[Dinner Bowl with millet, sesame chard, grated carrot, avocado, grape tomatoes, and almond sauce.]
When I was about four and the Nurse was eight, my parents decided to have our portraits taken. Now, in those days (we’re talking Dark Ages of technology, folks) no one had heard of digital photography, let alone Photoshop; you had to make due with photos as they appeared once developed, sometimes days or weeks after you’d snapped them in the first place.
[Insalata Roma: Mesclun greens with roasted red peppers, toasted walnuts, “goat cheese” and balsamic vinaigrette.]
In those days, the style was to dress up your kids, have them sit still for an hour or so while a photographer (who had arrived at your home hours earlier, toting enormous cameras, lenses, black boxes, velvet throws and a host of other tools of the trade) cajoled your child into staring at the camera long enough so that he could snap fifty or so photographs. Then, he went away and developed the photos, returning a few weeks later with the contact prints so that you could choose the one you wanted.
[Purple Monster I: gluten-free pancakes with blended berry sauce and tofu scramble.]
In order to simulate traditional artists’ portraits, the photographer blew up the black and white print to portrait size, then painted over the original with colored oil paints. These “portraits” were then hung in ornate gold frames, usually in the living room or family room. Most of my parents’ friends had similar portraits hanging in their own homes (with their own kids in the frames, that is). In fact, the image of four year-old me, a Mona Lisa smile on her face and hair teased and flipped like a 50s housewife’s, wearing my favorite dress with the white princess collar and pale blue crinolines, still gazes over my dad’s sofa (with matching portraits of each of my sisters on either side).
[Purple Monster II: Red cabbage slaw with green apples, toasted walnuts and poppyseed dressing.]
Why am I telling you all this, you wonder? Well, occasionally there were kids who simply wouldn’t participate (I recall hours of silly voices, fuzzy bears and sparkly jewelry passing before the CFO’s tear-stained face on the day, years later, of her portait-sitting; after almost four hours, the disheveled photographer finally elicited a semi-smile, which is the shot that was ultimately used). Worse, there were sometimes kids who were more than happy to oblige the photographer, but who, after all the developer was mixed, the paper bathed in the stop bath and the photos hung to dry, simply weren’t meant for such things.
[Gluten free pizza with pesto, zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and red onion.]
Well, sometimes, I cook food that tastes great, but for one reason or another, doesn’t give good blog. You know the meals–either you chomp them up too quickly, and by the time you remember to snap a pic, the meal is half gone; or else you snap and snap, eventually tuning in more to the rumbling in your stomach than the food on the table, and give up before you acquire that one useful photo. In these cases, I usually file the pics away, assuming I won’t be using them.
[Thai-inspired Coconut Curry Tofu Scramble with spinach, carrot, peppers and cashews.]
Still, some of those foods were really tasty. And just because they’re not photogenic, does that mean they should miss out? Heck, no! Just like the legendary blind date “with the great personality” (ah, if only I had a dime for all the times I was described in such a way), these dishes are really wonderful if you give them a chance.
[Tuscan Bean Soup, adapted from this recipe–my version below.]
And so, I thought it might be fun to share some of the more homely–yet still appealing–foods I’ve made in the past few months.
Just don’t try to snap their portraits.
“Mum, you know, we let you snap our portraits all the time. But if you want me to smile, well, how about a little cajoling with treats or a frisbee?”
Tuscan Bean Soup
This is a thick, filling, and comforting soup for cooler months. I used the stems from the chard, but found their flavor a bit overpowering; I’d leave them off next time.
1 pound (450 g) dried white beans (Great Northern, cannellini, or navy), picked over and rinsed
2 Tbsp (30 ml) organic coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 fennel bulb, stalks discarded and bulb chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 cups (1440 ml) vegetable stock or broth
2 cups (480 ml) water
1-2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp (1 ml) black pepper
1/2 pound (225 g) swiss chard (silverbeet), stems discarded and leaves chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) salt, or to taste
nutritional yeast for sprinkling on top
Soak beans in cold water overnight, or at least 8 hours. Discard water, rinse the beans, and set aside.
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, fennel and garlic and sauté until the vegetables are soft, 8-10 minutes. Add the beans, stock, water, bay leaf and pepper and simmer, uncovered, until beans are tender, 45 minutes to an hour.
Stir in the swiss chard and salt to taste and continue to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until chard is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and blend until smooth, or use an immersion blender and blend briefly in only one or two spots so that most of the soup remains chunky. Stir the blended soup back into the pot, simmer until heated through, and season to taste. Garnish with nutritional yeast, if desired. Makes 6-8 servings. May be frozen.
Last Year at this Time: Beans Nested on Greens
© 2009 Diet, Dessert and Dogs