Twenty – two different cooking methods highlight amazing versatility of vegetables and sea vegetables.
To me, vegetables are angels, because if I had the choice of eating a beautiful carrot, a juicy beet or a brilliant pea instead of eating dirt and rocks, it would appear that earth had turned into a delicious angel. True, I could ingest powdered nutrients, vitamins and minerals… or I could wait for the earth to produce an angel full of itself, and eat that.
I notice that when using the variety of vegetables, which have been transmuted by the power of healthy earth, I find that my cooking can be very simple and satisfying. I don’t need to slather with sauces or cheese. These foods sing beautifully on their own.
Some vegetables have a “gang consciousness.” They are wild, tough, domineering and complex, and need to be the first, the best and challenged when asked to be eaten alone. Others merge with any ingredient and have the flexibility of being either the star of the dish or a chorus member. I’ve been in grocery markets with limited offerings of only tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, potatoes, peppers and onions, with a slight chance of including good celery and maybe even a cabbage and green leaf lettuce. When I think of how many minerals and vitamins are living and stored in nature that I need to get from a variety of vegetables, I feel swindled. I have to ask myself, “Is this all they can get from their suppliers?” Or, “do their customers not know what do with parsnips, celery root, sun chokes and collard greens?”
No matter which kind of market I shop, I play a game. I purchase as many items as I can carry home. They have to represent all the colors – red, green, purple, yellow, white, orange, and maybe black. They have to be from a variety of the “growing families” – a concept we use for cooks, not gardeners. That’s what I use to make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for until there is just one item left. When that is gone, I go shopping again.
I eagerly anticipated watching Julia Childs’ video, The Way To Cook Vegetables, with great curiosity. I even sat down to watch it with a brand new graph paper notebook at my side. I was preparing to write “The Vegetable Book,” part three in my trilogy for The Language of Intuitive Cooking — and now I could learn from a master. I really thought I would learn ‘The Way….” But, instead, I learned One Way to cook vegetables and it was called the boiling method. For an hour or so she demonstrated How to Boil Asparagus, How to Boil Broccoli, How to Boil Carrots and so on, boiling through a total of ten vegetables!
Let me explain the math of infinite possibilities when cooking vegetables applying the Language of Intuitive Cooking. Instead of one method times ten potential vegetables, giving ten simple dishes, I teach with up to twenty-two cooking methods and potentially forty or more vegetables, depending on where you live in the world and what kind of access you have. Twenty-two times forty is eight hundred and eighty. And that number of possibilities increases exponentially by the possible selection of supporting elements that make those twenty-two cooking methods happen.
With this amazing variety of dishes I’ll never be bored. And I can reach into the most unusual vegetable and find a way to let even a gnarly personality give me its featured nutrients in a delicious dish that has turned the soil into an earth angel.