Sunday, June 20, 2010

It's about time for more salad

"Hello, I'd like to speak with Annie please."
"Yeah. Hang on a moment. ANNIEEEE" The woman's voice was blase with a hint of crabby. It was not at all what I would expect from the mother of a responsible high school girl scout, especially one who was mature enough to organize a health and nutrition day for her troop. I peered around the pristine church basement. The face of my cell phone was glued to my ear, causing my cheek to burn and my ear to sweat.
"Hello?" said the young voice.
"Hi Annie, I am here. Where is the group?" The heavy grocery bag pulled at my left shoulder and cut into my hand. I set it on the ground, balancing it against my leg to prevent the long green carrot tops that were bursting out of the top from tipping the whole bag over. I could hear the low drone of the pastors voice whispering through the cracks of the room where a Sunday service was taking place. The thought dawned on me that it was a little strange for a group of girl scouts would be meeting in a church on a Sunday for a workshop, but having never been a girl scout, I wouldn't know how these things work.
"Um, actually it was yesterday." She said.
"What!!!??! But your email said the 20th. That's today! I am here today!"
"Yeeeah, we didn't know where you were. Sorry. I didn't email you last night. I meant to."
I had driven through traffic. I had been to three grocery stores. I had been planning for days, researching the origins of different foods. I was going to do a mindfulness exercise with them. We were going to taste-test organic and conventional apples, ethylene vs high tunnel tomatoes, whole carrots vs baby carrots, and foods with hidden salt. I walked out of the church and into my car with the mixed bag of desirable and undesirable goods and emotions.

There is something about a cow pasture that makes me forget that cars are for getting from one place to another. The sky was gathering puffs of cloud, and knitting them into one large white blanket. The streets were flawed with evenly spaced bumps that gave my wheels a rhythmic industrial clank, like the sound of pistons pumping. I thought about machinery, and imagined the robotic arms picking unripe tomatoes on an industrial farm, sending them down a conveyor belt to be gas ripened with ethylene. I imagined the crates being loaded into a truck, tossed and stacked like mail. I took out one of the bright pink tomatoes and brought it up to my nose. Nothing. It felt greasy in my hands. This is the tomato we have come to know. I took out the other tomato from the farmers market, grown in a high tunnel. It felt soft in my hand. It never would have survived a robotic arm, or being packed, stacked, and thrown around in a crate. It was hand picked, and delivered to me at the farmers market. I know because I met the man who picked it.

A large clang jolted me as my wheel skipped over a hole in the road, and I came into the realization that I was driving aimlessly. The heat was steaming the fragrances out of the strawberries sitting in the passenger seat. I felt bad about missing the girl scouts, but recognized how good it felt to have the intention of going. I pulled over to the side of the road and got out my phone, opened up the text window, and sent a message to Christina.
"I think it's time for another round of 90 salads" I wrote.
Her message came back instantly.

Strawberry rosemary balsamic vinaigrette
1 1/2 cups small sweet strawberries
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp mustard powder
pinch salt
tsp pepper
2 Tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Blend together the strawberries and balsamic, and transfer into a small saucepan. Heat for 4 min over med/high heat. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.

mixed baby greens with 1 cup arugula and 1/2 cup cilantro
1 cup sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 cup diced purple cabbage
1 cup strawberries for garnish
1 cup dry roasted almonds
Garnish with goat brie if desired

Christina's vote: "Don't see how it could get better than this, but I am sure it will."

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