I love a good produce department. Strolling the aisles, I soak in all the colors and shapes and the subtle fragrance of life and sunshine. Since we embraced a real food mode of eating, this is the epicenter of our shopping excursions. When we lived in Wilmington, we had a wonderful mercado that we frequented; it was such a treat to walk through it. Familiar fruits and veg but also more exotic items that we were unsure about but game to try. I gave my son free rein one day to pick whatever struck his fancy. We came home with something prickly–I have no idea now what it was, nor did I on that day. After working to follow the shop owners directives for preparing it, the verdict came back from Cam that the taste was “mediocre.” We had fun with it anyway.
In each town or city we have called home we have been members of CSAs and co-ops with varying degrees of success. My favorite set up was when we lived out in our little country house and belonged to two different services. One was an automatic box every two weeks, which forced us to experiment with some items we never would have purchased at a store–some of which I had to go online to even figure out what it was and how to deal with it. Our doom that year was a plague of sweet potatoes–so many in each box that we struggled to get through with only two of us in the household. We finally went off them and could not bear the notion of another one for literally years. I’ve finally started bringing them back into our diet, but I’m still leery about presenting them to Cam (so I mixed some into refried beans last week). The other service that year was one in which you placed your order, everything from local honey to local beer. That style circumvented the problem of ending up with too much of one item, but of course eliminated the adventure of discovery as we opened the box to see what surprises lay in store each week.
There’s a beauty in a simple, basic, well-stocked pantry. I find it easier than my attempts at actual meal planning, which has always been a road of good intentions and not much else. Having a cupboard full of aromatic spices is a pleasure; I’m partial to all manner of curries. With spices and potatoes in the pantry and fresh veg in the refrigerator, I can follow inspiration and whip up dinners as my energy and motivation allow.
There’s a simple peacefulness in zoning out while chopping the carrots, tearing the lettuce, extracting the luscious velvet flesh from the avocado. Retreating into mindless chores is an opportunity to in fact practice mindfulness. Allow yourself time once or twice a week to slow down from our American habit of rushing out the door to “important activities” and enjoy the simple process of time in the kitchen. Chop, peel and slice and just be lost in that. Sip some tea while it all simmers and savor not just the aroma wafting your way, but the time it takes to come to completion. Quiet nights at home are antidote to the frenzy of overscheduling.
Chop. Stir. Eat.