Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Ode To My Oven

I love this time of year. Adore it really, as this is planting season, and I love to plant. Just today I planted chives, calendula, a geranium of a rather spectacular pink color, bok choy, hubbard squash, a type of french melon whose name escapes me at the moment, tomatoes, a husk cherry plant, some peppers and some broccoli.

But as the weather starts to warm up and stay warm, I always have a few regrets. One of them is that I soon won't be using my oven very much. And I love my oven. Sure, grilling is great, but ovens are just lovely inventions. Today, for example, a chicken is roasting along with some vegetables in a soy balsamic sauce. This is sort of wintery-sounding food, and so for the rest of the warm season, this type of dinner will give way to things like gazpacho, a variety of grilled items, and salads. I love all that stuff, I do. And I don't mean to complain, it's just that I really like homemade comfort food.

Comfort food is just that - comfortable. Pop a few things in the oven, go do something else, come back and eat when it's done and your whole house smells delicious. It doesn't have to be fattening, nor does it require a cream-of-something soup. It can even be somewhat fancy to the tastebuds or the eyes or whatever.

I really actually like chopping up a bunch of root veggies, or plopping some ricotta in with some ziti. There's something homey and warm about it. And there's nothing better than walking into a house that smells of something - anything, really - baking in the oven.

On a hot summer day there's nothing like a homemade chicken ceasar or chopped salad. Or a buffalo mozzerella, prosciutto and basil sandwich with a drizzle of balsamic reduction. To die for, can't wait.

But if we just have a few more not-quite-warm, not-quite-cold days, I won't be sad. I'll just cover up the garden plants and come back inside to dive into some pot roast. Yum.

Root Vegetables with Soy Balsamic Glaze
(this is a kitchen sink recipe, great for using up all the remaining veggies in the house, so look through the fridge)

A few potatoes and sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped large
An onion or two, about the same way
A few carrots, peel those and chop them too
Leeks if you have them (wash the dickens out of them, they collect dirt and sand in the layers)
Turnips are good too
And so on

Fill up a baking dish with the veggies, set aside

In a small pan on the stove, pour in:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce (tamari is lower in sodium, and tastes excellent, if you prefer)
1/3 cup sugar
Stir over low heat until the sugar is melted.

Pour over the veggies. Cover with tinfoil and bake at 375 for an hour
Uncover after 1st hour and continue to bake, stirring occasionally until veggies are soft, about 2.5 hours.

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