In this week's share: strawberries, tatsoi, red leaf lettuce, bok choi, carrots, and sweet potatoes. To try Anastatia's recipe for smooth, creamy hummus, click here.
On a recent Thursday, waiting for my friend Maggie at our CSA pickup site, I halfheartedly opened our box. The strawberries looked delicious, but other than that I couldn't summon even a modicum of interest in cooking anything I found in there. I love to cook, but sometimes—because I'm tired, because I've spent the day doing housework, because sometimes you just need someone other than yourself to take care of you—preparing a meal seems like nothing but drudgery. For whatever reason, I was in this particular mood as I stared down our vegetables. All I really wanted was a gin and tonic.
The strawberries did look good, though, so I took them out and ate a few while waiting for Maggie, hoping that she'd show up with an idea for something she was dying to cook, or at least a level of either energy or cheer that was higher than mine. I knew that I wouldn't need much to coax me out of my cooking funk. Maggie, however, was out of ideas herself: "Um ... Maybe a salad? With, you know, some kind of dressing that we haven't made before?"
I could tell by her lack of enthusiasm that she might be amenable to the idea I'd been nursing. I laid the groundwork: "It's so lovely out, isn't it?" It was, so she agreed. I ate another strawberry. "I almost wish ... Wouldn't it be sort of nice to eat outside?" She agreed again, and knew she was ready for my next leading question. "Maybe we could ... go out for dinner?"
And that's what we did. There were cocktails, and outdoor seating, and asparagus cooked and served by someone other than us, on dishes we didn't have to wash. It was heavenly.
Now, under almost all circumstances I will advocate for cooking at home over buying a restaurant meal. Cooking for yourself is cheaper, almost always healthier, and—if you know anything about cooking—usually better. But sometimes the thought of it just makes you want to cry. Or it does for me, anyway. And on those rare occasions, going out to dinner feels decadent, even if "going out" means buying a burrito and eating it on a park bench.
Going out isn't always an option, though, whether due to budgetary constraints or all those CSA vegetables in the fridge waiting to be eaten. For those moments, I try to keep things around in the fridge or the freezer that I can graze on when I don't feel like cooking. Lately I've been particularly enamored of homemade hummus, which tastes much better than the store-bought kind and which I have been eating with all the carrots and radishes that have been showing up in my CSA box lately.