Monday, July 12, 2010

When Your Eyes Are Bigger Than Your Wallet, And A Roasted Broccoli Salad

I think it's fair to say that about 37% of my student loan was spent buying vintage clothing online. E.bay and various independent sellers profited from my pursuit of education far more than my brain ever did. The sad fact is that many of those clothes are gone; some donated because they didn't fit, some of them unspeakably ugly and never even worn. An amateur to vintage style, I fell prey to the assumption that if it looked good on the model, who'd been styled to bohemian perfection, it would look good on me too. Despite having an entirely different body type. Despite not having a designer haircut that implied insouciance and a lifestyle that included trips to Prague and frequent attendance at gallery openings. Despite not living in an enchanted forest.

(side note: seriously, why did so many online vintage shops have forests as their showcasing backdrop? What looks normal in a forest among tall pines and bluebirds often looks quite batty in a city, amidst 'office casual' and a strong impatience for whimsy. Like capes. Or Victorian collars.)

Is this a look we should bring back?

There were also the unfortunate online spending sprees at Forever 21 that I embarked on while at a really boring job. These occurred when, having read through my lengthy
'blogs-I-love' list and checking my email and Facebook profile 17 times, I was near tears at the 4-plus hours that remained of my workday.

Oh Forever 21. Why you? Why you, when I didn't much enjoy being 21 the first time around, and would never, ever willingly sign up to repeat that age in perpetuity?

Here again, money, time and hope was wasted on impulsively bought clothing that really should have been tried on. It's easy to dismiss this wastage when it's a $12 polyester top; you just cut your losses. But when you are without a job and down to your last few dollars, as I currently find myself, waste of anything takes on a whole new significance. It becomes a personal shame.

In taking quick stock of what was in my fridge a few days ago, I was alarmed at the amount of food that had been forgotten about. An ear of corn. A foil-wrapped packet of crumbled old cheddar. Sagging Swiss chard. An entire head of lettuce. How could I let this happen? But I knew how. In my foodie enthusiasm, I kept trying new recipes that required me to buy little bits of this and that, and the actual contents of my fridge were being cast aside.

Determined to stop my wasteful ways, I decided to work with what near-perishing produce I had on hand for dinner last night. I wanted something light and filling, so I cut up some apples,

Rinsed off some broccoli,

And pondered whether I was dangerously nerdy or only endearingly nerdy for finding some beauty in backlit bacon.

I cobbled together some kind of roasted salad with toasted cubes of time-ripened baguette and a honey-Dijon vinaigrette. It was a pretty delicious creation actually, considering its headlining ingredients were creeping towards their winter years.

'Waste not, want not' has surely been one of my life's most important lessons. It's taught me how to stretch a dollar well beyond its elastic limits. And just think; all I had to do was go to college, drop out of college and cripple myself with debt to learn it.

Hmm. Maybe I should reconsider being 21 again.

Moni's Roasted Apple and Broccoli Salad With Bacon And Croutons:

4 small apples, cut into smallish cubes
3 small heads/1 smallish bunch of broccoli
8 thin slices of double smoked bacon (deli counter)
1/4 baguette, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp chili powder

Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar (could also use apple cider vinegar)
2 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 tbsp honey (could also use pure maple syrup)
salt and pepper to taste
a few dashes of hot sauce (I used a chipotle hot sauce to give a bit of smokiness)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Toss apples and broccoli with a few splashes of neutral flavoured oil (vegetable, canola) and roast till softened and browned, about 40 minutes.

2. In the meantime, assemble the dressing, whisking all the ingredients till well combined. In a large skillet, lay out the bacon strips with a splash of water (helps bacon cook more evenly) and cook till well done and easily crumbled. Drain on paper towels, and if you want to be really decadent, pour the bacon fat onto the roasting broccoli and apples. Oh yes. I. Did.

3. Toss the bread cubes into a frying pan with a touch of oil and dust with chili powder. Toast them till lightly browned, watching carefully that they don't burn.

4. When apples and broccoli are ready, pour into serving bowl and add crumbled bacon. Add as much dressing as you like and then add the croutons, mixing lightly so everything is combined. Serve immediately!!


  1. Gorgeous photo of the back-lit bacon (that would be a good band name, or a good title for your autobiography when you write it.) And you're endearingly nerdy. Actually, not nerdy--just endearing.

  2. JRA, I'm positively beaming; thank you!

  3. hey! i've got one apple and an old head of broccoli just waiting to be used up in a creative way. wonderful salad!

  4. Goor Gord, you're funny! Love yoo - xo mrsbs

  5. Leslie, go for it! I just had the leftovers for dinner and it was still good (although the croutons were soggy, but I kind of liked it)

    Noodle, thanks for the vote of confidence! Love you too!

  6. I went to school, finished school and am still crippled by debt. I'm pretty sure I could have skipped school and gotten a job that pays less, but not had the payments and therefore been better

    The broccoli in the fridge now has a destiny tonight.

  7. Bossy Chef, good point. Why can't we live in countries where the government pays for/subsidises our education instead of bleeding us dry with high interest rates? (whoops - Soapbox, where did you come from?)

    Hope the broccoli fulfilled its destiny (and your expectations!)