Sunday, January 4, 2009

Local Food Round-Up

January. Time to start eating out of our stores, in earnest. Don't want to come to spring and discover some cache of forgotten and uneaten beets. Here's what's in our black freezer: a few roasts and steaks, hamburger, pork and turkey sausage, a whole chicken, turkey parts, and a lot of chopped red peppers. In the white freezer: big bags of tomatoes, strawberry jam, strawberries, frozen pear and applesauce cubes for school lunches, homemade ketchup, raspberries. In the fridge freezer: dill, parsley, basil cubes, more pearsauce cubes, poultry gizzards and livers, cookie dough, peas, bread. In the cold cellar: two butternut squash, loads of potatoes (storing well in their paper sacs), garlic (also storing well, loose on wire shelves), one pumpkin, four cabbages, a handful of yams. In another cupboard upstairs: what's left of the onions (note: my pantyhose storage method in our over-warm basement was a recipe for rotting onions suspended in nylon. Not pretty. A few survived to tell the tale and be made into onion soup). In jars: grape juice, pearsauce, grape jelly, and tomatoes. Plus we've got lots of local oats, flour, cornmeal, honey, maple syrup, and vinegar. We also have lots of local canola oil, but I find the taste too strong, overwhelming even in baking, and am unlikely to use it up.

The challenge: To eat as exclusively as possible from these stores till it's all gone.

The method: Thaw at least one big meat item per week and plan at least one meal around that. Remind myself about the potatoes ... to that end, look up some hearty winter recipes. Sunday evening advance planning.

Today's Recipe of the Week: Tomato Sauce. Saute chopped onions and garlic in olive oil till soft, add some chopped red peppers if desired (frozen fine). Toss in a bag of frozen tomatoes (3.7 litre capacity). Add a can of tomato paste. Season with frozen basil cubes, parsley, 1 to 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon each of thyme and oregano. Pepper to taste. When cooked down to desired consistency, stir in a dollop of vinegar.

Suggested uses: We ate this for supper, as is, over spaghetti with parmesan and feta, and a cabbage salad on the side. Tomorrow it might be resurrected with fried hamburger and some cumin and ground coriander over brown rice. Leftovers might also find their way on to homemade pizzas later in the week.

This week's meat: smoked turkey sausage, currently thawing in our fridge. I'd planned to use it in a split pea soup, but just noticed there are no potatoes on this week's menu, which makes me think ... smoked sausage baked over potatoes and yams? Suddenly, I'm yearning for a little after-dinner nap. Full disclosure: I prefer vegetarian fare, but beans and legumes are hard to come by, locally. Meat, however, is everywhere.

Most surprising storage discovery: The red peppers are amazing. I'd run out patience by the time I put them up, so literally chopped and seeded them and chucked them into yogurt containers. But they're easy to remove piece by piece, the flavour is amazing, and the kids eat them like popsicles.

One last note: For anyone missing Nina's buying club, I've tried out and can recommend Oakridge Acres (http://www.oakridgeacres.ca/), a farm family from near Ayr who raise Black Angus cattle, and also source and sell a variety of local products, including cheeses, and who deliver to the Waterloo region.

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