Urbivore’s Dilemma, Weeks 20-22: Cooking strike
Photos: Jennifer Prediger
It’s week 22 of Community Supported Agriculture living, which I’ve been chronicling in this Urbivore’s Dilemma column.
The past few weeks have been a blur. I keep thinking it’s still August, or ought to be. The whole fall thing really speeds things up. No more days where at least someone you know is out reading magazines on a beach. Everything is back in business and it’s getting colder, darker, and more serious. My brow has become furrowed.
All that to say, I’ve spent very little quality time with the fruits and vegetables from my CSA box of late except in their most simple form — i.e., raw. Here’s what’s been in the box: pears, apples, turnips, a small boatload of sweet potatoes, delicious mystery greens, so many string beans, tākēcài, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, radicchio, eggplant, sweet pepper, winter squash, and cilantro.
Food that’s good to eat with little preparation has been my new best friend. Mutsu and Honeycrisp apples are my jam. They’re delicious and plentiful, enough for almost one a day. The pears are a Vivaldi concerto for the tongue. And there’s this lovely green which I have yet to identify. As far as I can tell, it wasn’t named on the signs at the CSA pickup. Can you tell me what it is? And no, I don’t think it’s arugula. But it is so fresh and alive that when you add olive oil, lemon, and sea salt to it, there’s a snapping crescendo of goodness that quite fills a person up. Could it be that CSA greens are more nutritious and therefore more filling?
With this theory in mind, I wanted to have a breakfast of champions one rushed morning. I ran out of cereal so I ate turnip greens instead. Granted, I did think they were beet greens. As I ate them, I knew something was unusual. They were bitter. Come to find out, they’re also really high in calcium and among the most lauded cruciferous vegetables for their exceptional nutritional content. Those greens put a spring in my step that day. Eating raw food does seem to be a great diet for those stressed and without enough time to cook. You don’t have to do much to prepare raw foods, a definite time saver, and they energize you with their freshness. I really know nothing about raw food diets except that once at Angelika Kitchen I had a “live almond” paté and it was delicious. Given the energizing turnip greens, it does seem this way of eating is something to explore. Readers, how are you integrating raw foods into your diet?
And can everything be eaten raw? Even sweet potatoes? Because I’ve got a lot of them. These sweet potatoes have been waiting for me to have some free time to spend with them. They’re quite piled up. If I can hang on to them until Thanksgiving, one righteous sweet potato something-or-other is in store. Do you have a favorite sweet potato recipe, Readers? And do you store your sweet potatoes in the refrigerator? Mark Bittman says not to, but in my tiny Brooklyn kitchen, it’s really the only place that makes any sense. What are those drawers labeled “Vegetables” for if not sweet potatoes?
[Editor’s note: Oh Urbivore, they’re for vegetables. Your root vegetables, winter squashes, and tubers should go in a cool, dark, and most importantly dry place, as Steph says. Loose, in a box in a cold corner would be fine. Oh, and April has a killer tart recipe for the sweet potatoes.]
What’s left? The sweet peppers are sitting sweetly in the refrigerator. I gave away the radicchio. It’s so pretty and I keep attempting to eat it like a salad and then find myself miserable from chewing such bitterness. I know, I know. I ought to cook it in some splendid stew. But who has time for stew? And what would raw foodies do with radicchio? Give it to friends, too?
Another thing I could give to the neighbors are these string beans. I’m strung out on them. To the CSA’s credit, at least they vary it up. There are string beans of nearly every color of the rainbow — white, yellow, green, reddish, purple, purplish. I did cook a rainbow of not-so-green beans in a pan with some olive oil and they were tasty. But maybe they’d be better as a raw food paté?
Help me out, raw food people. How does one being to think about being a raw food eater? This is unfamiliar terrain. And what’s in your CSA boxes around the country this week?
Thanks for sharing your CSA stories at the virtual table we call Grist.
See you next week,