Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ritual: The Thanksgiving Table

There are a lot of rituals around food.  One of the simplest, and one which might escape notice at first, is that of the foods were serve for celebrations.  Of the "food holidays" in the United States, the biggest is Thanksgiving.  My extended family is comprised of a fair number of foodies, gourmets and CSA-business owners, so it can get a little out of control!!

This year, I was asked to bring the vegetables.  My favorite fall festival dish, squash rounds stuffed with spinach leaves and topped with cranberries, hasn't gone over well the last few years, as there were too many other similar starches to compete with: soft, orange, eat with butter.  This year, I tried three new dishes, focusing on crisp, crunchy, tangy and sweet flavor profiles:

1)  Mustard-glazed shallots and rainbow carrots , adapted from here:  Martha Stewart
I also added rainbow pearl onions.

2)  Brussels sprouts with a walnut-maple glaze, adapted from here: Silver Palette Cookbook

3)  Roasted green beans and fennel with orange and almonds, adapted from here:  Martha Stewart.
I blanched the almonds myself for this dish, which means immersing them briefly in hot water to help loosen the skins, then rubbing them until the skin falls off.
So Tasty!!!  My highly discriminating brother was overhead at the Thanksgiving table planning to team up with me on menus in the future.  He also called the next day to say he and his wife were enjoying the leftovers, and wanted the recipes. 

What vegetable dishes do you, or your family, enjoy on special holidays?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do you want to know?

I want this blog to meet the needs of my readers.  What do you want to know about plants, fungi, algae and other plant-like organisms?  What things have fascinated, or confused you, about plants in the past?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Welcome to the Practical Botanist!

What comes to mind when you think about plants?  Something you purchase to liven up your new apartment, only to watch it wilt?  That lawn you must mow? The veggie side-dish you always dreaded in childhood?  Or the vast array of the ways plants enhance our lives?

Through this blog I hope to highlight ways that I interact with plants in my daily life, and help you learn some of the science behind what I experienced.