A Meditation on Vegetables

by Asha Peri

A most productive and meditative morning spent interacting with all the veggies from Good Food Community‘s tampipi. Subscribing to a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) basket means that you let go of expectations and you trust that nature will give what is good for you because your veggies are harvested in perfect timing. What you can expect though are an assortment of bahay kubo veggies and those lovely leeks:) When we subscribe to this way of procuring our produce, we don’t force nature to work harder just because we need something in our menu that is out of season. Yes, you never really know what you’ll get until you open your basket! This week’s harvest has given us a lot of GREENS! These leafy greens and veggie fruits perish easily so it’s wise to use them immediately.

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These photos are a glimpse of my intuitive process in the kitchen – I chop everything first then I figure out what to do with them (this means no one should talk to me while cooking). Sometimes I already have something in mind but planning takes more time so it’s good to patiently cultivate a more intuitive cooking process which takes less effort over time as one develops a deeper connection with food. Since I anticipated that I won’t be able to cook tomorrow because of the Thai class, I made several dishes to last me and mom until tomorrow’s dinner.

Let’s keep things real. Instagram food posts take a lot of time to set up and I’m sure a lot of the ingredients go to waste (trust me, I’ve witnessed and experienced the process). Our everyday food is composed mostly of what is available on hand and what is leftover that we don’t want to go to waste, and we cook mostly simple dishes that are resonant to our Pinoy palate. Instead of relying fully on online recipes to create a menu, it takes less resources over time to work with what’s already given while looking at others’ recipes to give us ideas on how to use them.

For breakfast, I made stir-fried snow peas with garlic, nuts and homemade sesame oil (I love it when the snow peas become crunchy and glossy after cooking!) eaten with black rice. For lunch, I made a veggie masala using okra, eggplant, kalabasa and string beans which I paired with fermented rice-monggo pancakes (a once a week staple), adobo with lots of leeks, banana heart, shitake mushrooms, lots of talbos and some leftover alugbati and black beans. For dinner, I made mac and cheese using leftover potato-carrot cheese mixed with fermented cashew cream, topped with fresh parsley and coconut “bacon” and baked at low heat for 30 minutes. (I actually rarely use pasta since I decided to minimize on any ingredient that comes in plastic and that is not produced locally but I also recognize that for as long we do not abuse our consumption of non-local products, then it’s okay to have for variety once in a while – which is like once a month for me.) Lastly, I made a simple ginataang gulay dish using sayote, kalabasa, patola and lots of ginger. I rarely eat ice cream but there was a bunch of saba in the basket which I didn’t think I’d eat on its own so I decided to blend them all into a “nice cream” topped with chocolate-tahini sauce.

No gulay wasted! All gulay cooked while they were still fresh. Food to nourish my household for 2 days without the stress.
While freshly cooked food is best, I love the idea of batch cooking on those days when I don’t have the luxury of time to cook every day.

Charlene of Good Food says that she envisions a world where we become co-producers of the food that we consume through their CSA – food grown by their partner farmers, who are mostly women. When we develop a relationship with the entire community that grows our food and that helps to ensure and expand food access, we nourish and sustain that community to thrive, and they become even more inspired to create better food for us. As co-producers, we create the demand for healthy food. Being plant-based means I demand more veggies on my plate that are not made in a lab or a factory, but are grown in a farm where microorganisms and pollinators are considered as important components of the plant and soil ecosystems (that means no chemicals and petroleum-based fertilizers!). There is a global movement to make the invisible more visible, to understand how the entire food web works, to have the assurance that the food was grown with the eater in mind, to ensure that every farming input, process and output is life-based, to feel that everything in nature is treated with a deep compassion and reverence for the interconnectedness of the web of life. “When you eat, you participate in agriculture.” (author unknown)

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