Twenty five years ago, I wanted a salad spinner, but did not have room—or the money—to buy one. So, I made one. I took one of the cloth storage bags I had made for backpacking (why buy fancy ones when you can sew them for free from scraps?), put the washed greens in it, took it outside, and swung it around my head by the drawstring. Voila— clean, dried lettuce with a pre-soaked storage bag for the left-overs. And it was fun.I never looked back.
Now, I have a whole series of bags. The old ones finally died, so I broke out the sewing machine last summer and made some new ones. I made several from old—or kind of tacky—dish towels that I was not using. The thicker terry cloth material works really well for salad greens. I have a large one from an old tablecloth with a hole in the middle that holds huge leaves of mustard and kale, as well as smaller cooking greens. And then there are some scraps of cotton cloth bags that corral carrots, beets, and mushrooms from market to table. I weave shoelaces through a tube in the top of the bag for drawstrings so that I can pull the bag closed.
I have found that these cloth bags work much better than plastic. Greens rot and grow slimy in plastic bags because they cannot breathe. They dry out—or tumble out of the refrigerator at awkward times—when left unwrapped and held together by the wire wrappers, which bruise the stems. But in a dampened cloth bag, greens last for over a week—which is all I ask from a vegetable. Even root crops are happier. If one does dry out, or grow nasty because it was pushed to the far back corner of the shelf, I toss the bag into the wash and use it again. And then, when we go hiking and I need one more bag to hold the last day’s food—there they are, ready and waiting to hit the trail.
Boil and mash four or five medium sized potatoes for the crust.
Saute two portbello mushrooms, a mediums onion, carrots, cauliflower, and peas or corn. Add salt, pepper, and dried basil. Throw in a handful of grated cheddar cheese at the end, if you feel decadent.
Put cooked veggies in a casserole, top with the mashed potatoes, and bake until bubbly. Eat with salad.