The fruits (mostly vegetables) of this season’s harvest are starting to remind me of an old Mitch Hedberg joke (what doesn’t?):
As a comedian, I always get into situations where I’m auditioning for
movies and sitcoms. They want you to do other
things besides comedy. They say “Alright, can you
write? Write us a script. Act in this sitcom.” They want me to do sh**
that’s related to comedy, but it’s not comedy, man. It’s not fair, you
know? It’s as though if I was a cook, and I worked my ass off to become a
really good cook, and they said “Alright, you’re a cook… can you
I’m the end of that joke.. only backwards…
I’m distracted easily. One hobby generally leads into another (look at my instrument room. There would almost certainly be a banjo in there, could I afford one).
But last year I realized that I couldn’t very well drag armloads of beets, carrots and green beans into the house, only to toss them down in front of the girlfriend and say “You! Cook! Me draw on cave wall! Grunt.” So I started doing the minimal — skinning, prepping, boiling, chopping, etc. I’ve even used salad spinner.
If you know me, you’re aware that in college I lived for about a year on nothing but mac ‘n’ cheese and frozen pizza (and Pete’s Wicked Ale and GALLONS of coffee). I don’t cook. Often I will eat things cold out of the refrigerator because I lack the patience to wait one minute and 35 seconds for it to heat in the microwave. If it requires measuring a cup of milk and maybe breaking out a pot, it won’t even cross my brain as a possible meal. I’ll eat raw bread and cheese before taking the time to construct a sandwich. I’m hungry now. I’m not waiting.
Here’s the thing… I’m a weird guy (nice to meet you) — I love vegetables. I look forward to Brussels sprouts on Turkey Day more than anything. It was probably my beet epiphany last year that broke me to cooking.
Beets might be my favorite vegetable, and are easy to make spectacular: throw a few into some tinfoil, salt, pepper, add a little oil and roll it up, then toss them on the grill until they are soft. That’s candy right there.
This year it’s pumpkins.
They have taken over my backyard (it’s less lawn to mow and more plant to mow around). I think it’s only two plants but they could be colonizing. I still felt moderately safe when cats began to outnumber us — but the pumpkin plant is pretty aggressive. I think it may come inside the house one of these nights and sit down to dinner. Maybe ask for a room.
So I’m busy cooking like mad until it slows down…
As a generally weird guy I get a lot of strange looks, glances, squints and stares from people — but the look on the girlfriend’s face when she came home to find that I had actually cooked an entire pumpkin in the oven well… that was a new one (cut it in half, put it face down on a cooking sheet in a quarter-inch of water and cook at 400 for about an hour, or — again — until it’s soft (veggies, as it seems, are usually “cook until they’re like YOU want them”). You can treat a pumpkin like it’s any potato side-dish from there.. Cube it, mash it.. It’s full of beta-carotine).
That’s my story. Here’s a recipe for what I think I’m getting best at.. Pumpkin seeds:
Take the seeds out of your pumpkin (use your own methods).
Lay them onto a sheet and let them dry overnight (grab a beer – you’re starting tomorrow).
In about 24 hours, brush the seeds with a bit of Omega oil (don’t make em swim, make em sweat).
Put them in a 200-250 degree oven (if you’re in Europe, you’re on your own for the conversion) for about 20 minutes, taking them out once to un-stick them from themselves.
And again, stop cooking when they are at your desired level of crunch.
While still on the sheet, sprinkle with..
1-2 dashes of Tabasco
Then dump em into a container and shake it like you technically never needed to shake a Polaroid.
But be careful… After you’ve had a summer like I’ve had, you’ll seriously consider converting your entire backyard into a pumpkin farm.