Food prep is a slippery slope

At the shop on Monday, the cashier commented on all the green goodies I had going into my shopping bag. She then lamented that, although she’d like to eat more salads, she finds it so much work to do in the moment – a sandwich is much easier! My reply was that I try to prepare all of my foods soon after getting home (as much as I can, anyway) so making a salad for supper is as simple as chucking a few handfulls of pre-cut stuff in a bowl. That’s at least as easy as making a sandwich.

I’ll admit, what follows may just be true for me, but I find that once I start prepping, it all kind of happens. It’s not addictive, it’s just that once momentum is achieved, it’s hard to stop. That said, let’s forge on!

Monday saw the purchase of a bounty of fresh, local produce from the grocery store down the street (along with some deeply discounted peanut butter and a pack of veggie burgers for trying out). A pair of Ontario-grown leaf lettuces – one green, one red – along with two great bunches of radishes (plus greens), the freshest green onions I’ve ever seen (US-grown), a quartet of tomatoes on the vine, a clutch of Ontario zucchini, some topless Canadian carrots, nearly 2lbs of fat white mushrooms, and some bagged Romaine hearts went straight from the shop and into my refrigerator*.

After a couple of hours, I decided to take a break from my break to do a bit of prep. I thought I might quickly rinse the radishes and mushrooms, then bring them into the living room to do my prep in front of the telly. And that’s when it started.

See, I wanted to rinse and soak the radish greens so I can use them at some point. So I plucked off the radishes and put them in a bowl, then did up the greens. Then I figured while I was at it, I may as well quickly give the leaf lettuces the same treatment. They now rest in my biggest mixing bowl, cut ends in water, draped with a clean tea towel to keep the leaves moist and protect them from the chill of the icebox.

As I found room for these bowls of leaves, I pulled out the carrots and zucchini. It had occurred to me that I might like to use the mushroom stems to make a bit of broth. To that end, I would need to add the carrots and zukes to my prep in order to put their trimmings into the broth. I could toss in the tops and tails of the radishes, too. Maybe slice up an onion and slip in all the non-moldy bits.

Carrots and radishes are easy – just wash them, trim them and put them in a bucket of clean water. Trimmings go in the soup pot, and it’s done.

Mushrooms have their stems snapped off, trimmed and put in the pot. Then the caps are halved, sliced and tossed with some homemade salad dressing from last week. They’re done.

One large onion is fished out of the bin and peeled. A minute dusting of mold on the inner flesh is easily rinsed off before that layer, plus the root ends, are put in the pot. Then the onion is sliced and put in the food saver marked ‘onion’. Done!

Zucchinis are rinsed. Their tops and tails are chucked in the pot. They’re sliced into discs, put in a tub and tossed with salt, then left to sit on the counter for awhile. Mostly done.

The pot is filled with 2.5 qts of water, a shy soup spoon of salt, a couple small bay leaves and a pair of garlic cloves, unpeeled and crushed. It’s put on a hot burner and left to simmer for 40 minutes, followed by a long steep/cooling before being strained and stored. Done-done-done done-done!

I find prep often goes this way. It starts innocently enough with going into the kitchen to do one, maybe two steps of prep. An hour later, I stagger out, wafted forth on the scent of delicious food which now fills the room, but utterly spent in body and soul. It’s unexpected, though ultimately a great good. About an hour from now, I’ll go back in there to fish out what we’re having for supper. If I’d only completed one or two tasks, I would have to make sure there was enough time before the Fella gets home to do what needed doing.

Instead, I fell head-first down the slippery slope of food preparation, and got back up with no regrets.

*The tomatoes didn’t go into the fridge, because that’s not where they go, but you get the idea.

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