Red Letter Day

Food-wise, last night saw an achievement I was beginning to doubt I would ever reach. My veg box arrives on Wednesdays (used to be Fridays, which was much more convenient for cooking on Sundays, but mustn’t grumble – children in Ethiopia etc. etc.), and when it does, most weeks my heart sinks a little because there’ll be a green leafy vegetable of some description in the box.

The problem with this is two-fold and the two folds (if you will) are linked. Most weeks, I will still have plenty of green leaves, allbeit somewhat sad and lanky, left from the previous week. So adding more to the pile seems like adding insult to injury. But also, green leafy vegetables (let’s call them GLVs, otherwise my fingers are going to seize up from repeated typing) have never been my go-to vegetable. More accurately, they are my run-away-from vegetable. I can tolerate them in small doses, I might not even object to them on my plate, but you’ll never catch me thinking “what shall I have for dinner tonight? I haven’t had curly kale in a while, and I’ve missed it. I’ll cook something that celebrates the GLV”. Which is why I usually have some (if not all) left at the end of the week.

Before you start, I know they’re good for me. Iron, mmmm. I know that, as a vegetarian especially, I shouldn’t be setting my heart against such nutritious fare. I know that, with the gloriously temperate climate we inhabit, GLVs see us through the hunger gap and provide rare vitamins and minerals to boot. But I’m not keen.

So imagine my amazement last night when I found myself with an empty plastic bag that had previously held chard, only two days after veg box day. While my joy is tempered slightly by the fact that this week’s box held not only chard but also cavolo nero, so the GLV mountain is only half-climbed, this is an unprecedented achievement for me.

The secret of my success? Little and often. Two or three leaves with every meal soon makes short work of the honking great pile. That’s also a bearable amount to chop (although you have to beware chopping stray caterpillars too, as I discovered on Wednesday – proves it’s fresh?). My secondary secret: bung it in with pasta a couple of minutes before the end, which is very efficient on the pan-washing-up aspect of cooking. So on Wednesday, I had a handful of chard mixed in with pasta and sauce. On Thursday, I adapted my mushroom bhaji recipe to add the second half of roasted squash from the weekend – and a handful of chard. Last night I made egg fried rice to use up the leftover rice, with mushrooms, carrots, sweetcorn, egg (obviously…) – and a handful of chard. And there it was, gone!

I know it’s a little thing, but it’s the little victories that make you enjoy the wider picture, I think. And I’ve made a start on the cavolo nero. Breakfast this morning was a poached egg on a toasted muffin, with a little roquefort – and cavolo nero. This week, I may just beat the GLV bounty!

Book I’m reading at the momentOnce Bitten by Kalayna Price. I read high-brow books too, so a little urban fantasy every now and then is ok, I think.


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