My Mom was an excellent cook, and I learned my love of good food from her. She was known for cooking delicious international cuisine. And I was raised in San Francisco, in the inner Richmond district near Clement street. There were so many good restaurants within walking distance of our house. It was a cultural melting pot. I used to take my allowance and for 25 cents I could buy delicious “Spanish” rice for a snack after school, from this restaurant owned and run by Chinese people who had immigrated through Mexico. Or I could go get fresh Piroshki from the Russian bakery a little further down Clement street. I also remember growing some veggies in our garden at home with my Dad when I was little. I grew some potatoes and green beans. Those are easy crops for any kid. I remember us harvesting the baby potatoes, we fried them in a little butter and ate them right out of the pan! It was so satisfying and they were delicious. I was hooked on fresh veggies.
When Dad retired from the music business in San Francisco, he and Mom bought a Gold Rush era hotel in a small town called Volcano, California. It had a population of 102! For real. I was 17 years old when we moved. It was 3 years before I could get myself outta there!
Years later when my then husband, sons and I would drive up to visit my folks, we would stop in at this produce stand near Lodi. When we pulled into the driveway we drove over a rubber cord. There would be the ding ding of the bell from an old gas station, alerting that someone had arrived…. I always loved that familiar sound. That was when gas station attendants actually pumped the gas, cleaned all your car windows and even checked the engine oil if you wanted! That sound will always take me back.
The woman who lived in the house and ran the produce stand would come out and greet us. She would tell us what offerings she had that day from her farm. She had the best peaches, melons, squash, tomatoes, onions and more. She displayed the produce in wooden boxes lined with a dry towel and covered with a damp towel. It was from here that I figured out how to keep produce fresh at home in the refrigerator. It’s been amazing to see how long and fresh the produce stays, when kept this way!
As follows are some techniques for keeping it fresh!
I store most of my fresh produce in the refrigerator drawer with a dry tea/kitchen towel lining the drawer, then placing the veggies and covering them with a damp towel. Removing any rubber bands and plastic before doing so.
I always wrap tender fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley in a damp paper or fabric towel and place them in the fridge drawer, making sure the covering stays damp. They will last longer this way.
Green onions will actually stay fresh longer when wrapped tight in plastic wrap. Some people put the green onions in a glass with a little water, I have found they don’t last as long this way. And if you want to grow some, just cut the root end off and plant in soil, the top a little above the soil level.
Cucumbers do best when any plastic is removed and they are wrapped tight in a dry paper towel.
Did you know celery will last very long when rolled tight in aluminum foil.
If I’m not using the mushrooms when I bring them home, I will place them loose in a paper bag and roll the top closed. I’ll then put them in the produce drawer.
Asking for help or being vulnerable doesn’t make one weak, it implies a strength in one’s self. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Be sure and come back in two weeks when I’ll share more tips for making life easier!