Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Cleaning the produce drawer

I firmly believe it’s easier to eat healthy in summertime. Now it’s fall-turning-winter and gloomy and the produce aisle looks bruised and painful, pulled grumpily from trees rather than plucked ripe. The apple I just ate had a grain like course mustard, and it was all I could do to force it down my esophagus, even lubed with brie. I keep looking at the mangos I bought Sunday, not willing to cut into them because I’m sure they look better than they are. It’s just so disappointing.

The other day, my sister was talking about how she ate only the fruit plate on a trip to Tahiti because it was so fresh. What do I have here in Colorado that exudes an equal amount of fresh-plucked-ness year-round? Perhaps iceberg lettuce. Nothing else really comes to mind.

I am realizing why nobody’s vegetarian anymore. It’s because of the horrible selection during the hibernation season. I can only force down a certain number of spinach and orange winter salads, even laced with red onion and crunchy julienned jicama, before I realize I want something else in my mouth.

Beets, carrots, tomatoes and broccoli fade during snow season, their colors must bleed off into the ground to hibernate. Cabbage stands up to winter in color, but in taste it is duller, not as sharp. Herbs lack both bite and longevity, as greenhouse growth leaves them unable to hold their shamed heads up for more than two days in captivity.

Now, as I am cleaning out the vegetable bin of my refrigerator, I’ve noticed that I already have to toss my cilantro and rosemary, purchased three days ago. I should have used it already, apparently. It’s frustrating to know that I am wasting so much money on vegetables in winter too. In the summer months, I am hard-pressed to find room in the vegetable bins for each week’s market purchases. I pack it in, readjust, and then make salads and meals from the bin all week long, sometimes longer. Everything is happier when it’s in season and at the top of its game.

It’s slowly becoming apparent what I’m in for during the upcoming year of vegetarian living: a half-year of vegetable boredom. Starting in January, there should be three to four months of fresh produce drought before the summer gardening season is in full swing. Then as it winds down with the end of apple season in October, I’ll have several more months of despicable grocery store selection until the end of my experiment. I’m already gearing up for suck.

Creamy Potato Soup in the Crock Pot

For crock pot:
1 white onion, diced
6-8 russet potatoes, diced
3 c. vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
2 c. milk, reserved for later

For toppings:
Grated cheddar
Chives or scallions, thinly sliced
Veggie bacon, crumbled

Add all crock pot ingredients to the pot, and set timer for 4-6 hours on high setting. When potatoes are soft, transfer 3/4 of mixture to blender (slowly blend only part at a time) and puree. Add back to crock pot and mix in 2 cups of milk. Allow to warm through while you fix the toppings. Serve.

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