Friday, April 13, 2007

Double Duty

As if from Harry Potter, Fergus Henderson's books have magical properties [ed. cannot resist those Potter analogies, huh?]. You find yourself wondering if you should salt some liver to see what Dried Salted Pig's Liver, Radishes and Boiled Eggs tastes like. Salted. Pigs. Liver. The spell wears off and you are at least enchanted with his fascination with radishes. He devotes two pages on how to eat them, and you eat not just the bulbs. Last night I doused the radish greens with balsamic vinegar to cut the bite, and we had a fine salad to finish a meal.

One of the great things about getting produce from farmers is that you get the whole thing. This week's box may have included only about five radishes, but the radish greens provided another dish (so to speak). All the time, us CSAers get double duty: turnips and turnip greens, beets and beet greens, parsley and parsley root; hell I've even made use of carrot leaves (tastes a lot like parsley). Double duty helps a lot at this time of year because a spring box is not vast.

The idea of spring vegetables springs from two related sources (I think). First, in California (evil California), things are growing away. The supermarkets have artichokes, asparagus, strawberries. Second, there's (I believe) a kinda idealized, what I would call, cookbook culture of spring because so many cookbooks base their words on French and Italian climates and cuisines where peas do come in April. In Chicagoland, peas come in late June. Those eating local know otherwise. We can, however, make due.

So, our Spring CSA from Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers is a rump offering. Stuff that happens to be thriving now in her hoop houses, mostly odd(ish) greens like boc choy and napa cabbage. Lettuce makes it. We also got this week a few big turnips and beets that I think came from storage. The message is, while we can stretch some of the box, radish and salad, we cannot expect a box this week to be sufficient. It still takes storage, freezer, and as we do (often) a bit of eating out to stay local.

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