IT’S ALL SEASONAL
Corn season, at 9:05 am: “Do you have any fresher ones?”
“These were picked at 7 this morning.”
“Do you have anything fresher?”
“Do you have strawberries?”
“No, I’m afraid we ran out.”
“BUT I DROVE ALL THE WAY HERE.”
Oh, well in that case… we’re still out.
THIS IS ALL I’VE GOT
At the isolated, tiny stall by the highway: “Do you grow these in the back?”
“Do you have any in the back?”
Yes. We were hiding them. We let the display stay empty because we hate you.
“Can I get a tarp for the back of the car?”
“Can I get a rope to tie this tree down?”
“Can I get some potting soil to put in this?”
“Can I get a box?”
“Can I get a smaller box than that?”
“Can I just get a bag?”
“Can I just get a small bag?”
“Can I get a small, paper bag?”
The white woman wearing a shalwar kameez and a bindi who chided me for not having paper bags because we “seem so natural, otherwise.”
“What are you going to do when they ban plastic bags?”
I just sell stuff, sir. The question is, what are you going to do?
FISHING FOR FREEBIES
Customers who get two of something and are like, “Can I get a discount because I’m buying in bulk?”
“How much is this?”
“Twenty five dollars.”
“How about if I gave you twenty?”
How about no?
“This one is [bruised/chipped/old/just plain shit]… can I get a discount?”
No, sir. I’m taking it away and setting fire to it immediately.
A LITTLE LEARNING IS AN ANNOYING THING
The customer who asked me, “Doesn’t it kill the plants to water them when it’s hot out?” as I was watering.
“Are these Heirloom tomatoes?”
“Well, this variety is called Carolina Gold. I’m not sure how old that particular type is, but I can assure you, they’re very good. Lots of flavor, and quite sweet.”
“But are they Heirlooms? The recipe says I need Heirlooms. Heirlooms are more delicious. Which variety is called ‘Heirloom’?”
Informative Sign: “Did you know? Peaches come from ancient China.”
Customer: “Where’s “Ancient China”? Is that the orchard where you get your peaches?”
“You guys are organic, right?”
“You guys grow this yourselves, right?”
“This is perennial, right?”
“You’ll deliver this today, right?”
THAT’S NOT HOW HORTICULTURE WORKS…
“Did you pick these from the wild?”
“Is everything you sell here native?”
Customer: “Do you order these plants from a company?”
Me: “No, I believe the boss propagates these himself.”
Aghast customer: “I hope he didn’t dig these up in the woods! That’s illegal!”
CLEAR AS COAL
“Do you know about the plants?”
“Can you tell me about a plant? The one out there.”
“Can you tell me about the basil? What is it?”
“How much is that plant?” when we are both inside the store with no plants in sight.
“How much is that bush?” while pointing toward the entire shrub section.
“It was definitely a bush. A really big one. Or maybe a tree.” (It was a peony.)
READ THE SIGNS
“Hi. Do you work here?”
No, I’m just watering for fun.
“Hi. Do you work here?”
No, I’m just hauling shrubs out of the back of a trailer while wearing a t-shirt with the company logo.
“Is this organic?” while standing next to a sign that says “ORGANIC.”
“How much is this?” while standing next to a sign that says how much this is.
“When will these be ready to eat?”
“How often should I water this?”
“How fast will this grow?”
“When will the sour cherries be in?”
“Will this grow where I live?”
“Do you have something that will flower all season, in blue and red, that can grow in a cave but also full sun in summer, and I want to plant it in the middle of my pond, and I want it to be scented, but it shouldn’t attract bees because I’m allergic, and I won’t ever have to fertilize it, and it will come back next year, and will grow in the shape of an elephant?”
“As a matter of fact, I do-”
“Do you have anything cheaper?”
The customers who drive past the closed sign, into the deserted lot, walk through the empty aisles up to the shut door and looked into the darkened barn: “Oh… are you closing?”
The customer who did that and then started shopping.
Are you “sensitive?”
“Why yes…” you think. “But the medicated cream is really helping.”
No, I mean emotionally sensitive.
“Yes I am! I cry at the end of Titanic every time.”
Me too, reader. Me too. But is that enough? Wouldn’t you like to swaddle your tender feelings in a warm blanket of vaguely psychological authority? Perhaps you should consider becoming not just sensitive, but a Highly Sensitive Person.
Here. Take this test.
How did you do? I bet you were Highly Sensitive. I bet you answered “yes” to a question like “I try hard to avoid making mistakes or forgetting things.” That is clearly a trait only a truly Sensitive Person would have. I don’t know what those other, Insensitive People are doing, but I bet whatever it is, they’re exhibiting a flagrant disregard for remembering things and not making mistakes.
Not like us.
“I am annoyed when people try to get me to do too many things at once.” Well, clearly that is a facet of the complex and beautiful personality we share, as Highly Sensitive People. Sometimes Susan at work is like, “Hey, will you please make those copies today? I need them for the meeting.” And I’m just like, “GAWD, SUSAN. Get off my back. Stop annoying me with all these things I need to do.”
Sheesh. Susan needs to appreciate that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. “I find it unpleasant to have a lot going on at once.” It says right there in the test. Also, I won’t be presenting at the meeting. Someone else is going to have to do it, because like the test says, “When I must compete or be observed while performing a task, I become so nervous or shaky that I do much worse than I would otherwise.”
That is SO ME. And I bet that is so you, too.
We are special, special people.
1 can chopped clams (OR fresh clam meat*)
1 can corn
1 cup milk
2 cups chicken broth (OR fresh clam broth*)
1 potato, cubed
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 bunch thyme
2 TBSP butter
1 spoonful flour
*Homemade clam broth. Buy a bag of clams, scrub them down, and put them in a bucket of salt water for an hour or more to clean out the sand. [More details on clam cooking may be found on the internet]. Boil a cup of chicken broth, a dash of vinegar, a chunk of butter, and a handful of herbs in a large, covered pot. Add the clams, and steam until open. Chop the meat, and strain and reserve the broth. If you have eaten the clams in a frenzied orgy of deliciousness like a starving walrus, buy a can of chopped clams to replace them.
Fry the vegetables. Cook the onion, leeks and celery in butter until brown. Add the thyme and heat to release the fragrant oils, and a spoonful of flour to thicken the broth. Add the rest. Pour in the milk and the clam broth. Add the potato and corn. Cook until the potato is soft.
Yesterday I decided I wanted squash and sausage lasagna, but I couldn’t find a recipe I liked. Emeril’s had twenty four ingredients. That’s, like, 14 ingredients too many. The Kitchn had a good one, but the instructions were so involved it would have taken days just to finish measuring out the layers. (“Add another layer of noodles, a fourth of the bechamel, half the sausage, half the squash, and another third of the mozzarella. Add a third layer of noodles, a fourth of the bechamel, the second half of the spinach, the second half of the sausage, the second half of the squash, and the final third of the mozzarella…”) Troublingly, Giada’s called for crumbled cookies. Girl has clearly flipped. Someone go check on her.
I was simultaneously annoyed, and amazed at how many squash and sausage recipes there are. Like, I didn’t know that was a thing. Seems like a weirdly specific filling for lasagna. Anyway, I eventually gave up and made my own. This lasagna is both sweet and savory, with a delicate herb flavoring that will keep you coming back for more. Feel free to add stuff like spinach or ricotta – this recipe is forgiving!
For the filling:
1 butternut squash
3 or 4 large Italian sausages
1 apple, peeled and chopped
For the sauce:
2 cups milk
2 TBSP butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cloves garlic
1 bunch fresh herbs, chopped (chef’s choice)
1 package lasagna noodles (1 lb)
Shredded mozzarella cheese
1. Cook the squash. Halve and clean the squash, then lay it in a pan of water, cut-side down. Cook for 1 hour at 400F, until squishy.
2. Brown the filling. Chop up the sausage, or pull it from its casing, and brown. Add the apple chunks, and cook until soft. Mix in the squash. This is your filling.
3. Make the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan, then toss in the flour. Whisk until it’s a bit brown. Stir in the milk, a little at a time, and cook until slightly thickened. Add the garlic and herbs.
4. Prep the noodles. Cook the noodles in boiling water, until al dente. Drain. Remember not to leave them in a congealing heap, like I did, or you will have a bit of trouble getting them unstuck.
5. Avengers… assemble! Ladle out some sauce into your baking tray, then lay out noodles to cover the bottom. Spoon out a layer of squash filling, then sprinkle with cheese. Continue layering until your pan is full. Remember to finish with a layer of cheese, so we can toast the top!
6. Bake. Cover the pan with foil, then bake for 45 minutes at 375F. Remove the foil, and cook a little longer to brown the top. It’s done when you can hear it bubbling and sizzling.
Plant Mania. Do you have it? Is it catching? Is it covered by your health insurance plan? Why doesn’t “health” insurance cover vision or dental? Aren’t teeth a body part?
Take our handy quiz below, to answer one of those questions!
Question 1: There’s a new Sir David Attenborough documentary (“The Secret World of Kelp”) on Netflix. Your thoughts?
a) They knighted a guy for squatting next to things?
b) I’m already watching it right now. Did you know kelp can grow up to a foot and a half per day?
c) What is this glowing rectangle with the moving pictures? Some kind of new scientific achievement?
Question 2: It’s the weekend, early spring. The weather report calls for unexpected snow flurries. What are you up to?
a) Staying inside, obviously. Spring weather blows.
b) On my way to the garden center to beat the crowds. Snow keeps the amateurs away. I’ll probably do some weeding, too, if I can chip the ice off the beds.
c) Checking on the boy who stokes the pineapple glasshouse boilers. We let him sleep four whole hours a night, but he still dozes off.
Question 3: There is an epiphytic orchid that grows in the depths of the Andean mountains of Bolivia. Its blooms shimmer like multicolored jewels on a green velvet cushion. It is so rare it has only been seen twice, and even then only by a crazed shaman in the throws of a prophetic vision. It blooms once every forty years, and the blooms are pollinated by dust from the Perseid meteor shower. It grows on a bed of silken moss threads at a pH of 7.5238 to 7.5230, and it is fertilized by the decaying husks of ant eggs. If grown in captivity, the ant eggs will have to be chewed to a pulp and manually formed into fertilizer pellets. The only iron supplement it will accept is human blood. It has a 98.2% chance of dying at an altitude lower than 21,000 feet. The last man who attempted to collect this specimen died of frostbite-induced gangrene.
How do you feel about this orchid?
a) Sorry, I didn’t catch that, I was playing Skyrim.
b) I already ordered my Bolivian phrasebook!
c) It would be easier to find if we burned down the Andes first.
Mostly A’s: You are normal.
Mostly B’s: You have Plant Mania. Your premiums are about to go up.
Mostly C’s: You are Victorian plant thief and professional Scottish person Robert Fortune.
Everyone has words they hate. The president hates the word “briefing,” and his aides now describe his meetings as “Go Tell ‘Ems.” The pope always skips the ox counting bit at the beginning of Numbers, because saying “quinquaginta” makes his lips go numb.
Now, anyone would tell you I’m a calm and collected person (Jk! I’m a fireball of barely suppressed rage), but there are a few words which make me twitch like I’ve been poked in the ear with a needle. Often it’s not the word itself, but the worldview that comes packaged with it. (Don’t tell me you’ve never heard the word “cleanse” and started inching toward the door.) I have assembled the following words in ascending order, from the least to most likely to make me stab myself in the hand with a pen, just to feel something.
The word itself is fine, it’s just that every time I see it I start to hear warning bells in the part of my brain that enjoys MythBusters. This word is largely employed by people who think anything invented after the Industrial Revolution causes cancer. It joins “pure,” “natural,” and “raw” in the category of words which become more irritating with use. Any food substance described with three or more of these words will taste like bark and bean husks.
Exception: Anthropological journals.
Usually in regard to someone’s child. “Alana Briatta is really thriving at the Waldorf School.”
All food is from a farm. Most meals occur on tables. (Unless, like me, you prefer to eat what you’ve stuffed into your cheek pouch while crouched in a corner.) I like to call my dinner “fork-to-mouth.” Later I’ll be hosting a “screen-to-brain” movie marathon. This evening I plan on spending some time developing a “shit-to-bowl” movement. (BOOM.)
This one is less common, and unless you’re a knitter you may not have heard it. I only started hearing it a few years ago. It means colors. The colors of a yarn. Just say “colors.” You don’t get paid per syllable.
It’s okay if you have nothing to contribute on this comments thread. You can just like something, quietly, on your own. No one needs to know. The world will not end. Nobody will mind.
When you call your pet a “furbaby” you’re pretending it’s a joke, but it’s clearly not, just like when you end your insulting texts with “lol.” (“kathi ur skirt was so short last nite darren wants to date u lol.”)
When you die, your “baby” will eat your lips.
Probiotic (also Superfood)
A word clearly designed to covey great scientific weight but with minimal risk of lawsuits. “Probiotic” is “toxins” less celebrated sister word in the Great Lexicon of Promotional Vagueness. (Before you argue: According to a 2010 Guardian article, the European Food Safety Authority “‘avoids using the term probiotics,’ since it has no proper scientific meaning.”)
Picture this for me: Two lumberjacks finish up a 12-hour shift. That evening, while slamming black coffee at the local greasy spoon, one says, “So… what are you gonna do on your day off?” “Oh, not much,” the other replies. “I’m probably gonna just watch reruns of Worst Jobs and eat Doritos.” The first lumberjack nods, sagely. “Self-care is SO important.”
Also nourishment, nourishing. Nourished. UUUUUUUNNNNGGGGGHHHHHH.
UPDATE: People who call themselves “humans.” (Humans of New York, I’m looking right fucking at you.) This is the one word version of “We’re all just animals, man.” This terminology is employed by two categories of people: anthropologists and sentient granola. For scientists it’s entirely acceptable. For everyone else it makes me want to punch someone in his chakra.
This soup may be healthy (or at least, healthier than I usually eat) but you can’t tell from the taste. It’s sweet, savory, tangy and spicy all at once. You may be tempted to switch the cream out for coconut milk, but don’t. I promise you, it’s worth it. Pair it with a crispy spinach mushroom white pizza, and treat yourself to a Friday movie night.
1 Kabocha squash
1 onion, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, smashed
1/2 cup chicken, cut into chunks
1-2 carrots, diced
2 cups water
3 tbsp chicken bouillon.
1 dollop cream
2 tsp yellow curry powder
2 large leaves mustard greens, chopped
Salt, pepper to taste
1. Halve the squash, clean out the seeds, and cook the halves open side down in a tray of water for 1 hour at 400°. Remove from the oven and let cool.
2. Cook the onion, garlic, carrots and chicken in a soup pot, until the carrots are soft and the chicken is cooked.
3. Scoop out the cooked squash and add it to the pot. Add the water, chicken bouillon, curry powder and cream. Dice mustard greens finely, and toss in.