Top | cafemama — an inconvenient life

green loves

(post, Sarah Gilbert)

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A Twitter friend with a similar bent -- he loves biking, knitting, good coffee and local veggies just as much as I do -- and I have been bantering about raab for the past few weeks. He'd arrived at the market earlier than I on opening day, and was able to snag a good quantity of turnip raab; while all that was left by the time I arrived was some mixed baby salad greens. I took home my salad greens, and for the next two weeks kept having random hankerings for garlic-braised sturdy winter greens. The brilliant jewel of Portland's winter climate, kale and raab and collards and mustard greens, oh my! 

This weekend, I made it back to the market, and evidently the green fates were a-smiling. Despite the gorgeous weather and the lateness of my arrival (1:14 p.m. said my watch after I'd locked my bike and strapped the toddler on my back, 46 minutes until closing time), I was able to garner an eye-popping variety of my favorite winter veggies. The first booth I visited had enormous bags of bok choy leaves; a different variety than I was used to, with smaller stems, not attached to the heads; for $2. Thrilling! Another, Persephone Farms (my favorite source for cabbage), had three kinds of raab for $7 a pound. I snapped several photos and then filled a bag with a variety, kale and collard and broccoli, such colors. A head of cabbage, too, and I had to bite my lip to keep from protesting when a woman picked up a head, then put it back, "I can't take this on my bike!" (You can, you CAN! I wanted to say, striking up a conversation with her that I did not want to let go, though she clearly had no interest in my gentle encouragement that she get some cargo bags.)

I went on, clearing out the tail end of a few vendor's vegetable offerings; a little more braising mix from Gathering Together Farm; the biggest, dirtiest, ugliest carrots and scrabbly, pock-marked potatoes from Prairie Creek (both guaranteed amazing taste no matter their outsides); odd-shaped red onions. I took them home, thrilling in my good fortune.

My friend had to move so he was tweeting his raab envy. Another Twitterer, inspired by my mention of the market, had popped in to check out the offerings. I asked him, "did you get anything good?" No, he said, he just wanted to see what was in season; he would come back when there was more produce.

More produce? I thought, distressed at his disrespect. Surely this is enough. The winter's gifts in April: sturdy, hearty greens, enormous cabbages, still-crisp apples, rough nuggets of potatoes, baby salad greens, leeks in great pyramid stacks. Enough for anyone.

Once home, I made a pile of my favorite cookbooks and noted recipe after recipe. The Frenchy 'Bistro Cookbook' by Patricia Wells was the best of all, page after page of potato and greens recipes. Not only were there several recipes in the "soup" and "salad" sections, but there was a whole chapter on potatoes.

I made a bok choy potato soup using her watercress recipe, a recipe with four ingredients, and spun a million different poems in my head as I rinsed and peeled and chopped and simmered. Not enough produce? No no no! This is a lifetime's worth; how lucky am I that late spring, summer and fall hold an eternity's more?