I had three babies in the 1980’s. With each pregnancy I craved particular foods…well, after I finally stopped heaving up everything that even remotely resembled food. Ultimate nausea for months.
Anyway, as I was saying, each pregnancy came with its own unique food cravings. Interestingly enough, the very things that I craved with each individual pregnancy became my children’s favorite food(s) as they grew up. Matt loves burgers, pizza, and those dry, powdered sugar covered raspberry donuts that come in a box of 6. Katie loves those extremely cheap frozen Totino’s pizzas and peanut butter. And Tricia loves peanut butter and broccoli (not together).
Yes, I actually craved broccoli when I was pregnant with Tricia. So strange. I was obsessed with eating broccoli, almost driven to eat it. Then, as soon as Tricia was old enough to start eating solid food (only 5 months old), she would gobble down the broccoli every time I made it for dinner. I didn’t mash it up for her, she would just grab a piece of broccoli and chomp away at it.
One night when Tricia was 6 years old, my husband and I went out on a date. Let’s see, that would have been in 1991–back during the advent of the cellphone, a.k.a the days of ‘the brick’. Ummhmm, we had a brick. John used to strap it to his hip like a gunslinger in an old Western. It was a little embarrassing hauling that thing around, we were some of the few people who had a ‘cell phone’, but John’s employer had provided it for him, so we used it. Actually, it was a good idea for us to have it because our kids were a bit on the wild side and it was nice, sort of, to know that the babysitter could contact us in case of an emergency.
On this particular night we had only been gone from home for about 10 minutes when the phone rang. I braced myself for the inevitable disaster as I answered the phone. Surprisingly, it was Tricia’s voice that I heard, not the babysitter’s voice. “Mom,” she said. “Can I have the rest of the broccoli?”
True story. What kid calls and asks if they can have the rest of the broccoli? And as a parent, what do you say to that question? “Well, have you eaten all of your ice cream and candy? No more broccoli until you finish your dessert. You know the rules.” I stifled my laughter and respectfully told her that it would be okay for her to have the last of the broccoli. In my mind’s eye, I could see her sitting there at the table quietly finishing it off. So cute.
Our family has eaten a lot of broccoli over the years. One of my favorite ways of preparing it used to be with a cheese sauce. It has been a long time since I have prepared it that way, often opting instead to prepare it steamed crisp tender and then sprinkled with lemon pepper. It’s an excellent combination. For some reason, however, I just got in the mood for broccoli with cheese sauce recently. Maybe it’s the cold weather.
The crispy fried pancetta is a new addition and added a subtle complimentary flavor. Of course bacon could be used in place of the pancetta. I wouldn’t eat broccoli prepared like this every day, but it was nice for a change, nice to have memories from ‘the old days’. I would, however, eat my weight in this healthier, revamped Broccoli Salad from my nursing school days.
Tip: As you probably know, there are some varieties of broccoli that come with a large stalk. I used to get frustrated about having to waste so much of the broccoli because of the inedible, woody stalk. Then one day I learned that the tough outer part of the stalk can be removed with a vegetable peeler, exposing the tender and very tasty broccoli stem beneath. Now, whenever I serve broccoli, we consider the stem portion to be the ultimate broccoli prize. It actually tastes better then the broccoli heads.
This is a lovely bunch of goodness, just waiting to make your mouth happy.