"What did you do for New Year's Eve, Robyn?"
Short answer: A friend and I cooked all day and along with my roommate watched TV all night, unable to turn away from the awkward Dick Clark moments (I know he had a stroke, and it completely sucks, but it's still awkward) and only mildly less awkward cookie-cutter comebacks from Ryan Seacrest.
Here's the longer answer.
Ken accompanied me to my neighborhood Foodtown so we could cook up a New Year's Eve feast of vegetables and more vegetables, making my last meal of 2008 unintentionally vegetarian-friendly and possibly the healthiest meal I had eaten all year. It's not often I can say a meal turned my digestive system into a raging flume of fiber. And by "not often" I mean "pretty much never." There were no simple carbohydrates, just various kinds of non-animal-derived substances, aside from the honey because we just had to include bee exploitation.
We started by de-skinning a can of chickpeas. The process was rather calming: pick up chickpea between thumb and index finger, gently squeeze to pop the naked-er chickpea out of its slimy, semi-translucent skin. Repeat 500 times.
Ken mashed the chickpeas with honey to form...a honey chickpea mash, later to be mashed with sautéed garlic. This mash would later be turned into chickpea patties. You will see.
I minced a buttload of garlic cloves, so much that I swear I can still smell it in my fingers a week later. Phantom garlic smells just won't leave me the fuck alone. My body is probably enveloped in a subcutaneous layer of garlic.
But it's worth it because having garlic in everything makes everything taste awesome. And we did put it in nearly everything.
Like collard greens. I like hearty, leafy greens, although the chopped stems may have tasted even better. I forgot how Ken cooked the stems. The leaves were probably just cooked with oil and balsamic vinegar, which, like the garlic, was used in just about everything we cooked.
Huge ass mutant carrots, specifically procured from a bodega-like market and not the fancy Foodtown, were diagonally sliced at a shallow angle to make the original carrot look even more unnaturally huge. Lots of balsamic vinegar went into these babies. The final result was less tender and more carroty than what Ken was going for. TASTED GOOD TO ME!!
Sliced portobello mushrooms were marinated in...you can probably figure it out. And then cooked in...you can probably figure it out. The resulting shroom matter was pleasantly sweet and tart with a nice substantial meaty texture.
And, oh man, oh man, there were Brussels sprouts. If you don't like Brussels sprouts, you probably just haven't eaten a good version yet. Why would anyone object to bite sized (or two-bite sized) globs of mildly sweet, densely cronchy vegetable matter? It's good for you! And even better when cooked with garlic and balsamic vinegar.
Aside from during the cooking classes I took at NYU, I've never used the broiler in an oven before. And then I made the glorious discovery (and by that I mean, "Ken did it") that if you stick a layer of asparagus spears (seasoned with salt, pepper, and GARLIC) just inches (or was it centimeters?) beneath the broiler, you end up with "buttery-soft inside, slightly crunchy outside" sticks of awesome. I'll have to use my broiler more often. Also, I like seeing the parallel line of blue flames shoot out.
The creation of the honey chickpea patties was almost completely improvised. I spread the patties into malformed circles, plopped on my thick raw honey to the best of my ability, and popped it in the oven under the broiler while hoping for the best. Worry first set in when the top layers of honey turned into aggressively bubbling vats of viscous goo, but in the end it turned out fine. Just...a bit more spread out than we predicted. The power of the flames caused the six patties to conjoined into a sextuple-blob mass and turned the pale yellow to a darker yellow brown with flecks of carbon around the edges.
Despite all the honey I dumped on top, the patties tasted only a touch sweet. We weren't won over by the first loose, crumbly bites, but the more we ate, the more we liked it. It was...pleasant: a little chewy, a little crunchy. Would've made a nice semi-crunchy base or topping for something, but we couldn't figure out what.
And then there were cherry tomato butts. Yeah, we're not supposed to eat tomatoes in the winter...whatever. Ken plopped the balsamic vinegar-doused tomatoes cut side-down to make them char-y, resulting in soft half-spheres that exploded with hot tomato juice and goo with every bite.
We mixed a bunch of the vegetables together to make hot salads. Better than cold salads? More satisfying, at least. Actually, a mix of cold and hot could br nice, maybe add in sprouts and avocado, two things that I picked for no other reason besides that I love them a lot.
Although our marathon Day of Cooking and Non-Stop Snacking on Vegetables was fun and resulted in way more food than we could eat in one sitting, or two, the unavoidable downside was having to clean a buttload of dishes...and wipe down the stove...and the counter tops...and mop the floor. Alas, the non-fun parts of cooking. If I cooked every other day, they would definitely outweigh the fun parts of cooking for me. But when someone else is suffering with you and you don't have any work to do, it's rather fun. Perhaps I now have a new New Year's Eve tradition.
Related (previous New Year's celebrations):
Multiple locations, of course, but here's the closest one to me in Bed-Stuy:
420 Fulton St
Brooklyn, NY 11216