The Locavore in Winter, Part 2
Maybe because the weather is turning, but I’ve been thinking a lot about how to keep eating locally sourced food during the winter. Depending on where you live and whether you have the time or space to preserve foods when they are in season, your options could get a bit tired come January or February.
The best way to beat the winter-produce blahs is to find new ways to prepare old standbys. On a long train trip once, I spoke to the passenger beside me about cooking (we were hungry and the train was late). He stayed at a small boarding house in the Indian countryside for a year while he was a student. The family had a limited food supply, and everybody ate cauliflower for dinner for a month, he said. But nobody minded because the landlady cooked it differently most of the time and he thought it was always delicious.
For new ideas for what’s on hand, visit a Slow Food website. Currently, my chapter has posted several tempting recipes for preparing kale.
It takes less time to make yogurt, hummus, bean dip and spaghetti sauce than it does to go to the store, and you can flavor them to your personal taste. Little adjustments can lead to interesting changes, so experiment.
When you find a particularly successful recipe, cook more than you need and freeze the rest. Be sure to label each container with its contents and date it went into the freezer with easily removable masking tape.
And find a tool that makes cooking easier for you. I bought a simple slow cooker — the manual kind with settings for Off, Low and High — on Craigslist a few years ago. It’s great for soups but it seemed of limited use until I discovered Kathy Hester’s “The Vegan Slow Cooker,” which is filled with recipes for international, spicy main courses in addition to breads, dips, breakfast dishes, puddings and hot drinks that require little effort. After I put the ingredients in the ceramic pot and turn it on, I set a separate timer and do something else until dinner’s ready.
It becomes easier, and more tempting, to cook and eat local all the time. Maybe I’ll develop a stable of varied kale recipes that will knock everybody’s socks off in a few more winters.