Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Little Green Lies

I don't think my nose will grow like Pinochio's because my lie was unintentional, I still haven't made it to the grocery store to try the two dishes I promised I was going to prepare two days ago. But the zucchini is still waiting patiently in the frig and we still had a vegetarian dinner since I made my famous bean soup...okay, so it's only famous in our very small circle of two but we do both love it. I used a mixed dried bean this time. I tend to try a different variety each time; there are cranberry beans in the cupboard for next time. After soaking the beans (large pack), I put them in the slow cooker with one can of low sodium chicken stock (so not entirely vegetarian but I love the flavor chicken stock adds) and water to cook overnight. I usually add chopped onion for flavor but I forgot to pick some in the garden this time and I'm all out of the store bought variety. I added some seasoned salt, chile powder, and dried, minced garlic but my seasoning can vary, too, according to what's on hand and what sort of mood I'm in. When the beans have cooked long enough to be nicely tender, I add two cans of spicy chopped tomatoes and peppers. These are usually pretty salty so I don't add so much salt at the beginning as I might otherwise. We eat this with grated cheese and tortilla chips and it makes great lunches for Steve, too. He likes celery stalks with his so an added helping of healthy vegetables!

The Daily Health Challenge for today was all about vegetables and trying something new. I've also started a 28 day pact with my old connections on there as well as some new ones that I made because of the pact. This pact is based on the theory that if you tell yourself positive affirmations every day while looking in the mirror, at the end of 28 days you will convince yourself that the affirmations are true and literally changed your mind about yourself. Those good things will actually override and destroy any negative things that you or someone else has convinced you of. My affirmations are all about motivation which I've been lacking for a while. I thought about why I lack motivation and never seem to accomplish any thing I want to and end up being disappointed in myself at the end of each day and that's how I came up with these affirmations: I am energetic, I am enthusiastic, I am fearless, I am strong, I am capable and I will accomplish so much today! Hopefully, at the end of the twenty-eight days, I will not only believe those things but I will be living them. I also added, I am beautiful and I hope to believe that as well:)

The vegetable that I chose to try goes along with my daily affirmation of, I am fearless because the veggie is an artichoke and I've never tried it because I've had absolutely no idea of how to cook the darn thing! So, this will be an adventure but I'm trying an artichoke. I still don't have my stove installed in the kitchen so I'm hoping that I can steam it in the vegetable steamer. I'll find out because I'm doing some internet exploring on this adventure hunting for recipes and how to's. Here is one nice set of visual, step-by-step instructions that I found.

How to Cook and Eat an Artichoke

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes


How to Cook an Artichoke

1. If the artichokes have little thorns on the end of the leaves, take a kitchen scissors and cut of the thorned tips of all of the leaves. This step is mostly for aesthetics as the thorns soften with cooking and pose no threat to the person eating the artichoke.
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2. Slice about 3/4 inch to an inch off the tip of the artichoke.
3. Pull off any smaller leaves towards the base and on the stem.
4. Cut excess stem, leaving up to an inch on the artichoke. The stems tend to be more bitter than the rest of the artichoke, but some people like to eat them. Alternatively you can cut off the stems and peel the outside layers which is more fibrous and bitter and cook the stems along with the artichokes.
5. Rinse the artichokes in running cold water.
artichoke-3.jpg6. In a large pot, put a couple inches of water, a clove of garlic, a slice of lemon, and a bay leaf (this adds wonderful flavor to the artichokes). Insert a steaming basket. Add the artichokes. Cover. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 25 to 45 minutes or until the outer leaves can easily be pulled off. Note: artichokes can also be cooked in a pressure cooker (about 15-20 minutes cooking time). Cooking time depends on how large the artichoke is, the larger, the longer it takes to cook.

How to Eat an Artichoke

Artichokes may be eaten cold or hot, but I think they are much better hot. They are served with a dip, either melted butter or mayonaise. My favorite dip is mayo with a little bit of balsamic vinegar mixed in.
1. Pull off outer petals, one at a time.
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2. Dip white fleshy end in melted butter or sauce. Tightly grip the other end of the petal. Place in mouth, dip side down, and pull through teeth to remove soft, pulpy, delicious portion of the petal. Discard remaining petal.
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Continue until all of the petals are removed.
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3. With a knife or spoon, scrape out and discard the inedible fuzzy part (called the "choke") covering the artichoke heart. The remaining bottom of the artichoke is the heart. Cut into pieces and dip into sauce to eat.
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