Let Your Food Inspire You

before

After every market that we vend at we play a game called “how can we eat this Winter and not let this food (and energy we spent growing and harvesting it) go to waste.”  Years of being CSA members primed us for the experience of having more food than we could possible eat, and taught us how to make it work for us later in the year: We are becoming master preservers using as many techniques as we can. Of course, the techniques that maintain the nutritional integrity (or add some) are at the top of the list. We have a food dehydrator! It is among my top 10 kitchen inventions of all time! So many tomatoes and herbs, fruits

before

and mushrooms go through its time elapsed drought and end up looking gorgeous in jars on our shelves waiting for their moment.  Obviously, a freezer could handle this preserving task amazingly and in years past, (we don’t have a freezer here…I know) you could find all the bright Spring and Summer fruits frozen in time (in some form) most of the Winter in our freezer. Fermentation is our number one form of preservation, but without a refrigerator or root cellar, fermenting doesn’t usually keep as long as other preservation techniques. Fermenting is sweet because not only can you ferment just about anything and it will taste amazing, but it also cultures beneficial microorganisms. So, the food is actually better for you when you eat it than it was when you put it in.  Fermentation is an ancient technique of submerging foods under salt water brine and letting the cultures grow in a controlled environment. What you end up with is the most tangy, zesty, zippy, pickle-like foods that we put on wraps, salads, rice, as a side or condiment and any other way that inspires. Right now, our counters are covered with crocks filled with fermenting things like chipotle turnips, spicy gingery kim-chi, dilly carrots and turnips, fruit vinegars, honey wines, and soon beets in some form or another.

after

Probably the most familiar method of preservation for most Americans is canning. And if you’ve visited our booth at the market, no doubt you’ve seen our rustic preserves (if you haven’t seen them, look next into the fray of vegetables, they’re always there). Most of the other things we are not legally allowed to sell unless made in a commercial kitchen, but we sure can whip ’em up for ourselves. This week with our market leftovers we made an amazing barbeque sauce (with our heirloom tomatoes, tomatillos, sweet onion, and wild horseradish) that inspired our grilled pizza (because we don’t have an oven).  I won’t even go into all the fabulous local foods paired with our sauce (ok, I can’t resist, local organic spelt flour, our leeks, local grass-fed monteray jack cheese, and Young Earth Farm’s andouille sausage (from his pasture raised hogs). Resist the urge to can pizza, though.

On Saturday, we got rained out at the Bank St. Farmers’ Market so we had a lot of tomatoes and leeks over. SO, we canned quarts and quarts of pasta sauce (recipe made up that used as much of the market leftovers as possible) using bunches of leeks, heirloom and cherry tomatoes (we don’t peel anything, ever), tomatillos, fresh basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parsley, and garlic.  It turned out spectacular and we ate some for dinner that night (word of advice: always leave enough of what you’re canning not canned for your next meal, after all that work it’s important to be rewarded).

after

The barbeque sauce turned out so nicely that we’re planning on canning some from this week’s market leftovers!

Experimenting with seasonal produce will help you discover what creations you love so much that you want to can or ferment or dehydrate or freeze or eat loads of it fresh. With just a little inspiration from your plant friends, it’s possible to eat (your favorite) local foods all year round.

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2 Responses to “Let Your Food Inspire You”

  1. how did you make that pizza on the grill, it looks so yummy!!!!

    • foragefiend Says:

      You should swing out sometime, Annie, and we’ll whip up a tasty grilled pizza with all the farm fresh veggies we can find!

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