These happy little trees are healthy

Now, as much as I enjoyed watching Bob Ross on PBS Saturday afternoons, my talent in painting went as far as that.

I tried many a time with several paint mediums, but my eyes and hand simply did not agree on the images.

I didn’t give up on finding my artistic talents, though, and outdoor photography became one. Photography of landscapes, wildlife, and plant life became a natural talent within me.

One only has to peruse my travel blog (www.southwestbrowneyes.com/) or visit the Hideout Community Center in Monticello to view my photos.

But enough about my artwork; let’s get back to those happy little trees. No, I am not referring to maples, oaks, pines, or the many varieties of flowering trees.

I am writing about…Broccoli! They’re Mother Nature’s edible trees, growing in a bunch up from a fertile ground to be chopped, steamed, sautéed, baked, or any number of ways you want to cook them.

Eaten cooked or raw, broccoli contains a truckload of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Ready for the list?

One cup (91 grams) of raw broccoli packs: six grams Carbs, Protein: 2.6 gram, 0.3 grams Fat, 2.4 grams Fiber, 135 percent of the RDI of Vitamin C, 11 percent of the RDI of Vitamin A, 116 percent of the RDI of Vitamin K, 14 percent of the RDI of Vitamin B9 (Folate), eight percent of the RDI of Potassium, six percent of the RDI of Phosphorus, and three percent of the RDI of Selenium

Broccoli also contains measurable amounts of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which may prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage in your eyes.

And that’s just the short list! To get the full impact, I recommend reading the Top 14 Health Benefits of Broccoli (www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-broccoli).

When purchasing broccoli, I tend to buy more than I actually need for a recipe. Why? Food storage of course!

Remember all that hoarding that started in March 2020, when fresh, frozen, and even canned vegetables were difficult to find? That’s why food prep and storage is an important aspect for any home. Whether family related, friends sharing, running a B&B, or even on your own…prep and store!

While there are many sites online teaching about this, I would like to recommend a book just for some historical, yet pretty interesting reading, Plain but Wholesome, Food Ways of the Mormon Pioneers by Brock Cheney.

While it mainly deals with the history of the Mormons’ trek to Utah and life in developing the state, it gives details and recipes of many food items they either brought with them or grew later on.

Back to my prep and food storage of broccoli. I use steaming and freezing. Chop up the broccoli, steam for five minutes, let it slightly cool, place in freezer bags, label with name and date, and store in the freezer for future use.

Steaming helps retain the nutritional qualities of the broccoli, and the green of the happy little trees pops!

I have seen it recommended that broccoli be immersed in cold water to stop the cooking process. I have found that this method allows too much water to cling to the broccoli, and with freezing, that means too much ice development. That’s just my experience though.

Why not just chop up the broccoli and freeze, without steaming? Carbon dioxide gas will cause the broccoli to develop a grayish tint, and bright green is so much prettier to eat.

Now for a delicious soup recipe that is easy and comforting which is so nice for cold, windy, and snowy winter days.

Even after four hours of cooking, the broccoli will have a slight crunch yet still be tender. It might seem light on seasoning in the recipe, but the flavors are fully absorbed throughout.

Crock Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Ingredients:

4 cups broccoli florets, cut into small bite sized pieces; 1/2 cup diced onion; 4 cups vegetable stock; 1 tsp. coarse sea salt; 1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper; 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter; 4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour; 1½ cups half and half; 4 cups shredded Cheddar cheese or 2 cups Monterey jack and 2 cups Cheddar

Preparation:

Combine the broccoli, onion, stock, salt, and pepper into a four-quart crock pot; cook on low for four hours.

After four hours, set crock pot to high. Take out one cup of liquid.

Create a roux by melting the butter on medium-high heat in a large sauce pan; whisk in the flour. Slowly add in the liquid, continuing to whisk, and then slowly whisk in the half and half.

Add the shredded cheese to the roux mixture one cup at a time until it is fully melted and combined. Add the cheese sauce to the crock pot and stir it in to combine. Let it continue to cook in the crock pot an additional 15 minutes.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: For a creamier soup, before adding the cheese sauce, pulverize the broccoli and onion with an immersion blender. Then continue with cheese sauce and added cooking time.

Picture it: sitting in a cozy chair, bowl of soup cradled in the lap, and reading a good book –maybe on food prep and storage! Enjoy and keep positive.

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