Weekend shocker: Yesterday I bought (i.e., paid for) lettuce. Lettuce does, infrequently, come into my apartment thanks to gardener friends with an excess of greens, but green vegetables, especially leafy green vegetables, are rarely seen in my kitchen. What I wrote quite a few years ago remains true to this day:
Fresh vegetables in general make me anxious; fresh leafy green stuff scares me to death. I love spinach, but buying it is like installing a time bomb in my fridge: if I don’t get to it immediately, it’s in there ticking away, wilting and browning and turning gelatinous around the edges. At that point I can barely bring myself to look in the crisper, whereupon the ticking accelerates and the day fast approaches when the spinach I bought in good faith will resemble something that died on the road.
Here’s how it happened.
Around 11:30 or so yesterday morning I headed off to the Fall Farmers Market in search of Linda Alley’s new New Lane Sundries creation, Apple Rum Raisin Jam. My current fave is Ginger Pear Marmalade (which I was out of), with Cranberry Jalapeño Jam coming up fast on the outside, but Linda doesn’t make a jam, jelly, or marmalade that isn’t delicious, and apple + rum + raisin sounded especially good.
So there I was at the Ag Hall, among Vineyarders in sturdy cool-weather wear browsing the vendors’ tables or sitting down to coffee or lunch with friends. Cruising the hall looking for Linda, I noticed that the Grey Barn & Farm had scallions on offer: my plans for the afternoon included lentil barley soup, and my recipe uses scallions. I’d been planning to buy some at Cronig’s, the next stop on my itinerary. Maybe . . . ?
I moved on, and shortly found Enchanted Chocolates. I have reservations a-plenty about green vegetables but none whatsoever about chocolate, so after taste-testing a milk-chocolate-covered macadamia nut I bought a half-pound bag, and lest it be lonely in my satchel I added a dark chocolate & sea salt bar. Sea salt seems to be in goddamn everything these days, but I have to admit it goes well with chocolate or caramel, and as fads go it sure beats pumpkin spice.
At last I arrived at Linda’s table. My taste-test of Apple Rum Raisin Jam (Linda puts out sample dishes of her wares and little crackers to spread them on) lived up to expectations so I bought a jar of it, along with one of Ginger Pear Marmalade and another of Cranberry Jalapeño Jam. I could have, maybe should have, left the hall right then, but I didn’t. I wandered back to the scallions.
Farmers Market produce is both fresh and notoriously expensive, but Cronig’s isn’t exactly cheap, and my lentil barley soup did need scallions. Still, I wavered. Scallions seemed like such a paltry purchase, especially when right next to me customers were taste-testing the gourmet cheeses in preparation for running up (most likely) a significant tab.
Just to the left of the scallions was a display of cellophane-bundled greens of various sorts. Maybe I’d seem less, well, cheap if I included a bag of mixed lettuce greens with the scallions?
Readers, I bought them both.
When I finally got to Cronig’s, not only did I buy oat groats (I love my oatmeal), tamari, and apples, I bought celery. My lentil barley soup recipe calls for celery, but I invariably omit it and just double the carrots. Carrots keep. Celery turns to gelatinous goo in remarkably short order. Unless stuffed with cream cheese or peanut butter, it’s virtually inedible, and if cream cheese and peanut butter could express an opinion, I’m pretty sure they would hate being coupled with celery. If I could buy a stalk or two of celery at a time, I’d do it, but at least in Vineyard grocery stores that’s not an option.
The lentil barley soup came out great. However, now in my refrigerator’s crisper are half a bunch of scallions, most of a bunch of celery, and a bag of lettuce greens. The clock is ticking.
Need I say that the chocolates are already half gone? In case you’re wondering why I favor chocolate over green vegetables.
Try eating celery with Cedars brand balsamic carmelized onion hummus, available at Cronig’s. In 2-3 days if the leaves turn brown wash the celery and cut off tops and discard outer stalks. (Compost if possible. ). Inside will still be good.
With lettuce I have found the dark leaves, particularly the red ones, rot a lot faster than the green ones. Use them first (you can throw into soup or salad). Can’t help with scallions but if you google chocolate you will find a dozen studies on the health benefits. The darker the better — I start every day with a piece of 94%!
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I make my own hummus (mostly plain but with extra garlic!) but this hummus with caramelized onion sounds like it’s worth a trip to Cronig’s for. Good advice about the lettuce. Will keep that in mind. Also good advice about the chocolate — I’ve been known to scatter chocolate chips on my oatmeal. If you pour some milk on to the hot oatmeal then scatter the chips on top of it, they don’t melt too fast. 🙂
I agree completely regarding green vegetables! Jam and chocolates – no trauma there!
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