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Hold the Sandwich, I’ll Take the Veggie Plate

Chef Linda Weiss

When I was growing up we had lots of vegetables on the table for lunch and dinner. I didn’t know that people ate sandwiches for lunch until I was an adult. I think that’s when I became more interested in the diversity of food and realized that everyone eats differently from different regions of the country based on what is available to them by season.

For instance, when I was a child, we never saw broccoli on the table. That was a vegetable for cold weather country, not for the deep southern state where I am from. Instead, we had collards, turnips, and kale (my favorite). Other vegetables that I didn’t have the opportunity to eat were winter squash and parsnips.  Today, parsnips are on my favorite foods list. But, I am afraid that like Mr. Bush, I can’t say the same for broccoli, and although I do eat it, I am still bound in remembrance to my “greens”, onions, and cornbread. And, that’s that.

Another thing I realized later in life is that the soil that vegetables are grown in makes a big difference in the flavor of the vegetables. This realization came when I discovered that I had never ever had a tomato as good as those that came from our garden in the “blackbelt” of Alabama where the dirt looks like coal. Good dirt grows good vegetables.

I love vegetables and if I had a choice of a plate of vegetables or a sandwich for lunch, I’d always choose the vegetables. In fact, when I eat out for lunch, I’ll usually look for a place where I can get a good vegetable plate. If you know of any good places, please write and let me know, and maybe we can make a visit there and see what we can find for another article.

In the meantime, I’ve listed some veggies below with some ideas for cooking them. I hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do.

Squash, Kale, Fruit, Parsnips

Butternut Squash- is in season now across the country. Easy to prepare, just cut in half, then take a large spoon and scoop out the seeds. Place the squash cut side down on a foil lined baking dish, and bake until tender. 350-375 degrees will work fine. When the squash is just about tender, turn it over and put butter and brown sugar in the center and let it finish cooking. You can add some toasted chopped pecans to this dish as well.

Kale- I’ve got a wonderful recipe using kale and phyllo dough, please let me know if you’d like to have it. It’s one that I got at the Greenbrier Cooking School.

Oranges, grapefruit, kumquats- Delicious in salads, green or gelatins, and kumquats are beautiful as a garnish, or made into a pickle. Section oranges by slicing off both ends of the orange until you have the meat of the orange. Place one flat side on the cutting board. Take a sharp knife and go down the side of the orange toward the cutting board and cut through the pith of the orange to remove peel. Continue around the orange until it is peeled. Now take your knife and go between the membranes and cut out orange sections. You will have a perfect orange section with no pith or membrane.

Parsnips -Just love parsnips added to my mashed potatoes, so while the potatoes are cooking I add the cleaned and sliced parsnips to the water, and when done I can mash the potatoes and parsnips at the same time. The combination is great. Use whatever portion to portion that you like. And season as you would your mashed potatoes.

Visit Chef Linda at her website:
and her blog:
Linda’s first book, Memories From Home, Cooking with Family & Friends
is available at or at her website.

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