Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Joys of Winter

Not until I moved to Florida did I know that oranges aren't really orange until someone cleans them, dyes them, then waxes them. Straight from the tree, they're dirty yellow orbs that leave your hands black from handling them. City living deprives me of daily drives down a country road seeing hand lettered cardboard signs in driveways saying: O R A N G E S.

Despite the dwindling supply of oranges as groves give way to subdivisions, I've been enjoying freshly squeezed Florida orange juice every morning recently. I know that I'd have to eat a truckload of oranges to meet my daily vitamin C requirement, but nevertheless, I squeeze, then drink the pale yellow juice quickly, to get as much of the vitamin content before it oxidizes. The cold snap we had earlier this season was just what nature needed to sweeten up the citrus so that it tastes as if it were injected with sugar. The pleasure of drinking that cup of juice offsets the chore of cleaning the juicer each morning. Oranges are on my weekly shopping list while the abundant, reasonable supply lasts. The season is short, even living in Florida.

As I've been busy with holiday baking - baked and delivered over 15 dozen cookies to friends. Not to mention all those I nibbled on as I slipped sheet after sheet into the oven, out of the oven, onto the cooling rack then into the gift tins. At the end of the day I've wanted to keep the dinner making tasks to a minimum, so . . .I've been having high fiber veggie meals at night to offset all the sugar and buttery nibbles during the day. Oh, how we justify! Produce departments in the markets are swollen with wonderful selections, reasonably priced during this holiday season. It's a good time to make a meal with two or three selections.

Baked sweet potato, oven-roasted cauliflower and braised spinach with garlic.

Oven-roasted vegetables are delectable as well as more nutritious as the vitamins and minerals aren't leached out into boiling water. The taste is far superior to steamed veggies as the high heat of the oven caramelizes the natural sugars in the vegetables, transforming an ordinary carrot, onion, beet or cauliflower floret, for example, into a mouth-watering, nutritious treat. The florets pictured above were washed, then tossed with a spritz of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a little Italian breadcrumbs and a pinch of Aleppo pepper flakes. Roasted quickly in a 425° oven, they browned nicely on the outside but are soft and creamy inside after about 20 minutes of roasting. The spinach was washed then tossed into a sauce pan that was placed over medium heat with a little olive oil and a sliced clove of garlic. As the spinach wilts down from the heat, just turn it over into the olive oil and garlic. Stop cooking once the leaves are wilted down but still bright green. I use tongs to lift the greens into a small mesh strainer placed over the cooking pot to rest while I plate the rest of the meal. The sweet potato can be scrubbed and cooked in the microwave for those in a hurry. But for purists who prefer the oven, start the potato 15 minutes before putting the cauliflower in the oven.

Another simple, satisfying meal that takes no time to prepare and even less time to clean up after! You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy the pleasure and the benefits of an all veggie meal now and then. And as a bonus, your colon will thank you.

Book Nook

Don't miss these.

Kim Edwards - The Memory Keepers Daughter

Carl Hiaasen - Nature Girl

Till next time . . . keep on cooking

1 comment:

Asha said...

My granfather owns a coffee plantation and Orange grove back in India! As kids ,we plucked fresh, juicy and clean oranges right out of the tree and ate them.

I love your dishes,looks very delicious!:))

Happy Holidays Joyce.