The Joy of Cooking is a popular cookbook. I have a well-thumbed copy, which along with my ancient Fanny Farmer’s form the lynchpin of my collection. Cooking has been my joy since I can remember being allowed to do it. My mother was born in Germany at the onset of WWI and the resultant lack of food she endured as a child made a lasting impression. She was reluctant to let me make main dishes–I was assigned to salads and desserts, so I had to learn how to make meals for myself. My cookbooks were and still are a great help.
I enjoy reading cookbooks as well as checking the recipes in newspapers, magazines and on line. It’s fun to see what’s trendy. Some fashions I don’t care for—roasted broccoli, for instance. I also favor eating with the seasons; now that we are coming into spring it’s time for spring vegetables like asparagus and dandelion greens. Some think of dandelions as weeds, however they are beneficial in a variety of ways and good in salads as well as steamed or stir fried with other greens and/or vegetables. Their slightly bitter taste is diminished when they are combined with other vegetables.
Try this recipe for yourself, either digging the dandelion greens from your garden or purchasing them from a market. The purchased ones are milder and easier to use, yet the harvest of garden and lawn weeds can be seen as a bonus. Ingredients: ½ cup chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic minced or chopped fine
1 small to medium summer squash chopped small or 1 pound of aspargus
4 cups dandelion greens
olive oil as needed.
Method: Gardeners, remove dandelion roots and tough bottom stems. Wash them in several waters. Purchasers can skip this step. Rough chop or cut up with scissors. Steam greens briefly in a small amount of water until they have wilted down. Strain water into a cup and set aside. While you are preparing the dandelion greens, sauté chopped onion, garlic and summer squash in a olive oil, stirring occasionally, or steam asparagus. Add chopped steamed greens to sautéed vegetables. Cook until stems are relatively tender. You can stop here and serve squash as is or put into your food processor and pulse a few times to create more of a mash. Pulse steamed asparagus with dandelion greens and olive oil to taste. Delicious! Use salt and pepper as desired.
Many children and even adults are fussy about what they will and will not eat. I was brought up to finish what was on my plate or else, however I made my children consume only three bites of any food they thought they might not enjoy. They did grow up to be able to eat a good variety of foods. However, in the process I learned to be detached about any response to my cooking. Today this has made it easy for me to be a happy cook in a peaceful kitchen.
Among the first things people teach their babies is to wave “bye bye.” Could it be because intuitively we know that saying good bye is one of the things we will do frequently in our lives. I have discovered that the older I become the more goodbyes I seem to be saying. This is not to complain, only to comment. It is also true that I have grown more aware that for every goodbye there is often a hello. Perhaps this is more on my mind as I say goodbye to Daylight Saving Time and hello to Standard Time once again.
This theme has been on my mind recently on more than one occasion. As I put away the last of my warm weather clothes, I say goodbye to the weather I wore them in. The shorts and tank tops go into clothing bags stored under the bed to wait for another season. To be sure there will be balmy autumn days, yet they will not be warm enough for cotton blouses or skirts. I have already begun wearing my woolen sweaters and corduroy pants and putting on my down foot warmers at night
I’ve been watching the leaves change and begin to disappear from the branches of the trees. I say goodbye to the them as they fall, baring the empty branches to the wind. Even the leaves that have not fallen have dimmed. The colors that earlier were so bright no longer flame over the hills but are muted, softened as the leaves get ready to drop. I see the fallen reds and yellows on the ground turning brown and curling up as they accumulate. Swirly gusts rustle them, scurrying them around the lawns and sidewalks as thought hey were little creatures racing to get away from the cold.
Not only my clothing changes with the season. My eating habits and preferences do too. My mother didn’t have access to fresh green beans, summer squash, or other seasonal produce from the supermarket when I was growing up. Now although summer produce is available, I am more apt to eat winter oriented foods. I prefer summer squash in the summer, winter squash in the cool months. It is said to be healthier to eat with the seasons. To me seasonal food tastes right. Warm drinks replace cold ones. Casseroles, stews and soups are the order of the day. Peaches and blueberries are a summer memory and I crunch apples. I say goodbye to one kind of cooking and welcome another.
Also I think of friends who are no longer near, or whose lives are now too busy to allow for visits. I remember those who have left this earth and its pleasures behind for a different kind of existence. I say goodbye to the longer hours of light and welcome the hours of darkness with their invitation to rest. Soon I will say goodbye to being outdoors for long periods of time. Fall is a season of goodbyes yet once we have said goodbye there is always the promise of what is to come. Goodbye is another way of making room for hello.