Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When good food goes bad

They called out to me with their wilted greens and sordid brown spots. Once they had been red and bright. They had waited for me patiently in the fridge and waited and waited... By the time I wanted to eat them, they had given up.

Spoilage is the single person's curse. The radishes only came in batches of six and I could only stomach so many at once. Their fate was preceded by some limp arugala and some moldy new potatoes. At home with my family, lonely looking vegetables are quickly identified and hoards descend upon them if incited by my mother.

Not here. An unwise purchase of an unfortunately large bulbous kohlrabi is tackled alone in my apartment. I am accountable for every perishable I purchase and I'll tell you they don't sell them in batches that make the single life easier. It doesn't help that I take two math classes and work...which doesn't leave a lot of time for cooking. Did I mention I live in graduate halls where there are two "real" kitchens shared with hundreds of people.

So I really have to think small and hardy. If it keeps for a week nicely and doesn't have to be eaten all at one and prepared laboriously, it is my friend. Snap peas, carrots, spinach, chard, and apples are my current favorites. I'm not worried about the tyranny of a basket of alarmingly perishable fragrant ruby red strawberries, but I don't think kohlrabi or radishes will be in my basket for awhile...I've eaten enough of them to last a lifetime.

I always feel more sad about the local vegetables. I know these farmers and don't want to let their hard work go to waste. Managing fresh produce can be difficult, but it is worth it. Here is what I've found so far to make it easier

- keep a list of what you have and when you bought: this prevents you from finding spoiled remains of forgotten food in the future
-salad spinner: a dry vegetable lasts longer
-don't overdo it at the store or farmer's market and eat the most perishable foods first

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