It’s with great sorrow and not a little shame that I must report that this week, we had our first bona fide CSA tragedy. The CSA delivered unto us a watermelon. It was the second watermelon it had delivered. The first was phenomenally good, consumed at a picnic prior to taking in some outdoor theater. I was eager to eat the second. I’d look at in the fridge and go, “Oh, yes, the watermelon! We should slice that open and devour it all!!!” Ten days later, we finally did.It was no longer watermelon. “Limp” is the best word. It was too funky to even turn into a beverage. We’d let the melon down. Fruit failure. Produce penalty. And so, when it came time to cook dinner the next night, it was with the tragically wasted watermelon in mind that my mantra became, “No more!”
My mission: Use as much of all of this as humanly possible, without creating leftovers. (OMG, fridge so full of leftovers, omg) My original plan was to do flatbread pizzas in the oven. I even put warm water in a bowl with sugar to start the dough for the flatbread. But then my phone rang. A new prospective client wanted to talk. For half an hour. About a property that isn’t for sale. He doesn’t even live in Wisconsin. Is this man ever going to buy a house? No, he’s a scam. And he used up the very small window of time I had to get dough started and not have dinner ready entirely too late. Crabby Realtor was crabby. And changing plans.
That’s the whole eggplant, and yellow zucchini and third of the head of broccoli. The other two thirds went back to the fridge since I wanted to serve a vegetable medley, not broccoli with some eggplant-zucchini garnish. Then I seasoned it. The green curry paste was a good start, but I’d been a little conservative with it – there needed to be more. So I threw in some oyster sauce. Then some “kecap sambal.” I have no idea what kecap sambal is, other than, “soya beans sauce with relish,” (that label is in English) but I think of it as, “spicy asian ketchup of tasty.” I stirred. Then I added more kecap. Then I stirred some more.
We’ve had a bag of black rice in the pantry for ages. I mixed some if it into a dirty rice mix ages back and have been meaning to play with it more ever since. The bag is full of things written in Chinese. I do not read Chinese. There are English translations for some of it, mostly the things that tell me how healthy black rice is and how I should make sure to eat a lot of it. If there are instructions for how to cook it on the bag, they’re in Chinese and not translated. Fortunately, I have trouble following directions anyway. I put twice as much water as rice in a pot, brought it to a boil, then threw in the rice and ignored it for ten minutes. There was water leftover, but not so much that I didn’t just dump the pot into the vegetables.
This was the moment where I realized that I wasn’t thinking very clearly. I’d forgotten something. No green beans! All the other vegetables got chopped up first, and I forgot about the ones that didn’t need chopping when I got the sauteing started. Oh well. Less done green beans would just add a nice crunch to the salad.
I took a taste and realized two things. First, my salad plan was made of dumb. I was clearly making a stir fry, and if I’d thought about the actual outcome of my original plan that would have been obvious. Ladies and gentlemen, I cook the way I write. Pantless. I mean planless. I mean…whatever.
The other thing I realized was that I’d perhaps added more asian spicy ketchup of tasty than would be entirely appreciated by people still sensitive to spicy food. (For some reason, I haven’t been registering spicy food as spicy past the first bite for a while. I’m not sure how I feel about that.) I needed to balance the spicy with some sweetness. I added honey, because I’m still adding honey to everything. Then I added fish sauce because hey, I’ve admitted I’m making a stir fry, why not? Then I got clever and went to the fridge for vegetables that hadn’t hit the first tier of urgency.
Carrots are sweet. They’re also brightly colored, and everything in the stir fry was getting rather brown, what with all the sauce and black rice. This was the cleverest thing I did over the whole planning and preparation of this meal.
Added white rice, too, because I’d already committed to that plan way back when I thought I was making a salad. Which is the part where I realized the other massive flaw in my dinner plan. Have you spotted it? Think about it for a minute.
No protein. Well, a smidge in the eggplant, but not enough for three people. There was going to be cheese, way back when this was going to be a pizza. Did I mention how irritated I was with inconvenient waste-of-time prospect guy? Time for emergency planning. Cheese was not going to work in this. I had just a few options.
1) Thaw something from the freezer and throw it in, delaying dinner a minimum of thirty minutes, more probably an hour.
2) Scramble eggs and mix them in. Fast, tasty, but we had egg custard thingies for dinner the night before.
3) Chop up Chinese sausages we keep in the fridge, throw them in. Mega tasty, but they were in the egg custard thingies we had for dinner the night before.
Witness, my first use of tofu as a cook. Emergency protein, deployed! More stirring. And then I declared dinner complete.
How did I do on operation “Never again”? Well, the parsley didn’t get touched, but I dented the broccoli and the green beans, and utterly depleted our eggplant and zucchini supplies. Dinner was ready before people started eyeing the cat for her nutritional value. I think it even turned out sorta pretty.
More importantly, it was tasty. So tasty that people went back for seconds. I may have witnessed a rare incident of Sylvie thirds. Which brings us to the “no leftovers” portion of the operational criteria.