My grandmother sent me one of her cookbooks from the fifties for my birthday. By Adelle Davis, Let’s Cook It Right is somewhat charming and a little anachronistic but her nutrition recommendations reflect many of the “newest” guidelines. See, there was once common sense about food and nutrition! We need to return the good sense she exudes (among her exhortations to her housewife audience about raising their children…).
I do want to provide some quotes throughout the upcoming posts, just for the entertainment of my audience. I’ve smiled, and outright giggled a few times during the first few chapters. Let’s start at the beginning:
Chapter One: Good Health Comes From Good Cooking
If nutrition is to be successfully applied, the homemaker must be able to prepare delicious foods which appeal to the eyes and nostrils as well as to the tastebuds. It is a popular belief that anything which builds health tastes like witches’ brew and looks like baby spinach. Exactly the reverse; food which retain their greatest nutritive value also have the best flavor, texture, and color.
Hear, hear! Adelle certainly has her prose in the right place, even if most of us are no longer “homemakers” in the sense of her era. At dinner with a dear friend the other night, we were discussing nutrition and how many people build perfectly nutritious but not necessarily appealing or delicious meals. Her mother, for example, was a skilled amateur nutritionist and able to feed a family of five perfectly balanced meals on a budget. Unfortunately, you might have only wanted to eat them if decidedly hungry. And that, of course, assumes that you cook at all.
The same dear friend and her almost common law spouse are both working full time while doing grad school and she longs for the days when food was a pleasure rather than an “it’s eight pm and I need food, better include a vegetable” occasion. Because, as she reported (and I have experienced), her cooking process requires two hours per meal to make something better than frozen broccoli and hard boiled eggs.
What would Adelle say? Add a glass of milk, a few carrot sticks or salad, some black (aka whole-grain) bread and you have a perfectly respectable light evening meal, if somewhat dull.
What would I say? Make it into a baked frittata, and serve with a microwave-baked sweet potato. The seasonings make quite a difference, and it only takes about five minutes longer than hard-boiled eggs. Feel free to add the milk, a piece of fruit, or a small glass of wine if you like. Instead of a duty, eating becomes a meal that appeals to the senses. Any leftovers will reheat beautifully for breakfast.
Recipe: Broccoli Fritatta
The actual work time for this recipe compares to making a sandwich. You just need a little patience while it bakes.
½ c milk
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp minced garlic (yes, you can use the jarred kind)
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp dried thyme
10 oz frozen broccoli or loose (cut leaf) spinach or kale, defrosted
2 oz grated parmesan cheese, optional
Preheat oven to 400 F. Defrost the vegetable in the microwave if necessary. Meanwhile, Beat together the eggs and milk in a bowl. Add the seasonings. Grease a 9” square casserole dish, pie pan, or similar baking dish. Place your vegetable in the pan and top with the cheese. Pour the eggs over. Bake for 25 minutes, or until fully cooked.
Comments: The baking time will vary with the exact size of your pan. However, I think it’s silly to suggest that you need a particular pan to make a flexible dish like this. Feel free to bake in muffin tins (~15 minutes), custard dishes, or any baking dish. Keep an eye on it—go ahead and pack your lunch for the next day, or wash some dishes and listen to the news.