When I was a youngster, my grandparents on my dad’s side lived outside Boston. We lived in the Chicago area.While a plane could have gotten us there in under two hours, navigating O’Hare and Logan Airports with four young children was probably a scarier thing to contemplate than the cost of six plane tickets. Though in those days at least we wouldn’t have had to pay for our luggage to come along with us.
No, instead, my parents would load us into the station wagon and put up with the whining, sharing air complaints, he’s touching me laments, and other nonsense. They were very adept at that reaching behind and landing a perfect strike on the offending youngster.
There is one year in particular that stands out in my mind. It was Christmas. It was cold. It was snowing. We headed East. It snowed harder. It got colder.
At some point we realized we were the only ones on the road. At another point, the heat in the car stopped working. We forged ahead.
Christmas Vacation could have stolen a scene from our trek.
If John Hughes had been peeking out the window of his cozy motel that stood on our route, he’d have seen my father with the driver’s door open as he inched along the highway, looking down to make sure he could see some semblance of the double yellow line that proved he was still on the road. He’d peer into the car to see my mother staring intently out the front window so she could warn him of any impending traffic (not that there was another soul with us). Looking into the back, he’d notice the four of us children armed with cards; library, driver’s license, whatever we could find. We were scraping the frost that kept growing on the inside of the car and was impeding my parents from seeing the zero-visibility blizzard raging outside. All six of us were bundled up in every item of clothing we could get our mittened hands on.
We had to make this trek. It falls under that amazing heading, The Things We Do For Our Families.
I’m proud to say that yesterday I did do something for my family. I made artichokes and ate them while they weren’t home. I know, I know. It’s huge. You’re thinking about putting together a parade in my honor, aren’t you.
Ok, no, it doesn’t even come close to what my parents did to get us where we needed to be, but if you knew how much Hubby and Dudette can’t stand the smell, let alone taste of artichokes, you’d understand. I love them. I grew up eating them and fighting my siblings for the last one on the plate.
Since being married, I rarely make or eat them because eating artichokes has . . . consequences. Intestinal consequences. When you’re living alone, it doesn’t matter. When you have a significant other, creating a toxic zone in your living space is hardly a relationship-building exercise.
See, eating and processing artichokes alone. It’s a thing I do for my family.
I’m always a bit surprised when I see dipping sauces for artichokes that use mayonnaise or butter as a base because that was never the way I had them growing up. We had a vinaigrette that was fantastic. It allowed the flavor of the artichoke meat to shine through. I can’t imagine eating one with anything other than a light coating of oil and vinegar with a touch of seasonings.
So, I was very happy to see that Rachael had a real vinaigrette to go with her artichoke recipe and couldn’t wait to try it.
Making the vinaigrette was easy. Since I’m used to boiling the whole artichoke and not worrying about cutting off the tips, preparing the vegetable was a bit of a pain and not something I would bother with unless I was making this for company, which I wouldn’t ever do since it’s such an acquired taste and I would feel like I’m sending people home as loaded bombs.
It’s not hard, just time consuming.
Artichoke preparation aside, I was disappointed in the vinaigrette. It was so overwhelmingly garlic and shallot; nothing else came through. In fact, it was so strong that when Dudette came home later that afternoon, she commented on my breath (and that was after I’d brushed my teeth and used mouth wash).
This recipe creates consequences before the artichokes work their way through you, almost like a hint of what’s to come. Not what I need.
To be at least somewhat positive, I did like the combination of lemon and vinegar with the olive oil, but overall, it was not something I’d ever make or eat again (at least not this way).
What I’d Do Different Next Time
I’d leave the artichokes whole and make the vinaigrette with a combination of oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a touch of garlic powder (my regular vinaigrette).
- 4 young artichokes-halved, chokes discarded and insides rubbed with lemon
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 1 small shallot, grated
- 1 large clove garlic, grated
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- ½ cup EVOO
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
- In a large pot, combine the artichokes and enough water to cover. Stir in half of the lemon juice. Bring to a boil and cook the artichokes until tender, about 20 minutes.
- Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the shallot, garlic, remaining lemon juice and the vinegar; season with salt. Let sit for a few minutes. Stir in the sugar, then whisk in the EVOO until emulsified. Season with the thyme, salt and lots of pepper.
- Serve the artichokes with the vinaigrette for dipping.
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