The thermometer might have said 90° last Saturday, but I swear it was much hotter. Maybe not so hot as humid. Stepping outside I needed to forcefully push myself through the thick, hot air, each step forward needing complete attention and concentration. And this was at 9am. My husband lay in bed, comfortably bundled under the covers in our over air conditioned bedroom. But I was on a mission. Perhaps my last free weekend to get cherries, I wanted to make sure I had plenty to last through the winter.
When I arrived at Grand Army Plaza, the sun seemed to have gotten significantly hotter and pull closer after just a short 20 minute train ride. Grand Army is one of my favorite markets and the most convenient “big” market to my apartment, but it offers no shade other than the flimsy popup farm tents. I tried to stay under cover but it was a lost cause. I was surprised to see that in just one week the market had come alive with summer produce. Sweet corn, juicy peaches and heirloom tomatoes seemed to be everywhere. I collected a few of each but stayed true to my plan. Sweet bing and sour cherries both beckoned to me. Both equally delicious but drastically different. The heat left me with no energy to choose favorites so I did what anyone in my situation would do. I went home some of each, a little more than 4 pounds each.
Locavore living isn’t always easy. The bulk of our winter food consists of root vegetables, beans, grains, greens, frozen and canned stuff. We cheat a bit, mostly with stuff we wouldn’t be able to get around here anyway like citrus and avocados. But for the most part we try to live locally. So when spring arrives and the Greenmarkets start showing evidence of food other than cellared winter produce, you can imagine I get a bit excited. Too excited, maybe. I fill my bags with asparagus, ramps, lettuce and quarts of strawberries, completely ignoring how perishable some items are and there’s only two mouths to feed. I started canning for just that reason, to make sure we weren’t wasting things. Most meals use a little of this and a little of that, leaving me with odd quantities of produce left over, threatening to spoil. In the winter, all these things would easily be tossed into a kitchen sink stew, cooking on the stove or in the slow cooker for hours, maybe with some beef or sausage. However in the warmth of the summer, I want nothing like that. So my kitchen sink meals get a bit more creative.
It just isn’t spring without asparagus. I slept in a little last Saturday. I knew I had to get to the greenmarket early to guarantee the freshest produce, but with the weather being extra soggy, I figured an extra hour wouldn’t really matter. Boy was I wrong. Note to self: Greenmarket shoppers are hardcore. Rain, sleet, snow or torrential downpour. They’ll be there, especially during the early weeks of spring where a bunch of green asparagus or rosy red rhubarb is like a blinding ray of sunshine among an otherwise grey day. So if you want the good stuff, you better be there bright and early too.
Honestly, if I went back in time and told my 10 year old self I loved Brussels Sprouts, she’d probably cry. No, I wasn’t really one to cry. Kicked or bitten would be more like it. Luckily she’s back there, and my present self is safe so I can go back to shoveling mounds of Brussels Sprouts into my mouth.