Right before the holidays The Narrator and I ate at a Brazilian steak house for his company Christmas party. The restaurant had continuous table service. When you wanted to continue eating meat you turned your little round card to green. When you needed a break, you turned the card to red. All night long the servers came around with huge hunks of meat offering you slices of varying kinds of delicious. I admit, I ate more meat in that one meal than I will probably eat during all of 2008. But during that meal, I noticed something about myself. I wasn’t very adventurous. If I didn’t know what something was on the salad bar, I wouldn’t take it. And later I regretted not trying some new things. After all, I didn’t have anything to lose. We weren’t paying for this meal (thankfully!!!), and if I didn’t like it, I didn’t have to eat it and could get something else.
So when the new year rolled around, I made a mini-resolution of sorts that so far has been a lot of fun. I decided to try as many new things as possible this year. Whether it’s simply ordering something different from a menu, trying a new driving route, or learning a new skill, 2008 is the year for new things and stretching my brain. Too often, we think that in order to have an adventurous life we have to travel to Tahiti and have an exotic vacation. I’m out to prove to myself that I can have mini-adventures all year long.
So far, as of March 1, I think I’m doing pretty well. I started out small. When we went to Red Lobster for my birthday (as we do every year, it’s pretty much the only time of year we eat there and that I get to eat shrimp!) I went straight for the shrimp. Shrimp is my favorite meat. Is shrimp a meat? Hmmm. Instead of going for the standard scampi and popcorn shrimp, I saw that they had 3 new kinds of shrimp on the menu, and believe you me I tried and loved them all! When I was at the sewing expo I ordered a bratwurst for lunch since I don’t get to eat those very often and the guy behind the counter asked me if I wanted sauerkraut on it. I immediately responded no, but then in the light of trying new things I said, “You know, yeah go ahead!!” I apparently said it with a little too much zeal because he looked at me really funny and quickly slopped some on the brat. I never used to like sauerkraut, I think it had something to do with the sour, but this time I was pleasantly surprised and so glad I ventured out!
A couple weeks ago, a friend told me about the vegetable co-op that she joined a few months ago which had a couple openings. This is a group of 12 families who buy fruits and vegetables in bulk getting them at a really great price. Each family pays $15 every two weeks for a 10 gallon tub full of food. Everyone takes a turn going to the market to make the purchases, so about 2-3 times a year each family goes and does the buying. I was excited to give this a try and today I picked up my first bucket of food. For $15 this week we got (estimating the pounds) a couple pounds of bananas, a pint of strawberries, 2-3 pounds of peaches, 1 cantelope, 1 1/2 pineapples, 1.5 pounds of grapes,Â 2 heads of lettuce, 1 bag of celery, 6 green peppers, 2-3 pounds of red potatoes, 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, and 2-3 pounds onions. I was ecstatic.Â The timing was perfect because today I also did my once a month cooking (another new thing I’ll talk more about soon). After I finished all my cooking I looked over the big supply of fruits and veggies left and began to scour my Betty Crocker cookbook. I had no idea there were so many fun things you could make with green peppers and sweet potatoes. We will definitely be experimenting with some great side dishes this month (another benefit of cooking the main dishes all on one day). And The Narrator is thrilled because when someone else does the shopping we get a better variety – like cantelope. I never buy cantelope because I don’t like it (even though he does! Bad wife! But I’ll be giving it a shot again!) I’ll be sure to keep you posted.
If you hear about a vegetable co-op in your area, definitely look into it. Or maybe you could start one of your own with a group of friends. You need to locate a supplier for fruits and vegetables that gives discounts for buying in bulk. I’m curious to find out where this market is they purchase from. It’s in town and it opens at midnight and closes at 8 a.m. I’m thinking they must mostly supply restaurants and smaller farmers markets. I’ll go a few times with the other buyers before it’s our turn so I get a feel for it.Â And now, how about some sweet potato swirls?