Okay, people, now it’s time to get back to the serious business of farmer crushes. My carrots aren’t quite gone, yet. But, since some of us are getting through this process faster than others, let’s move right along to the crucial next step of my patented Farmer-Crush Eradication Program.
Step 2: Cheat on your farmer every which way.
This is a foolproof plan. If subtracting food miles got me into this situation, adding them back will surely get me out. My goal is to put as many food miles as possible between me and the Farmer before the Summer CSA starts. Strawberries from California. Pineapple from Hawaii. Only the finest in European olives and cheeses. My food will be racking up the frequent flier miles, which, with any luck, will land me a round-trip ticket to Maui where I’m long overdue for a visit anyway (you know who you are).
I’ve been very faithful to my farmer over the past 10 months. Maybe too faithful according to the other farmers I'd sometimes find myself heckling (“You call this Swiss chard?”). But now it’s time for me to sow my wild oats. Or, rather, my factory-farmed oat substitutes. Everything I’ve heard about these kinds of tawdry culinary affairs is that they leave you with an overwhelming sense of emptiness and regret, but we’ll just see about that. What if I eat a lot? And really, really enjoy it?
First up, braised fennel with olives. The cheese, the olives, the fennel itself? None of it local. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all imported. Can’t you just smell that precious oil burning? Let’s see, that’s about 10,000 air miles, which should be enough to get at least a one-way ticket to Idaho.
There. I’d like to see me get to first base now!
Braised Fennel with Black Olives
This is my favorite way to eat fennel, and I’ve been fennel-less for far too long.
3 Tbsp. butter
2 medium fennel bulbs, stems trimmed and discarded, bulbs cut vertically ½-inch thick
½ cup chicken stock or white wine or both
½ cup pitted black olives (oil-cured or brine-cured, your choice, but not canned)
¼ cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Salt and ground black pepper
In a large frying pan with a cover, heat butter over medium heat and add fennel in a single layer (or close to it). Add stock or wine, season with salt and pepper, and cover. Simmer over medium-low heat, about 12 minutes. Turn slices over and cover, simmering, until fennel is starting to brown on the bottom and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Turn fennel again so it can brown on the other side. Add olives and cook, uncovered, a few minutes longer. Sprinkle with cheese, add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve.