Warming Roasted Vegetable Chili

Oh it was grand to see my Little Sis, her family and so many other relatives over the holidays.  I am very blessed in that all of my relatives like and prepare good food, so we very much enjoyed having others cook for us on our 11 day jaunt around the Mid-Atlantic!

We made it back to TN ahead of the Polar Vortex but with the temperature cold enough to make one think about warming foods like soup and chili.  All of my chili recipes include meat or a meat substitute (of which I am NOT a fan*), AND it is January after all and time to de-tox from the sugar and other excesses of the holidays…. so I made us a warm and spicy vegetable chili which is chunky and satisfying. Continue reading

Roasted Onion and Fig Relish

Okay – so I fell for a sale.  Surely I am not the only one.  And I seem to always be a sucker for a buy one get 1 free sale.  Such an appealing word – free.

This time it was brown turkey figs – buy one, get 1 free.  Discount abundance is a wonderful thing unless you really have no idea what to do with the booty!  Everyone in the family tried one and they were okay, but it was clear that the abundance would not be used before they rotted, so I had to get thinking.

They are pretty.

pretty figs

Not sure where this idea came from, but I have been on a kick of roasting red onions as parts of several recipes, so I decided that red onions and figs were either destined (or doomed) to meet in my oven. Continue reading

A Singular Taste

I have a friend who brought me a bunch of wild ramps yesterday.  A lovely and generous thing to do as they were foraged by her son and are quite the rare delicacy.  They are an allium, a wild leek / onion sort of thing that is quite pretty to look at and NOT so pretty to smell… but on the other hand (or leaf), ramps probably find me wildly lacking in scent!  It’s all relative.

At any rate… she included some pages from the internet that suggested a pesto from the greens.  I chopped the leaves, tossed them in the Vita Mix with some olive oil, walnuts and a bit of salt – and lots of tamping later… I had a pesto for the brave of heart.

Tasting that very strong taste got me thinking about how I don’t always just taste ingredients.  I get so eager for the end product that I lose sight of the wonderful components.  And of course the expectations I have for how something will taste can definitely interfere with my ability to appreciate a new taste.  I know this is a BIG problem for my 11 year old.  We try to avoid enticing him to try things via comparisons with the familiar as that usually ends in failure : “It doesn’t taste like _____ at all!  I don’t care for it.”

Ruminating on single tastes, new tastes and expectations reminded me of the portion of our home Sunday morning service contributed by my son last weekend.  We are trying to find ways to be more aware and mindful and ‘in the moment,’ so he wanted us to touch some things with eyes closed, listen to some things with minds open and taste some singular things.  He looked in the frig and chose strawberry, apple, baby spinach, and kiwi.

I was quite surprised that he chose baby spinach and even more surprised when he himself pronounced the taste to be ‘pretty good’ and ‘kind of nutty’.  Interesting how differently we perceive things when the aim is to perceive them and not to judge them.  I, in a moment of bad role modeling, did not even try the kiwi because I knew it to be less than ripe and therefore quite tart which makes my right eyelid close and flutter and causes an expression that is an endless source of delight to my husband and son.  But I too was impressed with the flavor of each item.  I was interested by the complexity when I ate it with the sole intention of tasting it.

So what to do with the rest of the ramps?  How to taste the other parts of this unique gift?  Along with some asparagus and some Brussels sprouts, I cut a few of the bulbs in half and after drizzling all with just enough olive oil to prevent sticking, roasted them in the oven.

No salt, no pepper, just some veggies.  I appreciated their flavor and tried to eat them without asking what would make them better.  The ramps that were thin got a bit crispy and were very mild.  The thicker bulbs retained some of their pungency and were smushy and moist in the middle.  I enjoyed tasting them all and nourishing myself with this bare bones meal (served with Little Sis’ bean sprout namul).

On a good day I take the time to be grateful for the wonderful bounty around me… to see it, and smell it, and taste it and appreciate each single moment.