It may be spring here, some day. The snow has melted, uncovering the discarded plastic bags, beer bottles and plastic cups that blossomed under the snow during the winter, and the temperature hovers around 40 degrees. The sad truth is that I have lost my will to cook even one more meal with no fresh produce, and the idea of having to wait until there is asparagus is making me limp with despair. There is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in my pantry.
I have been reading some of my older posts, wondering who that woman was who went around inventing recipes, making sauces from scratch, roasting and peeling peppers and baking Brioche. Was she high? I kind of hate her.
I now skulk around the kitchen in the vicinity of dinner time trying to remember how many cups of water to put in the rice, and deciding whether I can get away with putting Monterey Jack on baked Ziti because the idea of actually putting on my coat and driving to the store to buy Mozzarella is appalling. Issues of “Bon Appetit,” “Cooking Light,” and “Gourmet” are piling up next to my bed because I refuse to hunt around for substitute ingredients, and I am making menus using things like pre-cooked, frozen potatoes that come in a bag. IN A BAG!!!!
There is food in the grocery store, but all of the produce is still flown in from Someplace With Sun, ridiculously expensive, not very fresh, bred to withstand packing and travel. Nothing is growing here, yet, aside from a few brave crocuses and tulips that didn’t get the memo that it would snow, yet again, on March 21st. I got through the fall relying heavily on root vegetables and apples, and through the winter persuading myself that it was okay to buy tropical fruit because it would never really be able to grow here anyway, but now the rubber tomatoes and strawberries are just getting me down. I don’t want $2.00/pound asparagus that was picked a week ago, and I don’t want limp broccoli wrapped in plastic, even if it is organic. Its all old and tired, like me.
Sadly, becoming a foodie has ruined me for the real world. I want fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes, farm-fresh eggs and things like garlic scapes and tiny Hmong peppers that are unfamiliar and inspiring. When I look around my kitchen and see jars of fresh basil and Rosemary, bowls of fresh tomatoes that need to be used immediately, bushels of zucchini and huge bulbs of purple garlic, I am inspired to invent, to create, and to showcase my bounty in ways that are delicious and satisfying. I have great difficulty summoning that kind of motivation when contemplating a bag of russet potatoes, a bag of yellow onions and a bag o’ salad. I don’t want any more soups, or casseroles, or sauces made with dried mushrooms. I want a daily hit of something fresh and colorful that makes me imagine nutrients moving directly into my bloodstream.
I have every reason to believe that spring will come again, and then summer, and that the farmers’ market will re-open and that even the grocery store will sell produce grown in this state and even during this month. When I have something fresh to work with, I will again be inspired to make everything fresh, from bread to desserts; serving beautiful produce and protein alongside processed foods is like going to bed on clean sheets after running a marathon and skipping a shower. Clearly, I need to preserve some of next summer’s goodness so that I can have marinara made with fresh tomatoes or salsa or strawberry jam when I am in the depths of a slump. In the meantime, I will plod on through the remainder of this interminable winter, try to get myself to come up with an interesting homemade soup or a loaf of ciabatta, and dream of canvas bags full of fresh things made achingly beautiful by the bits of earth clinging to their roots.