I’VE BECOME newly creative in the kitchen. Living in the city, surrounded by markets and specialty food shops, whatever substance my stomach craves at any particular moment is usually within a 10-minute walk from home. I stop at one place for spices, another for bread, another for meat, the supermarket for basics, and so forth.
It makes little sense to drive anywhere since it takes as long to park as to walk, and I’ve been trapped one too many times in the Whole Foods garage, screaming for help with a stamped parking ticket that the machine can’t read. But that’s another story.
I never keep more than a couple of days’ worth of food in the house, it’s so easy to buy fresh. When we remodeled our small, galley kitchen we didn’t hang upper cabinets on one wall, installing a giant mirror behind the stove instead to increase the feeling of space. This worked just fine over the decades. And then, we have this corona business, and I have approximately no storage space.
I also suddenly found out that I AM OLD, really—who knew? Between worrying about who coughed on the broccoli and keeping social distance, marketing has become a perilous proposition. One I now try to avoid as much as possible.
I took stock as things became more heated, packing the freezer, the cabinets and the space under the basement steps with things to make and ingredients to make something from the leftovers. Dried pasta, beans, bags of coffee, big packs of frozen chicken thighs, ground beef, ribs, potatoes, canned and frozen vegetables (don’t raw vegetables terrify you? LIKE SALAD?? Talk about a death trap).
We’ve got about two weeks of eating before we’re down to the Christmas-gift jars of tapenade, olives and mustard. Meanwhile, I’m busily making casseroles and pot pies, and saving bones for soup like some Depression-era housewife. (My Prince, poor boy, gets to clean up).
For dinner on Saturday night, when we normally would go out to eat, I invented a lasagne out of two chicken thighs ground with half a pound of mushrooms and layered with cream sauce and an alarming assortment of half-dried-up, unidentifiable cheeses grated on top (since I’m too lazy to figure out what these nubbins are). On any other day I’d have gone out for fresh.
On Sunday morning, pouring over all the gloom and doom in the Washington Post and the New York Times, I found a single bright spot: growing spring onions in water. You take a bunch of spring onions, rim off the tops, and stick the bulbs’ hairy bottoms in water. You can keep cutting the tops off until kingdom come, or so they said.
I cannot express how unlikely it would be for me to do any such thing at any other time. But there I was, hunting for a vessel and planting me some onions.
Tootling around the Internet I find you can grow quite a number of veggies in water—without getting involved in a full hydroponic rig. If there are roots showing at the bottom—as with celery, fennel, cabbage, lettuce and leeks—trim the stalks or heads down to a few inches and put them in a bowl with water and shoots will shortly appear. Garlic that has sprouted can be put in water and will produce garlic chives. Carrot tops will also grow in water (though I’d normally be more inclined to stick them in a window box: The foliage is so nice and frothy). Just add a little sun and . . .
OH Please, may this be over soon.
LittleBird “Stephanie Gardens” finds solace in growing things