Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Vegetable Trauma!

I have suffered from vegetable trauma all my life.
I know. 
You are supposed to eat vegetables multiple times a day
for your health and well-being.
But for me it is a struggle every single day.

At lease one vegetable in this first photo 
can make me run screaming from the room in horror.


An Array of Vegetables 

I've been thinking back over my life with vegetables
because there has been one ugly scary vegetable
lurking in my vegetable bin for the last two or three weeks.

Every time I have opened the fridge in recent days
that ugly scary vegetable has spoken to me.
That USV has become every bit as obnoxious
as the copy of Cloud Atlas 
my niece Heather sent to me some Christmases ago.

The USV does not like languishing in my vegetable bin
and more than Cloud Atlas had in my nightstand.

So, I have been probing my earliest vegetable memories 
in an effort to understand my aversion 
to this healthy food group.

My mother started it with turnips.


Turnips

Now, I'm not sure what has happened with turnips
in recent decades,
because most vegetables and fruits have metastasized;
but turnips have shrunk.
When I was a kidlet in Charlottetown, 
Prince Edward Island (PEI), 
baby turnips were the size of candlepin bowling balls.

 My mother would boil those bowling balls up,
mash them with butter and pepper 
and plop a pile on my plate.


Need I say more?

Nana (Dad's mother) lived in the apartment next door.
She thought parsnips were particularly important 
for the development of strong bodies.

Parsnips with Carrots

Imagine that thing roasted and placed on your plate.
Hint:  Aside from a wretched taste, it was stringy.

For several summers I was shipped off to Morell, PEI,
to stay with Nana's sister, my Great Aunt Maude,
Mom being quite ill for a number of years.
Aunt Maude's thing was beet greens.
They were full of iron, and iron was essential to growing bodies.


Beets with Beet Greens Attached

Aunt Maude would boil those beet greens up
and drop them on my plate with vinegar and butter.
Those red veins were so full of iron 
that they would scratch going down my throat.
Sometimes they would get hung up.

Some summers it was off to Smith's Cove, Nova Scotia,
to stay with Grammie, Mom's mom.
Just last night I was reading about a favorite of hers.

I am currently studying Paul Malmont's 
brilliant pulp fiction novel,  
The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril,
because I am going to review it in a blog post.
Without revealing something critical,
I think I can say that at one point
the requisite dame in distress was being attacked
by a slavering monster, and I quote:

          She tumbled back under the force of its weight
          and landed heavily on her back.  The impact knocked 
          the wind out of her and she began to struggle, desperate 
          to get the creature off her so she could catch her breath.  
          She clawed at its face with her fingernails and it 
          pushed away from her in pain.  The texture of its 
          face reminded her of the yellow wax beans she had
          prepared as a little girl.
                   (Malmont, Paul, The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, Simon & Schuster, New York, 2006, p. 262.)


Illustration of Yellow Wax Beans

I swear Paul Malmont was channeling me 
when he wrote that,
because I used to sit on Grammie's back steps
preparing yellow wax beans.

I would snip off the pointy end,
carefully detach the cap at the opposite end,
and gently pull the string from the back of the pod.
If I didn't do a good job with each one, 
someone would be eating a nasty string,
in addition to pale yellow, waxy pods
with hard little gray-green beans inside.

Do you know how many yellow wax beans you have to
de-string for a family to eat at supper?
A lot.
And then you have to eat them.

If that wasn't enough trauma, 
sometimes I would stay with Great Grammie down the road.
One of this venerable lady's 
claims to fame was home remedies for what ailed you.
She was well-versed in medicinal teas, healing soups,
and such delights as mackerel poultices for your chest.
And if you had a cough, well, 
there was boiled onions in a sugar water syrup.


Onions with Onion Rings

I coughed a lot.

Decades later I discovered that 
I have had chronic asthma much of my life.

I can remember sitting in GG's parlor
(not the front parlor - that was for special guests)
playing Chinese checkers 
or working a jigsaw puzzle with her
and praying not to cough.

Now, boiled onions in a sugar water syrup
were bad enough when the concoction was warm.
Imagine waking up in the night,
coughing desperately into your pillow,
and hearing GG call out,
"Take your medicine, Weesie!"

I would dutifully spoon  
the congealed cold mess 
of onion rings and crystallized sugar  
into my mouth and swallow;
she would check in the morning.

She could hear me coughing into my pillow,
downstairs, 
on the opposite side of her house,
behind her closed bedroom door,
when she was asleep.
And my parents called me Big Ears!

And then there was Dad,
who did NOT cook.

When Mom went into the hospital 
in Middleton, Nova Scotia, 
to have Bertie,
Donnie and Barbie were shipped off 
to Charlottetown, PEI, 
presumably to deal with parsnips,
while Roy and I remained in Margarettesville
to deal with more than a week of Dad's culinary efforts.

Every night that Mom and Bertie were in the hospital,
long before the days of drive-thru baby deliveries,
Dad served up fried eggs 
with canned spinach floating in vinegar.


Spinach and Eggs

Imagine this on the same plate swimming in vinegar.

And in the North!
Consider canned peas, canned carrots, or
canned cream style corn 
of questionable age,
stored in a warehouse in Nakina, Ontario,
then dragged for weeks or months 
by tractor train
across frozen lakes and muskeg
to the Hudson Bay Post in Lansdowne House
there to languish until they landed
under the counter in our kitchen.

Cat Train in Alaska
This is the Closest Image to the Reality I Could Find.

Says Mom,  "Weeser, 
did you check to make sure 
the cans weren't bulging
before you put the vegetables on to cook?"
They were the perfect foil for the powdered mashed potatoes.

Now, I haven't even touched on the joys of
squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and mushrooms.
In the interest of brevity, 
I shall mention only one more trauma-inducing vegetable.

Check out this photograph.
Maritimers eat something in this picture!

Codroy Valley, Newfoundland


Roll those puppies up into tight curls 
just popping out of the ground,
and you've got fiddleheads!

 Fiddleheads



OMG, Maritimers love these so much,
they've erected statues to them!

Statue of a Maritime Delicacy,
St. John, New Brunswick

Wash 'em well,
boil 'em up,
douse 'em in butter and vinegar,
eat.

I kid you not.

So, now I've laid the context for 
that ugly scary vegetable
that has lurked in my vegetable bin for weeks.

To be continued ...  

30 comments:

  1. I really like this post too!! lol

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  2. Fascinating Louise :) Barb

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    1. Thanks, Barb! I must have clicked on publish instead of save! :O

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  3. Hi Louise,

    This post really made me laugh - so many shared memories! I am currently doing battle with veggies with a top of the line juicer! I was gagging on my juicing results until I realized I had a real issue with drinking things that looked like watery mud ... so I started combining according to colour and I am finally enjoying veggies:D You can try some of my favorite concoctions in March!
    Cheers,
    Barb

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  4. I'm glad you found this funny, Barb! Prior to writing for my blog, I had never tried to write a humorous piece. So I just put it out there hoping I don't fall on my face! I will try your concoctions in March. I have briefly considered a juicer. We'll see, as Terry likes to say. I'm off to work out. Have a good day!

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  5. Now this is very interesting and disconcerting because I LOVE VEGETABLES>>>>ALL VEGETABLES and when I sit down to eat supper I EAT MY VEGETABLES first because I guess I experienced so many great meals with properly cooked and displayed vegetables. Do you want some help? Never too late, ever!
    Turnips need a dash of sugar with an extra potato or two thrown in....!
    Parsnips need to be boiled and then fried in butter....!
    No canned anything...help me LORD!!
    I feel like you need a vegetable intervention...one to help you...a 12 Step program to Vegetable Consumption.
    Whenever you are ready....Just Ask!

    Ron

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    1. Hi Ron!
      Thank you for your offer of a vegetable intervention! I will take you up on it ~ soon. The first thing I'm going to do is try your suggestion on the turnips. How many potatoes to how many turnips.

      I have another post to write called Forbidden Fruit before I write my post on one of Ivan's vegetable recipes using the ugly scary vegetable - which was the inspiration behind this Vegetable Trauma post! I first called this post Cinderella Vegetable and accidentally published it without anything written ~ as my sister Barb and Jim discovered and teased me about. The whole post has gone through several revisions because it takes me writing and rewriting and rewriting to get where I want.

      I was aiming for funny, and Barb thought it was! She has gone through the same vegetable experiences as I have. With all the isolated places I lived, fresh vegetables were hard or impossible to come by, so we had to make do with a very limited selection or canned and powdered at times.

      The cooks in my extended family were actually excellent (well ~ not Dad), but vegetables and me, too much trauma!

      I'm off to the Apple store in less than an hour, and I don't know what is going to happen computerwise. Terry and I will have to decide whether I'm going to get a new computer or repair and upgrade this one. At least Terry dropped it and not me!

      Have a good weekend ~ stay warm and safe ~ we've been following the track of the nor'easter on TV. I know it's cold where you are. Terry is a weather hound, so he is fascinated by it all.

      Talk to you as soon as I can! Belly rubs to Sophie!

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    2. I must apologize, firstly, for my tardiness in replying....last week was a very busy week from the 360, to Jim's medical appointment, to the storm and my first cold this century...yup...I never get colds and I got a doozy right now.

      I have a feeling your computer situation must have sorted itself out because you are online this w/e after all.

      The weather station, in Canada, seems almost horrific sometimes....what huge monstrosity of a storm wiped out a whole country or something like that....I take the info I can and then move on....don't want to be too depressed.

      I am being understanding re: VeggieTrauma
      Nothing worse than a veg being over-cooked or even under-cooked or looking like something from last night's binge....really veggie's and meat need TLC with practice and testing, I guess. I used to despise eggplant...just the thought of it made me shiver, but now that I had a Greek Moussaka...well I'm converted. I can't think of too many foods I don't like...with Jim's experimentation and my Mom's great cooking I've always had a good feeling with the little fellers. I'm open, just like a book!

      Re: Turnips....Peel your turnips and boil them with potatoes. I guess it all depends on your size of turnip, no matter.... put 1 or 2 potatoes in the pot with the turnip. Cook them until tender, add a smidgen of sugar and done. Some people find turnips too pungent or strong and the potato tames it down.

      Your aim for FUNNY.....is definitely working.....When I write something down I just get the nuance of an idea then go back over it many times. It's amazing how the thought process changes and keeps developing. I would NEVER have been able to do any of this 5 years ago and now I can't give it up. I do take breaks though...very welcome breaks.

      PS...I read your comment to Martha re: your father's condition...I'm so sorry that this had happened...I know when your parent is very ill all you can do is be there...the same with my Mom when she passed with terminal cancer. Three years....an amazing 3 years that pulled us even closer together.


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    3. Well Ron, on Wednesday when I go to the grocery store I'm going to get a turnip or two. I'll let you know how it goes. Thank you for the directions!

      Writing and working on my photos for my blog is something that I absolutely love, and I am definitely not going to stop! I am having so much fun interacting with more and more people. It's almost addictive!

      Thanks for your kind comment about my dad. It was rough. Dad was sicker than anyone realized ~ I guess we were in denial, and it was a shock when he died. Mom, she went through a lot; unbelievable; but her death was somewhat anticipated ~ It was kidney failure in the end, but she had so many terminal things closing in on her that it was a blessing. It is amazing how illness pulls everyone together. It is an intimacy unlike any other.

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  6. OK! Now let's see how you can be cured of this phobia against the vegetable!!! We LOVE them of course, why not! I tried fiddleheads a couple of times and it all depends on if they are bitter or not if I'll eat them. But they are BIG around these parts!

    First, we have a great Naturopath who can cure anybody from just about anything! I hated eggs so much all my life that they made me vomit....just the smell of a cooked egg! A few years ago (4) it was decided that I needed more protein in my diet and eggs were mentioned. Off to Terry our Naturopath and I have been eating one every morning since ! YUM!
    There is hope for you Louise! Secondly, you would have to have had Ron's Mom's veggies! She made them taste like something you never had before in your life! I would never tell my mother this!! lol
    But Ron's Mom had a knack for this and Ron knows how to do it too!! I guess she learned from her mother. So Weesie there is hope for you. Start with something that just may an appeal to you, cook it and smother it in butter. It may help. Hope it does because I can't imagine my life without them!
    Grat post....AGAIN! Thanks, enjoyed it.

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    1. Hi Jim!
      I keep trying with the vegetables, Jim! I would have loved to have tasted Ron's mom's vegetable dishes. I actually do like beets, potatoes, onions, garlic, and cooked tomatoes (like in a spaghetti sauce). The greener or oranger they get, the harder it gets. And, I'm very sensitive to texture! But, I did try one of Ivan's recipes, and I was pleased with the results and enjoyed the dish.

      I don't think I will ever eat a fiddlehead again. I can't think of a good reason to want to. My mom thought they were mana from heaven. I don't want to put down fiddlehead eaters ~ I just think it's kind of unusual and funny, and when I saw that statue of a fiddlehead in St. John, it was too good to pass up. I think a lot of kiddos would find fiddleheads scary! The quote from the pulp fiction was just too delicious to pass up also!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It was fun to write and to hunt for images. As I told Ron above, I'll be off-line maybe as soon as later today, because I'm headed for the Apple store with a wounded computer. I'll get back on blogger as soon as I can!

      You can absolutely call me Weesie - but not Weasle. I still want to thump my brother when he calls me that, which of course is why he takes great delight in continuing to do it. I'm going to get him in my Forbidden Fruit post which I'm working on in my head right now. Do you tease your sister unmercifully?

      Have a great weekend ~ perhaps you should drive considering the nor'easter!

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    2. The bottom part of beets ~ not the beet greens!

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    3. I love both top and bottom parts of beets. Yes, I will do any driving this weekend!! lol

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  7. Louise, you are too funny! I love vegetables! Now meat, it gives me the creeps!

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    1. Thanks for your comment Terry. If meat gives you the creeps, you'll probably be more creeped out than I was in the piece I'm working on now called Forbidden Fruit. I thought I might be off-line these next few days, because my computer is wounded, but it looks like a new computer is in the works for me since this one is old and would cost a lot to fix. Yes! Have a great weekend!

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  8. Hello Dear :) .
    Great blog. Interesting post.
    Have a nice weekend.
    Welcome to my blog.
    http://photographyismyexistence.blogspot.com/

    Like me on Facebook. I will be extremely grateful.
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/In-another-light/413836138693856

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    1. Hi Patrycja!
      Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving a kind comment.
      I took a quick peek at your blog, and I really enjoyed your photography!
      I became a follower of your blog, and I plan to go back later today and look more closely.
      I will like you on Facebook as soon as I have some spare minutes.
      You are welcome to become a follower of my blog anytime! I would be thrilled!

      As a photographer you might enjoy the blogs of my friends:
      Noushka (who posted a comment below) who does amazing bird and wildlife photography,
      Fernando at "Foto ao Acaso!" listed under My Blog List on the upper right of my blog.

      Thank you again for visiting! Have an enjoyable weekend!

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    2. Hi PP again!
      Noushka's blog is: http://1000-pattes.blogspot.com/
      Fernando's blog is:http://fotoaoacasoalpiarca.blogspot.com/

      Noushka is in France, and she is an amazing photographer.
      Fernando is in Portugal, and he is a wonderful photographer who is interested in the environment.

      Also http://blackriverlakeblog.blogspot.com/ Mark is a biologist and a great photographer. He is in Canada.

      Now that I think about it - just check out My Blog List! From Sophie's View, Ocean Breezes, and Plowing Through Life are other photographers. And others are just fun blogs!

      I hope you don't mind my making these suggestions. I'm always looking for new and interesting blogs to explore. Thank you for stopping by mine! I hope you are having a good day!



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  9. Well what a story about veggies! LOL!
    I think I haven't told you yet that you make me really laugh and THAT is even better than 5 veggies on my plate!
    At least I have learnt that fiddleheads are edible, maybe I will trust you and them in spring!
    They seem more attractive than beetroot or turnips!!
    Cheers Fundy!

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    1. Hi Noushka.
      You made my day when you said that I make you laugh!
      Before I started this blog, I had never tried to write anything humorous before,
      so it's nice to know when someone laughs over something.

      When I was researching my post I was surprised to learn that fiddleheads have been part of the cuisine of northern France since the Middle Ages.

      If you decide to try them
      (and personally, I hope that I never eat another fiddlehead again!),
      get them from a trusted source because some kinds are not good for eating.
      And you have to wash them very well because they can have bacteria that are not good for you.

      This article on Wikipedia had good information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddleheads

      Have a great day!

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  10. I understand completely. The only vegetables I would eat as a child were carrots and corn. All others were anathema to me.

    To answer your tarot question -- I prefer the Rider deck too and usually use some clone of it. I learned to read tarot many years ago on the round Motherpeace deck. I like whimsical tarot decks but rarely use them to read, just to look at.

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    1. Hi Debra! Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I like looking at the whimsical tarot decks too. I don't read them myself, but one of my sister's does. Tarot is on my long list of things to explore now that I have more time!
      Ha! Time is still a problem!

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  11. Well, dear Fundy you are in Colorado? I'm absolutely sure I would love your state if I ever visited but could you stop sending us your weather? I mean if you have a few spare sunny days, by all means, feel free to send them along with warm temps and blue skies. Just no more snowy blizzards, okay? We are just about blizzarded out here if you know what I mean. Whenever the weather person says and there's a Colorado something or other on the way we fear the worst!! Thank-you
    PS love your blog!

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    1. Hi Francie! Thanks for visiting and for the kind comment! We could use a blizzard here ~ we are in dire need of moisture! Unfortunately our blizzards seem to be hitting your parts! But we have had some humdingers in the past, let me tell you. I remember one where I watched the snow creep up my kitchen window onto the roof! Here in Colorado we hear about Canadian Clippers which usually means cold! And when I see that jet stream drop down our way I know I'm in for double cold! Stay warm! Be safe!

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  12. O dear, hahaha.. I'm sorry, I absolutely love vegetables, this despite whatever weird things the adults did with them as I was growing up. Till today, I still feel "incomplete" if my meal didn't include some greens. Funnily, my younger girl actually DEMANDS vegetables :)

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  13. Hi B&R! I'm so glad you love your greens because I know they are good for you! And kuddos to you for your daughter's love of veggies. I had a student for second and third grade years ago whose favorite food was broccoli, and today she is s Rockette! So love of vegetables can lead you to good places! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! I'm don't know where you are geographically, but I'm hoping that you and your loved ones are safe and warm.

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  14. Hahaha...you are too funny! As I grow older, I love vegetables more and more. When I was a child, I wouldn't touch most of them. There were only a handful that I truly enjoyed, and corn was my favourite - still is! It's when I started doing my own cooking that I started to develop a taste for them. But there is one vegetable that will send me screaming out of the house, which my mother loved and cooked all the time....OKRA...AHHHHHHHHH.... I kid you not when I say that this thing (not even sure what exactly it is) repulses me. It's mushy and those little seeds inside it (when they swirl around your mouth) freak me out. I am convinced that it's a mutated green bean. The story probably goes as such: something went wrong with some farmer's crops of green beans; they mutated or something. Because he didn't want to lose the crops (can't say I blame him; he needed to make a profit to live), he decided to introduce the mutation as a new vegetable. Enter: OKRA. The end. And we've been stuck with it since. It's the most disgusting thing on earth. Bleh... Both my husband and I feel this way. I never buy it or cook it. And I just know that a horror film can be made from this. I just know.

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    1. Slimey OKRA!!!! It's gonna git ya!!

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    2. Yes Martha, OKRA is the scariest vegetable of all. I won't go near it! And Ron is right ~ it's SLIMEY! I think you are onto something with the mutant story! Loved ~ loved ~ loved your understanding comment!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate the time and energy you put into making them very much.