LAKE MACBRIDE— Herbs are abundant in the garden, so I have been making dishes that taste better with fresh herbs: red beans and rice with fresh thyme, pasta sauce with fresh basil, and bread with sun-dried tomato and fresh rosemary. Each iteration of a dish, prepared in a moment of time, has consequence in our lives. Every bowl of soup, sandwich and plate of pasta is different for a home cook. Sometimes the food is better than others— our homemade meals speak to who we are, what we want to be and what we can be.
The idea of local food Saturday is simple. In order for there to be a vibrant and sustainable local food system, individuals must want to find, purchase and cook with local food items. We have to make a market in the things we hold dear. That’s how I landed on the important role home cooks can play in sustaining a local food system. Saturday is a weekend choice that fits a lot of people. It’s not like I am the first to come up with this— I’m not.
It is possible, and rewarding, to change our outlook from a being a consumer who goes to market to being a producer of home cooked meals that includes local food. One could do as well to develop a meal plan that includes local food and local food outlets, since almost no one cooks all, or even most of their own food at home.
The act of buying is such a brief part of our lives. We should make the most of it by unchaining ourselves from the mega-mart and relegating grocery stores to a more proper role as supplemental sources of provisions. It costs nothing to change one’s perspective, and the financial and personal payoff can be superior.
What did I do with the items in the photo from last Saturday’s farmers market?
The turnips were an impulse purchase as I could have waited a week to get fresh from my garden. I cut and washed the greens, cutting about a cup into quarter inch strips for soup, and putting the remainder in a container to use as cooking greens later in the week. Using the bulbs, I made turnip soup that included a quart of homemade stock, carrot, onion, celery, the turnip greens and the finely sliced stalk of the broccoli in the photo. I added dried chervil, salt and a bay leaf to make four servings.
The kohlrabi was for an experiment cooking it with potatoes. There will be a number of kohlrabi from the CSA, and a couple are growing in the garden. I’m trying to figure out how to use them. They also go well in a salad, cut into raw, matchstick-sized bits.
The radishes, cucumbers and zucchini were for fresh salads. The garden and CSA are producing lots of lettuce, and we have salad almost every night— sometimes as a meal. Lettuce and other leafy green vegetables are an important part of a local food system, and because we produce our own, there are none in the photo. The yellow squash was to slice and cook with greens.
Broccoli was to steam with dinner as it is a favorite and the broccoli in the garden was not ready yet. One stalk is not much, so we also steamed the last of the fresh asparagus from the CSA. A vegetable side dish to soup and a salad seems a bit weird, but was delicious nonetheless.
Finally there is the local honey. I got it home and realized there was another open jar in the pantry. I made the previously mentioned bread with local honey, fresh rosemary, sun dried tomatoes and a custom mix of flours.
In all, I spent about two hours in the kitchen with local food preparation, not including the rising time of the bread. On average, people spend a lot less kitchen time in a day, but ganging up on the prep work on Saturday made for better meals later during the week.
The revolution in local food will come when we change our attitude from being a consumer of goods to a producer. There will be a time when our lives are more interesting than who gets booted on the television program “Chopped.” For some of us, that time is already here, at least on Saturday afternoons.