Filed under: Cooking, Utah | Tags: carrots, fruit, gardener's market, lettuce, veggies
You really take for granted what you’re used to eating until it’s not available anymore. Isn’t that the way it always goes?
In moving to Kanab the things I’m missing the most are flavorful vegetables and quality fruits. And selection. Sure, the produce section in the store is plenty large, but the massive piles of onions, potatoes, carrots and celery far out-space other veggies not considered staples. And to add to that, items like bell peppers, artichokes, asparagus and bok choy are ridiculously overpriced ($4 for one bell pepper) and often look like they’ve been dragged behind the delivery truck, not in it.
If you know me, then you know I’d rather pick my produce fresh from my garden, get is from a summer CSA basket or go to the Saturday farmers market. The food you receive that way is not only cheaper or similar in price, but much more flavorful, and of course fresher.
As renters with a pea gravel backyard, we’re limited here as to what we can actually grow. This is a disappointment because the growing season here is so much longer than in Reno (especially this year). Despite this, we’ve used every flowerpot and container we kept through the move to plant herbs and essential veggies. Our lettuce already went through one full harvest and we’re in the second growing cycle. Our carrots are coming in nicely and I’m pickling the first batch today. Oregano, boxwood basil, mint, thyme and dill are all thriving. And the tomatoes we thought wouldn’t survive the transplant are kicking ass. We’ll have several ripe ones within days.
But herbs and tomatoes can only take you so far. This morning I broke out of the house early to hit the town farmer’s market. It’s something my neighbor said was great and to get there early for the best selection.
So out of the house I went at 8:30 a.m., hoping that there would still be something left for me to pick up. Two minutes later I cruised past the lot only to find that it didn’t actually open until 9 a.m. I also saw that the sign said “Gardener’s Market.” Huh, we’ll see what that means.
So what that does mean is…one old guy that grows veggies in his garden and sells the extras in town. (Insert sound effect for disappointment here.) Nonetheless, I was able to pick up a bunch of chard, a bundle of beets with greens intact, a bag of lettuce and six summer squash. The only other item he had was rhubarb…nasty crap. And that was it. The whole Gardener’s Market. One guy selling veggies. There were a couple of other booths there with locally made lotions, denim bags, beaded whatnots and local photos. But all in all, somewhat disappointing.
I guess you can say that this all is what comes with rural living. But in rural areas isn’t there actually more space to grow and cultivate?
I’m hoping that the low farmer to buyer ratio was a fluke this week, and I’ll definitely head over again to try my luck. But truly, this underscores the need for me to figure out a way to grow more shit. Period.
Hahaha, get it out of the way. Everyone that’s heard me mention that I’d be volunteering in the bunny house has chuckled and made reference to Nevada’s seedy tradition. Yes, I’m volunteering in a bunny house. No, it’s not in any way related to a bunny ranch, Playboy bunnies or any other sex-related industry.
Now, on with the story.
Best Friends Animal Sanctuary has hundreds of bunnies (here are just a few) and only a handful of staff to care for them. They need volunteers to help out so I decided that’s where I’d apply some time each month. It’s not as high-profile an area as Dogtown, but I’m convinced that these bunnies are just as cute as any of the puppies at the sanctuary. And so, I’m spending two four-hour shifts per month at the sanctuary’s Bunny House cleaning cages, helping to feed and water them and socializing with them (translation: holding and petting).
Of course my first day on the “job” it’s one of the coldest days so far in Kanab and I’ve layered up with lined jeans, wool socks, three shirts, a coat and a hat. Good thing because I spent nearly two hours outside cleaning cages. The main bunny house has a population of bunnies that include some sick and less healthy ones, so the runs are two-part with an indoor area and an outdoor area. The outdoor areas are like bunny playpens with fleece throws and blankets, toys, wicker items for chewing and boxes to hide in. And poop. Lots of poop.
Did you know rabbits poop 300 times a day? That’s why the motto when cleaning the runs is “Don’t Look Back.” And you shouldn’t.
I got to work shaking out the throws and towels, sweeping up the poop, picking up toys, cage after cage. At first the bunnies were still inside, but as I worked my way down the line they started coming out to see what I was doing. That’s how I came to meet Toodles, a big boy that’s super friendly and just likes to snuggle with his run-mate. I also got some help cleaning from Kelso and Hyde, brothers who just couldn’t help but hop around at my feet as I moved toys around and swept up their messes.
Fuzzy is by far my favorite little bunny, not because she’s handicapable, but because she’s just so darn friendly. She was born during the Great Bunny Rescue in Reno in 2006 and has a neurological disorder. She drags her two back legs behind her but that doesn’t stop her from meeting people. In fact, staff member Burke said that because of her condition and the number of times she’s been seen by vets she’s used to people. That’s a good thing because I really enjoyed playing with her while I cleaned her area.
Another great bunny that I don’t have a photo of is Heathcliff. He’s a tiny little bugger, just bigger than a softball, all black with little ears that lay back. Ah, so cute!
So for now, sue me for not taking my camera to get some good photos of my day, but watch for some in a few weeks after my next volunteering session.
I love to cook and I love to read recipes, and I have for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid my mom assigned us each a night of the week to cook dinner and we got to select our meal and prepare it on our own. Since then I’ve continued selecting meals, clipping my recipes and adding them to a giant photo album. I just haven’t been preparing them.
With the move to Utah I lightened my work load and decided to apply myself to more time in the kitchen. It’s a hobby I find relaxing and ties in with the new approach I’m taking to life. It’s finally my chance to make all of those dishes I’ve been thinking about rather than tasting. Enter the Potato, leek and feta tart, or as D calls it “Fart Tart.” It’s a pretty simple meal, and I could’ve even made it when I was 10. Here goes:
Slice two zuchinni into half moons. Do the same with two leeks, cutting all the way up to the green. Saute in a tablespoon or so of olive oil with salt and pepper until just softened, about 4-5 minutes. Toss in 1/2 cup to 1 cup (depending on your cheese passion) of crumbled feta cheese and two tablespoons of fresh chopped dill (or dried, whatever). Remove from heat and toss. Then toss in 2 thinly sliced (think chips) red potatoes with the skin still on. Dump all of this onto a 12″ pie crust and fold over the edges to form an edge to the crust and keep it all in. Bake on a cookie sheet at 375F for 50-60 minutes, until crust is golden and potatoes are tender.
I was thinking this would be sort of dry because there’s no saucy element to it, but it wasn’t at all. Delicious on the first night, delicious for leftovers the next day at lunch. One note, if you have larger zuchinni and potatoes consider doing two tarts. I had to do that because one crust wouldn’t hold all of the inards.