So, have you ever felt oppressed by vegetables?
Don’t laugh (well, maybe just a chuckle then…).
A few years ago, I signed up for weekly deliveries of organic veg. Great idea. A selection of in-season fruit and veg delivered to the door, locally sourced where possible. Fresh, good quality kitchen materials always on hand. What’s not to love about that?
So, week-in-week-out, the veg arrived on cue and I lunched and dined on the spoils and even made the occasional jar of pickle. Happy days. Sometimes, though, I would struggle to get through my weekly vegetable quota and, if I forgot to cancel subsequent deliveries in time, a certain degree of vegetable stock-piling would ensue. I would always attempt to work through the little vegetable mountain as best I could, given my deep-seated abhorrence of food waste. There were times, though, when it would get the better of me and I would soon start to feel oppressed by its continued presence. The ringleaders of this vegetable-led oppression were cabbage and his buddy turnip.
It’s not that I disliked either of these vegetables but, frankly, I found them a bit of a challenge. Fact was that they often managed to defeat me by virtue of sheer volume. I mean to say, a bloody great big head of red or white cabbage with only one or two of us to do the eating could mean cabbage for several days in a row. Not only that, but who was to say that another cabbage wouldn’t turn up on the doorstep again next week? My cabbage repertoire wasn’t all that extensive and there were only so many days in the week where you’d want mashed turnip. So it was that I began to greet the arrival of the weekly delivery with some trepidation because these two would, at times, feature quite a lot. Being local ‘n’ all.
Now, during this time, I did try to find new ways of dealing with my chief adversaries (like the happy discovery of cabbage stir-fried with caraway seeds and a surprisingly good dish combining turnip with yoghurt, tomato and cumin) but, in the end, I had to admit that I couldn’t keep up with the constant challenge. I scaled back my deliveries to once every two weeks and we have now achieved a nice little equilibrium, my organic vegetables and me.
I was reminded of all of this during the week when family events kept me away from the house for several days longer than planned. Having been gone for the best part of a week, I returned to find a veg delivery that had been languishing unattended by the door for days, to be added to the fairly plentiful stocks already lying unused indoors. Not only that, but local duo cabbage and turnip put in a joint appearance, lending weight to the chorus of veggies murmuring “you really should use me up, y’know”. However, I will be neither oppressed nor defeated this time. I will look to the suggestions from Carmel Somers of The Good Things Café in West Cork on how to spice up these two lowly Irish staples, as heard recently on Newstalk radio’s Foodtalk series. She suggests, among other things, cabbage with juniper and garlic and turnip matched with ginger in either soup, roasted or stewed form. So I reckon I’ll be tackling my excess with the aid of whatever I think my spice cupboard can throw at it, that way I can have my seasonal vegetables and eat them.