1. you say Yes.
2. at first, you think you’ve been asked this because Tory is going to be away that Saturday and she just needs someone to keep her veggie loves nice and safe. still, you say Yes. and you are already delighted because any reason to go back to the Brooklyn Grange will always be a really damn good reason. (VEGGIES AND CHICKENS AND BEES, OH MY.) but most importantly, your friend asked you to do something for her; you say Yes.
3. through FB messenger, you ask her when you guys can meet so you can give her all her veggie goods. she takes a moment to respond. maybe she’s laughing. maybe she called her husband, Jon, over, to tell him what Crystal just asked. and then after a minute or two, she says, “no no I meant for you to keep it!” and your jaw drops.
this is really about love. Tory could’ve chosen anyone, but really, she chose you. this may seem insignificant to some. it’s just veggies, right? but no. it’s just love. you know what it’s like to be someone’s last thought. lately, you’ve been feeling the weight of it. but this has never, and will never, be the case with the friends you have in your life. so, pay close attention to the messages you get from this visit.
4. before heading to Brooklyn Grange, she forwards you an email which states what she and Jon are to pick up for the day. it’s a very impressive list.
– Cherry tomatoes (the LAST of them)
– Chard (you’ve never messed around with this before)
– Curly kale (same as chard!)
– Candy onions (oh, these are beautiful. and live up to their name.)
– Carrots (orange, with their long roots and green heads still attached)
– Beets (so TINY! and red.)
– Mint (the best you’ve had)
– Shishitos (you LOVE shishitos, thanks to Tory)
– Jalapeños (you’re currently growing these but you want some NOW.)
– Maya Habanero peppers (sounds dangerous)
– Sweet Carmen peppers (YES.)
5. you arrive with your friend at 11AM because that is the time you are used to meeting Tory and Jon. it just feels right. you show Jess around. walk up and down the aisles of peppers and onions, tall looming sunflowers with heads gracefully bowed towards the smaller flowers of the earth, and you gotta show her the spotted chicken! and the white chicken with the fuzzy fro and perhaps, this time, you will visit the beehive. you never do make it to the beehive. instead, you find the gourds waiting to be full and round for Autumn and you are now full, ready for September to work it’s inevitable change on your life.
6. this appears to be the month of peppers and eggplants for this magical rooftop farm. when your eyes catch sight of bashful, mauve flowers, your mind wanders to Nigel Slater, who made you fall deepest in love with earth’s purple schlong (he called it that in Tender! and who made you catch butterflies again when an eggplant was recently given to you to work with:
“The thick stems, with their light, fine hairs, the mauve flowers drooping as if in shame, the first hint of ivory or purple fruits, and the soft, jade-green leaves make this one of the most covetable plants to own. And if it gives us only two or three ripe fruits at the end of an infrequent hot summer, we should just be thankful. Rarely is the cook given anything quite so beautiful to work with.” -Nigel Slater, from Tender
7. you’re at the farm stand and you want it all. you’re packing up Tory’s share, and all kinds of recipes are driving back and forth, up and down your brain. Jess is coming home with you and you are going to feed the wonderful lady. a fellow CSA-er says she does not like mint, and hands you hers. now you have two. this is clearly a special day. you’re about to leave with the share but then you spot lavender-veined, fairy tale eggplants and a bag of arugula with nasturtiums laying beautifully on top of my favorite peppery greens. you snatched these beauties up, shouting, MINE!
8. you go downstairs to order a coffee because you need the time to figure out what you’re going to make when you get home. you lay veggies out on COFFEED’s wooden tables. you start googling recipes. your heart begins to race. DON’T PANIC. you don’t have to use them all in one day and to hell with these recipes.
9. you’re home and the first thing you do is put the tiny beets in a pot and let ’em boil. then you make a refreshing cocktail of cucumber, mint and lime. you get into a conversation about figs with Jess and use it as a 15 minute writing prompt. they are FASCINATING. do you all know about the Wasp and Fig relationship? the two couldn’t exist without the other in most cases.
10. Jess gives you a helping hand in the kitchen. Even a photographic hand:
you decide to serve Beer Battered Fairy Tale Eggplant, Blistered Shishitos tossed with sesame oil and soy sauce, a Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger (recipe in my next blog post!), and a beautiful Arugula salad w/ Green Apple, Beets and a creamy Cheddar/Parmesan blend that surprisingly crumbled like feta. you and Jess are happy and it all looks beautiful. next time, though, you are going to treat fairy tale eggplants more simply. they are too elegant, too beautiful, to be deep fried. but the shishitos and salad? perfection.
11. over the next few days, you think about the rest of the veggies you have. you ask Tory what she likes to do with kale, and she says a white bean soup. you know you’re going to be visiting Connie soon so why not? you make a minestrone of sorts and love how the kale brightens everything up the way green ought to.
12. a few days later, you almost forget you have peppers. almost. you just got back from the farmer’s market with beautiful heirloom tomatoes, and once you make a roasted tomato basil sauce, you’re suddenly craving italian hot sausage with onions and peppers. this dish was SO so comforting.
13. it is now mid-September and the changes are in full swing. it really is the month of New. i gave my two weeks notice at a job i’ve had for over two years. yesterday, i let the kiddo know that i’ll be leaving by the end of next week. (i was his caregiver.) i wanted to squeeze him. tomorrow, i go apple picking with Valerie, another mid-September thing where the orchards are letting go and i’m creating out of their offerings. i will bake kiddo a pie. i will NOT panic during this transitional month. i recently learned i have some urgent health problems to take care of. instead of freaking the hell out, i’m going to treat this as a sign from above that it is truly time to take care of ME. i am filled with so much gratitude knowing that i am not alone in this. let’s not forget what this post is really about: loveLoveLOVE. with a side of veggies.
14. what do you do when your friend asks you to pick up her CSA share?
you thank her. you thank her and you send her all the love.
and you EAT. <3