The Food Network has announced the newest addition to its fall lineup, a sitcom about a mixed family whose members (anthropomorphic foodstuffs) seem to have no common ground and opposite tastes, but who, when the heat is on, come together in quirky, unlikely harmony. Working title: Vegetable Matters.
The pilot episode would be something like last night's dinner, wherein a pantry full of a diversity of vegetables tiptoeing across the line of fitness for human consumption was the only food left at the end of the week. The central conflict: chuck the half-moldy ears of corn, soft potatoes, age-spotted cauliflower, shriveled squash, and the dregs of a carton of vegetable broth and order pizza from the rather dubious-looking shack down the road or find some way to make these disparate characters sort out their flavor profile differences and cooperate in order to happily cohabitate (in my stomach). Plot development would proceed as follows with my recipe brainstorming: well, I could make - no, that would never work. Instead, I might - no, it's too old and would taste terrible. Possibly ... no, I don't have any of other ingredients I need. The resolution: soup. The sad state of the vegetables and completely clashing possibilities of their favor profiles left me with only one option, and that was to chop it all up, put it in a pot, boil the crap out of it, and hope for the best. The plot twist: using roasted and pureed cauliflower as a thickening agent (I honestly almost laughed in utter amazement and disbelief when this worked). In the end, the members of this family stew came together and resolved their differences, much to my tummy's delight (it won't be so delighted in a few weeks when I'm still eating the leftovers; there was literally over five pounds of this soup, which is now housed in several quart-sized yogurt containers in the freezer).
In tonight's dinner, the role of Urkel was played by some lovely little eggplants that caught my wandering eye at the farmer's market. They were the sole reason for this dish and the undeniable star, just as we all know that Urkel was the only reason anyone watched Family Matters. Awkward to work with and comical in appearance, I could well imagine my long, skinny, curved Italian eggplants in miniature pairs of suspenders and thick-rimmed glasses. What I could not imagine was what to do with them. In my encyclopedia of bookmarked recipes (more like a graveyard these days, where countless I'll-try-this-later's go to die), I stumbled upon the seed of what would grow into my very eclectic supper: linguine with creamy roasted eggplant sauce. A quick look at the ingredients told me I was missing everything except eggplant and garlic. No matter, because everything is possible with a fridge full of veggies (fresh from the farmer's market today). What did I end up with after some creative finagling and substitutions of which Better Homes and Gardens would never approve? Summer squash ribbons with caramelized sweet onion in a roasted eggplant garlic cream sauce. Oh, and it was Asian-flavored. Don't quite know how that happened. As I sat devouring my concoction (which was quite uniquely delicious, with a marked emphasis on unique), I wondered what significance I could attach to this or how I could relate it to my current life experiences to present it to you. Then I realized that it was just a bowl of squash noodles, nothing more, nothing less. Delicious, nutritious, but no significance.
So there you have it, an account of my supper instead of an update on my new life's progress or reflections on personal identity. Because let's face it, life isn't a sitcom (even if my food is), and not every day ends with a group hug, collective "aww" from a studio audience, and a life lesson. Most of the time, it's just filled with vegetable matter.