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The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Lest you think I’m some kind of kitchen wizard, I thought I’d share a tale of a colossal failure that took place in my oven today…
Once upon a time…
… there was a college student who fell in love with the cookbook The Enchanted Broccoli Forest. This girl wasn’t a vegetarian, but she didn’t discriminate: she adored almost all food, imaginative recipes, and charming cookbooks equally.
And there was much to love about The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, beginning with the title (!), and including, but not limited to, the international scope of the recipes, the delightful hand-lettered recipes and illustrations, and the credits of the author Mollie Katzen:
Mollie Katzen, with over 6 million books in print, is listed by The New York Times as one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. A 2007 inductee into the prestigious James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame, and largely credited with moving healthful vegetarian food from the “fringe” to the center of the American dinner plate, Ms. Katzen has been named by Health Magazine as one of “The Five Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.”
The book’s namesake recipe intrigued the girl. “How adorable!” she thought. “A forest floor made of rice and cheese with broccoli florets for trees!”
But despite following the instructions to the letter, when she sat down at her dining table to eat it, the Enchanted Broccoli Forest tasted — Oh! how it hurt to say it — bland. (And, if she was being honest, the broccoli was too crunchy.) Who could have foreseen that brown rice and cheese (cheese!) could be so unmagical?
The girl continued to feel affection for the book and the notion of the Enchanted Broccoli Forest, but she never made the recipe again. And, eventually, as her tastes and habits changed, the book and the recipe were forgotten.
Until one day, the girl decided to write a cookbook of her own.
While reminiscing about favorite recipes past, she remember the Enchanted Broccoli Forest. “I wonder,” she thought, “if I can replace the cheese with egg whites… swap the brown rice for cauliflower… embellish the flavor with curry paste… and add ground beef for protein!”
And that’s just what she did.
She riced cauliflower and steamed broccoli and browned ground meat and fried curry paste and simmered coconut milk and whisked eggs. Then she pressed it into a pan, planted her broccoli trees, slid it into the oven, and waited.
After 40 minutes, she opened the oven – and through a billowing cloud of steam — removed from the oven a…
Bewitched Broccoli Bog.
With a heavy heart, the girl harvested the broccoli trees for another meal, did her best to pick the meat from the swampy bog, and fed the remainder to the garbage disposal. (If only she had her own pig to slop!)
The Moral of the Story: A little cheese glue goes a long way.