“What on earth are these?” I asked Tuffy-Cat, holding up a bunch of vegetables that looked like gigantic radishes. Tuffy-Cat was watching me closely, as I was unpacking a big cardboard box, and laying each of the items out on the kitchen counter. “These can’t be radishes. They’re massive.”
“Mreow?” responded Tuffy-Cat, with a questioning intonation.
“Oh, okay, you want a sniff?” I lowered the bunch of whatsits to her head-height, and she gave them an inquisitive sniff, before turning up her nose and stalking off to her foodbowl, where she’d deliberately left a few korreltjies for a post-lunch snack.
“Well, you’re a lot of help today,” I said, turning my attention to the print-out I’d made of the order. “You know what, I think they must be turnips. But what do you use them for? Soup, perhaps?”
I continued removing the other items from the box. I’d heard about the Ethical Co-op a couple of years ago, and had thought their idea, of acting as an intermediary between small-scale local farmers and residents who are looking for organic and biodynamic produce, was absolutely brilliant.
This week, I took the plunge and placed my first order with them. The process was painless: go onto their website, register by filling in some contact details, choose from a wide range of products, place the order, and pay by EFT… then wait for the delivery date.
They really do have a vast range of products, including fresh produce; bakery and breakfast items; eggs and dairy; dried fruit, nuts and seeds; savoury and sweets; rice, pasta, grain and beans; supplements; things for the pantry; beverages; edibles for pets; items for baby and childcare; personal care; home cleaning; books and magazines; and home and garden.
On Thursday afternoon, I zooted on over to the Millstone Farmstall in Oude Molen Eco-Village, which was my nearest drop-off point, where I collected a big cardboard box with my name on it. It was like receiving a surprise parcel in the mail! And, a bit like a lucky-packet, as – although I had ordered certain items – I did not know exactly what the Small Mixed Box of Fresh Produce for R100 contained. Well, as it turned out, quite a bit! And they even tell you where the items come from, which I think is totally cool:
- Bellevlei Farm – Lemons, Genoa/Eureka 300g
- Camphill Farm, West Coast – Sweet Peas 250g
- Kleinjongenskraal – Oranges, Valencia 500g
- Naturally Organic – Bananas 500g, Beetroot bunch, Carrots bunch, Kale 160g, Leeks bunch, Potatoes 500g, Radish bunch, Emma Salad, Spring Onion bunch, Turnips bunch
In addition, I had ordered lavender soap from Bloublommetjieskloof, fabric softener and peppermint toothpaste (non-fluoride, yay!) from Enchantrix, an avocado from Naturally Organic, and – probably the reason why Tuffy-Cat was so curious about the box, apart from her natural curiosity about boxes (oooh!! look! a box! for me!) – a pack of catnip crunchie treats from Vondis Petfoods.
The crunchie treats were – sadly – a bit too crunchy for our elderly cat who doesn’t have too many strong teeth left. So I will probably give them away to another deserving cat family.
In order to fit everything into the fridge, I had to chop off the leafy tops of the various items; I suppose if I had washed them thoroughly, I could have used them as soup stock, but I wasn’t feeling quite so energetic. Instead, the worms in the compost bin were in for a delicious meal!
That evening, I proudly showed off the contents of the fridge to an impressed hubby, beaming brightly at him, as I identified each of the items we had just purchased. The turnips, admittedly, flummoxed him too.
“Hand one over,” he instructed, and promptly sliced off a thin sliver from the largest specimen. As he began to munch away, I protested, “I don’t think you can eat them raw?!” “Nonsense,” he said, firmly. “Don’t you remember, Po in Kung Fu Panda also ate them raw?”
“Hmmm,” he said, chewing, “tastes like…. potato or something like that… Doesn’t have a strong flavour…. Oh! hold on… Oof! there’s quite a sharp taste afterwards… Oooh! it’s more like a radish!” He scrunched up his face, exclaiming, “Strong!”
“Well, what we do with them?” I asked.
“Soup. We make soup,” hubby declared, authoritatively. It sounded good to me.
“We haven’t yet harvested our own carrots and radishes yet,” he reminded me, “Shall we do so now?”
We traipsed out into the garden, Tuffy-Cat following close behind, always hopeful that we might just reward her with a leaf or two of her favourite catnip, which we have growing in a wall-mounted pot, sensibly out of her reach.
And so we proceeded to harvest our entire stash of radish and carrots. Look!
Okay, okay, they won’t win any awards, to be sure, and it had taken them about 6 months to get to this size (erhrrmm – throat-clearing sound), but a taste-test confirmed that, in this case at least, size did not matter. They might have been the tiniest carrots and radishes in the world, but the richness of their flavour was superlative. So there!
And guess what we had for supper?
Soup. Consisting of half a butternut (non-organic, alas), a couple of potatoes (organic), a turnip (yes, organic), a gently fried onion, and a dash of salt for flavour. Bring to the boil, simmer until soft, then smoothe with the whirr-whirr. Add a couple of toasted sweet-potato breadrolls from the local Kwik Spar, and our supper was decidedly more-ish. I’m glad we made a big enough portion so that we can have it again tonight!
Now, if anyone can advise me on what to do with kale, that would be great! I’ve got a whole packet of it, and it’s supposed to be one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet, but I haven’t a clue how to use it. Help?