Free food.  I am not sure what about that phrase makes me pay attention, but it does.

I am not just talking about freebies or Costco samples or extreme coupon scores- though all of those are marvelous things in their own right.  I am talking about a second harvest of sorts- a free second helping of something you already paid for and used.

Take, for example, the new Midlife Priceless Seasonal Mascot, my celery project.

It appears to be working!

A little background

Let me frame this by saying that celery is not exactly a staple in our diets at the Midlife Priceless household/suburban pseudo-homestead, but it is hardly to add that crunch to salads (including my nummy chicken salad), soups (like my nummy chicken noodle soup) and stir-fry dishes (like the hubby’s versions).  I usually pick some up when on sale, use some, then chop up and freeze the rest.  I have found celery to freeze really well, so by the time I have run out of all my frozen supply, it is back on sale again.  Not that freaking full-price celery is busting most people’s budgets to begin with- but you get the idea.

I recall reading an article I connected to from some Pinterest pin that blasted “FOODS YOU CAN BUY ONCE AND REGROW FOR FREE”.  While the article itself is purely fact-based (i.e. place green onions in a jar of water and clip from the top.  You’ll have green onions on hand for weeks at a time. If you use a lot of green onions (we don’t), this is awesome), my mind wandered to a different place as I thought about the very magic that is produce.  Scraps can be made into something else entirely (apple peels and cores can become apple sider vinegar, for example), scraps can be added to your compost pile to become beautiful, lush, black gold for your garden (and grow more produce!!), and now some scraps can manifest themselves into exact replicas of their former selves.  I chuckled as I thought of these as almost resurrection veggies- back from the dead- to live once again.

And I remembered I had celery.

Doubting Daniel

After my using and chopping and freezing, I was left with the base of the celery I had purchased.  I read to put the base in shallow water and it will regrow.  I should point out that this particular celery was in the fridge for a full week before I used it, so I had my doubts.  Nevertheless, I did it. The hubby walked in and asked what was up.  I explained. He chuckled.

“Seriously? You paid 39 cents a pound for that celery.  Why bother?”

While it isn’t solely about the money for me, I did want to point out that 0 cents is a lot less than 39 cents, and free food from almost-free food is still free freaking food.  But I just said, “Don’t worry about it!” and put my shallow dish on the window sill whilst the hubby walked away shaking his head.  The truth was that I looked at this as almost miraculous. This humble celery was going to grow, damn it!, and grow from what most people just discard.  This celery was going to enjoy another round on this earth, basking in the window, stretching itself to it’s fullest potential, expanding its stalks until I eventually harvested it and started the process anew.  This was not just a humble base of celery.  This was a symbol of how everything in this world- regardless of the value one places on it- has the chance to live a second life is just one human being cares enough to help it do exactly that.

From Worry to Wonder

Feeling grandiose and almost like Mickey Mouse in the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, I placed that small Pyrex glass bowl in my window sill and waited. I waited a bit more.  I listened to hubby say “It’s not doing anything,” and repeating not to worry about it.  I looked for signs every day. I saw none.

Until one morning, a few days hence, the smallest, tiniest, whisper of bright green peeked out from the center of the bulb. I was so excited that it was almost ridiculous.  Then a bit more green.  Then a few leaves that hint at the celery stalk it will become- shared with all of you in the pic above- that makes me think this may just work.

I know it seems silly.  It’s just freaking celery.  Even free celery is still just celery.  Except when it’s a living symbol of self-sustainability.  Except when it is evidence of how awesome nature can be.  Except when it shows a miracle in one of the most humble of vegetables.  Except when it is MY free food that will be in my salads and my soups and my freezer once again.

Readers, meet your Midlife Priceless Seasonal Mascot- celery.  As it grows, I will update with new pics.  I don’t have a name for it, and perhaps I won’t, but for now, I am happy with my free food experiment.

Have any of you done anything similar?