No Poster Girl

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What You Missed at the Market

I was awakened this morning by a lack of air-conditioner noise. Most of the time, we turn the poor beleaguered thing off at night (so the hamsters that power it last longer), but on days when it’s forecast to be 105 or hotter, running it at night gets the house cool enough that it’s easier for it to keep up during the day.

I looked at the clock. It was dark. I got up, got my watch – it was 6:45 – and looked around the house. Indeed, the power was clearly out.

The power having gone out wasn’t that big of a surprise, given our unexpected summer rainstorm on Thursday – which roused me, startled, out of bed at 3 a.m. to check the radar as I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked outside. (It Does Not Rain here between April and October.)

When it rains here, things tend to break. The power goes out because various pieces of electrical equipment fill with Valley dust over time, and when the dust gets wet it makes nefarious electrical-equipment-shorting mud. Our phone service seems to go out at least once a winter by the same mechanism.

Since it hardly ever rains here, nothing really seems to be constructed to withstand it.

As previously mentioned, however, the forecast today had been for high temperatures – between 107 and 110, depending on what source you checked. No power would mean the temperature in our apartment would be untenable for Jocelyn-the-hothouse-flower by mid-afternoon.

I called the PG&E outage line. They were aware of the outage but didn’t have a projected repair time yet. Chimp happened to be awake. We agreed we’d pack the cats up and go to a hotel around noontime if the power wasn’t back on. We’ve done it before.

That decided, I went back to bed to rest through the worst of the morning M.E./C.F.S. discomfort, and when I could stand to stand up, cleaned myself up and headed out to the market. There wasn’t much shopping for me to do today. We’re a bit backed up on produce because Chimp spent much of the last week on campus, but I still wanted to have my morning outing. I think there was some part of me that thought maybe by leaving the house or by buying more food I would motivate the power to come back on. Thank goodness I already have a fridge full of food sitting there getting warm, I thought as I pushed the garage door button. The door didn’t go up. I pushed it again. It still didn’t go up.

Then I remembered, oh yeah, the reason I have a fridge full of food sitting there getting warm is the same reason the garage door is not going to go up automatically.

Sometimes I wish I could drink coffee.

I drove up to the stoplight and found a PG&E guy sitting in the cab of his truck on the far side of the intersection, talking on the phone.

That can’t be good,
I thought. If it was simple to fix he’d be out fixing it, not talking on the phone.

I promised myself I wouldn’t buy anything that required refrigeration, which pretty well cut my list down to onions and garlic.

But as always, when you get to the market, there’s something you absolutely have to have that you haven’t even thought of.

Michele of K.M.K. brought the first avocados of the season! This is the Mexicola variety.

I remember when I saw these on her table for the first time last year. I was awestruck. I’d never lived anywhere I could get a local avocado before. “How long will you have these?” I asked her, thinking I’d stumbled on an evanescent treasure – a week, two weeks at most to enjoy.

“Oh, until March or so,” she replied.

I think my jaw must have dropped wide open. And that was the beginning of a whole winter of avocados.

These are a little trickier to ripen than the Hass variety most people are familiar with. I like to let these go until they are a little wrinkly and definitely soft around the stem end. Because the body of the fruit is small, it’s tougher to get a read on their ripeness by squeezing that part, so I go with the way the top feels. Michele says that if you find you’ve cut one too soon, you can squeeze it back together, wrap it in plastic and it’ll keep ripening.

I also walked up to Vince Iwo’s table full of plums and asked him if he was harvesting Angelenos yet. (Angeleno plums are the big last hurrah variety for the plum harvest.) Nope, he said, give it at least a week or so. Then I looked down at the green-yellow fruit and said, “Wait – are these still Flavor Golds?”

“Nope,” he replied, “Emerald Beauts.” I was surprised at first, having gotten that whole box two weeks back because I thought I was missing the variety’s harvest. I’m perfectly glad he’s taking his time – it just means his fruit will be coming to market longer. So even though I wasn’t supposed to buy fruit, because there’s plenty in the fridge to be dispensed with, I bought more Emerald Beauts. Just a few, though.

And Moa’s had the cutest little eggplants – truly egg-sized eggplants. No, I didn’t buy any, because, again, I wasn’t supposed to be buying anything that needed refrigeration, and also because I had a big eggplant from our CSA box to use.

When I got in the car I pulled out my phone to see if, by chance, my absence from the house had worked its magic and gotten the power turned back on. It had – and on my way back I opened my sunroof, waved to the PG&E guys, who were now up in the truck’s bucket and yelled, “Thank you!”

They smiled and waved back.

What’s In the Box

This week we have:

Red La Soda Potatoes
Vine-Ripe Table Tomatoes
Todd’s Bartlett Pears (from Dan & Alice Todd of Todd’s Organic Orchards in Potter Valley – it’s near Ukiah – I had to look it up.)
Halperin’s Green Cabbage (from Michael Halperin in Hollister)
Sweet Spanish Peppers
Classic Globe Eggplant
Devine’s Cantaloupe (from Don Devine and Dave Wood in Coalinga)
Mendrin’s Yellow Onions (newly organic-certified neighbors of TD Willey in Madera)
Mediterranean Cucumbers

This will sure keep me busy. I have an accumulation of cucumbers again…I think something that takes raita and another batch of tabouli will be in order.

New Aloo View

I made an old favorite, Dum Aloo, this weekend, and just wanted to show off the picture. I’ve been making this for a dozen years now. If you’re a potato lover, this is definitely a keeper. It’s a weekend-recipe level of effort, but those who taste it will thank you.

This is where the potatoes from CSA Box #7 went.

I’ll Show You Mine If You Show Me Yours #1

It was Sweetnick’s idea – pictures of the inside of your fridge. This is probably for the best, as a picture of the outside of my fridge would show all the magnets stuck to it, which indicate some of my unpopular political positions…

This is my fridge right after I have finished all of my shopping for the week, so it is quite full. Actually, my fridge is always quite full. One evening when we were assembling a casual dinner out of what was in the fridge and I was apologizing for not having much in the house, my good friend Francesca said, “Joc, your ‘nothing in the house’ is everyone else’s ‘I just went shopping.'”

There’s very little fruit in these pictures (besides the six pounds of cherries) because there are two big bowls on the kitchen table – one full of apples and oranges from our CSA box, the other full of peaches and nectarines.

Highlights:

Top shelf – fava beans I’m trying to figure out what to do with…my recently-discovered and beloved locally-made La Tapatia tortillas…a block of locally-made Bravo Farms cheddar.

Middle shelf – six pounds of cherries, Bing and Rainier (that’s a different six pounds of cherries than last week’s six pounds of cherries)…vegan chocolate frosting…the big container has leftover fagioli…not much of the pasta part of that pasta e fagioli left, but it’s on that shelf too.

Bottom shelf – onions, fennel, cilantro, lettuce, too much hot sauce.

Drawers – hey look, more cherries!

Three things that are always in my fridge:
– soymilk
– tortillas
– an excessive number of bottles of hot sauce (Current count: seven, including Devil’s Blood Hot Sauce. There are reasons for all of them – different levels of heat, different acids, different added seasonings.)

What’s never in my fridge:
– meat