Tuesday, January 31, 2012


My parents unintentionally made it really easy for me to hate many vegetables. Peas, asparagus, brussel sprouts, lima beans, green beans, and yellow beans were all canned and then boiled into submission. It is remarkable that I grew up to love asparagus. It was my favorite as a child, despite the mushiness it takes on once it's canned. It is still one of my favorites as an adult, but only if it's fresh.

I finally tried brussel sprouts a couple of years ago. I hadn't had them in about 20 years. The chef and waiter had to convince me that they would be delicious and they were. If you simply cook them with some oil and salt (or bacon as pictured), they retain some of the tanginess of a cabbage, but none of the mushiness or bitterness from my childhood. They also don't smell as badly as I remember.

I don't really like lima beans, but can tolerate them. Green and yellow beans aren't my favorite, but that's because there are other vegetables with more flavor.

My parents weren't completely awful when it came to introducing vegetables into my diet. In some ways, they were great:

Carrots, celery, green peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower, green onions, kohlrabi and radishes were regularly in our refrigerator and usually eaten raw. Often, they were eaten plain or just a dash of salt. I don't remember dip being a constant companion to those vegetables. I still love all of these vegetables and will gladly eat them as a snack.

Corn was usually eaten as fresh corn on the cob from the farmers' market with some butter and salt on it. They had never know about elotes, so I can't blame them for not introducing that to me. They did know about creamed corn, and sadly, my mother regularly made me eat that. Even now, I'm cringing at the thought of it.

Onions and potatoes were used in many recipes, although I never had mashed potatoes at home. Baked, fried or scalloped, but never mashed. I didn't have real mashed potatoes until I was an adult. Only had cafeteria instant potatoes before that. Zucchini was around, especially in fall when they overtook people's gardens, but only hidden in things like bread or chocolate cake. It was never used as side-dish.

My mother would make rutabaga and squash on occasion, but not as often as she wanted because both of my brothers hated it. I always loved them both and have made them a regular part of my diet as an adult.

There were many vegetables that I have eaten as an adult that were not available in Wausau, WI in the 1980s, or were too scary for my parents to cook. I am really glad that I found edamame, eggplant, kale, and broccoli. (My mom thought it looked weird, so she never ate it.) I'm sure I've found more, but those are the ones that stick out to me.

If you look at vegetables in the store and think that you've hated them since you were a kid, I recommend you check out Food TV for a recipe and give them another shot. It would not be fair to yourself to deny any food group because of the cooking crimes of your parents.


  1. I too grew up in a canned veggie household, and I too hated them all. I still consider brussel sprouts and lima beans as lethal, but love most others.

    My father was 1st generation Irish and my mother cooked to suit his bland tastes. I sought out fresh or frozen veggies soon after leaving home.

  2. If you like cabbage at all, I suggest you try the sprouts again. I am still shocked by how they've moved from hated to loved with one good experience.

    My parents were of German farmer stock, so bland was the way in our house, too. I think the fact that frozen veggies weren't very good then didn't leave many options