A Truckload of Produce

by Valerie Nusbaum

It was a lazy weekend morning, and Randy and I were having breakfast (and you all know how I feel about cereal) in bed and watching last weeks’ episode of Blue Bloods. Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) had just revealed his surprise guest at their weekly family dinner, and he told everyone present that, “Now you know why she’s seated beside me.”

Randy piped up with, “So she can cut your meat?” and proceeded to look amazed while simultaneously cracking himself up. He was pleased as punch that he’d made a joke, and I had to laugh, too. I told him that it always makes me laugh harder when he enjoys his own jokes.

He replied, “Sometimes the joke sounds funny in my head, but when it comes out, it lands like a lead balloon. So, when I nail the punch line, like now, I feel good about it.”  He laughed for a good five minutes.

That little story has nothing to do with produce, though, so let me start over.

We decided to hop in the truck on a Tuesday morning and take a drive up to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, to the farmers market called Roots.  We hadn’t been there in many years, and neither of us could remember exactly where it was or what it was like. We’ve been to Green Dragon several times recently, and we thought we’d spread the love around.

It was a sunny day, and we enjoyed riding through the farmland and little villages. A favorite pastime when we’re on the road is reading signs and billboards. I saw one billboard advertising a jewelry store that sold fine jewelry. That made me question whether there are any stores selling not-so-fine jewelry or just-adequate jewels.

Another sign advertised “Hot Pizza.” Again, I had to ask if any pizza shops specialized in cold pizza or lukewarm pizza. Granted, my brother used to eat cold pizza for breakfast, but only because he was in too much of a hurry to heat it up. He’d stand in front of the refrigerator, leaning on the open door and devour a chilled leftover slice or two, all without opening his eyes.

Yet another sign at a nursery advertised different varieties of willows, including curly. Randy had only glimpsed at the sign and didn’t know we’d passed a plant farm, so I explained to him that the Willow sisters all had odd first names. You can imagine what some of them were. Needless to say, I got the look from him.

Arriving at Roots, we were nearly blown away by the wind that day, but once we made it inside the main building, we didn’t have to worry about finding our way through. The immense crowd was shoving us right along. Every now and then, I’d break out of the throng to approach a produce stand. I purchased enough fruit to fill several gift baskets, and also got a lot of our favorite vegetables. The prices were very reasonable and the quality was good.

There were so many lunch choices, but we settled on pretzel sticks filled with meat and cheese.  Mine was barbecued pulled pork, and Randy had a cheesy hot dog.  Yes, they were as good as they sound, and also inexpensive.

I went off in search of more veggies, and Randy disappeared. I found him leaning over the glass cases full of fresh baked goods. I swear he was drooling. He wanted one of everything, but we each settled for a cream-filled long John.  His was vanilla-iced and mine was chocolate. They must have weighed two pounds each. We made our way back to our truck to eat our dessert. It took a while, but we both ate the whole thing. I swore that it was so sweet I’d never eat another one, but you know if I had one in front of me right now, that puppy would be gone in a flash. I did wonder, though, exactly how those long Johns are made. I’ve had some experience with pâte à choux dough, and mine is usually pretty good. I’m aware that variations of pâte à choux are used for eclairs and cream puffs, but the dough I had at Roots seemed more moist and heavier, yet it was completely filled with cream.  It wasn’t sliced in half, lengthwise, either. The cream was piped in at both ends. I’ll do some investigating and figure it out one day, but in the meantime, Roots isn’t that far away.

It wasn’t until we got home that I discovered half a shoo-fly pie in our cooler, along with all the produce.  Randy grinned, and other than a thin slice (It was pretty good, but I didn’t need any more of it), he ate the whole thing pretty quickly. No, Randy hadn’t eaten half the pie before we got home. The pies were sold in halves. It was a wet-bottom shoo-fly, so now I’m wondering if there’s also a dry-bottom version.  More research for another day. Or not.

Meanwhile, I’m eating Brussels sprouts and looking forward to cooking that nice head of cabbage with a corned beef brisket and some potatoes and carrots.

And, Torin Daly, thanks for the epistle. I’m limited to 900 words here, so I can’t respond fully, but it was certainly food for thought. Pun intended.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring!

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