Sunday, June 29, 2014


Ruanita and I are trying to eat healthier in our old age.

Yes, I am well aware that this sounds like the beginning of a New Year’s Resolution adventure gone terribly awry. But we are trying. It’s hit or miss…more misses than hits, but we get brownie points for effort, right?

For the past few years, we have planted a garden in our back yard. We grow the usual—nothing too exotic. Tomatoes. Cucumbers. Summer squash. Zucchini. Bell peppers. Occasionally some jalapeños. Last year we did sweet corn. Like I said, nothing too exotic. The veggies of the meat and potato people.

Ruanita and I were both raised as meat and potato people. Actually, if I am being honest, I belong more to the lard and bacon tribe. We were raised in Kentucky where everything if fried. Fried chicken. Fried salmon patties. Fried cornbread. Fried catfish. Fried. Fried. And fried some more. I never tried Asian food until I was in college. I never ingested a salad until I was a full-grown, living-on-my-own adult.  Growing up, I never saw a vegetable that wasn’t floating in butter or coated in cornmeal and…wait for it…fried. Fried green tomatoes. Fried okra. Fried squash. You have not lived until you have downed a plate full of fried squash and a cold beer on a hot summer day. Jesus Christ, that is some good shit!

But I digress…

I am 41 years old and Ruanita just turned 50. Fried squash is no longer our friend. As a matter of fact, it could probably be labeled Public Enemy #1 as far as my colon is concerned. At our respective ages, we need to adjust to a better way of eating. A gentler, friendlier means of fueling our bodies. In a state of abject melancholia (and I am not going to lie…probably a bloated, drunken stupor) after a particularly horrid weekend of eating out three meals a day, we decided that we would join a CSA this year rather than messing with a garden of our own. CSAs are trendy these days. And you know I am nothing if not a trend-setter.

For those of you not as contemporary or in vogue as Ruanita and I pretend to be, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A CSA allows consumers to buy local, fresh, often organic foods directly from a farmer. Basically, a farmer offers a certain number of “shares” of their harvest to the public. Typically, a share will consist of a box of vegetables (and sometimes fruits and other farm goods) per week throughout the growing season.

After some fairly hardcore googling, we decided to buy a share in the Driftless Organics farm based in western Wisconsin. We like that they also offered a grass-fed beef share, which we also purchased. Actually, as novices to the whole CSA movement, we purchased half a share—just in case our lard-loving bodies rejected fresh, organic produce. As half-a-share members, we get a big box of fresh produce delivered once every other week instead of weekly. They are delivered to a local home in South Minneapolis and we pick it up two Thursdays a month.

I’m not going to lie. When I first opened the box, there was a definite moment of what-the-hell panic. Where were the tomatoes? The cucumbers? The yellow squash begging for a nice cornmeal bath? Where were the familiar vegetables? They were nowhere to be found.

In my box were two purple kohlrabi. Purple vegetables?

Garlic scapes. Creepy.

Fennel. What the hell am I supposed to do with fennel?

Basil. Smells like Olive Garden…maybe there’s some potential there.

Garlic chives.  Closely resembles my lawn.

Napa cabbage. It’s huge. Freakishly large.

Salad turnips. Looks like something my dog would dig up in the back yard.

Radishes. Never tried ‘em. Look sort of shifty, if you ask me.

White scallions. What’s the difference between green onions and white scallions? I have no idea.

Two butterhead lettuce. That’s a lot of lettuce.

Broccoli. FYI—it doesn’t grow in cute little pre-cut florets.

Snow peas. Do I look Chinese?

Spinach. Okay, I like spinach. In small doses.

Strawberries. Finally! Something that can be made into a margarita!

Initially, I stared at the box somewhat dumbfounded. Vivid imagery of my $360 rotting in my fridge flashed before my eyes. But then I remembered. I am a 41 year old woman with high blood pressure.

Something has to change.

So I reluctantly began perusing the internet for recipes. There had to be a way to take these strange, bordering-on-obscene vegetables and turn them into a palatable meal. I tried just cutting everything up and make a salad out of it. Blech. Not good.

Then I got creative.

Breakfast: Green smoothies full of organic strawberries and two huge handfuls of spinach. Even my pickier than picky son drank it!

Lunch: Kohlrabi mashed potatoes with garlic chives. A tiny bit lumpy (the kohlrabi isn’t as tender as potatoes), but pretty tasty with enough butter and salt.

Dinner: Homemade basil/garlic scape/walnut/parmesan pesto over gnocchi. Delish! Added some garlic bread and it was pretty damn heavenly.

On tap for tomorrow: Turkey tacos in butterhead lettuce wraps.

I feel healthier after only one day of eating fresh produce. I know I am not healthier—not yet anyway—but I feel good. I feel productive. And creative. And, most importantly, trendy. My brother might even say “crunchy.” Yes, that’s it.

I feel crunchy.

Now what the hell do I do with all this cabbage?


Madgew said...

Good for you to try a new way of life. It doesn't have to be everyday but anyhting fresh and organic can only help.

Barb said...

Awesome! And by the way, cabbage is awesome in a vegetable soup. If you add it in after everything is cookie, the cabbage adds a wonderful sweetness. :) Great to see a post from you. I miss hearing about your life and laughing with you.

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