Weekly Veggies: A “Bachelor’s” Best Friend

So I’m not really a bachelor. I’ve been married for nearly a year now (October 16th!), but my wife has been away, caring for a close friend who has been in the hospital (if you saw the note in my last post about Ryan, and are of a mind to pray, please do).

In the meantime I’ve been left to my own devices in the kitchen, which has always been an intimidating place for me. For many years my mantra was, “Don’t spend longer cooking it than you do eating it,” and considering how fast an eater I am (Lacy’s constantly reminding me to actually taste my food before taking another bite), that placed a lot of restrictions on what I was willing to make.

(I was going to put an amusing picture of Cookie Monster stuffing his face here, but WordPress seems to be malfunctioning right now. Ho hum.)

Well, as I’ve gotten used to this temporary bachelorhood of the last few weeks, I’ve also gotten used to spending at least a little more time preparing my food. And what’s made that experience much more enjoyable is having fresh veggies on hand!

After getting out of work every Tuesday, I take the train to the 71st Ave. E-train stop, walk past Austin Street (one of the coolest little areas in Queens), head through the LIRR train station (an incredible bit of old-fashioned architecture; you should check it out), pass by the apartment building that Rep. Anthony Weiner used to live in (what a fool), and arrive at the lovely church where the pickup happens. The smell of fresh produce is wonderful, and I really like that there’s a swap box available; if there’s a strange item that my kitchen-novice eyes don’t recognize, I can put it in the box and potentially grab a few things that I know I’ll use. For example, a couple weeks ago I got some bulbous white things with thick stalks sticking out the end (any idea what that might be?), and I was able to trade them for more green peppers. Hooray!

Then I’d walk back through Forest Hills (such a great neighborhood; Lacy and I are glad to be here) and back home, where I’d dice up any cucumbers/peppers/tomatoes I might have received and put them in small containers. I’d bring those to work and put them in the break-room fridge, where they’re perfect for use in salads and sandwiches. Sometimes I’ve gotten lettuce in the share as well, which tastes so much better than the bland, artificially-preserved stuff they have in the supermarkets. In fact, salads made from organic CSA veggies taste so good that sometimes I don’t even need to add dressing. I got to experience the difference last week when I wasn’t able to pick up the share, resulting in me having to make a grocery store run. Those unorganic vegetables taste a lot more mediocre than they used to.

And while I was bummed over not being able to make my pickup this past week, I could still be secure in the knowledge that what gets left behind is donated to local food shelters. So even as I’m forcing myself to eat a not-as-good salad, at least I know someone’s benefiting from that fresh-from-the-farm fare.

The best part is, we still have shares for the next few months, so when Lacy gets back, the quality of my meals will get even better. And hey, she just might be impressed by my ability to make mashed potatoes from scratch. Oh yeah, I’m a gourmet chef n0w…

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