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Confessions of a Fussy Eater - Vegetables

Canned Vegetables

The seasons are changing. We are moving into Fall and I have started cooking fall themed meals. I picked up some broccoli this week and smiled when I remembered this was a vegetable I detested when I was growing up.

I was so fussy with the vegetables that I would eat when I was growing up. My earliest memories are of nothing but canned. Yes, that is right - we ate mainly canned vegetables. Our house was build around 1920 and we had built in cabinets in the kitchen. These were stocked with canned food. It was a quartet of 4 main vegetables; peas, corn, green beans, and carrots. Peas were pretty straightforward but the canned corn came in a wide variation of styles. Yellow, White which was called shoepeg, creamed and mexi-corn. Creamed was one of our favorites. I have no idea exactly how it was made but I suspect it was really crushed corn and no cream was to be found. I remember visiting one of my aunts one summer in Oregon and she served real creamed corn and I was amazed. We all lapped it up. Here is a recipe from Mark Bitten for real creamed corn.

Green beans were usually cut or french style green beans. I loved the french style green beans. Sometimes my mother would cook up some bacon and combine it with the green beans. Canned carrots were pretty straightforward. I remember they later introduced 'crinkle cut' carrots but it really wasn't anything different from the standard sliced carrots.

It was in the mid-60's that our family discovered frozen vegetable. Wow - what a change from the mushy salty canned vegetables. Peas were so different and frozen peas quickly came a favorite over canned. We also really liked the Birds Eye rice dishes. They had these different frozen rice dishes in pouches that you would boil and serve. They were very tasty. We eventually moved mostly to frozen vegetables.

But we rarely ate fresh vegetables beyond lettuce. I know a lot had to do with my refusing to eat other types of vegetables. My mother would cook asparagus, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower but I refused to eat them. They were mostly boiled but a few she would cook up in a sauce with cheese - I still wouldn't eat them. It was a shame because I grew up near the best location for fresh asparagus. Every spring my parents friends and neighbors would bring crates of beautiful fresh asparagus. My parents would eat it boiled up and served with a dollop of mayonnaise. I hated it - or thought I did. My mother would even blanche it and freeze it so she would have it later in the season. Today I will love to get a crate of fresh asparagus from the California central valley,

Corn on the cob was one vegetable that we ate fresh. I loved it and ate lots in the summer. It was very inexpensive in the central valley of California and had it at least once a week. We also occasionally had fresh carrots. There was one different vegetable that I would eat - turnips! My mother would peel, slice and boil them. I love turnips - even raw. I especially love them boiled with slabs of butter or in a beef stew. I rarely eat them now. I need to put them on my grocery list because they are a great vegetable for fall and winter.

When I married G, I learned that he mostly ate salads. He occasionally ate similar canned vegetables but nothing different. But one day, he brought home some broccoli from a botany class and wanted me to cook it. Eek! I had no idea what to do. I think I boiled it and we both discovered it wasn't that bad. Soon we were having broccoli.

Now, we love most vegetables. I discovered fresh green beans in college and sugar snap peas when we started our first vegetable garden. I have rarely purchased canned vegetables in the past 20 years. Majority is always fresh and if possible purchased from local farmers.

There are a few that I still struggle eating. I don't like cooked leaf vegetables - spinach, swiss chard, kale. G likes them but I still just gag....

Comments (6)

Fun post! I grew up the same way! I hated the mushy canned vegetables - corn, peas, green beans (but no carrots). Even the fresh vegetables my mom cooked were always cooked to the same mushy state. Our salads consisted of only iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The only vegetable I loved was fresh corn on the cob in the summertime.

When I went to college, I discovered fresh vegetables. Wow! The world seemed to open up. As I moved west, I discovered avacado, artichokes, bok choy and many other yummy vegetables. I am still picky though with certain vegetables (probably stemming back to childhood). I have never learned to like beets, brussel sprouts, and asparagus. Oh and I always hated mushrooms but that stems from picking and eating mushrooms in the woods as a child (luckily they weren't poisonous!)

Marta [TypeKey Profile Page]:

That is so similar. We ate the same salad! I'm going to do a salad post next.

I do like beets and asparagus now but so-so on brussels sprouts.

I also ate mainly canned veggies as a kid. And here in the South, when people cooked fresh vegetables like green beans, they cooked them for hours with fatback in them until they were mushy and greasy.

Fresh crisp not-mushy veggies were such a revelation!

I'm enjoying your food memoirs!

amy:

I also grew up on canned vegetables, until my mother caught the Competitive Cooking bug in the mid 70's. Broccoli with canned water chestnuts and strips of red pepper was exotic.

It was only this year that I learned to love cauliflower, eggplant, squash, and cooked greens.

Marta,
Very interesting post. I don't think I've ever had vegetables from a can. Growing up though, I hated vegetables too, I remember I liked corn, carrots, peas and white beans. I didn't got for anything else.

I am not a huge fan of leaf vegetables either, but I am okay with spinach. I add it to pizza, lasagna and such dishes. My mom makes the most awesome spinach squares that are really delicious and were the reason I started eating spinach. They are similar to the Greek Spagna-Copita(sp?).I think you'll like that.

My latest vegetable love discovery? Butternut squash.

I loved this post, Marta!
And being a child of the 50s when store-bought canned vegetables were the ultimate convenience food, I identified with so much of it.
The one thing I really never tasted as a child was creamed corn. I wasn't even aware of it until I started dating Dan in the late 60's.
The first time I was invited to dinner at his family's home, his mother served creamed corn --- as a substitute for gravy on top of mashed potatoes!
I thought it looked gross, until I tasted it. It's really very yummy.

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