One of the things that irks most kids and adults about eating vegetables is the mushy, discolored look of overcooked food. Broccoli that’s turned olive/grey green, cauliflower that’s gone yellow/green and carrots that turn grey/orange are neither appealing visually, nor tasty. Adding sauces, butter or other things to them doesn’t help one bit.

The problem is that most people believe the only way to cook these and other vegetables is to boil them in plenty of plain water, often with salt. NONSENSE!

After dinner at my sister’s home last week, I freaked out over her overcooked broccoli. There it was on my plate, so grey I expected it to have pinstripes; so drab, it should have worn a military patch. One bite and I was ready to run, not walk to the nearest exit.

Trying to be nice to my sister, I did eat it and generated enough gas to compete with Exxon-Mobil. In my car that night, the windstorm was in the car, not outside.

Loving my sis, I called her and gave her a polite lesson in vegetable cookery that I wanted to pass along to you.

Don’t boil your veggies. Avoid it as you would poisoning your kids (much as you may be tempted at times).

In a medium saucepan, pour enough water to reach a depth of 1/2 inch. Squeeze 1/2 lemon into the water. Bring the water to the boil. Meanwhile, cut your vegetables (sliced or peeled carrots, broccoli or cauliflower florets, cut cabbage, etc). Add the vegetables to the boiling, acidulated water and cover.

Cook for 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the vegetable. Bigger, denser vegetables need a bit longer. Lighter ones, like broccoli and carrots, need only 5 minutes. Globe or Jerusalem artichokes, celeriac or fingerling potatoes need more time.

Midway through the cooking time, open the lid and toss the vegetables, then quickly re-cover.  Finish the cooking, then drain into a collander and immerse quickly in a bath of ice water to stop the cooking. Leave the vegetables in ice water for at least one minute, nor more than 90 seconds.  This ensures that they don’t continue cooking from internal heat, keeping their color and flavor.

The result of such cooking is a crisp vegetable, that’s thoroughly cooked and yet retains bright color and visual appeal most of its good flavor and nutrients.

Well, sis tried my method last night, when she had me over for dinner again. This time, her broccoli was emerald green, bright, jewel-like in appearance and incredibly tasty. With nothing but some lemon juice and a bit of butter, the florets were still crunchy to the tooth, but cooked completely. She was astounded how well they came out, and how easy it was to make perfectly cooked vegetables.

Boiling vegetables not only overcooks them, but it drains them of all vitamins and minerals that give them value to good health. Steaming retains nutritional value and visual appeal.

Sis has now mastered the fine art of steaming vegetables and will eat better, more nutritious food from now on. Join her. Avoid the boil and get steamed.

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