Friday, November 03, 2006

Of Mush and Men

Hubby hates pureed food. When I tried a Yellow Pepper Soup, he growled at me that he still has all of his teeth and doesn't need his food to be blended mush. He asserts that one of the things he doesn't like about mashed potatoes is that they don't need to be chewed. He claims to not like mush. However, make that mush beef flavored, and suddenly it seems OK.
I tried a new meatloaf recipe tonight that was total mush. I knew as I was mixing it that it had far too much liquid and filler, but ignored the slime that was sticking to my hands and plopped it into a loaf pan anyway. If I hadn't been so tired tonight, I would have tried harder to restore a sense of texture and firmness to my meatloaf, but as it was, I was lucky to get it in the oven at all. After baking for almost an hour, it came out just as I had feared: spongy, beefy mush. The flavor was good. The seasonings were right. The texture was awful, sloppy, squishy MUSH. I don't know about you, but I don't do well with a mouthful of yuck. I don't care if it tastes good, or not. Mushy meatloaf brings on my gag factor. Needless to say, even though Hubby ate 2 large portions without a word about the gruel-like stuff sliding around on his plate, it wasn't a recipe that I will try again.

The meal was saved by one of my favorite sides of all time, Roasted Green Beans. Fresh green beans tossed with some olive oil and liberally seasoned with coarse salt are an insanely good pleasure for me. They must be roasted to the point of having crusted browned bits, but don't fear; they aren't burned. The roasting brings out the sweetness of the veggie, and the combination of the crisp bits and the salt make them taste like incredibly healthy French Fries. I kid you, not. No mush about this. You have to try Roasted Green Beans to know what you have been missing.

Roasted Green Beans

2 pounds green beans
1-2 tablespoons olive oil (just enough to lightly coat beans)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste

Pre-heat over to 400 degrees.
Wash, dry well, and trim green beans.
Put green beans on a jelly roll pan.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. (I like them salty so I use about 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.)
Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into a single layer.
Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shriveled.
Serve hot or at room temperature. (Serves 4)

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