they started to feel softer to me, so I left them on and proceeded to follow the instructions (with some exceptions I'll detail below). I made the sauce, added the artichokes and knew just from looking at it that I'd done something very wrong. The artichokes took up way too much space and were never going to get cooked. If I didn't do something, I'd end up with a pot full of raw artichokes, some of which happened to be covered by burnt tomatoes. I started pulling the artichoke wedges out of the pot one by one, yanking off the outer leaves until I was just left with the heart and throwing them back in the pot. This worked fine for the top layer of artichokes, but as I worked my way down, they got hotter and had actually started to cook, so I had to fish them out with a spatula and run them under cold water before I could handle them. Even after all that, I had to be careful when I ate because I missed some of the tough leaves. Adventure!
As mentioned previously, I made a few small changes to the recipe:
1. I used two small onions instead of one medium.
2. Since I was packing this up to take to work for lunch, there wasn't really any place to garnish it with the chopped parsley. Instead, when it was all done cooking but still slightly warm, I folded the parsley into the dish itself so I'd have some in each serving.
3. I used four cloves of garlic (two were really tiny)
4. I didn't want to use anything with preservatives in it, so I chopped 28 ounces of tomatoes (2 1/4 BIG tomatoes) myself instead of using a can.
Going fishing through a simmering pot might seem like too much effort just for food, but this is so tasty it's worth it. I will definitely make it again, now that I know what I'm doing. Chopping the tomatoes myself definitely gave the dish a fresher, brighter flavor than it would have had if I'd used the can, so I think I'm going to use fresh whenever I make this. Not only that, but the sauce is so quick and easy to make, I think it's just become a staple for whenever I want tomato sauce.
Sexy, steamy artichokes:
Step by step artichoke prep (Ha! A rhyme!):
Look! An artichoke!
O NOES! It's been hobbled!
Off with its head (or top third).
Inside. Do not eat the green. Or the purple. Or the fuzzy white stuff beneath the purple. And the purple may look smooth and soft, but there IS stuff in there that will stab you so don't say you haven't been warned! Beware the savage artichoke!
With fur on the left (do not eat). Shaved on the right (tasty goodness...once you get rid of the rest of the green leaves).