Ahem. Hello? *Cough* Hmm...I'm pretty sure today's post will fall on empty ears, which is entirely deserved. I have been absent for, well, quite a while. I had a small group of loyal readers last year, and falling off the face of the blogging earth was not a very nice thing for me to do to them. I'm sorry. Let me tell you what 2009 held for me, and then about a terrific and simple vegetable recipe that that might come in handy for your holiday cooking.
I did a lot of cooking for Christmas 2008, and as per usual, I took a little break in January. During that time, I started to feel like maybe I should pursue a few other hobbies that had been resting on the back burner. In particular, I finally got around to reading some of the classic novels that had been on my reading list for years. I also did a fair bit of traveling for work in the first half of the year, participating in some interesting pilot projects for my industry. Not a bad gig for someone my age. On May 24, though, everything changed.
I stayed in Seattle for Memorial Day weekend 2009 instead of traveling home to see my family. Knowing this, one of my coworkers asked me to join her and another friend at one of Seattle's country bars for an evening of live music. I'm a huge fan of music in general, but especially of country music, so this wasn't a difficult sell. However, I didn't have great expectations for a Sunday evening bar outing. Much to my surprise, the bar had a good crowd. More surprising, though, were the number of people out on the dance floor. And they were really dancing -- genuine two-step and some interesting pattern dances -- not just bumping and grinding. It looked like so much fun that I couldn't help but tell my coworker how much I wanted to learn to dance like that. She had done some dancing in the past but thought she could use a refresher, so we started taking lessons together.
I spent July and August learning to become a decent "follow" for two-step and East Coast swing at the same little country bar we first visited back in May. (In most forms of partner dancing, one person is the "lead" and the other the "follow.") Dancing to my favorite music made me happier than I ever could have guessed. I loved it so much, in fact, that I decided I wanted to learn other dances -- salsa, West Coast swing, and ballroom. And so I did. In September and October I was taking seven dances classes a week in addition to dancing socially four evenings a week. To say that I was burning the candle at both ends would be putting it mildly. I was never home -- and therefore never cooking -- but I was having so much fun that I didn't care. In November I refined things a little, dropping down to private lessons in West Coast swing and ballroom, and group lessons for salsa. I can't really explain how much I love to dance. I can only tell you that it makes my heart happy and that nearly every moment of every day that I'm doing something else, I would rather be dancing. Truly.
I'm pretty thrilled with the passion that I've developed for dance even though, in the beginning, it left little time for my other hobbies and activities. I'm working a little harder now to strike a balance between dancing and the rest of my life. If I am successful, I should have time to do a little bit of cooking and blogging without feeling as though that time would have been better spent whirling and twirling around a dance floor. I did, of course, do some cooking when I was home for Thanksgiving. My aunt played hostess this year, so instead of the full meal I was only responsible for a vegetable dish and cranberry sauce. I chose this recipe for roasted vegetables with pomegranate vinaigrette from the November 2009 issue of Martha Stewart Living. My favorite go-to side dish is roasted vegetables with olive oil, and this recipe is a simple variation of that one. I'm not a huge fan of the little jewel-like pomegranate seeds, but decided to add them anyway. Good thing, since everyone else at the table delighted in the crunch they added to the dish. Whether you like them or not, it's certainly easy to appreciate the visual appeal they add to the vegetables -- an easy addition for a festive holiday presentation, for sure.
Roasted Vegetables with Pomegranate Vinaigrette
A recipe from Martha Stewart Living - November 2009
1 large head regular cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into small florets
1 pound baby Romanesco cauliflower, or regular cut into small florets
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 pound brussels sprouts, halved
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup pomegranate seeds
Course salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss together the vegetables and 3 tablespoons of oil in a large bowl, then season generously with salt and pepper. Spread the vegetables evenly on 2 rimmed baking sheets and roast until golden, mixing halfway through, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Transfer the pomegranate juice to a small bowl. Pour in 1 cup of oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper.
Just before serving, drizzle vinaigrette over warm vegetables and toss with pomegranate seeds.