Saturday, June 6, 2009

In Which I'm Not Much of a Cook

Many weeks I go to market three days a week. Now that Eastern Market is open again, I'll likely be going to two markets on Saturdays. I love seeing piles of fresh vegetables and imagining what I could do with them. The problem is, I get tempted by all of that lovely, fresh stuff, buy it, take it home, and usually dump most of it into the composter when it gets brown and/or mushy. I hate that.

Today at Central Market* I only bought yogurt and milk (okay, and strawberry shortcake) and at Eastern Market only mushrooms (okay, and mango ice), because most of the piles of lovely produce I bought last week were still sitting in the fridge.

This evening I decided I was going to use at least some of it so that I wouldn't have to compost it all, and so that I would eat something other than cereal (it was an odd week, I was hibernating).

First, I roasted slices of eggplant and white zucchini in the toaster oven with a couple of cloves of garlic and some olive oil. I had them on slices of good Italian bread spread with chive goat cheese, not bad. I have some left over, and am thinking of putting it in sandwiches to take to Long's Park tomorrow night, to supplement my obligatory french fries.

Next, I chopped my bunch of chard, the other zucchini, a few mushrooms, and some garlic. I started the garlic in olive oil, then added the chard stems, mushrooms, and zucchini. I let them soften a bit, then added dried thyme (probably not enough) and balsamic vinegar. When they had cooked another minute or two, I piled the pan high with ribbons of chard leaves, added more balsamic, and put a lid on the whole thing to let the leaves wilt, while I boiled some whole wheat pasta. The result was definitely edible, but didn't have any zip. I have leftovers, which I will definitely eat, but I need to get more creative with herbs and spices if I'm going to cook random piles of vegetables.

I am not an intuitive cook, though I'd like to be. I'm just not quite sure how to get there from here. Any advice would be welcome.

*Part of what I did at Central Market today was to staff the Buy Fresh Buy Local table and hand out the brand new Local Food Guide for Lancaster County. It's a handy little resource, and will be helpful for people in the area interested in adding more local food to their diets.

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