Friday, November 20, 2009

Manitoba Dreaming

I look forward to care packages from home. They’re always perfect, and my parents put a lot of thought into them. My mother always sends me her watercolours, which are stunning. The packages often include some home-grown literature (The Carillon, for instance. That way, columnists like J.D. Lee can make me kick, scream and sob, all from a distance. On the plus side, I’m also able to keep tabs on the properties in Manitoba that I could buy one day. There, I will raise poultry and grow cabbage).

There's more, and the boxes are always full of surprises. One thing I know for sure, though. There is going to be some kind of food in there. I can count on that.

It’s always been that way. When I was fifteen, and living in Québec on a student exchange, my father sent me a box full of Easter chocolates. It came with a letter telling me to take charge, as the Easter Bunny. I did this, dutifully.

Today, I got a package. It was packed full of goodies, but not chocolate this time. Instead, everything smelled like sweet, beautiful garlic, grown by our friends Kelly and Gerry Dubé, in LaBroquerie, 15 minutes away from my parents’ farm. I now have massive amounts of garlic, and by God, I will use it.

The box was also heavy with fingerling potatoes, which I helped dig up back in September. I also found two very firm, cylindrical beets.

Which brings me to tonight's dinner. I roasted fingerling potatoes, a beet, and an entire bulb of Kelly’s garlic, along with some yam and eggplant that I found in the crisper. I tossed everything in olive oil, salt and pepper, and topped it off with some nice feta. I also tucked in half of a lemon into the roasting pan. Once all my veggies were happily roasted, I squeezed hot lemon juice onto the roasted vegetables. A little fresh parsley, and BAM. Dinner.

Ah, yes. You want additional instructions, because that wasn’t really a recipe at all. 450 F, half an hour to 45 minutes...or whenever everyone in the roasting pan is tender, and even a bit charred. The denser veggies, like potatoes and beets should be cut into smaller pieces than softies, like eggplant or yams.

It may not have been a recipe, but I am damn excited about roasted vegetables in the fall. And so should you be.