I adore the days that our Second Harvest truck comes in at the Club. For the two of us that live in the kitchen during the week, it's essentially like Christmas every Wednesday morning when we're able to unpack the box of produce and see what it is we actually have. I have to admit though, it was less than thrilling for me that first week - I was so used to the A-1, super-prime quality fruit and vegetables that were delivered to the school and long-term care kitchens that peering into a seemingly endless mountain of floppy carrots, browning celery, spotted tomatoes and the like was a major letdown.
Marlene, though, has never looked that gift horse in the mouth, and now I wouldn't dream of it either. Regardless of the state of the donations, they are donations, and without them our kitchen simply could not function! We come in to simply find creative ways to prevent any waste that we can, and feed the kids over the course of the week with what we have. It can be tricky, for sure, but you get resourceful, and I'm proud to say that I've been able to bring in my experience from cooking for this blog to add a fresh approach to the menu. Even when the produce is (to the naked eye) too far gone to save, I've adopted the "never say die" approach - I at least try to do something with it!
Major case in point was the box we got last week - 20 tomatoes in various states of disrepair, a handful of very wilted scallions, two bags of baby carrots, 5 or 6 bell peppers, 5 zucchini and a large bag of bruised, pre-peeled garlic were amongst the goodies. There wasn't enough of anything to use for a single meal for the kids, and nothing would keep until the next week's box came in (not that it would be usable either!). As I stared at the table of produce, it finally hit me - sauce! Few things are easier to make and store for a decent period of time than a rich, roasted melange of vegetables pureed into a velvety topping for pasta or rice.