When it comes to fruit and veg I've always liked the idea of a "mystery box" - prepared just for you and delivered direct to your door as a tourney of kitchen wits - but I'm yet to take the challenge, for a number of reasons.
1. Quality. Needless to say, I'm a tad fussy when it comes to the ingredients that I use, and so I've always been hesitant to let a stranger do the choosing. While shopping can indeed be a chore, there are certain pleasures to be had in perusing what's in season and learning what you can from the producer or your local greengrocer, and that's a connection I'd rather not lose.
2. Quantity. Boxes aren't often designed for one, there's usually little flexibility in controlling their frequency, and that, together with 'seasonal' rarely meaning what it should, means I've always been rather concerned about wastage and the potential for lack of variety.
3. Creativity. As fun as a mystery challenge sounds, admittedly you don't always feel like being inventive and there are just some days when all you really want is a big bowl of sprouts...
Last week, however, that all changed.
On offer from the splendid St Dot's was a box of seasonal intrigue, hand-picked by a woman with similar demands to my own, to be ordered and collected at my convenience, and with the option to exchange various items should the quantity prove a little too much.
Oh, and it also came with a few recipes (with such delightful instructions as "shake shake shake" and grill "stretchy cheese... until melty"), so even those mid-week brain-fades were covered.
So, what started as this:
ended up as: beetroot, silverbeet, chickpea and broccoflower salad:
and a creamy, crunchy silverbeet and potato gratin.
Run nights tend to be a little more functional on account of getting home late, and so the accompaniments to this lemony, slow-cooked zucchini initially weren't all that exciting. But come Friday and the unexpected (and utterly delightful) delivery of some Greenvale goodness, and with the addition of some parmesan-crusted rare breed pork escalopes, things suddenly became much more appealing.
But where the proverbial meat 'n veg may have lacked in creativity, there was no such shortage of aesthetic appeal for these quick and easy broccoli tartlets.
Fruits, for their part were mostly consumed as is, but these kiwi's did go rather nicely with Spelt Quinoa's delicious wheat-free bircher muesli.
And I can think of no better backdrop for these peak-season ambrosial blood oranges than Yotam Ottolenghi's spectacular orange polenta cake.
A delight on its own, yes, but a particularly special treat when accompanied by this rather splendiferous lemon cream ice cream.
So the box certainly went a long way. The quality was impeccable and the quantity, for me, was just right, and with a few new recipes now happily added to the ever-expanding repertoire, there was definitely no lack of creativity incurred. Seems I do enjoy a good mystery after all...