Q & A: Vegetables galore, and the Great LJ Exodus.

By | January 25, 2010

I am still answering questions over at Formspring.me, and will probably continue to do so until y’all run out of things to ask. So get thee to questioning! Below are two recent questions and answers.

Q. I’m aware that you enjoy fresh produce immensely. What are your favorite vegetables and what is your favorite way to cook them?

A. EXCELLENT QUESTION. Here’s the first ten that spring immediately to mind:

1. Brussels sprouts: I halve these, toss them with olive oil, fresh-ground pepper and kosher salt, and roast them in the oven.

2. Asparagus: same as above, though I often add some sliced shallots. I also occasionally do a roasted-asparagus flatbread involving eggs and a bit of cheese that’s excellent.

3. Collards: Fresh greens are SO underrated. My favorite method of preparation here is to saute the collards (never boil — if they’re fresh as they should be, they’ll taste fine sauteed, and when you boil them most of the awesome nutrients go down the drain with the water) with onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper; crumble in some crispy bacon; serve over whole wheat fusilli or some other easily-manageable pasta. Kale can be treated the same way; weirdly, I’m not a huge fan of chard but I expect it’d work too.

4. Broccoli rabe: sauteed in olive oil with garlic and tons of crushed red pepper.

5. Butternut squash: I make a really simple butternut risotto that is super easy and crazy delicious.

6. Sweet potatoes: So much more flavorful than plain old white potatoes, these are amazing just baked, with butter and kosher salt. I have this for dinner at least once a week.

7. Spinach: I am not a big fan of cooked spinach (though I eat it raw in salads by the truckload), but the one exception is this spinach and feta frittata I make. Even my vegetable-fearing husband loves it. [Edit: The recipe for this one is here.]

8. Carrots: this time of year I make a carrot-ginger soup that is just the perfect comfort food. Actually, I should totally make some this week.

9. Cauliflower: Aloo gobi!

10. Artichokes: I steam these whole and eat them leaf by leaf with fresh garlic butter.

I am not including salads here, but I eat at least one big salad a day, usually dressed simply with good vinegar (I have a fig-infused one I’m really into right now) and olive oil, and the omnipresent kosher salt. As a cook I am mostly vegetarian (except for bacon, nothing compares as a seasoning for certain dishes) so stuff like the above is how I feed myself during the week.

Fun question! Thanks for asking it.

After the jump, I hold forth on the changing internets and the inevitable demise (or not) of LiveJournal.

Q. Livejournal feels too outdated and facebook and twitter and other microblogging too brief and too exposed. You have your own domain-specific blog and blog audience, is that the best alternative for displaced LJers who still yearn to express and connect?

A. Oh, I could ramble on about this subject for days if you let me.

Truly, I am still fond of Livejournal and continue to use it, for a few reasons. The first is that I have a wonderful circle of trusted friends there, many of whom I likely never would have met without LJ. Secondly, the beginning point of Fatshionista was the Livejournal community, and as long as that exists I will always have a presence on LJ. Though individual journal activity does seem to to be dropping off on LJ, the fats community is still huge and crazy and as active as it’s ever been. So for me, over the past year I’ve been changing how I use LJ, but not necessarily making plans to abandon it altogether.

The obvious issue here is the exposure issue you mention above. If Facebook, with all its privacy settings, still feels too exposed, then odds are a domain and public blog of your own will feel like running into Times Square naked. During New Year’s Eve. Also, building a solid audience is actually pretty challenging; when I first launched fatshionista.com, I’d assumed that between the LJ community and the other FA bloggers I knew, readers would be all over my site. Not so! It takes awhile to establish a voice and a style that people recognize. These days I’m constantly astonished and humbled by the number of really loyal and wonderful regular readers I have… even the ones who never comment.

Which leads me to my next point: I write for fatshionista.com for other people. Everything I post there is specifically intended to speak to my now-established audience; even when I’m posting something that may be controversial or difficult, I’m aware of who I’m writing for. On the other hand, I write in my LJ for me, and me alone. If I’m venting about community drama or sharing pictures of my cats or whatever, I’m doing it for me, and the friends I have there, I assume, read it because they like me and are interested in the banality of my life.

My point being, a standalone blog is not always (though sometimes!) a means of expression and connection in the same way LJ is. LJ is a closed system, specially designed to help folks of like minds and interests to find one another and connect; a blog on the internets is one little toy boat bobbing in a sea of toy boats. You will invariably bump into other blogs, now and then, but it’s much harder to find people you’ve got that simpatico with. There are, of course, various feeds with can serve as a sort of blog friendslist (FA blogs, for example, have the Notes From the Fatosphere feed and a few others — check out Fat Lot of Good for info: http://www.fatlotofgood.org.au/). But it’s not as… intimate as LJ is. LJ does feel outdated, but for me, that’s not reason to jump ship just yet. My suspicion is that as LJ falls to the wayside, it’s either going to have to change dramatically as a system, or something else will evolve to replace it. As it is, Livejournal really does fill a space that nothing else quite satisfies.

This is just my opinion, of course. I like all of the mentioned outlets for different reasons (Facebook, I need to use more, especially for fatshionista.com), but you’re right that none of them are replacements for a site like Livejournal. An option becoming more and more popular is Tumblr, which sort of melds a lot of the nice friend-making options of LJ with the wider reach of a blog. I have a Tumblr account I rarely use, though not because I don’t like it; just because I can only keep up with so much!

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