Lessons & Tips for Cooking Vegetables

Four Ways to Liven Up Your Vegetable Life - click photoIf there's one thing that inspires this food blog, it's all I learn. Here I pass along the ideas that I think you might find useful too. Enjoy a quick browse! ~ Alanna Updated 2/17/10






Time

Day 1 – Cut vegetables in small pieces to speed cooking time.
Day 2 & Day 18 – Keep a backup in the freezer for nights when there’s just no time.
Day 5 – Save recipes that need hands-on time for nights when life is a bit more relaxed - or - you’re sharing cooking responsibilities.
Day 10 – Cook more than you’ll need to have either leftovers or “planned overs” for another night.
Day 11 & Day 14 – Stock up on bags (not boxes) of frozen vegetables. The flash-frozen quality is terrific, the price and convenience can’t be beat. Supermarket brands can be at least as good as name brands and often cheaper.
Day 15 – Jars of minced garlic and fresh ginger are big time-savers.
Day 41 – A quick knife job can be faster, total time, than a food processor.
Day 94 – When reading a new issue of a food magazine, or scanning a new or even a much familiar cookbook, mark the most promising pages with post-it notes. Pencil in short-hand reminders such as ‘spring’ or ‘fall’. Underline a distinctive ingredient. This saves time when you come back later looking for something special to cook.
Day 114 – Sometimes, even something fresh might need to rest awhile before it’s ready to eat.

Holy Slaw! Jars of minced ginger are huge time-savers
Sugar Snaps, Carrots & Peppers How to cook carrots really fast!





Taste

Day 4 – Prepeeled carrots have no flavor when cooked and peeling/chopping a pound takes only 6 minutes.
Day 12 – Salted vegetables taste better!
Day 12 – Contrary to what seems obvious, Grade B maple syrup is more flavorful and coveted than Grade A.
Day 13 – Roast thick spears of asparagus, steam or sauté the thin ones.
Day 18 & Day 21 – For added flavor, use bacon fat rather than olive oil or butter.
Day 19 – Roma tomatoes have no taste and thus are a waste.
Day 23 - Try a new food again, even if it doesn't taste so good the first time.
Day 31 – Use leeks to impart a sweet onion taste in cooked dishes, use “sweet onions” such as Vidalias in raw form.
Day 35 – Crush dried herbs between your fingers before adding to a dish.
Day 321 – Canned tomatoes just can’t cut it in salsa

Chiogga Beets with Horseradish Cream How do chiogga beets compare to red beets?
Warm Tomato, Corn & Okra Salad How to tell if okra is fresh
World's Best Green Bean Casserole Not your mother's green bean casserole!
Last-Minute Festive Celery, Cauliflower & Apple Salad Is really good olive oil worth the investment?
Mashed Turnip & Apple How to tell the difference between a turnip and a rutabaga
Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish Sauce Why do some people not like Brussels sprouts?





Nutrition & Weight Loss

Day 11 & Day 27 & Day 44 – Sauté vegetables in water or chicken broth, not fat, especially if there's fat to be added later.
Day 20 – Watch the nutrition labels on canned diced tomatoes for some contain corn syrup.
Day 26 – Plan on a pound of vegetables for four servings.
Day 26 – In general, one pound of most (though not all) vegetables cooked with one tablespoon fat means each serving is equivalent to 1 Weight Watchers point, two tablespoons of fat is 2 Weight Watchers points, etc.
Day 58 – Roast asparagus (and perhaps other vegetables) with cooking spray rather than olive oil or butter
Day 88 – Use cooking spray to “butter” the bread for grilled cheese sandwiches without calories
Day 105 – Watch for Florida avocadoes which have significantly fewer calories than California avocadoes
Day 142 – If you’ve been over-eating, don’t start to diet by eating less, eat CAKE.
Day 164 – Pizza lovers, beware
Day 205 – Create a low-calorie standard meal for days when the other meals are rich and overindulgent
Day 230 – Secrets to a long life from National Geographic
Day 252 – Canned vegetable broth, undrinkable, uncookable?
Day 267 – Seeking antioxidant-rich vegetables, an odyssey!
Day 301 – Sugar snap peas are great for managing the munchies
May 24th, 2006 – How much is a “serving” of pasta?

Surprise Weight Watchers Truffles A truffle's lesson in portion size
Birds Eye Steamfresh Frozen Vegetables Watch out for hidden trans fats!
Dandelion Greens with Mushroom & Pancetta Fresh pasta is more satisfying so you eat less!
Zucchini Mushroom Hominy Tacos One point tortillas worth eating!





Technique

Day 12 - For boiling, the proportion of water:salt is 4 quarts:1 tablespoon.
Day 19 – An easy way to chop basil and other leafy greens.
Day 21 - Develop your own 'for instance' techniques that can be used on different kinds of vegetables.
Day 24 – Leave a bit of stem on beets while cook to preserve moisture and flavor. Beets are easy to peel either before or after cooking.
Day 28 – What does “water to cover” mean?
Day 31 – How to clean leeks
Day 34 – How to clean spinach
Day 56 – A great new way to “boil” carrots
Day 58 – Roast asparagus (and perhaps other vegetables) with cooking spray rather than olive oil or butter
Day 62 – How to make cheese sauce
Day 86 – How to remove the skins from tomatoes
Day 92 – For amazing green beans, cook them in a lot of water with a lot of salt - for a pound of beans, 8 cups of water and 3½ tablespoons of salt.
Day 99 – How to dice carrots in a flash
Day 105 – How to dice an avocado
Day 109 – Great way to use up a frig full of leftovers – see also Leftover Magic
Day 119 – Put aside summer’s tomato bounty for winter dishes
Day 120 – Quick-cook greens to use another day
Day 127 – To make it last longer and stay fresher, wrap a bag of celery in aluminum foil before refrigerating.
Day 187 – Tips for cooking perfect Brussels sprouts
Day 208 – How to roast beets
Day 212 – Wanna eat more broccoli? Learn how to aggressively trim broccoli
Day 272 – How long does it take for alcohol to cook off?
Day 284 – Leeks have much “light green part” likely going to waste
Day 288 – Use the “dark green parts” of leeks in vegetable stock
Day 292 – Eggplant can be a substitute for noodles in lasagna
Day 299 – Roast a butternut squash whole, no cutting, no peeling
Day 319 – Should you remove parsnip cores?
Day 330 – Use up leftover vegetables, especially some root vegetables, in a purée
Day 331 – How to steam broccoli, cauliflower and carrot in the same pot, at the same time, perfectly
Day 336 - How to bake brown rice in the oven
Day 359 – How to roast peppers in the oven – including do’s and don’ts

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar Peeling asparagus spears in 'stripes' allows flavor to soak in while roasting
"Lost Recipes" Classic Coleslaw Why to soak cabbage in cold water before chopping
Practical Home Canning Tips From equipment to technique to getting ready ... and more
How to Make Salad Dressing One technique with a thousand variations
Delicata Squash with Hot Pepper Glaze Should we remove the skin from delicata squash?
Perfect pan-fried broccoli How to pan-fry broccoli
Browned Cabbage with Mustard & Horseradish What does it mean to 'caramelize'?
Creamy Spinach with Beets Should you scrub fresh beets hard?
Simple Skillet Green Beans How to 'stir-fry' green beans in a skillet
Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish Sauce How to braise Brussels sprouts in a skillet
Brussels Sprouts with Horseradish Sauce How to trim Brussels sprouts
Slow Cooker Onion Soup How to make French onion soup in a slow cooker or crockpot
Cabbage Roses Steam wedges of cabbage cut-side down
Green Beans with Tomatillo Salsa Dressing How to cook green beans in the microwave
Red & Green Slaw with Blood Orange Dressing How to revive tired cabbage
Zucchini & Carrot Ribbons How to use a hand-held mandoline
Dandelion Greens with Mushroom & Pancetta How to clean fresh mushrooms, how to prep fresh mushrooms
Steamed Leeks with Chopped Egg Do leeks taste like onion? Not when they're cooked!
Girlie Radish Salad How to cook radishes in the microwave
Kalyn's Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms Break, don't cut, fresh mushrooms
Kalyn's Roasted Asparagus & Mushrooms Should we wash fresh mushrooms?
Kitchen Lesson: How to Make Rhubarb Jam & Rhubarb Jelly
Kool-Aid Pickles Recipe for Kool-Aid Pickles
Custard with Rhubarb Sauce How to make custard, how to make rhubarb sauce
The How & Why Guide to Growing Garlic at Home
Arugula Pesto What to do with bitter arugula
Microwave Beets How to cook beets in the microwave
Grilled Sweet Corn How to grill sweet corn inside the husk
Delicious Microwave Sweet Potato How to microwave a sweet potato
How to Freeze Corn
Steamed Butternut Squash How to cut butternut squash safely
Microwave Baked Potato How to bake a potato in the microwave
New Year's Turnip Greens How to wash & store greens
Quick 'Massaged' Kale Salad How to soften leafy greens to eat raw
One-Pot Pasta with Greens, Olives & Feta How to cook greens and pasta in the same pot





Tools & Products

Day 3 – An asparagus steamer makes quick, perfectly cooked asparagus. For a decent alternative, see Day 7.
Day 6 – An immersion blender is a great kitchen tool.
Day 17 – Look for “ginger juice”, juice extracted from fresh ginger.
Day 30 – Use a mister to apply a thin coat of your own favorite oil
Day 30 – Grate piles of airy Parmesan with a microplane
Day 41 – A hand-held julienne tool just doesn’t work. A mandoline just might.
Day 239 – Dreamfields low-carb, low-glycemic index pasta is a real winner! No low-carb cardboard dust, here.
Tool Tip – AccuChef software for nutrition analysis and recipe management
Tool Tip – A citrus press yields more juice
Tool Tip – A basil keeper does keep fresh basil fresh
Tool Tip – A Microplane makes easy work of grating Parmesan and lemon zest
Tool Tip – An immersion blender can come with useful attachments as well
Tool Tip – This corn-thingie just doesn’t work
Tool Tip – A box grater vs a flat grater
Tool Tip – A chinois makes for smooth-as-silk soups and sauces without need for fat
Tool Tip – Web-based applications for publishing cookbooks
Tool Tip – An avocado knife makes quick work of ripe avocadoes

Spinach & Feta Quiche Pillsbury Refrigerated Pie Crusts are quite good, especially when rolled a bit thinner
Straight-Up & Perfect Rhubarb Pie A recommendation for Penzey's Extra Fancy Vietnamese Cassia Cinnamon
Broccoli Parmesan Casserole How does Kraft Parmesan stack up to fresh Parmesan?
Whole Grain Bread (with Beets) Is there anything alive in Wonder Bread?
Maple Ginger Sweet Potatoes Which has more flavor, Grade A or Grade B maple syrup?
Zucchini Mushroom Hominy Tacos Tortillas from LaTortilla Factory
Asparagus Eggs Benedict YUCK: Weight Watchers English Muffins
Thai-Roasted Eggplant Salad Where to buy common Thai cooking ingredients
Farro with Asparagus & Green Onion Sauce What is farro?
How (and Why!) to Use a Benriner (Japanese Mandoline / Mandolin)
Investing in Good Olive Oil
How to make Homemade Boursin
Is a standing mixer worth the investment?





Other Thoughts & Tips

Day 7 & Day 45 – Plant a few herbs in pots or sunny corners of the garden. Even those with brown thumbs can grow rosemary, chive, sage, mint and thyme.
Day 32 & Day 42 – No matter what Mom says, it’s perfectly okay to play with your food!
Day 40 – Read the labels on frozen vegetables: the pictures may not represent what’s inside.
Day 58 – Perfect and perfectly fresh need little adornment Day 66 – Find some enticing at the farmers market but don’t know what to do with it? Buy it anyway, you’ll find lots of ideas online
Day 86 – Find a comprehensive, reliable source (mine is Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything cookbook) for how to cook vegetables, so that when you find something new at the farmers market, you’ll be more willing to seize the opportunity (and oh dear, for a complete contradiction, see Day 158)
Day 91 – Perfectly innocent-looking recipes can consumer a huge portion of a day’s calories. Write to your congressman – no, not your congressman, write to the editors of your favorite sources of recipes, magazines, cookbooks, etc. to encourage them to include nutrition information on every recipe.
Day 126 – During the peak of the vegetable growing season, don’t buy any one vegetable in bulk unless you’re going to can/freeze or are willing to forgo everything else while using up one thing!
Day 158 – Do a little research before trying something new. If it turns out well the first time, you’ll be more likely to try it again (oh dear, this is entirely contradictory to Day 86).
Day 161 – Collect favorite family recipes in a family cookbook
Day 230 – Secrets to a long life from National Geographic
Day 242 – Can veggies make you sick?
Day 340 – Well-organized bookmarks can make the six o’clock scramble a breeze
Day 357 – What it must be like to be a new cook, not knowing technique or language

Green Bean Radish Salad – Is snapping beans worth $56 an hour?
Roasted Pepper, Cheddar Souffles A souffle is easy to make!
Mom's Potato Salad How to keep track of "tried and true" recipes
Mashed Potatoes with Vegetarian Apple Cider Ginger Sage Gravy What to serve vegetarians at Thanksgiving
Celery with Tomatoes, Olives & Capers Is it a 'rib' or 'stalk' of celery?
Chocolate Sauerkraut Cupcakes What to do with extra food, especially baked goods!
Asparagus Omelet with Rémoulade Sauce What are the consequences of eating seasonally?
Pan-Pickled Beets Several techniques to liven up your vegetable life
Life Beyond Lemons: Cooking & Food Allergies Dealing with food allergies








Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes.

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