The simplest things in life are often the best. A raindrop glistening in a spider's web. The snap of clean washing hung out to dry. An comfortable old story, heard for the hundredth time. The sharp tang of grapefruit on a sunny winter's morning. The thrill of gleaning food in the city. Watching your kids eat green leaves for breakfast.
A mile or so from our house is a grapefruit tree. Its laden branches dangle into an old bluestone laneway. The first time I spotted it, I filled up my bag with fallen fruit. The pith was so thick that nothing was bruised and the flesh inside was perfect: explosively juicy, sweet and tart in equal measure. A week or so later, I sent my tall husband; he picked another bag. And this week, we dropped by on our way somewhere else, stood on the towbar of our car, and filled a third. The tree is now picked as clean as we can reach without a ladder; but there are still hundreds of fruits fallen on the garage roof and all over the garden. Were I a braver soul, I would knock on the door and ask if I could come in and take them, but so far I have proven myself a coward.
Ripe grapefruit need nothing to make them delicious; I eat them plain at any time of the day. But I also like to fiddle, and while I have not jumped wholeheartedly on the green smoothie bandwagon, I do like my greens. I like them in salad, in soup, in horta; I like them for lunch and tea; and lately I've been eating greens blended with fruit for breakfast. Grapefruit and kale and grapefruit and celery leaves are my favourite combinations. When blended with kale, the strong flavour of grapefruit hits the middle of your tongue, but the edges tingle with the kale's iron-y taste. It's delicious in a bracing way. Celery leaves, on the other hand, unify with the grapefruit so that, instead of being aware of two flavours, one instead savours a single refreshing taste – and it's just the thing to chase away the winter sniffles.
You do need a good blender to whizz the leaves into a smooth drink. I am somewhat embarrassed to admit that we have shoved so much money through a particular credit card that I was able to order a whizz-bang blender (K********d) on the basis of our credit card points alone. It is an evil system: the rich get richer and are rewarded for having spent so much money, while the poor just fall into credit card debt. The fact that I am using the blender to make breakfast out of gleaned foods – and that my children will consume whizzed greens for breakfast – is my pathetic justification for participating in such a system.
Ahem. Now that we've tiptoed to the edge of a moral quagmire and peeked in, let us carefully edge our way back to the recipe. I don't tolerate dairy or banana very well, so I use ice to make the smoothie good and thick. However, if you want something a bit sweeter, you can always chuck in a banana – out of your greengrocer's seconds box, of course; the squishier the better.
Wednesday: Addendum: I spent this morning at a friend's house and noticed her blender on the kitchen sink with a greenish tinge. She too is drinking green smoothies. But in our conversation I realised there is something she didn't know, and that I ought to add here: if you are regularly consuming a heap of greens, make sure you vary them. As well as being packed with nutrients, each leafy green has developed a unique defence mechanism against being eaten - low levels of slightly toxic chemicals eg oxalates - that your body needs time to break down. So have spinach one day, then perhaps celery leaves the next, then maybe kale, or mint, or whatever takes your fancy. By circulating your greens, you vary both nutrients and toxins, maximising the health benefits and minimising any toxic build ups.
Grapefruit and Green Leaf Smoothie
- 1 - 2 ripe yellow grapefruit
Put everything into a whizz bang blender and combine.
Pour into the cups which make you most happy, and drink immediately. Enough for 2 to 3 people, or one person doing the green smoothie thing.
If the leaves are too strong for your taste, use less or throw in another grapefruit. To sweeten, add a banana. This is not an endurance test. I like things strong and sharp, but your tastes may be quite different.
If the smoothie sits in the fridge, the flavour becomes dull and metallic and the texture slightly floury. So drink it right away.
(Backyard: black kale. Brunswick: grapefruit. Melbourne outskirts: celery. Even better, celery leaves are usually thrown away, so it's nice to find a delicious use for them.)