Saturday, July 3, 2010

Vegetable Math

When I went to pick up my box Tuesday night I was surprised by the variety of vegetables. As I dug through the box I tallied it up: two heads of lettuce, carrots, radishes, baby red onions, sugar snap peas, two bulbs of fennel, broccoli, beets, and green onions. The list matched the one I received via e-mail from Two Onion Farm a few days earlier, except the green onions had been substituted for leeks, something I wasn’t too disappointed with, as I didn’t find them all that exciting.

As I always do, my mind started calculating what items I would use first, a complicated formula that involves determining how long the produce will last along with how much I like it. I want to eat the produce that goes soft right away, but I also don’t want to waste my time on the produce that I don’t like while the vegetables I love go to wilt away.

The two heads of lettuce came to the top of the list right away. I knew they would be the first to fade and decided my meals for the next couple days would be salads. With two heads, they would have to be really big salads. I checked the swap box to see what might be inside to trade one of the heads of lettuce with and was excited to find a zucchini. I was the only one at the site, but snapped it out as if it was gold, dropping my lettuce in the swap box like a forgotten toy.

Zucchini is one of my favorites. It had been on the list I received from the farm, with a caveat that it would only be in few boxes since it was just beginning yield. It was a tiny one, but was glad to have it, since it met both the “love” and “last” criteria. I placed it in my box along side the beets, which would probably win the award for my least favorite vegetable before taking the box to my car.

At home, I made my first salad of the week, using about a quarter of the head of lettuce, a half of one of the red onion bulbs, a couple small carrots, leftover canned black beans, Colby jack cheese, and green goddess dressing. I had the same salad again for the lunch the next day and another salad, this time with lettuce, carrots, onion and cottage cheese, for lunch and dinner the next day. I also discovered I like radishes a lot better when I peeled them and enjoyed them as a snack along with some dip as a side to my salad one evening.

By Thursday night I had finished the lettuce, radishes, and most of the carrots, plus I had a number of vegetables I liked and could make without much thought, including broccoli, zucchini and sugar snap peas, left. I set my eyes on the snap peas and served them, along with one of the garlic scapes I still had from my last box, with some penne pasta and Parmesan cheese.

By the end of weekend, the broccoli, zucchini and one remaining carrot will be cooked and eaten, and then the real challenge will begin when I move on to the beets and fennel. They will still be here, earning their spot in last place for their ability to stay fresh and my general disinterest of them. But like all the others, they will be eaten too. More on that later.

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