[Originally posted on Trimmings, my now-abandoned Tumblr blog]
On my way to my part-time job this morning, I got a text from the manager saying the store would be closed for maintenance until 2pm and that I shouldn’t come in until then. But since she sent it about thirty minutes before the shop opened, I was already on the subway. I worked up a good frothy rage on the last few stops: what kind of manager cuts half an employee’s hours without notice, does she think I’m going to waste half my day waiting for the shop to open or waste two more tokens on going home and back, she’d be mistaken, she can cover the hours herself, etc. etc. But I needed to do some food shopping anyway, so I went to the market and prepared myself to give her these scathing indictments in person.
By the time I got there, the maintenance work had been canceled, so instead I helped move the shelves back and restock them. I opened the store and then busied myself with carrying out the recycling and counting out the drawer (which she’d forgotten to do the night before), hoping to expedite her departure from the store so I could have some peace. This didn’t work, but it’s hard to stay mad when she’s so bad at her job; anger turns to annoyance and pity.
After all that, I didn’t have time to do my food shopping, so I cooked with what I had at home.
I found a nice green bean curry recipe last summer, when my CSA delivered overflowing quarts of green beans for a month while tomatoes were coming into season. Green beans are almost always in season in the discount produce section, though; a few will get spotty or shrivelled and then the whole lot gets bagged up. I usually pass them by but I knew I’d have tomato sauce this week, so I grabbed two bags of green and white beans last time I was at the market.
I put on loud music and picked through them, snapping off the ends, breaking long beans in half or thirds, tossing any segments with bruises or dry stumps. Prepping green beans is boring, repetitive work–another reason why I usually pass them by–but today it was nice to lose track of time and let my hands work without my mind. Patience with my young, inexperienced manager does not have a payoff, at least not one that I can see. Patience with green beans does pay; you don’t even have to be that careful, just endure, and in short order there will be tangible returns.
I put on a pot of rice to boil and got out a second pot for the vegetables. I minced a red onion–a small one, since there was already red onion in the tomato sauce–and put it in the pot to soften. Then I diced up a few small gold potatoes (I always have these around) and threw the cubes into hot oil to get a bit brown. Then seasonings: cumin, ginger, mustard, a little turmeric. A moment for the seasonings to become fragrant, then green beans and enough tomato sauce to coat. I prefer to make this with fresh, tangy chunks of summer tomatoes, but the sauce will sufficiently soften the beans and infuse the potatoes with acidity and spice. Lid on; simmer.
While that cooked, I mixed together the four ingredients for the very simple bread I like to make. That won’t pay off until tomorrow; it needs to rise overnight, and preheat and then bake for a total of 75 minutes. But it requires little else: no kneading, no coaxing, just a thorough stir and a rough estimation of a dough ball. Like me, it will get the job done even without much encouragement. I have some leftovers in the freezer–a parsnip and leek soup, a chickpea and kabocha stew–and the thick slices of crusty bread will make these appear both more filling and more elegant. This should cover my next few meals, until the next time I have a chance to market.