Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It's Cherry Good To See You

Cherries are back! Cherries are back!!!

And some other things:
1 lb. shelling peas
1 lb. sugar snap peas
2 bunches carrots
3 lbs. zucchini
1 bunch collards
1 bunch red Russian kale
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 head French crisp lettuce
1 bunch Italian parsley
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch "garlic balls" (immature heads of Rocambole garlic)
1 qt. strawberries
1 lb. cherries!!!!!!
Total spent: $43

Unfortunately Terhune Orchards doesn't have cherries yet this season. I hope they will; they didn't have any asparagus at all, and theirs was my favorite last year. The ones I got from Locust Grove are delicious, but slightly short of spectacular. (Though it is early for cherries, and I'm sure all this rain hasn't helped anything.)

While I waited for the subway today, laden with bags of vegetables, I looked at the mass of various green leaves sticking out of my market bag, and I mentally compared my leaf-eating self to the brontosaurus from an elementary-school textbook, craning my long neck up to munch green bites out of trees. This is by no means the first time I've had this train of thought.

But then I started thinking, inevitably, about the brontosaurus, who now, we all know, was not real. When I was a dinosaur-loving kid (as so many bookish types are), I remember feeling very confused and a bit betrayed by scientists for making us believe in a dinosaur that turned out to have been constructed erroneously, using bones from more than one creature. It wasn't as though brontosaurus was some peripheral dino that was easily dispensed with - this was one of the canon, along with stegosaurus, triceratops, and pterodactyl, featured on those plastic mugs we all had. And all of a sudden, we're supposed to start rooting for this tiny-headed "apatosaurus" character? Worst of all, everyone pronounced "apatosaurus" differently.

Apparently the subway was taking its time to arrive, because I considered further that perhaps this was the seed of my now fully-blooming mistrust of science, which, of course, was nourished abundantly during my year at The Natural Gourmet. And I imagine today's generation of young bookish kids will have a similar reason for scorn because of the whole "Pluto isn't a planet" situation. Part of the reason I was thinking about this was a recent discussion one of the food sites I read about unsafe/scary foods, and the ongoing debate about margarine - with about half the posters concluding that because scientists say it's alright for you, then it is. It's really unbelievable to me that given the history of scientific mistakes threatening the public health (I mean, come on, DDT? Trans fats?), folks are still so willing to believe whatever today's scientific "wisdom" happens to be, when it comes to food.

Don't get me wrong, I totally believe in evolution and quantum physics and stuff. But when it comes to personal health, I am much more likely to trust, say, farmers, or traditional cultures - even to a fault. It seems like science has had more trouble figuring out the human body and how it responds to nutrition, stimuli, etc., than they have had charting distant galaxies. (Though I suppose mistakes about human health confront us in a way that mistakes about neutron stars don't.) And I won't even get into the seemingly insurmountable conflicts of interest that exist in today's largely food-industry-funded nutrition research community.

In conclusion, re: almost entirely irrelevant subject matter - I am going to be eating a lot of vegetables this week, like every week, because eating vegetables is scientifically and non-scientifically proven to make you healthy. Not to mention: I love 'em. No big plans for this week's haul, though now that berries have started in earnest, I think I'll have to do my first jams of the year next week. I'll begin with strawberry-rhubarb if there's still rhubarb around.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Encyclopedia Brown and the case of the missing strawberries

I bought two pints of delicious little Tristar strawberries at the market this morning, but now I only have one pint. The investigation is still in its initial stages, but the evidence suggests it was an inside* job.

The threat of rain was an idle one, thank goodness:
1 bunch mint
1 bunch dill
1 bunch chervil
1 head French crisp lettuce
1 bunch beets with greens
1 bunch collards
1 3/4 lb. sugar snap peas
1 1/2 lb. zucchini
1 1/4 lb. shell peas
2 bunches carrots
1 bag onions
1 bag shallots
2 pints Tristar strawberries
Total spent: $44

Today was a bountiful one at the market, to say the least. Zucchini made its first appearance, and I picked up some of the gorgeous sweet baby beets I've been seeing to make a batch of springtime borscht along with carrots, onions, and plenty of fresh dill. I'll use the chervil in a light pureed soup with the peas, as I did last week with the tarragon (which, by the way, was one of the most delicious things I've ever made).

The mint was so fragrant and lovely that I impulse-bought it - perhaps it's time to make that blended mint lemonade I've been thinking about since having a sip of a friend's at Westville...or maybe when I'm making my first batch of homemade ginger ale, I'll throw in some fresh mint and honey. Full report to come.

Not much else by way of big plans: I do want to make some sugar snap pea pickles using the Joy Of Pickling recipe (I was even more inspired to make them when I saw this Smitten Kitchen post), and the rest will be blanched and eaten as snacks. And of course I'm thrilled that carrots are back at the market! If I can avoid eating them all (good luck), I may make a light carrot soup. We'll see.

*Inside my stomach that is! Ha ha ha ha ha!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

New acquisitions

Late to the market, waiting for Fedex. But worth it!!

Springtime arrivals:
1 MacBook Pro
2 lbs. asparagus
1 lb. shell peas
2 lb. sugar snap peas
1 lb. rhubarb
1 bunch spring onions
1 bunch collard greens
1 head broccoli
1/4 lb. mesclun greens
1 bunch tarragon
1 qt. strawberries
Total spent: $2041

Of course the presence of broccoli means my photo assistant is out of town. And since he's away, I'm going to have a hot night tonight...literally hot, because I am going to be pickling. I'm definitely going to make rhubarb chutney (using the recipe in Joy Of Pickling but with agave + molasses instead of white sugar, and with dried cherries instead of golden raisins), and I will do some fridge pickled sugar snap peas as well, with another Joy Of Pickling recipe, which is why I bought the tarragon.

As far as the shell peas go, I'm going to make them into a spring pea soup tonight. I considered buying some cream, but decided I will try to come up with a recipe that doesn't require it (as much as I do support the use of heavy cream). Luckily I have plenty of butter on hand!

Thrilled with spring despite piles of setbacks thus far (the burglary being only the first); thrilled with all the fresh produce and beautiful weather; have a lot of big and small plans, will be developing recipes like a madlady this season if all goes according to plan!