winning matters

I think I’m going to stop apologizing for being such an effing slacker. It’s minus 27 degrees outside right now (translation: 34 degrees) and that should be reason enough to never have to do anything ever. Once the weather warms up and I come out of hibernation we’ll kick this back into high gear, but while we’re experiencing frigid, Arctic temperatures here (translation: it’s sort of cool, we haven’t had any snow, and Sunday was even kind of balmy) I think we should just all count on JVV being kind of unreliable.

Now that we’ve all lowered our expectations we can get back to the business of winning shit. Is my perpetual winningness annoying? I didn’t think so either (obviously) but we were at a friend’s house last night for Family Fun Night with games, and of course I was winning, when David said to me, “You know, you don’t make this very enjoyable for the rest of us.”

Really? You mean losing blows? Ferfucksake, I know that, that’s why I win shit. But in the spirit of not always being a self-righteous asshole (who wins everything, always…always), I will concede this much: I have been stumped recently by an ugly, ugly, hateful green vegetable and I may or may not have to admit defeat for the first time. Maybe. No promises.

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battle 20–artichokes

This time I don’t have any good excuses. I’ve got nothing. Really. Nothing.

OK, I’ve got one thing. A girlfriend said to me yesterday that she’s in a “post-holiday can’t-get-all-my-balls-back-up-in-the-air funk,” which described precisely what’s happening with me right now. I’ve got a lot of balls. And since grocery shopping and cooking are still not automatic for me, it’s been a pain in the ass to work them back into my routine. Balls.

Obviously I didn’t intend to start the new year with such a lackluster performance. I actually jumped right into artichokes on artichoke Sunday when I was at the Midway Pub watching football. Midway serves artichokes fritters as an appetizer and I figured I could start the year off right with a big fried artichoke win. But they were boring. So boring they didn’t even warrant a full post. Super boring.

A few days later I gave artichokes another try with the artichoke cheese dip at Melton’s App and Tap (I frequent some fine eateries). Boring.

And there I was. New year. Shitty vegetable. Nothing to report (what was I going to say? I lost my first battle of the year? No way). So that was it, I came home day after day and didn’t cook, didn’t write, didn’t do shit.

Fortunately I have you friends to remind me so frequently what a slacker I am.

Finally I decided that since I let myself get so far behind that it would be fine to mix and match and combine and reorder and get crazy with January’s vegetables to catch up. New year. New rules.

Here’s what we’re up against in January (and honestly, why I’ve been reluctant to start the new year with typical New Year’s verve, I mean, come on, January): artichokes (those are technically left over from December, but I’m giving them one last chance), snow peas, rhubarb, rutabaga, cabbage and turnips.

Kill. Me. Now.

battle 9–day um–er

So, here’s what happened to kohlrabi week: Admittedly, I went to the farmer’s market by myself again, and admittedly, I couldn’t find what I was looking for….again. In my defense, no one has ever even heard of kohlrabi and I’ve had three people helping me track it down on the Internet and in real life and we still haven’t found it or even really figured out what it is. Apparently, it is a vegetable, but that’s all we know.

In the meantime, I’m moving up beets…ugh…and am going to….gag… I can’t even finish that sentence, but, sigh, welcome to beet week.

I just picked up beets from the store and am still trying to figure out how to make them palatable (note: beet mousse, out; beet sangria, in), so until I work all that out, I’m pretending it’s still last week and am having some waxing philosophical time. This week’s topic: My new favorite blog, PROJECT 29 to 30. Meet Steph, new blogger extraordinaire. Steph is chronicling her challenge to do between her 29th birthday and her 30th birthday 365 things she’s never done before. I love this project.

Steph also has great hair.

Also, the one time I wrote and posted this from work, my boss walked in and saw me doing it. Hi, Scott. Remember all the reasons you love me before you fire me. Start with my hair.

waxing philosophical–the twilight zone

I’m done with zucchinis, I won, and so the rules say I can have the rest of the week to wax philosophical about whatever I want. Someone suggested I use this time to talk about my addiction to expensive dresses and designer jeans, but I resent the implication that my purchasing habits at my favorite Decatur boutique, Boogaloos, are a problem; I’m merely being patriotic to my country and my president—who is also my boyfriend, if you must know—in these tough economic times by supporting my local economy. You’re welcome, economy.

But this is a vegetable blog and so that’s what I’m going to wax about matter-of-factly, if not philosophically.

We’re five weeks in to the project and here’s where we stand so far: Julie—5, vegetables—0.

  • Squash, in
  • Mushrooms, in
  • Peppers, in
  • Cucumbers, in
  • Zucchini, in

Last night, as I stood at my kitchen counter eating fried zucchini for the third night in a row (while considering returning the deep fryer to Lauren), I looked at the dinner spread in front of me and took stock of my life. What has happened to me? Seriously. I was very happily, too happily, eating a plate of fried zucchini, farm-fresh cucumbers with cheese and crackers, and home-grown tomatoes, but not a lick of meat.
What. The. Fuck. And not only that, I had gone out of my way after work to stop at both a farmer’s market and the grocery store to put this little app plate together just for me because David left a day early for our vacation. So I A) put effort into preparing a meal all by myself for myself, B) it’s not cake, and C) it was basically all vegetables.

We’re living in the Twilight Zone at my house. Aliens have invaded my body. Somebody save me from myself and bring me some bloody meat.


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become an fb fan

Thanks to all of you who are being so kind about this project. And maybe not so kind. And I apologize for telling the salad eaters to fuck off. Kind of.

For those of you who keep asking me to tell you when I’ve updated the site because you have better things to do than check 40 times a day to see if I vomited the night before but are still more or less kind of interested in watching this train wreck, I created a page on Facebook where I will post updates, and Facebook will tell you so I don’t have to.

To become a fan, click here; or click on the “become an fb fan” link on the left; or on Facebook, search Julie vs. Vegetables. Then click “become a fan” at the top of the page. It’s so easy my mom could do it. Mom, do it.

battle 3–peppers

I went to a cookout Friday and put this whole project to its first major test: one of the vegetables I’ve supposedly added to my diet permanently was on the menu…and I ate it. And it was great. And it was only Week 2! It’s working! We had kabobs on the grill, which fortunately had a ton of red meat on them, and they were colorfully decorated with mushrooms and red, green and yellow peppers. And onions. I ignored the onions, of course. New Naysayer Chad is convinced he can get onions on the list or trick me into eating them (which is absolutely against the rules). Silly, deluded Naysayer Chad. And hipster Tom. And Mellow Dad. Onions are out. You lose.

Back in the real world, I excitedly enjoyed the mushrooms, and I inaugurated pepper week early by cutting a grilled red pepper into tiny little squares and nibbling on it carefully, fearful it would scorch my mouth (aren’t peppers supposed to be hot?). But I liked it. I haven’t determined yet what this means for red peppers, like if I’ve committed some major transgression against the project by breaking the rules and battling the red pepper two days early, if I still need to incorporate them into this week since I already know I like them, or what, but I know I’m going to have trouble with green peppers, so I’m going to concentrate more on them and worry about my departure from the rules with the red pepper later (I blame it on the vast amounts of tequila I consumed before dinner and the fact that my dinner companions dared me…even though they knew peppers were on deck for this week and I would get around to all of them eventually…naysayers and rulebreakers!).

Even though I had a relatively successful week with mushrooms, I did also learn two more valuable lessons from the parts I flubbed:

  1. My inability to cook could possibly hinder my total victory over some vegetables. For one thing, because I don’t know where shit is at the farmer’s market or grocery store I wound up completely abandoning the mushroom risotto last week (does anyone know what Arborio rice is or where to find it at the store?). The other thing is, unless recipes or instructions specifically say to dig out all that weird looking stuff under the mushroom and cut the stalk-y bit down to the very nub, I’m not going to know to do that, and then my portabella is going to fill up with oil and catch on fire, which it did. Spectacularly. So, if you send me recipes or ideas–and please keep them coming, I need them–assume you are working with someone who has the culinary skills of a nine-year-old.
  2. Partying hard on the weekends makes planning for the week and shopping for veggies on Sunday a real drag. This is another reason I’ve never really cooked. I have a life. I’m not sure what’s valuable about this lesson, actually, I’m just telling you, it blows. In other news, Paul McCartney was amazing at Piedmont Park this weekend. Have you heard of this guy? He was in a little band called the Beatles. I mean, we lost our shit when this happened.

Onward to peppers. Bring it, peppers.


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harshing my dad’s mellow

I won’t have a sordid history with every vegetable the way I do with squash, so most weeks I’ll just jump right in and tell you how I gagged on the cabbage (ugh, cabbage), but squash and I go way back. Not the warm fuzzy way my friends like to go way back with their vegetables (“Mmm, my grandma’s butterbeans are the best!”), more like a cold, prickly, pit-of-my-stomach kind of way. Through no real fault of their own, my parents weren’t the Leave it to Beaver, five-star chefs my friends’ parents all seem to be (sorry, Mom, sorry, Dad). My mom’s mom was a shitty mom and never told my mom she was pretty or taught her how to cook, and my dad, well, he was a dude in the age that dads weren’t supposed to have to cook, but bless him, he did anyway. I know they’ll come down on me like a hammer for this with all sorts of examples of good homecooking I’m conveniently forgetting (holidays don’t count, folks), but for the most part, we ate Hamburger Helper. And Tuna Helper.

ward and june cleaver...and my parents, the anti-cleavers

Because of this Reagan-era, working mom, add-water-to-a-box diet, it was a big, fat, hairy deal at our house when my mom bought fresh squash, boiled all the nutrition and other good bits right out of it, slathered it in butter and cheese, baked it and called that dinner. Squash, gross. Squash casserole was an infrequent transgression against me, but I hated it every time. Hated. It. My mom was not a shitty mom and she did tell me I was pretty, but she was still a mighty, harrowing force to be reckoned with and a whiny, snotty, vegetable-hating child was no match for her and her squash casserole. We would eat it and we would like it and we would do it happily, she warned every time she made that scary squash.

My dad, on the other hand, was a pretty mellow fellow. He happily went along with our usually egalitarian family dinner dynamics. Whoever “cooked” (or ordered the pizza) didn’t have to do dishes, and whoever cooked or did dishes one night wouldn’t have to do them the next night. We regularly traded and rotated, and no one was ever burdened with too much hardship at the dinner table. He liked it that way: peaceful, calm, ordered.

Then one pretty Southern summer day (read: scorching hot, sweltering, painfully uncomfortable) my sister and I passed the time by being particularly badly behaved, torturing my parents while they ferried us around to sales and discount stores for the loathsome, thankless task of outfitting us for the new school year. After that, most unfortunately, that painfully uncomfortable summer day turned into a hot, miserable, squash casserole summer night, and reasonably, our bad behavior followed us home. While my mom “slaved over a hot stove,” (one of her most favorite and most ironic expressions), my dad, smart as he was level-headed, began to suspect a revolt was brewing at the kitchen table, his peaceful, harmonious kitchen table. Before my mom ever got to her “you’ll eat it and like it” speech, he eyed both of us and in an uncharacteristically stern voice said, “Your mother has worked very hard on this dinner. I don’t want to hear any complaints about it. Not one word. Not one word.”

Really? That’s what he was going with? It was like bait. He was baiting me.

Mom put the plate in front of me and there sat that gooey pile of squashy mess, chock full of onions (aaagggh..ack..gag) and, of course, squash and god knows what else because it’s a casserole and you can’t see what all is in it and so I said….

“Is this…?”

And my dad said,

“Don’t say it.”

And I said,

“Is this that stuff…?”

And my dad said,

“Don’t say it.”

Long pause.

Longer pause.

We stared at each other. And I think he thought it was over. He picked up his fork and went to take a bite of…

“….thatstuffthatmakesmegagandthrowup?”

BAM! He slammed his fork down and broke his plate. It’s hard to tell that story without putting, really, a LOT of emphasis on the part where HE BROKE A PLATE. But seriously, my dad broke a plate. Over squash casserole. Really, Dad?

my dad broke a plate for fuck's sake

So, I thought it was important, in homage to my hardworking mom and my peaceful, mellow dad, to inaugurate this project with my most hated vegetable (other than onions, which aren’t on the list), and I’m going to start it–Day 1, right off the bat–with squash casserole (except without the onions, obviously). Here’s to you, Mom and Dad. I’m going to eat it and like it.


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