Week 6! How can it be Week 6 already?
This week we got: foot long beans, greenleaf lettuce, sugar snap peas, scallions, garlic scapes, chard, broccoli, and cauliflower. We were supposed to get kohlrabi but didn’t–it’s on our week 7 list now. I bought radishes, a big zucchini squash, and of course strawberries at the market. I forgot to take a picture of the whole haul, but here is a handful of beans and scapes:
If you’re not familiar, the cute little pods are the sugar snap peas. The long beans go by many other names, but they essentially behave like giant string beans. The scapes are the curly stems. So, to clarify: green garlic, which we had a couple of weeks ago, is just young hardneck garlic that is harvested early to leave space for the still-growing garlic to get bigger; garlic scapes are the flower stems that hardneck garlic shoots up, and these stalks are cut to encourage the garlic bulbs to get bigger. During some summers, my pickling friends and I will buy up all the remaining scapes and tie them into bundles to straighten them, then pack them into mason jars for pickling. Pickled scapes stay quite firm and crisp but mellow out in flavor, making them a nice crunchy snack or salad topping. But I also love scapes raw–they have a sharp bite–and mixed into skillet dishes, where they behave like skinny asparagus.
I was having a busy, productive day Wednesday and, although I didn’t get started until about 8:30, I felt inspired to chop up all of the broccoli, most of the cauliflower, and some of the scallions and scapes for a gigantic stir fry with peanut sauce (same sauce we used in Week 2). I also had a ton of lettuce on hand–this week’s and part of last week’s–so when a friend came over to watch Parks and Recreation (we’re just now getting to the first season) I insisted we both eat big leafy salads with sliced radishes and some of the sugar snap peas. The name doesn’t lie; those peas were as sweet as candy, but quite nice in a crunchy fresh salad.
And then, reader, I did not cook again until Monday. Didn’t feel like it, and didn’t have to–I had a couple meals out with friends, and on quieter nights I had all that lettuce, and radishes, and peas, and cauliflower.
But Monday I decided to take care of the rest of the veg. I treated the long beans like regular green beans, which is to say that I chopped them up and put them in a German potato salad-like dish. German potato salad is usually tossed in an oil- and vinegar-based dressing (rather than mayo) and served warm. Sometimes I leave out the vinegar and make a gravy-like sauce, browning onions and spices and a little flour in a skillet, then adding broth and letting it reduce and thicken before adding the boiled beans and potatoes. Meanwhile, I simmered the remaining scapes, chard, and some grape tomatoes I had leftover from Memorial Day in my new favorite pot, then added some wine, heavy cream (because I had some to use up), and parmesan for a pasta. I seasoned both with dried oregano and savory from previous weeks.
I could do with a greater chard-to-pasta ratio, but no matter–until it gets too hot for lettuce, I’ll be pairing carb-rich dishes like this with a heaping helping of salad. The best of both worlds.
I’ll note that the active cooking times for both Wednesday and Monday (and my flurry on Sunday of the previous week) were each about one hour. That seems to be my cap when cooking alone, which I do twice a week or less. With company, I can cook happily for several hours (depending, of course, on when we start)–which is partly why I try to make several dishes at once when I am cooking with my neighbor or a friend. On my own, though, cooking is pleasant and meditative for slightly less than 60 minutes, after which I get hasty and clumsy. Your mileage, of course, may vary; I’m making a note of it because it seems like a useful thing to know about oneself when deciding when and how to fit home cooking into your life. Managing expectations: the key to avoid becoming an Oatmeal cartoon, or a Hyperbole and a Half cartoon, funny-because-true as they may be.