Category Archives: vegetables

happiness is not a potato

No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise. (Charlotte Bronte, Villette)

Happiness is not a potato.

Close to 2 years ago, I was preparing to roast some vegetables for dinner. I washed a potato, and started to cut out some of the eyes that looked like they would be a bit tough, when, to my surprise, I had the impression that the potato was looking back at me. Yes, we all know that potatoes have eyes, but they don’t usually have mournful eyes. Further, I realized that the “eye” I was cutting into with the point of my knife was actually more like the potato’s nostril. Filled with remorse, I stopped to take some photos of my sad, sad potato. (And then I continued to cut it up and put it in a roasting pan.)
Some days later, I came across the quote above, by Charlotte Bronte. Indeed, happiness is not a potato, and I had the photographic proof.

If anything, as far as I can tell, sadness is a potato.

Sad potato is sad.¹

While perhaps not with the same frequency as my sharing of leaves, this is far from the first time I’ve shared vegetables with faces. In fact, 3 years ago, a butternut squash and I declared November 21st to be International Day of the Odd Vegetable.² Together, the squash and I reminisced about an eggplant we once knew.

How about you? Have you come across any produce with personality?


¹ That’s what I was imagining I’d call a post about this potato.
² Alternately, The Day of Peculiar Produce.

Grocery Store Wars

That’s no moon. That’s a melon.

Still tired, still busy, still apparently not feeling inspired to post original content. But here is a YouTube video that follows nicely from yesterday’s food animation pick, specially given the recent release of the trailer for the new Star Wars movie. (And also the Wes Anderson version.) Please enjoy “Grocery Store Wars,” from 2005.

You’re welcome.

speaking of tomatoes

Speaking of tomatoes, which I have been doing often lately, I came across this bit of news:

Dutch stage tomato fight against Russian sanctions

I had heard of people throwing tomatoes in protest, but more in a public shaming of a politician or performer sort of way. Not as a mass political protest. Especially where the protest involves protestors throwing tomatoes at each other.

And then in trying to find the link to the above-described story, and googling “tomato throwing,” google kindly filled in “tomato throwing festival,” thus leading to the further discovery that there is even an annual tomato-throwing festival in Spain: La tomatina.

I am currently coping with an excess of overripe tomatoes myself, but the only throwing I had in mind for them was towards the compost pile…

An almost overripe tomato from my kitchen counter. I have no plans of throwing this tomato at anyone. If I don’t manage to include it in some sort of tomato sauce, it will be thrown in the compost pile.¹

¹ Truth be told, I am only including this photo because I have been posting so many photos lately that it felt somehow wrong to not include a photo of something. And seeing as I don’t have photos of actual tomato-throwing activities, I took this rather uninteresting photo just now in my kitchen.

Picked a peck

It is said that Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers, but this never quite made sense to me. How could the peppers he picked already be pickled? Perhaps the peppers he picked were potential pickled peppers, or pre-pickled peppers. Possibly they were pickling peppers?

These were some of the questions I pondered while picking pecks of peppers at the farm where I am participating in a CSA this year. None of the peppers I picked were pickled.

They were, however, quite pretty.

vegetables of character

And now for something completely different. Well, not completely. It’s still produce. But kinda sorta different.

It’s not tomatoes.¹

I think this guy looks a bit like a cross between The Shmoo and Lou Costello. That is, If their union somehow resulted in a squash offspring. (This photo was from February of this year.)

I chose this photo to post in a hurry tonight, and it reminded me of the bizarre looking eggplant character I’d shared a while back. Upon digging up that post to link to it, I find that it was a year ago today that I shared that eggplant. And so, a tradition is born. From this day forward, I declare November 21st to be International Day of the Odd Vegetable.²

¹ I have one last tomato post stewing, but don’t have time to wait for it to finish cooking. I have too much other produce to deal with for Thanksgivng.
² This name could use Some Work. Any recommendations? (Day of Peculiar Produce?)

When red + white = blue. (Experiments using red cabbage to dye eggs blue)

+ =

A couple of years ago, I learned that it was possible to dye eggs blue using red cabbage.¹ Typically, we have used a variety of artificial coloring options for our egg-dying needs, whether liquid food coloring or the store-bought Paas-type kits. Last year I was determined to try my hand at doing some natural dyes with vegetables. In the end, I gave up on my plans for using onion skins or artichokes. (The water from steaming artichokes is often an intense bright blue-green, but not from the particular ones I made that day). But I followed through with the cabbage.

I had forgotten how long it took to dye the eggs, but looking back at the photos, I see that it did indeed take a lot longer than the food coloring. So be warned: The eggs took a good couple of hours of soaking to get blue.

I started by cutting up some red cabbage and boiling it in some water.²

The resulting juice was quite purple, and I was doubtful that it would produce blue. It was, however, quite pretty. (6:18 p.m.)

We dunked the first egg and let it soak. 16 minutes later, a peek showed the egg looking somewhat lilac-colored. (6:34 p.m.)

At some point, I added a bit of vinegar to the cabbage juice, inspired by the instructions for dying eggs on the box of food coloring. The purple cabbage juice turned even redder, which made me even more doubtful of achieving blueness. So I poured some more cabbage juice into another glass to have one without vinegar, and dunked another egg to soak.

Here we are, almost an hour after first dunk. Getting to be the kids’ bedtime. Time to break out the chemicals. Here’s Phoebe, squeezing out some blue food coloring. (7:22 p.m.)

I don’t have a time for when the first egg (from the vinegar mixture) came out, but it did indeed come out blue eventually. Having read up a bit on red cabbage (as one is wont to do), I had learned that red cabbage juice changes color based on pH levels. Acid leads to redder colors, and adding something alkaline, and raising the pH, should make it bluer. I then tried adding baking soda to the cabbage juice with the vinegar. The change was instant and dramatic, turning from red to greenish blue.

Here we are, hours after the first dunk. (11:27 p.m.) The two glasses show “neutral” cabbage juice (left), and alkaline cabbage juice (right). In the background are the rest of the completed eggs, mostly dyed with food coloring. (I think the first cabbage dyed one is there in the photo, too. Second row, left, behind a yellow egg.)

Here are the chemically-dyed (top) and cabbagely-dyed (bottom) blue eggs arranged together. The lighter-colored leftmost cabbage-dyed egg is the one from the baking soda solution. (Blotchiness is due to condensation that happened from putting the previously-refrigerated eggs outside for the egg hunt.)

3 of one, a half half dozen of the other.

In the process, I realized why it is that it helps to add vinegar to dye eggs. Egg shells are composed primarily of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is commonly used to neutralize acidity and raise the pH level: it is the main ingredient of antacids such as Tums, as well as agricultural lime. Acids can dissolve calcium carbonate. I’m guessing that adding vinegar starts to break down the egg shell, allowing the color to permeate and bond more quickly to the shell.

This would explain why the redder cabbage juice with added acidity led to a bluer shell (or got there faster) than the bluer-appearing cabbage juice with baking soda added.

Future study:
This year, I’m hoping to try the cabbage dye again, and also to experiment with beets, carrots, berries, and turmeric. I also may play around with acidity levels of the dye solutions again, as well as using brown eggs in addition to white. I wonder if pre-soaking an egg in vinegar would make it more permeable to dyes. (Did you know that you can dissolve the shell off an egg with vinegar? That’s another science experiment for us to do.)

Can you tell I’ve been wrapped up in academic writing? I need to get to bed.³

More resources on using natural food dyes for eggs can be found at various places around the web:
Natural Easter Egg Dyes on, Making natural Easter egg dye, Three ways to dye eggs, Natural Easter Egg Dyes

Here are all of the photos from above, plus a few more.

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¹ I think it was from NotSoSage, who sadly, has purged her blog archives. I’m pretty sure she also made red/purple eggs using red onion skins.
² That’s not entirely true, I started by buying a red cabbage. And there were steps leading up to that as well. I had to get up in the morning, for example. Sometimes that is the hardest step.
³ Seriously, I need to get to bed.

The Spud Who Loved Me

James Bond: Do you expect me to chop?
Auric Goldfingerlings: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to dice. And then panfry with some onions.

The Bond Franchise meets the fast food franchise in these lesser-known action movies. Hold on to your seats and grab your ketchup.

  • Licence to Peel
  • From Russia with Latkes
  • Octopierogi
  • Quantum of Solanaceae
  • On Her Masher’s Secret Service
  • Dumplings Are Forever
  • The Living Homefries
  • Dr. Gnocchi
  • Live and Let Fry
  • Thunderbulbes
  • The Hashbrowns Are Not Enough
  • A View Tuber Kill
  • The Man with the Golden Spud Gun
  • Moontater
  • Goldfingerlings
  • You Only Bake Twice
  • Tuber Never Dies
  • Kartoffel Royale
  • Yukon Goldeneye
  • The Spud Who Loved Me
  • Fry Another Tater
  • For Your Eyes Only

No time to include synopses this time, as I’m beat and need to get my synapses some rest. Please feel free to contribute any plot summaries in the comments.