Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Best Vegetable Class Ever

Just this week I taught a class titled Winter Vegetables Beyond Broccoli. Unlike many of my other public (versus Santa Rosa Junior College) classes, I didn't say what dishes I would be teaching but that I would include instructions for braising, baking, roasting, steaming and, my favorite, pressure cooking. So, it was a breeze for me to come up with recipes because I could survey my refrigerator, the market and the farmer's market to what was really in season.

I was so curious about why people chose to attend this class. The participants ranged from people who only boiled their veggies to those who were getting a CSA box from a local farm, and wanted to learn more ways to use what's fresh. I discovered that true to my thinking, that many people stick to using the vegetables that they know and love and rarely branch out and try something new.
This group got introduced to vegetables such as parsnips, featured in my Maple Vinegar Sauteed Parsnips, rutabagas, 3 kinds of sweet potatoes, potatoes in gold, pink and purple (that's their innards too), romanesco broccoli which is actually a type of cauliflower, Brussels sprouts on the stalk, white, gold and chiogga beets, watermelon daikon radish, kohlrabi, Jerusalem artichokes, scarlet turnips, yellow or white carrots, wild and cultivated mushrooms and more.

I know that every attendee learned a lot and was introduced to at least 1 new vegetable. Some learned about 6 or more. I was having the time of my life. I live for A-HA vegetable moments, and they were there -- for almost the entire class.

And true to what I promised I made soup, sides and main dishes while baking, steaming, roasting, braising and pressure cooking. Here's to winter veggies -- I enourage you to stop and pick up some new-to-you vegetable the next time you see one. It may just lead to an enlightening vegetable experience which is my desire for you.

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