I’ve become the de facto lunch chef here at the farm. Throughout this season, much of my mental energy and time outside of the garden has revolved around preparing healthy, nutritious, and varied midday meals for the farmers and many volunteers we welcome throughout the week. I’ve realized more than ever how much I love to feed others, and just how precious it is to sit around a table and eat together.
Dinnertime is a completely different story. It rarely seems worth the time and effort to cook for only myself. Early in the season, I tried to spend as little time as possible out in the cold and dark. The spring winds sometimes weakened the flame or blew it out completely, so that it took ages for anything to cook. Then as the the season picked up, it became a dash to grab a quick bite to tide myself over and head right back out to the field. And so, more often than not, I’d grab whatever was closest, quickest, most convenient, and required the fewest amount of dishes.
I’ve come to appreciate, to some extent, freeing myself from the pressure to carefully plan and prepare a frugal, perfectly nutritionally balanced, aesthetically pleasing meal, and just eat whatever I feel like of what is around. Trail mix. Leftover white rice and kale with sesame oil. Countless cheese sandwiches, or just straight cheese, perhaps slathered with jam. Yogurt and granola. Fried eggs and toast. A stale muffin softened in kefir, with a few stalks of celery on the side. Roasted potatoes and onions pilfered from ingredients for tomorrows lunch, with some mysterious pickled vegetables I found in the back of the fridge.
And every so often, I make myself slow down, cook a simple hot meal with fresh vegetables from the garden, and sit down to eat it and enjoy the view and my own company. Assure myself again that taking care of my body is as important as attending to the garden, and that I am worthy of a few extra minutes and the same care and love I put into the meals I cook for others.
A handful of tasty combinations I’ve discovered so far this season:
-White beans and chard braised with garlic and vinegar
-Garbanzos, chard, and sorrel with cardamon
-Quinoa with raw turnip (“Scarlet Queen” turnips are particularly exquisite raw), olive oil, and cardamon
-Garbanzos and collards braised with garlic, turmeric, cumin, and lime juice
-Zucchini pancakes (Simply grate zucchini into your favorite pancake batter and voila! Great with yogurt as breakfast for dinner.)
-Garbanzos with diced tomato and lemon cucumbers, tossed with peppermint, olive oil, and salt