Extreme Frugality:
Better Living Through Broccoli

What happens when the one vegetable you love to hate turns out to be the most delicious vegetable in the world?

I can remember sitting at that dining table as if it were yesterday. I’d already missed the beginning of Mannix, but there was no way I was going to miss the whole thing. I had to act. But it was a lose-lose proposition: I either had to eat it all in one ginormous mouthful or suffer the consequences, quite likely a painful spanking, for not finishing my meal. Actually, giving it “one more go” might elicit said punishment even quicker, given that I would most likely gag the second my taste buds kicked in. Actually, if it were any other food, I’d have a third option. Both my parents had left the table. I could call out to be excused, take a huge bite without swallowing, and then head to the bathroom, wherein I could easily dispose of my unwanted dinner. But not broccoli—a vegetable whose sole purpose was to make my life a living hell. I could no more take a bite of broccoli without going into convulsions than ride my banana-seat Schwinn with two hands all the way home from school. Some things were immutable. A fact of childhood … and beyond.

So imagine my surprise this past week when I found myself running around the house uttering—no, screaming—in regard to a small mound of broccoli I’d just seared in butter, “Taste it, Angus! Come on, Helen, give it a try. Taste it. Eliza! Anabel! Lisa! It’s the most amazing vegetable I’ve ever had in my entire life!” It was nutty flavored and unexpectedly satisfying. One bite convinced me that I’d found the true fruit of the gods—even if it is a vegetable. I simply couldn’t imagine a better tasting vegetable than a butter-seared stem of broccoli. If you need your own convincing, simply melt 2 tablespoons of butter on high heat and toss in a handful (about a cup) of fresh broccoli, including the leaves. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon water and continue stirring for 2 more minutes. Sprinkle with salt and serve at your leisure, as it will taste delicious hot, warm, room temperature, or cold.

That is, if it’s fresh and, equally important, has never been refrigerated. I remember hearing Gordon Ramsay (yes, I get a wicked guilty pleasure out of watching Hell’s Kitchen), I think, extol the virtue of some ingredient, insisting it was much better if never chilled, and I laughed out loud at such utter nonsense. But that was obviously before my BSB (Butter-Seared Broccoli) epiphany. Now I finally understand why broccoli hasn’t gone the way of fried pine needles, boiled skunk cabbage, steamed horse-chestnut shells, and all other items crossed off the list for human consumption. Broccoli tastes fantastic. Perfect, even.

To make myself clear: Fresh broccoli is the best vegetable in the world, and I dare anyone to say otherwise.*

Don’t take this the wrong way. We’ve been eating from our garden every day now, and I’m delighted that our low-budget lifestyle has filled our dinner plates with cheap, extremely fresh homegrown foods. But I’m even happier that it has led me to this consummate vegetable.

Store-bought steamed broccoli is dead! Long live BSB!

* If you do so, you must provide a short defense and cooking instructions in the Comments section, but know that you will be wrong.

Frugal Tip of the Week
Think of something you frequently waste money on. Ask yourself if the thing is truly necessary and, if it isn’t, then don’t buy or do it for one month. Anything shorter than that probably won’t have a financial impact, and anything longer might prove too difficult, leading to failure. You obviously need to do this for your bank account’s sake (or else you probably wouldn’t be reading this), but you also owe it to yourself. I was amazed to learn how much a slave I was to my indulgences and how better and lighter I feel now that I’m no longer feeding them. Oh, yes, and wealthier.

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