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Sunday, April 18, 2010

As she finds them


So now begins the half of the year when Risa is more prone to think of wilted salads, of a sort, as her main menu.

She ventures forth with scissors and roams about in the sunshine, seeing what's old enough to give up a few leaves or stalks to her project: today, for example, kale, dandelion greens, fava bean leaves, chives, a small Egyptian onion, a leaf of turnip greens, a young elephant garlic, a few spearmint leaves. She sees that some bok choi, spinach and a few other things might appear in next week's efforts, but for now passes them by.

Back in the kitchen, she takes up a Yukon Gold potato from last year's crop, cubes it, and pops it in the steamer in a bowl. Dices the onion bulb and the garlic bulb and stem, and adds these to the bowl when the potatoes are soft. After another couple of minutes she adds dehydrated tomato slices, also from last year's garden, and a little later shreds the greens and pops them in, stirring everything a bit with a long chopstick.

When she deems the greens almost sufficiently wilted, she takes the bowl out of the steamer, and dices a peeled hard-boiled duck egg into the mix, adds a little blackened seasoning, salt, oil and vinegar to taste, and heads for a lawn chair by the outside table, with bowl, a pair of chopsticks, and a glass of water with a sprig of mint in it. Later in the year, a book, and in place of the water, home brew.

One can run an infinite number of variations on this theme. For Risa, the constant is the egg, like the bass line in a concerto. As the garden matures and wanes, she will take her cadenzas as she finds them.

It isn't just our appetite that has to make a transition, either.... Americans wouldn't be in the pickle we're in today were it not for our burning desire to save time at any cost. So be prepared to spend more time in the kitchen than you might be used to. -- Robertson, Flinders and Godfrey, Laurel's Kitchen.

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