OKAY, so, first, the "What's the difference between x and y?" "Lipstick." is, you may recall, "Sarah Palin's" "joke", which led to a minor tussle last week. It was, of course, written for her, and was, I was later informed, the reworking of a PMS joke. I don't recall ever engaging in the form, but I'm not censorious where humor's concerned; I just think caution ought to be applied in consideration of the fact that what people find funny often reveals more about them that they might wish. To me the sum total of the joke there, whether in praise of Councilwoman Palin's surgically-enhanced reputation for "toughness", or in comic exaggeration of someone else's medical affliction, is the fleeting image of a beast indulging in cosmetics. About as funny as you'd imagine it to be, and as long-lasting. It is, I think, a cautionary tale about working such things like a rawhide chew toy, or concerning oneself overly with swarming gnats. It's a minor objection, if that, that her ventriloquists would put a PMS joke into her mouth. It's a far greater one that a woman must be portrayed as a critter-pated pugilist in order to deserve political respect, and by far the worst thing is that Commander Palin and her party could be perfectly presumed to think that way without the matter ever being raised. Except, of course, that it was necessary to paint her that way to allay the fears of the conservers of Neanderthal values, or, as they're also known, the Party. Fight the real enemy, a wise woman once said. Palin's the (typical Republican) defender of the Traditional Family who personally focuses on her own career, with the tenaciousness of a bull terrier, but who would prevent other women from terminating pregnancies that would interfere with theirs. Fight the real enemy.
And, since I thought I was just setting up a gag, it didn't occur to me to explain the dietary business further, but I don't add salt to anything and haven't for years; maybe potatoes in a casserole, certainly in baked goods where it's required, but not much more. My Poor Wife's difficulties with sodium, as she'll admit, comes from her own reliance on too many processed foods, generally not of my choosing, though, as usual, when one begins to rely on nutritional information one is quickly shocked to the core about such things. My own cooking is unapologetically rich judged by the standards of contemporary fadishness, but never incontinently salted, though you'll be offered salt to your heart's content if you join me at table. The recipe-hunting process was an effort to get her to choose some healthier alternatives, out of my concern; I'm not a food fascist. As for "adding flavor" I basically reject the notion of excessive herbalization as I do the application of hops to beer governed, apparently, only by toxicity studies. I've spent years in kitchens pursuing both Italio-French and Chinese regional cooking, and despite the diametrically opposed approaches--melding vs. accumulation of flavors--the signal idea with each is to make ingredients taste like themselves, not like whatever you dumped on them.
Also, since I never get to cook that vegetable stew--I rarely make much of an effort if I'm just feeding myself--I pulled the recipe card rather than type from memory. The card excludes garlic, but julia's right; 2 cloves, to taste, minced and added when the onions are nearly cooked, not before. Alternately one might fry whole cloves in the oil before the onions go in.