Stop! Take a moment and breathe in the aromatic, roasted flavors of root vegetables permeating throughout the house. What a great way to begin the Holiday Season.
The Holiday Season always seems a stressful time to many, me included. There was a time during my OCD, Martha Stewart phase, when I never put the broom away after Halloween. It wasn’t too many holidays before I learned the season wasn’t stressful at all. It’s people who are stressful. We embed in our minds, a Norman Rockwell setting. When it doesn’t happen, we bug out.
The reality is, one can’t make the people in their life cooperate the way one envisions a gathering of people should act, react or get along. Society today is more relaxed. I mean, who goes to dinner at someone’s home wearing a coat and tie?
When people gather, be it family or friends, egos should be left at the entrance. Conversations should ensue, hopefully with much laughter and less arguing and mutual respect towards opposition.
The best thing I’ve learned from those broom ravaging days is to… park the stick in the closet. Chaos happens, embrace it. Prepare as much as you can ahead and let happen what happens.
Life is short, and time is precious. Norman Rockwell or Martha Stewart may have painted or decorated a picture perfect Holiday for a magazine, but remember…, magazines never show the aftermath. In the end, it is the people who want to sit at your dinner table that matters. They don’t come expecting perfect. Don’t make them feel obligated to grace your presence.
With this preamble, I vow:
1) I will not worry whether the decorations are abundant. I’ll keep it simple this year.
2) I will clean the house ahead of time and not the morning of.
3) I will not waste time setting a Martha Stewart table because formal is just not my family. After all, when the dishes are cleared, the tablecloth looks like a murder scene from a Stephen King novel.
4) I will prepare ahead what I can, and have on hand pre-mixed, pre-packaged ingredients for those last minute changes or additions to the meal or dessert.
5) I will not take this day to change tradition and try out a new dish I saw on someone’s blog or Southern Living or Food Network. My family waits all year for the traditional dishes, so I’ll keep them happy. There are 360+ days throughout the year new dishes can be served.
6) No longer will I obsess over buying local or from afar, leaving a carbon footprint or making everything from scratch. Just get the food on the table. Everyone’s endured the aromas of a roasting turkey, caramelized onions, and pies; they’re hungry.
7) Cleanup will happen as it happens, despite cleaning as I cook, there will always be a messy kitchen.
8) I will buy containers for leftovers so everyone will have something to take home.
9) I will have on hand antacid meds for those who over indulge.
10) When everyone is gone, I will sit in front of the fire with a fabulous glass of Pinot Noir and smile that I effortlessly pulled off a stress free Holiday Gathering without the aid of my broomstick.
Here is what I do with Roasted Root Vegetables: inspired from Martha Stewart
a small package of cipolline onions or one whole yellow onion
2 large turnips
1 celeriac root
10 baby carrots
3 new potatoes
6-8 brussels sprouts
I preheat my oven to 400°.
I peel the paper from the cipolline and leave whole. I also left the baby carrots whole, I cut off the top 2/3 of the leeks including the roots of the leeks. I remove any greens and cut in quarters the remainder of all the other root vegetables with the exception of brussels. I peel the outer leaves and trim off the stem. Then, I place all on a baking sheet pan, brush with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and sprinkle a healthy pinch of salt and pepper.
I roast in the oven for approximately 25 minutes.
What to do with these lovely roots you ask? I have roasted these root vegetables in a pan under the Turkey in past years. The aroma adds to the flavor of the Turkey. When the turkey is done, I run the wilted roots and juices from the turkey through a sieve and add the liquid remnants to the gravy.
Or, another way to enjoy these delectable goodies is in the form of a soup or stew.
If I add roasted roots to a pot of vegetable stock, I will continue cooking for 20 minutes. When I do this, I toss in three whole tomatoes, and a leafy green such as Swiss Chard or Collards. (I remove the stems as they tend to be bitter). I make sure to add herbs such as bay leaf, oregano and thyme, and a healthy pinch of salt and pepper. As always I taste for further seasoning.
Sometimes, I cook up some Arborio Rice and spread the goodness. Use this as a side dish or the entrée.
Now relax. The holidays are just another day on the calendar. Enjoy your family and friends.