When life hands you lemons (and cucumbers and tomatoes and herbs and…)

After a trip to a particularly bountiful farmers’ market last week, I stood before my open refrigerator in wonderment at the heaps of luscious fruit, vegetables, and herbs I had just purchased. Just as I was basking in this embarrassment of riches, panic struck: how was I going to use all of it before it went bad? 

The panic was compounded by the sad truth that I had done zero planning before my shopping trip. I just grabbed a handful of reusable bags and dived in with no regard as to what I might want to make. I surmised that I would only purchase whatever was at peak ripeness and that would narrow my options, failing to remember that in late August in Minnesota, everything is at peak ripeness. Tomatoes are heavy and plump, eggplants are shiny and smooth, herbs beckon with their heady scent, and everything is priced to sell. 

I returned from the trip laden with more items than I could reasonably use, once again seduced by the sights and smells of produce at its finest. That night we sliced a couple of gorgeous late-summer heirloom tomatoes, reveling in their meaty texture and intoxicating aroma. The next day, however, grim realization set in. Two tomatoes out of probably 20 pounds of vegetables and fruit didn’t even make a dent. The basket of ground cherries that I just couldn’t pass up was parked next to last week’s basket of same that I still hadn’t used. 

The large bag of pickling cucumbers that seemed to be such a bargain had literally turned into mush overnight. I could only salvage about a third of them, which barely made three quarts of pickles. Now what was I going to do with the remainder of the gigantic bouquet of dill I grabbed, and the two leeks that begged me to take them home and were threatening to roll out of the fridge every time I opened it?

Leek feta and dill tart

Naturally I turned to the EYB Library for assistance, finding the Leek tart with feta and dill pictured above from Onions Etcetera (bonus points for the book being an alternate selection in the EYB Cookbook Club). Not only did it use the produce I had, it conveniently dispatched with the last of the Greek yogurt and a small container of feta that was edging ever closer to its ‘best by’ date. (There are few things worse than opening a container of blue cheese only to find out that it isn’t blue cheese at all…) 

Using the Library will help me avoid wasting more of the precious products in my fridge and on my counter. I feel that throwing any of it away is disrespectful both to the farmers who invested their labor in growing it and to those who don’t have access to the abundance that I do. I hope I can stop myself from going crazy at the market next week – but if not, at least I have many cookbooks and EYB to save me.  

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