Wednesday, April 29, 2009

kid fun in the kitchen

I have a photo of my brother around age 2 spinning the lettuce dryer. Of course it was orange- as was the kitchen in the early seventies- but its still a great activity for kids.

Here is M drying lettuce in her spinner. The ones with the cord seem to work the best. We got ours at Target for under $10. We had a fancy one with a plunger-type mechanism that never seemed to get the lettuce dry enough.

Especially at the farmer's markets, the lettuce might have more dirt and yes, even bugs in it (there is a price to pay with organic sometimes) so washing is important to me. Though its extra work, and generally one of my least favorite tasks, I think the taste is so much better than the pre-washed bags of lettuce that its worth it. Spend the extra time and money on the things you prize. Love fancy cheese? Organic milk? Strawberries? Nice fish? Hot-dish? A roast on the weekend? 

Farmer's market lettuce
In the height of the summer, the lettuce is so fresh and often cheaper than in the stores. Check out mid-week markets that don't have the crowds and hassle (or "pleasant hubbub" depending on your point of view and goals for the day) of the weekend markets. There are many sites with free parking where you can get in, grab your produce and get home. Ask the farmer about how they farm. Many do not have "organic" designation, but still are passionate about farming in a very safe, often chemical-free and sustainable way.

I soak the lettuce several times in cold water and have M spin it dry and poor out the water until there is no grit. Then I keep it in the spinner in my fridge if I have room, or put in a veggie bag and use it over a few days, so at least I wash once only. M is still  bit wary of lettuce, but sometimes she will eat it (especially the paler leaves.) She enjoys all the goodies that go on the salad, like tomatoes, cucumbers, Craisins so we give her a larger share of those, and a few lettuce leaves which she may or may not eat.

We just planted our first-ever lettuce in a window-box in the back yard. I'll keep you posted!
Happy Spinning! 


  1. Fresh local lettuce is a pleasure of summer. I grew up eating solely iceburg lettuce and looked askance at red leaf and green leaf varieties, as my parents still do. I started trying the other types of lettuce after learning that iceburg had little nutritional value compared to them. Though I now favor romaine, I like to mix varieties together for my salads; red and green leaf are mellow with soft leaves, romaine is crunchy and flavorful and there are others which have a slight bitter taste which add interest to the salad as a whole.
    I don't own a lettuce spinner, but have always meant to purchase one. I didn't realize they were so inexpensive...I just have to figure out where to store it.

  2. Kitchen space is a huge problem! I wish I had some hints on storage as they are really bulky. I store it with the top off and can then store stuff in it if I need to. Alas, I move all but the essentials into the basement!