If that hoary old chestnut about the definition of insanity is true, then I am truly, incontrovertibly, just plain mad. Every year the same set of circumstances exist; every year I behave in the exact same way; every year I am surprised at my behavior. It surely sounds like insanity to me. On the other hand, Lloyd and I are eating well, so it's a bearable insanity.
Today was my first proper farmer's market crawl of the year. I had not been to the market in a month, not since the day I showed up early, paid for a flat of strawberries and 13 pounds of rhubarb, and solicited my (visiting) (incredibly patient) mother's assistance in bringing them back to Astoria, with hardly a moment left for browsing. Even though I had not been there for a month, even though I knew that the summer market season was about to kick into high gear, I still had modest visions for the day. I would buy eggs, because we were out of eggs. Because Julie had said something about the early arrival of sour cherries, I knew that I would buy a couple of quarts for pie. Maybe some salad greens and herbs, because I've been craving something green ever since I started running again. As far as I was concerned, that was it. No meat, not even the expensive but truly wonderful guinea hens. No merguez sausage. No big bags of cooking greens, no matter how bright and color-saturated they looked, no matter how wonderful the squeak of snapping-fresh leaves rubbing against each other sounded. No perfect little new red-skinned potatoes, still damp from the ground, the merest hint of black dirt still clinging to them. No coriander with the fat roots still attached. No, no, no, no, no.
You can probably guess what follows.
I will still argue that when compared to the shopping list of my own heart's desire, my actual market haul *was* quite restrained. I did not get the guinea hen or the big bag o'collards or the potatoes, although I came close to buying those potatoes, along with a bunch of dill for good measure, after hearing some loudmouth yammer on about how only elite athletes and starving children could afford to eat such a carbohydrate load. If you can look at those rosy pink beauties, if you can smell the sweet singular smell of the dill sitting next to them, fairly begging you to pick them up and take them home just as soon as you buy some butter to complete the job, if you can do all of this and the only thing that springs to mind is the glycemic index, then there is something seriously askew in the universe. If you are a recently-diagnosed diabetic, and you miss your spuds, and you are engaging in a coping mechanism, then okay, I'll cut you a break. Otherwise, please take your opinions to your nearest friendly neighborhood macrobiotic restaurant and leave me in peace to enjoy the sight.
Yes, I am digressing. I bought the cherries, and at a fabulous price, too. I also bought two little baskets of black raspberries, just because Lloyd loves them. Wild arugula, the same kind I devoured with relish on our holiday in Scotland last year, for our salad green. As I passed the stall where I buy my root vegetables, I saw that the summer beets were in, including my favorite Chioggias. I'll only pick them up if I can find any marjoram left, I promised myself. Of course there won't be any marjoram left; it's after 10, and even for a holiday weekend, there's a decent crowd here. Whoops, here we are at the herb farm and they have a lot of marjoram. Ah, well, there's nothing for it but to get some marjoram, and maybe a little bundle of French tarragon, and back to the beet stand for beets, which means that we're having spaghetti with beet sauce tonight, and oh, as long as we're here, why not pick up some scallions? We use scallions all the time, and the local ones are such a rare treat, so much nicer than the ones that come to the Astoria greengrocers via the Hunts Point wholesale market -- oh, listen to that: the green bits of the scallions squeak when you pick them up. Heavens, but I love the market. Say, are those strawberries? We have tarragon! We can make Claudia Fleming's strawberry shortcake where the macerated strawberries, as well as the whipped cream, are enhanced with a tarragon sugar syrup! It's one of the best things you've ever made! It can only be made in the summer! Do you smell those berries? Buy them! Buy them! Now, now, now!
It was only after I got everything home and began to unpack that I realized a few heretofore-unrealized truths. I had fruit for pie, fruit for shortcake (which we would not have room to eat, because, really, the pie comes first) and fruit for some mysterious something-or-other. I had to do something with all this fruit before it went bad. It would start going bad by the end of the day. I had plans to do some additional baking, muffins and protein bars and the like, for weekday breakfasts. In addition, Lloyd and I have plans to go to the movies on Sunday morning, and Luthorcorp is expecting me to make at least a cameo appearance on Monday. Simply put, I had goofed.
Fortunately, if there's one thing I like more than creating trouble for myself, it's creating a way out of that trouble. Strawberry shortcake will just have to wait. Both quarts have been sliced, sugared and left to do their thing. A few of them went into tonight's dessert, nothing more than some of the juice from the strawberries, a little whipped cream and some crushed amaretti biscuits, all whipped together and layered, parfait-style, with some of the strawberries. The rest of the strawberries will be available for our yogurt -- or for other parfaits. The tarragon will have to be content with being added to roast chicken, or maybe bearnaise sauce if I'm feeling ambitious some night. The blackberries will be turned into blackberry-lime curd, and the cherries will still be turned into pie, because while everything else is variable and flexible, cherry pie is not, at least not in this kitchen.
And now, to quote Graham Chapman, for a complete change of mood. Below are some pictures I've been carrying around on my camera, but only just managed to download tonight. Can you tell where these pictures were taken? (If I were a better hostess, I would offer door prizes, but alas, I have been caught off guard tonight, although Bog knows how I managed to do that with three big bowls of fruit in the house...)