Left Behind: The Horrors That Forgotten Produce Produces

My refrigerator is a scary place.

Generally speaking, I’m a good cook. I’m diverse. I buy weird-looking things from grocery stores and make them delicious. We eat pasta only an average number of times a week. I’m good at taking the things I have and turning out a pretty good dinner.

But there are some things I can’t do. One of them is using fresh vegetables in a timely manner.

I love the concept. I do. And I have great success with things like onions, because they can sit in one place for a month and a half and not…rot.

Other veggies like lettuce, or tomatoes, or the zucchini that are slowly decomposing somewhere behind the jam and sriracha sauce, are doomed from the start.

I start out with the best of intentions. I’m sucked in like everyone else by the glistening piles of fresh produce that greet me when I walk in the store. I have visions of steamed, stir-fried, diced, sliced, casseroled, baked, grilled delicacies that will delight the senses.

I end up mucking compost out of our “crisper.”

I’m not sure what’s going on. It takes literally twenty seconds to slice a cucumber. I can turn a head of romaine lettuce into a salad in about a minute and a half. It’s not a time thing.

There are a lot of things out there to help me, supposedly. I’ve bought gadgets. I have an apple corer/slicer that kills. And it’s easy to wash! I’ve also got one for vegetables. I can use various kitchen tools to julienne, mince, and peel anything that starts out as a seed, root, or spore. Between Marchewka and I, we have basically anything ever invented to make cooking a convenience, and not a chore.

My mother-in-law is a beast in the kitchen. She can whip up a 4 course meal that involves 50 separate ingredients, without a recipe, in an hour. I’d take three, and probably read along most of the time. She’s undaunted, and despite my relatively-mad kitchen skills, Choiloi still gets a wistfull look on his face when he talks about his mom’s cooking.

My mom wasn’t geared that way. I can type 90 wpm, read Gibbons at 11, and in 7th grade couldn’t tell you who the Backstreet Boys were but would harmonize with you on Simon & Garfunkel. I don’t remember food being horrible growing up…and I know there were a lot of great desserts, but I also don’t have “family favorites” that I can name. This horrifies Choiloi. He interrogates me about what I enjoyed from my mother’s cooking, what I liked for her to make on a regular basis, and what my special “birthday meal” was; I draw blanks.

I know my mom wasn’t a bad cook. I really don’t have any memories of poisonings, or gross-outs. My brother used to fall out of his chair whenever we had brussel sprouts for dinner, but that was just his aversion to the color green. We just weren’t…food people.

When my grandmother was getting ready to sell her house, she had to remodel the kitchen because when she’d built it, she’d had them put in a microwave—no oven. The Atkins diet meant eating hotdogs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

My mom wasn’t a chronic nuker, but I also didn’t grow up learning things at her side. I’ve definitely grown into my affinity for cooking, and I really enjoy being the type of person who’s known as a good chef; it just wasn’t something that I absorbed at my mother’s apron-strings.

A couple weeks ago, I went to the Mecca that is Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and bought about $40 worth of products that reportedly extend the life of my vegetables. Green bags. D0-dads that I put in the drawers to absorb toxic fumes. Things that I see on late-night infomercials.

To date, I’ve got a bunch of cilantro that’s going on two weeks. There’s a tomato that’s lasted about a month. My zucchinis, while slowly turning into mush, could still be salvaged by a good session with the paring knife.

I doubt I’ll get to it though. They’ll probably just die. In their beautiful, green bags, that I will wash out and use to encase the next batch of doomed vegetables, because the package says they can be used up to ten times before they finally succumb to the natural process of decomposition.

I once left a bag of potatoes on the top of the refrigerator for three months. It’s the only time I’ve seen Choiloi throw up.

There isn’t a solution. It’s better having four cooks in the house now, because when I buy things they’ll eventually be used. Hopefully. And I’ve gotten better about planning meals that incorporate the plethora of healthy, anti-oxidant-loaded fare that I bring home from the grocery store.

Last night I made food for the small marsupial. It had some grapes. A couple withered apples. Spinach. Tuna. Cottage cheese from last month.

Until I find a way of having an in-apartment composter for a garden that doesn’t exist, it’s the best I can do.



Cherry Cheesecake

1 package of cream cheese.

1 cup heavy whipping cream cream.

¾ cup powdered sugar.

1 tbsp lemon juice.

2 tsp vanilla.

1 can cherry pie filling.

1 graham cracker crust.

Whip whipped cream, vanilla, and sugar. Blend in cream cheese and lemon juice. Pour into pie tin. Glop in the cherry pie filling. Refrigerate till firm.

Pair with a cup of Mystic Monk coffee.



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