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January 4, 2010

Hello, week. Hello, year.

Maybe I had the idea that 2010 would come and some magical switch would be flipped and I would feel positive and renewed and full of interest in things such as exercise and vegetables. Most of my fall/winter 2009 diet consisted on Funyuns and takeout so the bar was set pretty low in the progress department, yet still no magical switch-flip seemed to occur as I slept off my bottle of Veuve Clicquot into the new year.

One of the wisest things I have ever heard was about inspiration: you can't just wait around for inspiration to strike. Sometimes you have to take action and just start driving the bus in the right direction. After you get a move on, the inspiration will come. It is so true! If I sat around waiting to be inspired to make changes or write or clean house or do anything I would surely be waiting on my butt for a long time to come. So this is how I feel about the new year, I'm making a plan and taking some action instead of just waiting for another day to pass. I can hope to be better and all that, but hope is not a plan.

One thing I've had to do is get realistic about my schedule. Unless I make time on the weekends to go shopping and prepare food, my week devolves very quickly into poor eating choices (see: Funyuns). I just don't have time during the week to wash and peel and chop and marinate and cook and clean and prep and peel and simmer. Even with my smaller commute time I still have a serious drive each day and by the time I get home at night I want to flop over. Instead of complaining about this or beating myself up for once again being too tired after work to whip up something not from a box, I have just accepted my schedule. It is what it is. So I went grocery shopping and then I spent the weekend making all sorts of interesting things for my week. I shredded a huge pile of carrots for that carrot blueberry salad I love (also, the shredder tool on the food processor is the best invention! I love it!) and I roasted some beets to make a chilled beet salad:

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Roasted beets. Delicious.

Before I moved to California I didn't realize that most non-Southern people have only eaten beets that come from a can. No wonder so many people hate beets! Fresh beets are delicious and sweet and earthy. It's very Southern to boil beets and then let them cool and slip off the skins. I prefer to roast them in a foil packet because it's so foolproof. Heat your oven to 400 degrees, put three beets in a foil package (I don't know why, but three seems to be the magic number) and seal it tightly. Put the foil on a cookie sheet and then cook them in the oven for about an hour, or if the beets are very large leave them for an hour and a half. Beets get all juicy when you cook them this way, so I always use a cookie sheet just in case (I hate to clean a mess in the oven, I truly do.) Then take the foil packet out of the oven and just let it sit until it cools. Once cool, open it up and the beet skins will slip right off, it's so easy.

I like beets sliced and dressed in a little vinaigrette. Add some goat cheese and toasted pine nuts and it's all fancy and yummy. There are so many things you can do with a cooked beet: add it to salad, mix it with sliced red onions and lettuce, toss it with a crunchy sliced Bosc pear and add lemon and olive oil.

Yesterday I also made THE BEST cauliflower ever. If you like cauliflower (I do, it's probably my favorite vegetable besides green beans) you will love this recipe -- Roasted Cauliflower (here's a basic version on epicurious.com.) The key to roasted cauliflower is to cut the pieces very small, about two inches or so. Also, I don't mince the garlic like the epicurious recipe calls for, but instead cut it roughly into pieces about 1/4 inch or just cut the cloves in half. Put the cut cauliflower in a bowl with the garlic, salt and pepper and olive oil. I add a little cayenne, too, and about half a fresh-squeezed lemon. Mix it up and spread it on a cookie sheet:

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Then roast it in the oven on 400 degrees until it's browned on the outside. It seems to work best if you stir it up once or twice while cooking. Top with a little Parmesan cheese for the most amazing cauliflower ever:

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I ate all of it.

Of course one cannot live on carrots and beets and cauliflower alone, so I cooked some chicken and brown rice and steamed some broccoli and then packed all my lunches and breakfasts and snacks for the week, which made me feel like I had already accomplished something monumental and it is only January 4th. I definitely did not feel deeply inspired when I started all that work, but when I finished and put the last dirty pan in the dishwasher and set it to run I felt this huge feeling of relief. Like I had gotten off to a good start.

By the way, that dishwasher has changed my life. I love it. It's better than a brand new car.

And when I got in to work today, I was thinking how I wished I had bought more lemons this weekend when I was at the store because I still have a whole bag of fresh cauliflower in the fridge and I want to make some more of that amazing crackass addictive roasted cauliflower. When I went to the breakroom to make a cup of tea I noticed some kind soul had brought in lemons from their tree to share with the group and now I have two of them resting happily in my purse, which I believe is a very good omen:

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Lemons in my super-duper cheap but fabulous Target purse.

So that's Monday. No magical switch has flipped, but with a little effort and a good grocery shopping list I think I am at least turning the bus around and getting myself out of the ditch. That's enough for me.

Posted by laurie at January 4, 2010 12:27 PM