Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Dish Drainer of a Veggie Hero

Yup, this is often what's in my dish drainer. Lots of fruits and veg. This is an odd post today, but I thought I'd share this food prep tip.

See, when I do a grocery shop, I always wash all the fruit/veg that I buy straight away (with the exception of lettuce/greens). I used to find it tedious to take a bell pepper, for example, out of the fridge and have to wash it before using it in a salad or recipe. Oh, and then I'd need some cucumber, and then I'd have to wash that too. argh!

No more. Now, I wash them all at once with just a smidgen of natural dish liquid. Rinse them up, pop them all in the dish drainer. Once dry, I put the fruit and veg away, things needing refrigeration go in ziploc bags (unzipped but in bags and in the produce drawers mostly), and the fruit in baskets (except apples which I keep cold, as well as very ripe fruit).

Yes, it takes more time to wash it all at once, but only about 10-15 minutes, and then you have easy food prep ALL week!! (Oh, don't leave all the fruit & veg sitting overnight in your drainer - some veg like cukes, celery, carrots need to chill out!)

Speaking of odd stories, my mom used to keep her fruit in our dishwasher! Guests would open up the dishwasher to put in a cup and find... fruit! Now, this woman had six children (all girls - yikes!), and there were always dirty dishes. But, she found it easier/faster to hand wash the dishes and she found the dishwasher helped ripen the fruit. Sure, it ripened those bananas, but there were always a few poor specimens impaled in the process!

Speaking of fruit and veg - I'm a Veggie Hero! Gosh, wish I had a veg apron! Check it out - I'm wearing a turkey! Well, at least I'm not eating the turkey!! I've worn this apron for cooking demos at food festivals and I joke "well, at least the turkey is alive"!!

Thanks Jill for posting my veggie hero profile... oh I forgot to add fresh basil to my list of favorites - can't get enough of that beautiful herb! I'll never have just one favorite food!


Danielle D. said...

Great tip. I should really start doing this.

jess (of Get Sconed!) said...

First off, you are totally a veggie hero indeed! Inspirational, no doubt.

Second, intriguing tip. Sometimes I drain my produce on paper towels and I die a little inside each time, but I only have so many towels. I'll try to do this tonight with my csa produce after my pick up.

Carrie™ said...

You are a veggie hero! It took a minute for the apron to register, but then I realized it was a turkey! HAHAHA! It's actually kind of funny. And how can anyone pick a favorite food? I know I certainly can't. Congratulations on a great profile.
Thanks for sharing your food prep tips. It makes total sense to wash it all at once. I sometimes do something similar but on a smaller scale. I'll take out all the vegetables I need for one dish and wash them all first and put them in the dish drainer to dry a bit while I prep everything else, but doing the entire shopping at once....much better!

kaivegan said...

You are indeed a veggie hero.

I sometime wash all produce all in one go, then put them in kitchen towels or colanders, but I haven't done that in a while. Thanks for a great tip.

Sheryle said...

This is such a good idea, I'm often so tired and hurried that the thought of getting everything out and washing, prepping, makes me groan. This would help a lot. Thanks, Dreena!

raising_kahne said...

I like the apron! At least it's on you and not in you. haha I know how you feel when you told of your eating experience where all you had was a very sad looking plate. We just got back from florida and that's all I had to eat at resturants:a very sad looking lettuce(which I hated to eat because I know it's not organic)

itsasecret said...

What a great idea! Of course I don't actually have a dish drainer, but I'll be sure to get one -- today, since tonight's CSA night!

EatPeacePlease said...

Veggie Hero = yes! I really like the photo of you in the turkey arpron! I like to wash dishes with an apron on because I am super-messy.

Great idea on washing produce. Way better than the huge strainer I've been using. Thanks for the great tips!

Harmonia said...

You should pimp your blog post over at V. O. This is a great bit of info!!!

I must have just missed you earlier today! I will have more time tomorrow to post on my blog, blog hop, and post at V.O.

OH! Btw...found Barley Malt Syrup! YAY!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dreena,

I am a big fan and frequent lurker on your blog :) I absolutely love your books and really enjoy the additional info you provide here. Since you brought up the apron I thought I would share a link where you can purchase "Be Kind to Animals, Don't Eat Then" aprons. They are really cute and suppot a local vegan organization in Oakland, CA where I live. Here is the link:

Hope you have a great day,


Urban Vegan said...

fab timesaving tip. now I have to buy a dish drainer or at least a sink-size colander.

congrats on your interview.

Dreena said...

Danielle, it really saves time in the long run, even though it doesn't seem so when you're doing the big batch!

Aw, thanks Jess, but I get a lot of inspiration from everyone else that comments here and publish blogs. I too, use FAR too many paper towels than I should, and I feel badly about it because we recycle so much of the other things we use.

Hi Carrie, I know, it's ironic and funny, a bit embarrassing really! Well, my mom gave me the apron, and it's a good basic tie-around apron that works, so I haven't gotten around to getting another yet! I usually do two shops for veg/fruit a week, and both times to the big wash up! I'm nervous about all the bacteria and such on produce!!

Kai, I just think it's cool how Jill is doing these profiles of different people in the veg community. Nice idea for a blog I think. Thanks... and you're welcome! :)

Sheryle, I hear you! Usually I'm hauling in the grocerie with the toddler on my hip, then trying to get her in for a nap, then getting the fruit/veg washed and other groceries put away... and then, it's time to make lunch! Phew, right?!

Savanna, that's a bummer. I thought Florida would have some decent veg spots - but I guess it depends on the areas you are visiting there, like anywhere! Oh, btw, when you commented on the rice krispie post, I forgot to mention that there *is* a crispi square-type recipe in Vive (p.124) - it is different in that it uses peanut butter and other ingredients, but certainly is enjoyable with the crisp cereal in there, if you want to give them a try. :)

Thanks Debbie, I could use a new dish drainer too - one that's better quality, and oh yeah, an apron! ha!

Leslie, I really should wear my apron more often. Sometimes I forget and then have stuff splattered all over me - and when it has oil in it, forget it, you can never get it out of your clothes (well, at least I have never been able to)! Thanks. :)

Hi Harmonia, I never even thought to mention it there! I space out on these things. I will try to pop in again today or tomorrow!! Glad you have another veg ingredient to add to your pantry - it's super thick, if you haven't tried it yet.

Hi Gretchen, well thanks for commenting after lurking for a while!! I'll check out that site, sounds very cool - thanks - and for your good words too. :)

Thanks Urban Vegan... it's great how I get all of you out to shop one way or another, hey??! You can blame it on me when you need a new pair of shoes too - ha!

Anonymous said...

I live in the same area you do-can you tell me where you buy such amazing looking produce?

Great blog by the way. :-)

Vivacious Vegan said...

Dreena, Thanks for checking out my blog. You are one of my vegan heros so I feel very honored! What a great produce washing tip.

As for the basil, when I used to live in California, I could never seem to get it to grow. When I moved to Tennessee I thought I would give it another try as it's one of my favorite herbs (I swear, I could use it in almost any entree) but it's so darn expensive to buy fresh. I started with little plants I got at a local nursery. I planted them in a place that gets a lot of morning/noon sun but a bit of afternoon shade. They get a lot of water (because I have a drip hose running to them but also because it's VERY humid here). I think the real key to growing them is to harvest, harvest, harvest. Give them a couple of weeks after you plant them and then start going to town. Even if you think the leaves are too little. The more you pick, the more it will grow. Basically, you'll find that if you never picked the leaves at all, you'd have pairs of leaves growing along the stem, and each pair is almost right on top of the pair below it. Don't cut off the stems. ONLY pick the bottom two leaves of every little leaf bunch. That way, the plant can focus on growing the new baby leaves above it. Pretty soon those baby leaves will be bigger than the ones you originally picked and there will be more baby leaves just waiting to take their place. The other tip is to NEVER let it flower. When you see it starts to grow something that doesn't look like basil leaves (this is a little different for each variety) shooting up in the middle of each leaf bunch pick it off right away. This saps a lot of nutrients and energy from the plant that could be used to grow more leaves. I also use a little ECOS dishwashing soap diluted with water in a spray bottle and I spray the plants with that every so often to discourage too many bugs from enjoying the basil before I do. I hope I wasn't too confusing. My little plants were teeny when I first got them and now they're about 3.5' high and about 2' wide.

Good luck.

KleoPatra said...

HERO (and HEROINE!) :o) Wonderful, Dreena. Love it for you, most deserved, of course!

Very interesting post. Thank you for the tips and hints and suggestions about the washing o'the great foodstuffs. I'm probably the laziest person, i swear, and hate washing the fruit and veggies i buy right away... but you are right about doing it first so that it won't have to be a chore later!

I am going to commit this post to memory... THANKS for this...

Anderson, Cherie said...

I used to do that, too, until I moved in with my boyfriend, whose fridge isn't fit for clean vegetables. Well, it's better now that I cleaned it, but still...I wash as I go. Good for you - that spread looks amazing!

Harmonia said...

Nope, haven't tried it yet.

Speaking of new ingredients...check out how I used a Sea Vegetable in my latest soup.

Also, no worries about the post in V.O...we will be there waiting when you have time!


Dreena said...

Hi anonymous, I pick up most of my produce through the year at Choices, and some at Save-On. I mostly buy organic, and with the exception of the fennel, ginger, and pineapple in this photo, I believe most of the other fruit/veg was organic. Now that the farmers' markets are going through the summer, I buy most of my organic lettuce, greens, berries, and other goodies there - and that stuff looks even better than what is in this pic!! - and thanks, btw!

Vivacious - thank you, thank you, thank you!!! You have no idea how puzzled I have been about basil! Last year when they starting to get going, I did start harvesting the leaves because I read to do so, but I did take some stems so I think that was part of the problem. Also, mine started to flower, and although I picked the flowers off, it seemed to really stunt the plants. Also, someone recently told me not to water the basil much - that seemed odd, and your tip of frequent watering makes more sense. Your photo of all that basil was glorious!!! I'm going to start picking the bottom leaves off my little plants out there now, as you suggested. I'm crossin' my fingers, and thank you SO much for taking the time to give me all those tips - you basil diva!! :)

Kleo, you're welcome, and yes, it's a chore for me sometimes too, but once I do it I'm happy to have everything cleaned up and ready to eat at any time (esp fruit for the kids) and for in recipes. I think it saves time in the long run!

Ha, that's funny Cherie! I need to give my fridge a clean again soon. Man, they get dirty very fast and it seems strange how much residue and sticky stuff gets in there! Bottles leaking here and there I guess!!

Thanks Harmonia, wow, you are becoming very adventurous... will be by to have a peek. :)

Broke Vegan said...

That sounds like a great idea!!

By the way, I can see you are a Veggie Hero!! You have a wonderful blog here.

Sara said...

That is such a smart idea. I always put my fruit and veg away as soon as I get home and then half the time I don't wash them when I'm ready to use them.

Anonymous said...

I always process my produce when I get home from the store. If I don't do that, I find that I often just don't use it, because I am too tired or lazy and it just ends up getting thrown away.

I know it will last longer if I don't wash it until I use it, but I do wash my lettuce, chop it, put it in a container, put a couple of layers of paper towel on top and pop the lid on. We usually use it up before it goes bad.

dayler said...

Hey! You are so famous! Your blog is way more popular than mine! I'm jealous.

That's a great tip, tho. I can't believe you told that story about mom. Go ahead and air her dirty laundry, why don't ya? (Or would that be dirty dishes...?)

"It's nice to have someone to make fun of!"