With a new year comes new resolutions. I don’t really buy into the whole resolutions thing– you won’t find a list taped to my fridge or written in lipstick on my bathroom mirror. But it does seem like a fitting time to reflect back and look ahead, and think about things that could make the new year better than the last. For me, this typically boils down to three categories: what I eat, how much I move, and how I spend my time with the people I love. It’s also a good time to think about that first item because, holidays. I don’t know how disciplined you were, but in a month’s time (just one month!) over the holiday period, I gained 8 pounds. Yes, I know that I’m growing a baby, but still– that’s not cool. Time to make better choices.

A Literary Feast -- Lorelai Gilmore

Do you see my problem? No dinner plate– only flowers!

Surprising how often this has happened during my Friday Night Dinner experiences so far, but this week’s dinner (S1:E19) lined up with my agenda perfectly. (As an aside, I believe this is technically the last Friday Night Dinner of Season One, can you believe it? I’m going to stretch it out to one more, though…) I’ve come to realize through this experiment that the biggest obstacle in recreating these dinners is Emily’s love of floral arrangements. If the dinner is not described, I have to rely on visuals. The combination of camera angles, plus a conveniently-placed centerpiece often hides the family’s plates, making even that an impossibility. Recreating Luke’s meals would be much easier. He abhors table decorations. Anyway, we press on. In this dinner, the flowers are very abundant, and I have little to go on until Lorelai says, “Pass the artichokes, please.”

A Literary Feast -- artichokes

Healthy eating? Check. This Friday Night Dinner caught my attention years before I started writing about them, because after being passed the said artichokes, Lorelai serves one onto her plate. A whole. stinkin’. artichoke. I’ve never eaten an artichoke this way. I buy the hearts in the can and chop them up in pasta or make yummy dip. You mean you can eat the whole thing? Once again, Emily Gilmore stretches my culinary palate, this time with a mere vegetable. On to the wonderful world of Pinterest to research how to cook (and eat) whole artichokes. As with any vegetable, there are a myriad of ways to prepare it. Boil, steam, roast, flambé (kidding, I think)… I went with this crockpot method to steam them in a bath of white wine, because you can’t possibly go wrong with a combo like Riesling, lemon, and artichoke, right?

A Literary Feast -- crockpot artichokes

Loving how the oil on wine shines like stars!

The prep was so easy, and like any other crockpot recipe, you just “fix it and forget it.” I think I overcooked them a bit. Not that it seemed to matter in the taste or consistency of the artichoke meat, but the presentation might have been better if they were less… mushy. BUT! Here is the burning question for this meal: HOW WOULD YOU POSSIBLY EAT THIS AT A FANCY DINNER? I’m serious here. Where’s the follow-through of Lorelai (better yet, Emily) actually eating it? It’s kind of a process. You pull each leaf out– with your fingers!– and scrape your teeth across the bottom edge to extract the piece of the heart that clings to each leaf. Fancy, huh? Then you discard the rest of the leaf into a “dump bowl.” Once you work your way down to the heart of the matter, you cut away the fuzz and devour the pièce de résistance in a couple of glorious bites. I’m paraphrasing these directions from another article that describes how to eat a whole artichoke. Yes, I had to research it that much. You can dip the leaves into something like herbed melted butter. I chose to alternate between eating them plain and dipping them in ranch dressing. Oh yes, we be fancy here. So yummy, though!  Show me the person who can do all of this elegantly and with silverware, and I will be properly impressed.

A Literary Feast -- plated artichoke

Suffice it to say, I won’t be serving these at my next dinner party. They do, however, fall into the category of healthy snacking while watching TV. Kind of like pistachios. You get the satisfaction of eating continuously and mindlessly while consuming very few calories. Win, win. Do you have a favorite way of cooking/eating artichokes? Comment below!

This episode also has much to say about new beginnings: Rachel wants to start a new chapter with Luke; Lane wants that with Henry; Emily tries a new tactic with Rory when she is confronted again by her shortcomings with Lorelai; and Lorelai and Sookie dream of a new beginning at a new (old) inn. There’s a lot going on here, leading up to the finale of Season One, folks, and it only gets better. I’ll leave it at that– you can watch it for yourself! Oh, just one more editorial: Kelly Bishop and Emily Kuroda needed way more scenes together. They are like iron sharpening iron!

A Literary Feast -- Emily Gilmore and Mrs. Kim

Emily Gilmore and Mrs. Kim — the battle of wits has begun