Sunday, October 25, 2009


It seems silly to complain about too much food, but that is what I am about to do.

Market day yesterday and I would not resist the bounty of fall harvest. Soon my basket was impossibly (and in-carry-ably) full of apples and pears, parsnips, garlic, sunchokes, and the last head of butter lettuce I will eat this year, a double-baked swiss bread. If I had not run out of money--yes, actually cash stricken and not a debit weilding produce stand in sight--I would have added about ten pounds of winter squash in four different colors and varieties to my load, settling instead for another delicata, my last toonie.

I would consider this a successful trip, and look forward to the wholesome meals to come of it, if it were not for all the other options already in my fridge--artichokes, fennel, kale, carrots, beets, and more parsnips. Granted, most of the fall veg is hardy, and will keep well beyond next weeks market, the last one of the season, when I am bound to bring home those other three squash and then some. It is not really that I worry about all that I once found so beautiful will be found so rotten I have to throw it out, it is where to begin with it all.

There is just simply not enough time or meals in the day, or space in my stomach, for all that I want to make. Everytime I open my fridge door, I breathe in with excitement; it all looks so fresh and lovely, but then I go to reach for something, and my outstretched hand seems lost, going from veg to veg to fruit to cheese (another drawer of great variety), back to fruit and finally, fingers now a little chilly, comes out with nothing. Grabs a pumpkin muffin off the counter. It will help me think of what I really want.

But thats the problem, I want it all. If I could cook and eat all day I would, but it is just not timely, or physically possible. And choosing what to eat each time hunger calls is difficult with so many options and so many things that I love. I start thinking, I know I want to have this now, but I might want that later, or have been looking forward to having this for dinner, and will having this now ruin my appetite. What about this instead, its smaller...but oh, I was saving that to have with this. Besides, this will last longer than that, and I had one of those yesterday. Sound crazy--well it is.

Sometimes I think I should exercise more control when shopping, giving myself less options and less strife. Choose one vegetable per week, buy a shwack load of it, each night make a different meal with it, get right sick of it, move on. Its not just dinner though, breakfast would have to be the same all week too, so the cereal/toast/baking and all additions debate would not occur, the same brown paper lunch, and (I couldnt do it) one kind of cheese. One variety of fruit. The muffins stay, but only bake one batch of cookies for the week. Sounds beyond crazy. And boring.

Shopping then, I should think of what I really love, rather than what I love the look of. Again, though, and I may be writing in circles here, I love it all, some more than others, yes, but I am not picky. I love having variety and choices too, and all of this is really not worthy of complaint. I should be thankful that I do have so many options, that opening my crisper drawers is a struggle, that if I get the craving for something, chances are, its in my kitchen somewhere. I should be thankful that leaving the market with an empty wallet only meant that I would have to stop at and ATM and get the cash I would need to buy the quince I had arranged to pick up from a local farmer, use my card at the grocer for yogurt and figs. I am thankful, and I do so enjoy it all. And tonight, I will enjoy that fennel. Thats whats calling me and my outstretched hand today (its also been in there the longest, but never mind that). First, though, maybe an apple, or a pear, those look good...I should make a salad, or some soup, its chilly. Where are those muffins. Sigh, you have to start somewhere.

Swordfish with Braised Fennel, Olives, and Meyer Lemon
I buy vegetables because they are beautiful, which is exactly why I bought Maggies Harvest, a gorgeous (and as heavy as some of my root veg) cookbook by Maggie Beer. It is cloth bound, seasonally divided, and full of rustic, honest photographs. Turns out, it is also full of wonderful recipes and ideas, like this one for swordfish. Not an actual recipe in the book, but mentioned in the prelude to fennel as a salsa prepared by the late Catherine Brandel of Chez Panisse. Maggie could not recall the fish it was served on at the time, but imagined it would be wonderful on swordfish. This is my take on her story.

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