Culinarily Stunted: When a friend lets you have this week’s CSA


I have made it pretty clear on this blog: I am an adequate cook. I cook enough to feed myself, and occasionally make nice things for others, but I’m not really imaginative in the kitchen. And my cooking attempts end in, “Well, I paid for it. Does not taste great, but I’m not going to chuck it.” Then I pretend I’m Olivia Twist (the female Oliver Twist), and this food is the gruel I’m forced to eat until my benefactor shows up and pays off my student loans and pays for a trip to Scotland because he values education!

Don’t worry. I don’t really do that.*

Thinking back on my life, I can see the trajectory of becoming a less-than-stellar cook. Cooking was always a huge part of holidays, but because I am the younger sister of at least two great cooks, I was always given the title of “Oven Matron”- standing by the oven and making sure nothing burned. There was always at least one thing that got burnt.

In college, there was, for all its faults, the dining hall. And despite their love of hamburgers and chicken fingers (seriously, four times a week), it is the job of a college student to stretch the dining hall food within an inch of its life. In grad school, I ate like grad students do. Saltines with unmelted cheese on top. Kraft singles with sriracha. And on top of my diet being atrocious, I also had a NYC kitchen. There was barely space for my roommate and I to stand should we both want to cook, much less room to do some chopping.

So, I guess now that I have my own apartment and a decent paycheck, I feel like it’s time to start learning my way around a kitchen. I’ve been giving myself some culinary adventures- borscht, roasting a chicken, what’s the deal with fish?- but this week, a friend of mine was going to be out of town, and offered me her CSA.*

Actually finding the box drop-off was most likely foreshadowing for all the stumbling I would be doing around my kitchen. In hindsight, this friend gave me great directions. Twas I who messed them up. To give you the short version: at one point I tried driving down a sidewalk, I had to hop a fence, some hipster teenager*** caught me stuffing broccoli florets into my purse because I forgot tote bags.

Advice: Do not try to engage hipster teenagers who are really 23-ish!! You will try to joke and make conversation, and they will roll their eyes! Learn from my mistakes!

But once I got all the vegetables home, it was time to take inventory and figure out what to do with them. Some of the veggies were old hat:

– Spinach: SALAD! BOOM! Neeeext!

– Broccoli: ROASTED! HA! No big deal, but I’ve cooked broccoli at LEAST three times.

– Cilantro: Well, guacamole. Tacos. But this is the most cilantro I’ve ever seen in my life….

Then the vegetables get weird.

Kohlrabi:

 

To be very honest, I didn’t really cook the kohlrabi. None of the recipes I found seemed SUPER exciting. And it’s weird trying to pick out a recipe when you literally have no idea what a thing tastes like which leads you to my favorite treatment of vegetables: Slice them up. Salt them a little. Eat them. It tastes a little like an apple that lost its jive. Then, spend the rest of the weekend thinking of rhymes for kohlrabi:

When you want to look like a snob-y,
Just tell your friends, you’re cooking kohlrabi!

“But what exactly is kohlrabi?”
It’s like a radish-potato, but blobby.

I may have to give kohlrabi a second chance.

Garlic Scapes:

 

Once again, never ever tried a scape before in my life. They’re beautiful, but what in God’s cluttered kitchen do you do with a scape? #1: Make puns (e-scape, e-scape-ades, Super hero’s scape), #2: Make pesto? I found this list of what you can actually do with a scape, and I’m dubious. Essentially, in simple terms- brace for wisdom- a scape is like garlic that got stretched out. Very flavorful, but long and weird. So, when I made the pesto in the link above, the end result was fresh and green and aromatic, but strong. You have to love garlic and also have a toothbrush.

Radishes

 

Don’t worry. I don’t count radishes as one of the weird vegetables. I love radishes and buy them at the Farmer’s market all the time. So much so that I’ve been running out of things to do with radishes. How fortunate then that I got my first month’s installment of my “Pickle of the Month” membership! I’m not making this up! It’s awesome!

I got three jars of artisanal pickles, and was a huge fan of all of them. But I realized I would soon be left with three jars of pickle juice. As I try to use all parts of the jar of pickles, I decided to hang on to them because I might be able to do something with it. And I was! I decided to use the pickle juice from “Spicy Carribeans” by The Real Dill to pickle my radishes. And then I can use the cilantro in homemade guacamole, and my new found know-how on how to cook fish, and folks….we have ourselves fish tacos.****

——————————————————

*Or do I?

**A big box of things from community farmers

***The company I work for is known for hiring people directly out of college by the hundreds. Not being directly out of college, I tend to feel ancient. This young woman was probably of a perfectly respectable working age, but for the purposes of this story, she was most definitely a twelve year old.

****How every story should end.

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