Thursday, November 13, 2008

Arti chokes two for a dollar at Safeway...

I am not going to write out the joke that goes with that punch line. If you haven't heard someone telling that joke, you don't have the right kind of friends.

But I would like to talk for a moment about the beautiful artichoke and how it is so much easier to cook and eat than I ever imagined.

Yeah, yeah, laugh, but how to cook and eat an artichoke is not knowledge you are born with and if your family is not the artichoke eating breed, you may never learn.

My ex actually taught me some useful things and how to EAT artichokes was one of them.

He wasn't so good with the making of the 'choke, but at least I learned how to eat the darned things.

So a few days ago I saw some artichokes in the store and had what can only be described as an acute craving. Visions of artichokes danced in my head and I found myself drooling. I bought two and brought them home. An offering to the strange little god that lives in my stomach. Demanding little god he is.

You wonder why the god that lives in my stomach is male? Um, this little god sits around all day and wants food. No cooking, no cleaning, just eating. And creating vast amounts of air that results in the prodigious burping ability of yours truly. Does that sound like a female god? I didn't think so.

ANYWAY, I brought home two artichokes and then had to figure out how to cook them. This begins with chopping off the top of the 'choke, which seems useless, except that it allows
1) the artichokes to fit into the pot
2) the steam to weasel its way into the heart of the artichoke

So cut off the top of the stupid thing. You aren't eating the top anyway. You eat the bottom of the leaves. So cut, CUT! About an inch off the top is enough. This is aided by a sharp knife. I had one once and it was lovely, but living in a communal space means my wonderful knifes are packed for safe keeping and I'm using the knives we all use. My next goal is to learn how to sharpen knives without hurting myself. I admit it... I'm terrified of accidentally slicing open my wrist.

The top is now off of the artichoke. There is in the instructions to remove any tough leaves that still have the pointy bit or thorn still attached. This instruction I think meant to remove the thorn, not so much the leaf and my attempt to remove a few leaves from the artichoke ended in... well, not so much failure, as a complete lack of artichoke improvement. So I'd say, ignore this step, other than to snip off any thorns that might poke you. There may be no thorns. Don't worry yourself if you don't see any. And for god's sake, do not waste your time cutting the tops off of all the individual leaves. This has NO practical application other than making things look tidy. You don't eat the pointy ends remember?

Now here is the important part - you *can* boil the artichoke, but this involves having a large pot filled with boiling water. If you want to make more than one artichoke at a time, unless you have a huge pot, this is a problem. And even if you do have a large pot, well, I HATE washing large pots, so I'll go to great lengths to avoid using them. So don't boil the things, steam 'em. Steaming veg is the best way to go. You lose far fewer vitamins this way. Also, you can pile the veg pretty high and the steam will get everywhere.

Steam them for 25-30 minutes.

Did you know you can flavor the steam? Maybe this is why people like to boil artichokes, they think this is the only way to spice them up a bit. But it's not true. Add lemon juice, garlic, a bay leaf, whatever tickles your fancy to the water. The steam will carry that flavor into the 'choke.

Various recipes will then ask you to pull off a leaf to see if it's done, because if it's done, the leaf will pull of easily. This is a good reason you shouldn't be pruning your artichoke too much, you'll end up pulling off leaves to check for doneness and you'll end up with no 'choke! Okay, probably not.

I love to dip in mayonnaise and since I had purchased some the other day for another recipe, I indulged in a bit of mayonnaise gluttony. Possibly too much, my stomach god was a bit put out by the cholesterol.

If you don't know how to eat an artichoke, I refer you to the following web-site with pictures: Simply Recipes.

When I'm not eating exotic (to me) vegetables, I am contemplating the meal I am going to prepare next week. No, not Thanksgiving, we don't have that in Denmark and even if we did, I can not particularly afford the amount of food I'd need to cook to put on a proper spread. A friend is coming over for dinner. I don't usually have to cook for friends or family and certainly not on the limited budget I currently have. It will be interesting to see what I can come up with.

2 comments:

  1. Erm...I don't get the joke, and since you, my love, are my best friend I don't you can say I don't have the right friends...

    And now you've made me crave artichokes. So I guess it's artichokes tonight with my salmon. The only good thing about Jamie working nights is that Cass and I get to have salmon which Jamie hates...

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  2. I can't believe you haven't heard this one! I'm sending you an email. I now worry that I haven't told you all the other bad jokes I know. I may have to send you a bad joke a day until you beg me to stop.

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