I’m from the generation that was raised on soap operas. In fact, I first learned to watch soaps at my mother’s knee (no, seriously: the TV was perched on her dresser at the foot of the bed; she sat on the bed, and I, on the floor. . . at her knee). When I was a child, she watched Edge of Night; then Secret Storm. As a teen, I remember my mom’s daily soap trilogy of Days of Our Lives, Another World, and General Hospital blaring as she did the ironing, folded laundry, or ate her lunch in front of the TV.
Up until it went off the air a couple of years ago, I loved watching my favorite soap as well. Since its demise, I’ve barely watched any television at all (though some might suggest that’s a good thing). My weekday evenings would go something like this: walk the dogs, prep dinner, catch up with the HH, clear up the kitchen together. Retreat upstairs to the TV room where I’d snuggle in to my favorite armchair, feet tucked under me and a steaming cup of herbal tea in my hand. Flick on the PVR and start the day’s episode. Gaze with anticipation at the screen; adjust the volume as the credits roll. Sit back and savor every one of the 42 minutes of the show.
Unless, of course, it was a day when this happened:
Voice Over Announcer: The role of Mary Montgomery will now be played by [some unknown actress's name].
Didn’t you hate when they did that? Poof!–Just like that–one of your favorite characters could become. . . somebody else!
Sometimes, the show didn’t even bother to find a successor who resembled the original actor (as when Peter Bergman replaced Terry Lester as Jack) or–the apex of “please suspend your disbelief”–when they replaced Anne Heche, who had assumed the role of identical twins Marly and Vicky, with two separate actresses who were not only different somatotypes, but also about six inches apart in height.
On the other hand, there are plenty of occasions when a stand-in might just surpass the original. Do you know the story of how Shirley Maclaine got her start on Broadway? Toiling as an unknown understudy to Carol Haney in The Pyjama Game, Maclaine leapt to fame when she replaced Haney at the last minute after the star broke her ankle. The rest, as they say, is history. (And have any of you heard of Carol Haney since then? I didn’t think so). Similarly, I’d say that the unnamed actor’s moves in Flashdance (that eye-popping finale in front of the dance academy judges at the end of the film) certainly outshone anything Beals herself could have done. And who didn’t think that the body double for Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman was infinitely more appealing in those thigh-high boots than the somewhat equine Ms. Roberts herself?
Well, this past weekend was a bit of a whirlwind for the HH and me, one that involved its own stand-in of sorts. After a final celebratory brunch at Fresh in honor of my birthday (don’t you just love a birthday that lasts almost a month?), I threw a little dinner for my office mate, who married his long-time sweetheart a couple of months back. Interestingly, while the number of couples opting for cohabitation continues to increase yearly, Mr. Mate is the second person over 40 that I know who tied the knot recently. (Is there some tax loophole for “legally married in middle age” that the HH and I should know about?).
Our dinner party menu was a truly eclectic affair, with food geared both toward the omnis among us (ie, everyone except me) and a few choice morsels from my vegan repertoire, selected specifically to wow the guests (I didn’t want to overwhelm those folks with a full-on ACD menu; we do want them to come back, after all). So I served these sushi rolls as appetizers, which everyone gobbled up with glee.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that the HH and I used to enjoy a weekly lunch date, which began after I switched my diet from the SAD to the NAG (luckily, those acronyms apply to my eating habits rather than describing me in general). Every Tuesday, we’d meet for sushi: the HH savored his chunks o’ raw seafood, while I relished my beloved veggie maki. For several years, all was well with the Ricki-HH world. (“And our world, too, Mum! Except we weren’t crazy about you leaving us for two whole hours once a week. What’s up with that?“).
Once I reverted to the strict ACD in March, 2009, sushi was off the table–literally. I wasn’t permitted even a minute amount of sugar (used to season sushi rice), and of course the (white, refined) sushi rice was also forbidden. Wahhhh! Instead, I frequently turned to one of my favorite substitutes, raw nori rolls, which I could make at home whenever I craved sushi. Unfortunately, this dietary change also means that my lunch dates with the HH have been put on hold indefinitely since then. (“But Mum, now you have more time with us! How’s that for a bonus??”).
When I came upon Gena’s recipe for raw sushi “rice,” I knew I’d have to give it a try in lieu of my usual rolls. And a bonus for me (besides all that extra time with The Girls) is that it’s made from parsnips–this month’s SOS ingredient! Knowing I could depend on Gena for a recipe that was both reliable and delicious, I went ahead and rolled up a huge batch.
Incredibly easy to make, this sushi rice evokes a distinct Asian palate with a novel combination of ingredients. When raw, parsnips are mildly flavored and don’t overpower the other seasonings; they provide the perfect foil for any vegetables you choose to surround with “rice,” all wrapped in a glossy, chewy, umami nori sheet. The beauty of this recipe is that you can pair the “rice” with any filling you fancy. The HH and I first enjoyed some simple rolls with just “rice,” avocado and tomato on the first night we tried them. For my guests, I added cucumber, carrot and green onion to the mix. I also drizzled a little sriracha over the top of the veggies before rolling–a great way to provide the “oomph” of wasabi paste when you don’t have the actual wasabi at home (though I’m definitely going to try these again using pickled ginger and wasabi for a more traditional “sushi” experience). I’d even try the “rice” on its own or with other toppings as part of a dinner bowl rather than rolled in sushi–I think it could stand up well on its own.
My office mate and his new bride adored these little bites, as do the HH and I. They had no idea what was in them, except that it wasn’t rice; and they certainly didn’t realize that our appetizers were both ACD friendly and vegan. In fact, I’m already planning for the plant-based replacement I’ll use in our main course, next time.
Raw Sushi with Parsnip “Rice” (adapted from Choosing Raw)
Suitable for ACD, all stages
Makes 4 nori rolls, or about 2 1/2 cups rice
4-5 medium parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) natural smooth almond butter or tahini (I used half of each)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) Bragg’s or wheat-free tamari
1 tsp (5 ml) toasted sesame oil
2 tsp (10 ml) apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar
Sriracha, to taste
Place the parsnips in the bowl of a food processor and process briefly to break up.
Add remaining ingredients and pulse until the mixture resembles grains of rice.
Use in nori rolls, lettuce cups, or in a meal-in-a-bowl instead of rice. Makes 3-4 appetizer servings.
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I’m sending this recipe along to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays this week.