Most days, there's rarely a pause or silence in my home. There aren't enough hours in the day to really explain how I feel, about life, food, love, and happiness. Until the time comes, when I plop myself in front of the computer, ready to tell it all, something wordy and insightful, and then I can't. I stare at my screen, over analyzing my words. Afraid to give too much, worried that I'll give too little. Today I am having one of those days, unmotivated and unproductive, unable to gather my thoughts. I've been wallowing in self pity, and I don't think it's very fitting - not one bit. I sit here and over analyze my career and my future, and try to decide which direction I would like to go. It has been a slow and difficult transition over the past few years; going from busy career woman, feeling as though I am part of something important, to living in a country where I am unable to work or vote, stuck in limbo with an spousal visa. When people ask me what I do, I am hesitant to reply. Am I a dietitian, a photographer, a writer, a blogger? Am I good enough to consider myself a photographer? Over the past few years, I have felt so much self-doubt and self-criticism trying to be the best I can at so many new things, yet feeling somewhat unaccomplished without a pay cheque attached to my work. Is this wrong for me to feel this way? Do we really measure our success by the dollars we make?
For those of you who are still with me, thank you for not closing the tab when you read the word 'self-pity'. Honestly, whenever I attempt to write something personal and self loathing, it quickly ends up in my trash bin, as it often should. But today I felt like taking a risk. This morning I read this post and it got me thinking about my story. I poured some tea and sat quietly, reflecting on my life. After reflecting on what I love and what makes me happy, I can honestly say that my passion lies here, in this small space. I am excited and overjoyed at the prospect of roasting vegetables, photographing them, and trying to commit to words what it all means to me. Today I decided to dedicate a whole post to just that - roasting vegetables - because I wanted to show you just how beautiful roasting can be. Admittedly, this post started off in a different direction, but it has ended up exactly where I want to be. Here, with you guys. Talking about Maillard browning and beets.
A week ago, while cleaning out the fridge - a necessary routine as a food blogger - I noticed a lonesome bunch of carrots, a few beets, and a sweet potato. Recalling a recent conversation with Mr H about the flavor changes that occur when roasting vegetables, I thought it to be an ideal opportunity to roast these sweet gems before they hit their expiry date. After smothering them in oil and brown sugar, I placed them in the oven and watched them caramelize into something sweet and flavorful, completely different from their original state. The Maillard reaction, a non-enzymatic chemical reaction that happens when you combine amino acids and reducing sugars under high heat, produces a wonderful brown shade and some extraordinary flavors. Dark and earthy, these vegetables now bear a resemblance to sweet candy. The carrots become similar in flavor to baked sweet potato, only their shape hinting at their true nature.
It is these simple things. The things in life that, despite the fact that it has taken me the better part of today to get down on paper, make me happy. And when it comes down to it, we must do things that make us happy. Thank you so much for letting me rant on about my problems. It is so reassuring knowing that there is someone out their listening. xo
ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLE RECIPE (print)
notes: you can roast most vegetables. I chose carrots, beets, and potatoes because they are in season, but alternatively, cauliflower, rutabaga, squash, sweet potatoes, turnip, peppers are all delicious options. The serving size depends on how many vegetables you roast. They will reduce in size after roasting, so you must take that into consideration.
beets, quartered or halved
baby potatoes, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Wash the vegetables with a vegetable scrubber. Cut the stems 1/2 inch from the top. Place the carrots onto a baking sheet as is, and chop the beets and potatoes into quarters or halves, depending on their size.
Place them onto the baking sheet with the carrots, and layer on the whole sage leaves.
Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil and sprinkle enough brown sugar to lightly coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Toss the vegetables in the oil. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables have gained a dark caramelized color. Insert a fork to check for doneness. The vegetables should be soft. The caramelization will leave the baking sheet with black patches that are hard to clean, so if you don't want to ruin a nice cookie sheet, than I suggest using a piece of tin foil.
Remove from the tray and serve.