October 24, 2012

Roasted Winter Vegetables

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

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. 

carrots, whole
beets, quartered or halved
baby potatoes, chopped
sage, whole
olive oil
brown sugar
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. 


  1. Oh my, how could you NOT be passionate about such beauty and deliciousness?! Your photos and recipes are always amazing and they never fail to impress me. I have a recipe similar to this but with a poached egg on top. Can't wait to try that! IT's from MArtha stewart.

    1. Thanks for the words of encouragement Gina.

  2. Heather -- Thank you for your honesty. This is something that I struggle with a LOT, too, so it's encouraging to see someone else be able to reflect positively on her situation and come out on the other side with a beautiful post, and gorgeous photos of roasted vegetables. Keep your chin up -- you're doing great! :)

    1. Thanks Stephanie. I am glad others feel this way too.

  3. I really like your blog here. First time reader, but will definitely be back. Excellent post. Gorgeous photography and beautifully written. Maintaining a positive attitude is of course important, but I think we all need a reminder from time to time that we're human. I say self-pity, as long as it's not occurring too frequently, is perfectly healthy! So glad to have read this today.

    1. Thanks Kristen. I am glad you stopped by.

  4. Never thought about brown sugar on my roasted veggies. Will try it! Thanks!


  5. A more than exquisite post, from the writing to the photography, well done! Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself with us! I am no expert, but have found that at times of extreme self doubt we can emerge even stronger. Self reflection is a good thing!

  6. i just found your blog today, via a link via link via link.
    your eye for detail is amazing, your photography sublime and roasted veggies might be the best think about this fall season.

    1. Thanks Nicole. Your words are so kind.

  7. When you roast the veggies it gives a very different smoky flavor to veggies and enhance the taste too. Love the pictures.