Friday, September 5, 2008

It's a green thing.

     Food is central to my life on the homestead these days.  I grow it. I harvest it.  I preserve it.  I feed my family.  It is important to me that we try to incorporate as many local foods that we can into our diet. By no means are we successful in many areas.  But we try.  There are many reasons that we try to eat local.  First, 1500 mile ceasar salads just don't taste good.   Sure they may look pretty; with their waxed cucumbers, perfectly red,round cherry tomatoes, colorful leafy greens. But is it real?  Produce picked before its time, so it can be ripe for your shopping cart, just cannot compare to the taste of a tomato at the farmers market or garden.  

     The second reason we eat local is because we live in a great state with a strong agricultural tradition.  If we want our economy in this state to remain vital then we need to keep more of our dollars in this state. The region of the state that I live in is struggling.  It is the oldest county in the state, with few major employers.  So if I am giving my dollars to the farmstand down the road I am keeping my dollars in my community where it can pay a farm worker, be spent at the hardware store, get passed on to feed store.

    Another reason we eat local is because we like to know the source of our food.  We like the relationships we have built  with farmers.  There is the farmer and his young apprentice at Snakeroot Farm.  When buying seedlings from him in the spring, he will always dispense some useful information about the plant and its propagation.  When buying the milk from the farmer down the road we find out how his daughter is doing in college.  She wants to be a large animal veternarian.  One farmer that we get hay from  has alpaca and goats.  She is a wealth of information in the care of our own goat. And she has nice fiber!  Eating local builds community.

     One challenge of eating local is learning how to cook with the seasons.  Spring greens, parsnips,jerusalem artichokes and eggs in the spring. Berries, greens, zucchini, tomato in the summer. Squash, potatoes, kale, apples in the fall.  Winter, food put by.  Believe it or not,  but winter is not that hard.  Winter is the time I make soup. So when I am canning or freezing food  this time of year I think about what foods will go well in soups.  I cut my carrots the way I would if I were to put them in a soup.  Then can them.  When I go to make the soup  I just have to pour the whole jar in the pot.  Potatoes can be cooked in a variety of ways. Dry beans figure prominently.  Our freezer is full of pork and chickens we grew.  We grow some greens under cover so during a January thaw we will have fresh greens.  And we  do get some eggs from our girls in the winter.  I have a king's wealth of berries in the freezer.  I dry many herbs for herbal teas. Soon I will be picking apples and cranberries.

     Eating local stretches the creative cooking skills.  This time of year I look forward to cooler temperatures, in another month.  Baked apple stuffs and soups will be on the menu soon.  But it is still warm.  Yesterday was nearly ninety degrees.  It was a busy day of canning salsa , stacking wood. Among the cooking challenges of eating local I also have a toddler to feed.  The little guy has an aversion to eating anything green.  So I am always looking for ways to sneak green foods into his  diet.  I am not always successful.  He now opens any melted cheese sandwich to make sure that I haven't placed finely minced , placed carefully  in the middle  to avoid being seen spinach.  But the succession crop of spinach is in and it looks really great. Taste better. So yesterday I decided to make a spinach pancakes.  He saw them cooking on the griddle. Joyous exclamations of, " pampake! pampake!" filled the kitchen.   Placed in front of him, one bite.  That's all she wrote....

Every one else at the table woofed them down though.   I served them with mashed root veggies and a salad.  Here is the recipe, hope you enjoy them!

Spinach Pancakes

2 eggs
cup and half of milk
4 tablespoons cheddar cheese
2 table spoons olive oil
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt.
cup and half of flour.  can use half wheat and half white
tablespoon dillweed
about two cups of finely chopped spinach

 Mix wet ingredients, add dry mix well and then add spinach.  Cook as you would pancakes.

I'm still working out a topping.  I think a tomato chutney would be nice or applesauce? What do you think?


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