Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Twas the Season

to be jolly. Because, as we all know, fat folks are jolly.

And if I did not start out as officially "fat" this past holiday season, my philosophical "live and let live as long as I can get another bowl of that Chex Party Mix, and while you're up would you get me another glass of wine?" stance did lead to a certain heaviness of body, if not of spirit.

So while still not "officially according to the charts" fat (yet), I am what is equally distressing. I am "fat for me". Which does not, unfortunately, lead to jollity in my case.

What it does lead to is that slightly less fun shock of recognition when reading, say, Rosencrans Baldwin's "Bonne AnnĂ©e" as he describes his fellow worker's post holiday debrief, "The first day back at work in January, a dozen people in my office gathered ‘round to wish each other happy new year. Then they got down to work: comparing how much foie gras they’d eaten over the break; the quantities and types of foie gras, and over how many meals; how it had been prepared; what it had been accompanied by; what wines were drunk alongside. Then it was time for lunch.".

I have been obsessed with food lately. Given the chance, I take time to make something delicious to eat. If I am not reading about food, or watching a show about food or cooking, I am cooking. Or worse, eating.

Case in point. I walk several times a week for exercise. The other day a fellow walker emailed me to let me know her morning was getting off to a slow start and she'd need a few extra minutes before we headed out.

Somehow, rather than taking that little window of time to say, clean out a drawer or drop to the floor and give an imaginary drill sergeant some random number of push-ups, I instead found a Molly Katzen recipe for Roasted Red Pepper with Garlic and Lime from her "The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without" and whipped up a small batch.

It is delicious and I've already sampled it two ways. Once as suggested, on crostini with goat cheese and once on top of a beautiful green salad. At least the salad was, well a SALAD.

Setting aside my angst surrounding (over) eating for a moment, I have to tell you, this is a great recipe. Very simple yet it yields intense flavors from a few fresh ingredients you may already have on hand.
Roasted Red Peppers with Garlic and Lime

4 servings

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large red bell peppers
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic (I think the garlic flavor permeates faster/better when crushed)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking tray with foil and coat with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

2) Place the peppers on the tray, laying them on their sides. Roast in the center of the oven about 30-35 minutes, turning the peppers with tongs every 5-8 minutes so they will roast - and blister - fairly evenly.

3) When the peppers are quite soft and the skins have darkened and are pulling away from the flesh, remove tray from oven. Use tongs to transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with a plate. Let sit until peppers are cool enough to handle comfortably. (The peppers will express flavorful juices. Save this to use in soup, sauce or stock.)

4) Peel each pepper, using your hands and/or a paring knife. Remove and discard the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into small cubes or strips and transfer them to a second medium sized bowl.

5) Add the remaining ingredients and mix gently. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Serve cold or at room temperature.
Serving suggestions: Top crostini spread with chevre (shown above) or use as a relish for meat. Sprinkle into salads.

This dish keeps, refrigerated, for up to a week and the flavor improves with time. And it is beautiful. A treat for the eyes as well as the palate. Thanks, Molly, and pass the fat pants, please.

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