It’s a Matter of Timing

May 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm

Getting to Things

One can approach shopping, cooking and eating three ways. First, one can go shopping, to a store, online, where-ever, and buy what looks good that day or buy what you’re in the mood for or even buy based on some recipe read. The idea is this kind of shopper pays no attention to the underlying agriculture in defining their dinners. Their plates are dictated by their moods. Then, you have people focused primarily on price. I’ll get zucchini this week because it’s 39 cents a pound. What’s in season may matter to this shopper because it may impact prices, but when you are most motivated by price you are most motivated by price. Finally, there is the shopper, like me, who wants to eat based on what’s best at this point. We base our diets on what’s at the market or what’s come in the CSA box.

Or not. Let’s not be so foolish as to suggest we all fit neatly into a category. Who never considers price? And I’m as committed locavore as they come and I found myself buying a jar Serbian peppers the other day, because, well, because. The other thing, we have to time our actions. Somethings we need to get to right away. Others, who knows.

These beets came in our Tomato Mountain CSA box many months ago. I believe, although am not sure, they came in 2014. For all those months since, they idled nicely in our upstairs fridge as beets can. In the cold, with some humidity, they stayed perfectly edible, just waiting for me to have the gumption to deal with them. See, I love beets and all, but I’m not so loving of all the time and effort it takes to make them. So, I was in no hurry. Except now, with new crops coming fast, the CSA scheduled moved back to weekly, room was needed. I will say this, I feel awful for my vegan wife who does not get to enjoy the combination of roasted beets and labneh.

Asparagus on the other hand, you cannot diddle-dawdle. The longer it’s out of the ground, the lesser it will taste. Having her first shot at asparagus a week ago, my wife maybe over-bought. I roasted one batch, sauted another batch with ramps and turnip greens. This all got us well past a week. I had two bunches left. I knew I needed to have them soon, and I knew they needed a prep they would be more forgiving. Pan grilling them produced enough flavor and texture, that I wiped out any of the delicious subtlety already lost with time. If that was not enough, I splashed roasted peanut oil, spritzed soy and dabbed Asian chili oil, removing any lingering veggie-nuance left.

I will say this also about grilling asparagus. It’s harder than it looks. I mean it’s not that hard, but there’s something about the way asparagus spears are constructed. They are weirdly off balance, like camshafts. You grill one side, then think it is as easy as turning. They never just turn. They turn and then roll, often rolling back to the side you started. Would you think it hard to evenly grill asparagus. It is.

They say it was a very hungry person who ate the first oyster. Could you say the same about CSA customers and their Tokyo bekana? The bane of early season CSAs are all these weird greens known especially to farmers as “cold hearty.” Or more apt, what we can fill our boxes with until the fun stuff (like tomatoes) comes into season. Bekana looks a little like lettuce, but do not be fooled. It does not make for interesting salads. It is about the last thing I want to get around to with our stuff. Then, I had an idea. It looks like lettuce but it’s in the cabbage family. Do you know one of the ways I love cabbage, Jamaican style, that is with a subtle curry.

I sauteed a few onions in a large pan. Added madras curry powder and some garlic, let it bloom for a minute. Shredded the bekana. Put it in with the flavorings, plus about a q/4 cup of water to ease the cooking. I’ll be in a bit more of a hurry next time bekana shows up in our box.

We have to think about a few things when we go shopping or prepare dinner. Some times the choices are apparent. Other times it’s a question of timing.