Eating Locally by Alison Colwell
A few weeks ago I attended a “Beet and Cabbage” workshop. We made 3 different kinds of slaw, an amazing Borscht, cabbage rolls, beet cupcakes and more – But what stayed with me – more than all the great new recipes – was a lesson about the practicality and importance of choosing ingredients that are local, in season and that are suited for our climate, beets and cabbage, squash and carrots, for instance. They grow well in our climate most of the year.
Tomatoes and peppers are summer vegetables here, and yet they are a constant on my family menu. When you shop at a grocery store in town – the shelves are full. You can pick any recipe you want before you shop, go to the store and find everything you need at any time of the year. But this is misleading. There are times of the year, say, at the end of August – when we have the opportunity to feast on our fresh, local abundance of tomatoes and peppers and put away as much as we can for the winter. Long-keeping varieties of tomatoes can be stored and eaten ‘fresh’ right into the early winter months. But as winter approaches I realize I needed to focus more on Squash and beets and the other crops still being harvested right now.
I once worked in a café where we came into work each morning, and checked what produce had been left for us in the cooler. It was that produce that dictated the menu for the day. It was a creative challenge, but taught me the lesson of using what you have. Learning to love and make do with whatever produce is locally in season can be challenging but rewarding. Talk to the local farmers, and the gardeners and use what’s readily available to inspire your creativity in the kitchen.
Malcolm has two favourite soups (and he’s tried a lot of soup!): Nettle Soup and Chanterelle Soup. Both are specific to a few weeks, or month each year. And I think that specialness is part of what makes them his favourites.
When we use food that is in season where we live, then there will be times when we won’t have certain ingredients. But that makes us love and appreciate them all the more when we do have them.
And in the meantime, I’ve discovered an unexpected love of cabbage!