Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eat Your Veggies

Today I'm thankful for tomato juice, (my "winter tomato") and to V8, it's tasty cousin.
...Love me some veggies!

My thankful moment may seem a little odd to some today...but I really, really love tomatoes.  I have since I was little.  When I was a kid, I would run barefoot out to the garden with a salt shaker in my pocket, sit on the hot dirt, and bite into one just like an apple.  By the time my belly was full, I'd be dripping with juice, my feet covered in a light mud from sitting cross legged while eating.  Even now, that's the best way to enjoy a tomato, fresh and still warm from the sun. 

I'm thrilled that my favorite, littlest niece, Miss Bryanna, shares my love.  When she's with Aunt Heather in the summer, she knows she can count on me to supply her with a big juicy "mater" to enjoy.  She too will walk right down my deck to see if our plants have produced anything.  Of course, now that my other niece, Tina, is living with us, I've had to learn to share even more.  I think I *may (and I use that word lightly) have found someone who loves tomatoes more than me.  Every week this summer, as we visited the farmer's market (because my plants did not produce enough), we'd load up and place them on the window sill.  When it got down to one tomato, we'd look at each other, both of us hoping the other wouldn't want it.

I don't know if I've always liked vegetables or I just grew to love them more as adult.  Mom says I never was very picky.  (My pant size would agree!)  To hear my Aunt Faye tell it however, I didn't like mashed potatoes.  I'm not sure if I was just in a mood with her or what, but I would not eat them and she politely forced me to.  She still apologizes to me today for whatever happened.  Guess I've blocked it out of my memory!  (I still love you big, Faye!)  Nevertheless, this traumatic experience did not cause me to steer clear of my veggies, and for that I'm thankful.

Actually, I don't think there is a vegetable I don't like.  My love for them has made me consider being a vegetarian a time or two.  My love for steak (and chicken, turkey, pork) always trumps it though.  Instead I just try to get my daily intake of veggies, whether it be fresh in the summer or from a can of V8.  Aside from tomatoes, my favorite vegetables are green beans, asparagus, and bell peppers.  What's yours?

When cooking, I always include at least two vegetable choices, learning with two boys that choices were necessary.  Unfortunately, my love didn't pass down to them, but instead, they took after their picky father who thinks macaroni and cheese is a veggie.  Noah's been my most difficult, and I suppose I should've known when I'd hide peas in his mashed potatoes, only for him to spit them out.  He'd swirl the fork full around in his mouth and dispense those peas out like a slot machine!  Now I dice hidden veggies into casseroles and soups, hoping he won't notice. 

This post is beginning to look much like a casserole, with random bits and pieces of thoughts thrown in, hoping in the end it comes out edible...er, readable!  It's probably due to the timing of the post, the lunch hour, and the fact that I neglected to bring anything from home. 

In honor of the upcoming holidays, I'll close with a recipe.  In fact, I may create this for our office potluck at the end of the week, especially since I'm the only one who is bringing veggies to the Starchfest!  It's an oldie but a goodie; however, I have "healthified" it up.  Geez...I better just paste it below and call it a day.  My hunger has me making up words now!  Thanks for hanging in there.  Happy eating!


3 (16 ounce) cans Veg-All, drained

1/2 cup onion, chopped   (could toss in a bell pepper too for extra vitamins)
1 (8 ounce) carton sour cream   (I'm swapping with Greek Yogurt - great substitute!)
2 (10 1/2 ounce) cans cream of celery soup   (fat free version)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese   (lo-cal)
salt and pepper  (no cal!)
1 cup crushed buttery cracker, we use Ritz   (maybe I'll try wheat?)
1/2 cup butter, melted   (I can't believe it's not butter!)

Butter a 13x9" baking dish. Layer Veg-All in the bottom. Mix next 5. 2ingredients and pour over Veg-All. Combine crumbs and melted butter and pour. 3over top of casserole. Bake for 45 minutes at 350ยบ.


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