Creature from the salad bar

I’ve been eating a lot of salads lately. Maybe it’s from having April in February, or maybe it’s because i have access to lettuce with actual flavor. I get mine from a CSA. This photo shows the latest load of leafies: a ruffled type of lettuce called panisse and some romaine. I even snack on the leaves on their own, chomping like a large rabbit.

But I never knew that innocent salads were a threat. I discovered that a friend, let’s call her “Molly,” hates salads and all that go into them: carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, even lettuce. “How can you hate lettuce?” I asked. “It’s like eating green, crunchy air.” She just does. “It’s a texture thing,” she said. She also picks lettuce and tomatoes off of sandwiches.

“Molly” contends that she does like vegetables: peas, corn and potatoes. And broccoli, but only the stalks.

She also hates celery. “Celery? How can you hate celery?” said another friend sitting nearby. “Celery doesn’t have any flavor. Unless you dip it in hot sauce. Have you ever tried that?” “Molly” made what my father would have called a “cow eating briars” face (except that she doesn’t graze on green things). She held the face and shook her head as Friend 2 and I discussed whether we could get celery stalks to soak hot sauce up into their fibers, then use them in bloody marys. This I will try. But I won’t make “Molly” watch.

Man vs. squirrel

The furry rodents will not defeat me. I spent part of the lovely Sunday replacing my pots of lettuce. The originals vanished at the paws of squirrels. They didn’t just eat the lettuce, they dragged the whole plants off to their little nut lairs somewhere. Now, I have new red romaine and green leaf lettuce plants, and I want them to stay around.

Those who have read Beatrix Potter one too many times think squirrels are cute. A friend tried to persuade me to take a gentler, cooperative approach. Humph. This is war. Besides, there are plenty of pine cones in my yard – let ’em eat pine nuts.

I know from past experience with a bird feeder that squirrels will chew plastic to bits. I put wire around the pots. That ought to keep their hairy mitts off my future salad.

Green grows the kitchen

It’s all or nothing in the wonderful garden world. Not surprisingly, the first box of vegetables from my CSA at Coon Rock Farm is fluffy and leafy. Spinach, some exotic cabbage and lettuce – lots of frilly lettuce.

In addition, my neighbor-gardener Tom called the other day to ask if I wanted some lettuce from his backyard, before the un-springlike heat makes it bolt and become bitter. I didn’t realize “some” meant three gallon plastic bags full. Next time, I’ll ask for a definition.

I will long for this green stuff in a few months. For now, it makes for monochromatic meals. This afternoon, I’ve been rummaging through cookbooks, looking for ideas. The triumvirate of greens-olive oil-garlic in a hot saute pan (maybe a little chile pepper, too) is heavenly in its simplicity, but some variety would be nice, too. There’s a classic Italian dish that combines greens with potatoes which looks quite promising. Who has some other ideas?