COLUMNS: Barbecued vegetables can help cure winter blues

There are lots of days representing something other than the date.

There are lots of days representing something other than the date.

We have Valentine’s Day, which is nice because it has to do with love. We have groundhog day, but that doesn’t do much for most of us because they don’t use a B.C. groundhog in the forecast. We have Williams Lake Stampede Days, there’s Billy Barker Days, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and National Flag Day on Feb. 15. There is also St. Patrick’s Day and Garlic Festival Day at Lac La Hache. There are lots of days for lots of reasons but why is there not a happy day?

If they have a jeans only day, why could we not have a happy day? We could have a happy day at work as well as at home or on a holiday or just about everywhere. Could we all not just be happy for one day? Wow what a celebration that would be.  Imagine, everybody happy, no grouchers, no bad stuff, just smiles everywhere.  Remember, a smile in any language looks the same. Nice.

During the winter months, daylight hours are shortened considerably. With the shortage of sunlight, an increase of cloudy days and you have the right recipe for cabin fever. It happens to me about this time of the year, each year. By the end of March if there is still snow around and it’s cool, I start getting really anxious. A trip to the Coast where I  can see green grass and flowers usually helps me get out of the winter funk for a while and by that time it really is spring in the Cariboo.

Any time of the year is great to cook vegetables outdoors, however, to me, it seems like they taste better in the winter. You can grill a lot of different veggies on the barbecue and, when they start to caramelize, that’s when  they taste their very best. I guess it’s the sweetness, roasted garlic, as an example, becomes very sweet when it is roasted.

If you have never had a tomato roasted on the barbecue try it soon.

• 4 ripe tomatoes halved

• 1 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle tomato halves with oil and salt (I have also added a little dried oregano with the oil, rosemary is also nice) and then put on the barbecue at medium heat.

Make sure you oil the grate before grilling vegetables. Cook tomato three minutes on each side until lightly charred on the outside but still firm inside.

Tomato halves mixed with green peppers roasted in the same manner as the tomatoes, makes a colorful and tasty vegetable side dish to any meal.

Green peppers take about 10 minutes to grill, then peel off black skin, and cut clean flesh into strips.

Or perhaps another green dish to go with the tomatoes could be asparagus roasted on the barbecue.

Use the same method as tomatoes. It should take no more than six or eight minutes depending on the size of asparagus. It’s easier to work with the larger spears.

Take some time to get outside and do a little veggie cooking on the barbecue. Put chicken breasts on one side of the barbecue before you start the veggies. Cook to your choosing, add some rice on the side burner about the same time to start the breasts and, voila, you have a colourful and tasty barbecue meal in the winter in less than 30 minutes.  Besides having a nice dinner, the outdoor barbecue might just help chase away some of those winter blues. I hope you and your sweetheart have a nice Valentine Day!

Bye for now and Goood Cooking

Ken Wilson is a freelance columnist with the Tribune/Weekend Advisor.