I walked how far for a jalapeño?

jalapeño pepper“Oh darn,” I remember saying out loud as I stood before the cutting board while the sharp aroma of freshly grated horseradish and ginger danced in the air. I was preparing a batch of fire cider, when I realized an ingredient was missing: the jalapeño pepper.

After getting everything else chopped, zested, squeezed and assembled in the jar, I set out for the store. There’s a little corner market of great convenience a block away, but I opted for a grocery destination that’s a bit further afield.

Because the co-op where we do the majority of our grocery shopping doesn’t stock all the basics – like sustainably raised meats (the co-op has no meat unless you want pet food) and breads from a favorite bakery that no other retailer carries –  it’s not uncommon for me to swing by this particular neighborhood market on a somewhat regular basis. The walk over the hill, down the other side, and back again has become part of the weekly grocery  ritual and easily happens more than once or twice a week. The sidewalks on my route are practically empty and that makes it the preferred option over the very flat and far less strenuous alternative along a busy retail corridor just one block away.

On this particular morning, I decided there was no time like the present to squeeze in a morning constitutional while also getting a necessary errand off the list. I admired the changing light of the season and the way it highlighted features and details of the historic Victorians along the way. Blooming flowers in the trees overhead begged passersby like myself for a little nod to their beauty. (Remember, I live in San Francisco and plants are blooming year-round.) At the market I chose a little pepper, paid with exact change (I love when that happens!), slipped said pepper in my pocket, and headed back home.

By the time I unlocked the front door, I had logged 1.6 miles. To some, it may seem absurd to walk so far and take so much time for one little thing. But you know what? This is my kind of multitasking. How often does grocery shopping truly invigorate your body and soul?

More than four weeks after the fact, I can tell you that the results are most invigorating. We are sipping and breathing fire over here!

jalapeno pepper and fire cider

Positively jarring experiences

Once upon a time, I decided it’d be cool to learn how to make a gigantic flat of luscious tomatoey goodness last a long long time. I would purchase San Marzanos from my friends at Mariquita Farm and turn them into sauce that I would stow in the freezer for the winter months. Freezing was great, but longevity was limited.

I’d always wanted to try my hand at canning, but the risk of accidentally creating a lethal stockpile of botulism kept any attempts at bay. I wanted professional guidance and in 2009, I stumbled upon classes offered by a the folks of Happy Girl Kitchen Co., a local independent producer of yummy things in jars. (Trust me, try the okra sometime!)

I signed up without hesitation and took a class…

tomatoes!chopping tomatoes

tomatoes and basil ready for canningjars of tomatoes in the canning pots

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Leftovers to go

Lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco

You’ve been here before: sitting in a restaurant staring at the uneaten portion of your meal that could not find its way to your stomach. Perhaps you’re out to dinner with your family and the kids barely touch their dishes. In both instances the food gets packed up and brought home. Leftovers for the next day.

The next day arrives and you open the fridge. Dang! It smells like the  leftovers. The origami-like cardboard carton leaked. That’s right those things don’t really seal in the freshness. Or, the clamshell container with the compartments that organize your foods and prevent them from touching has failed at its mission. You were in a rush to get home and the slippery food items sloshed over their borders and oozed out of the container. The plastic bag in which you transported it is sullied with food slim. Yuck! What a mess. Sometimes leftovers are more work than they are worth.

Or are they?

In more ways than one, there is a better way. Bring your own trusted container(s) from home.

Here’s how it works:

Step 1  – You decide you’re going out to eat. You know it’s a place where leftovers are common.

Step 2 – Before leaving the house, you grab a food storage container or two (glass jar, metal tin, plastic container…whatever you use!) and put them in your favorite reusable bag. Remember to grab the bag as you head out the door!

Step 3 – You enjoy your meal and find you’ve had your share with plenty to spare.

Step 4 – If preempted by the waitperson who asks if you’d like the leftovers packed up to go, let them know you’ve got it covered. Smile and show them your container(s).

Step 5 – Nonchalantly bring your container(s) to the table and transfer the leftovers. Snap on the lid(s) and head home.

For those of you who are more visual, it looks kind of like this:

no waste packaging of leftovers in a restaurant

an empty platepacking leftovers to go in a restaurant into a container from home

Voila! You’ve got secure food transport, tomorrow’s lunch, and nary a piece of disposal packaging!

 

 

The spargel of my eye

asparagus ready to be roasted
Asparagus spears chat amongst themselves prior to meeting some heat in my kitchen.

Springtime. The bright and transitional season typically signified by blooms and allergies going crazy, weather turning warmer, and strawberries and asparagus bringing audible oohs and ahhs at the farmers’ markets.  This spring started like any other, until my unintentional asparagus fascination took root.

The first signs began when I realized last month’s visit to southern Germany could possibly bring me face to face with the famous spargel, or white asparagus. Continue reading