Friday, March 26, 2010

to everything there is a season

Asparagus has the shortest season ever. I believe it was just a post or two ago I was explaining my reticence to purchase 4 lbs of asparagus at $2.49/lb. In the one week since I went shopping, the price per pound of asparagus has gone up a full dollar. Unless Whole Foods is just trying to exploit the demand half of "supply and demand," it looks like we're already staring into the face of the end of this veggie's very short growing season. At $3.49/lb I was very glad I had only 2 bunches to buy...until I realized that last week, my same $7 bought 3 bunches. Enough money talk, let's look at the fruits of my labor:

There are not too many things I like to do more with asparagus than roast it. Sure, it works well with a stirfry and it's a delightful addition to penne pasta with homemade marinara, and someday I'll probably saute it with olive oil, a generous amount of garlic and a conservative amount of lemon juice, but I do love it best when it has spent some quality time in a 425 degree oven, sprinkled fairly liberally with sea salt.

Tonight's dinner was Tuscan Vegetable Ragout. I wanted to make this first for two reasons: first, asparagus has a short growing season but an even shorter refrigerator life, so I want to use both bunches as soon as possible. Also, I opened the smoked tofu last night to add some protein to my after-dinner salad (more in a minute), and I don't want it sitting around all open for too long. I didn't add any pasta, like I said I would the last time I made it, but it did just fine for itself with the combination of beans, artichokes, tomatoes, zucchini, kalamatas, and smoked tofu.
I felt only slightly guilty that we didn't have salads with our dinner, but I had a nice salad at Cosi this afternoon with my dad. I needed to see my dad today, since yesterday I saw a dear friend say goodbye to her dad for the rest of her life.

Tragedy, in all its manifestations, amazes me. It has a power we can't even comprehend, much less harness. It is my belief, though, that when tragedy finds the right people, they respond by turning something painful into something positive. I believe I am the right person.

There aren't too many things more morbid (to me) than looking at the body of a soul who has left this world. I don't enjoy it. I think viewings, generally, are awkward. When I heard of my friend's father's death, I initially would have preferred to attend the funeral. Others might think me a little off kilter, since a funeral is a formal and involved affair - it reserves a great deal more of a person's time and possibly more emotional energy. But to me, because it is more formal, it is less awkward - you know what to do at a funeral. Viewings, on the other hand, you stand in a line, waiting your turn to offer condolences to the surviving members of the family, then stand before the casket (open, normally), to say goodbye to the deceased. However, my mother and another long-time friend and her mother were attending the viewing, so these were my choices: attend the viewing with loved ones or attend the funeral, alone but for my grieving friend.

After paying our respects and being sure our friend knows she is loved, we took our mothers and escaped to a local restaurant for dinner. To be honest, eating was the last thing I wanted to do, but I was a little hungry and I wanted the social time to shrug off the pain of the funeral parlor. Fortunately, I didn't have to eat much, since the restaurant (like most in the 'burbs) wasn't a big fan of herbivores - I was counting on classic American portion distortion to provide me with slightly larger side dishes of stirfried veggies and grilled asparagus, but when my butter dish arrived with 6 skinny spears I must admit, I didn't think it was going to be enough.

After "dinner," I made a quick pit stop to pick up another piece of the rainbow: Pinot Noir. This stuff is way too easy to drink. I needed that last night. Well, need is a strong and suspiciously dependent word, but the escape from the pain and tears that flowed more freely in the privacy of my own home was a welcome one. After a short breakdown, I made a very healthy (by that I mean American-sized) salad of baby spinach and a few last mixed greens, red bell pepper, cucumber slices, mandarin oranges, baby carrots, and sliced smoked tofu. I didn't take a picture because it wasn't very pretty and it took me about a half an hour after I made it to convince myself to eat it. It was very tasty when I did!

I certainly didn't mean to make this post such a downer. My plan is to come back tomorrow night with my usual cynical enthusiasm!

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