Cambrian: Opinion

Water conservation, cauliflower steak and tipsy berries

Cauliflower steaks with roasted seasonal vegetables, tipsy berries and apricot ice cream.
Cauliflower steaks with roasted seasonal vegetables, tipsy berries and apricot ice cream. Special to The Cambrian

Well, like so many conscientious Cambrians, I was able to whittle down even my most stringent water-saving measures. Reflected in my two-month water bill I pay for six units, was allocated four, but used only one, sacrificing plants on my hill and a nice hot shower. Without sacrificing on sanitation or hygiene, it was like camping in my own home — I lived as if I were again backpacking in the high Sierra or in our basic pop-up tent camper. Never a water-waster, it will indeed be nice when life returns to normal and I can relax a little.

Because I am conscientiously working out with the other “Silver Streakers” (affectionately called that by Tribune senior humor columnist Suzanne Davis) with Calico and Colleen at Gym One, I am acutely aware of the frailties of aging, and took advantage of their seminar on osteoporosis. Teri Harrington included a healthful nutritious lunch of nicely balanced pasta in marinara sauce and broccoli, Kale Caesar Salad and sardines. It was savory and satisfying, and I look forward to taking advantage of other educational programs she offers.

I had a really great time a week ago when the bounty at the farmers market beckoned to me and I indulged in all my favorite fruits and vegetables. The huge head of purple cauliflower was especially enticing, as were the small golden beets and purple ones as big as baseballs. Their voluminous fresh greens would sauté while I fired up the oven to roast my bounty, along with some fingerling potatoes and onions already on hand.

Not to be outdone for the dessert menu, precious gems of strawberries gleamed in the sunlight, to march home with the globular, luscious apricots that had ripened on trees in the nice hot San Joaquin Valley. The latter were the prime ingredient for a quart of ice cream prepared in 30 minutes via the tabletop electric churn. Smaller berries took a bath in marshmallow vodka, which gave them a unique flavor, and a provided a colorful liqueur for bedtime. Larger berries were enrobed in melted chocolate by my guests, Joyce Backhaus and Christine Quinn, whom I invited to enjoy the vegetarian feast.

Oven Roasted Vegetables

  • Large purple beets: scrubbed well, tops reserved, wrapped in foil
  • Golden beets: scrubbed, tops reserved
  • Fingerling potatoes: Tossed with chopped onions, olive oil, salt and pepper
  • Cauliflower: center sliced into 1-inch “steaks,” large flowerlets separated, all slathered in olive oil and seasoned
  • Sweet peppers, mushrooms and asparagus: scrubbed and pared

To make maximum use of the oven while preheating to 400 degrees, pop the large wrapped beets in first, then put the other veggies on baking sheets to place on both racks. Roast up to one hour, turning over when necessary and removing each type as it cooks to golden. Leave the large beets to finish cooking as the oven cools. When cooled, slip the skins off all the beets and cut into chunks.

Meanwhile, scrub the greens well, pat dry, chop and sauté about 3 minutes in one tablespoon each of butter and olive oil. Serve everything on a large platter with your choice of bread for dipping in any drippings. Small reserved cauliflower flowerlets make a nice fresh garnish. (All of these are fine to refrigerate and reheat during the week if you are alone.)

The balance of three pints of prime berries was plenty to dip in chocolate with my granddaughter Danielle for our family reunion the following weekend.