Reading the book ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle‘ gave me a deeper appreciation for seasonal food. Barbara Kingsolver’s book shares recipes from each season, and beautifully describes a modern family living on only what they can grow or buy locally for one year. I love the idea of enjoying food in it’s proper season. This concept was obvious for generations past… your grandparents wouldn’t have be eating a fresh tomato in November, nor roasting a butternut squash in June.
Environmental reasons aside, food just tastes better when you eat it in season. Foods which are grown in South America, and shipped up north are typically picked unripe and are varieties which have been bred to withstand shipping – not chosen for their flavor. They are typically low in nutrients and have less than stellar taste & texture.
We grow a lot of our own food on our urban lot, but we don’t have enough space to fully provide for our family of 6, year round. When we purchase food, we try and stick to what’s in season. There is nothing like fresh spring asparagus, local summer tomatoes, fall potatoes… but what about WINTER?
A typical self-sufficient farm family would grow enough of certain crops to preserve or store for the winter. This is what we try to stick to in winter. It makes those spring and summer foods all the much sweeter when we wait for their time.
cellar storage: potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic, hard-shell squash, cabbage (for a time)
fermented, pickled or canned: cabbage (sauerkraut), cucumbers, tomatoes, fruit jams/chutneys
frozen (a more recent luxury): beans, peppers, peas, fruit
dried: beans, corn, peas, wheat
In milder climates, or under cover – cold hardy leafy greens can stay alive: cabbage, kale, swiss chard, lettuce
We like to toss our potatoes (of every variety) in grapeseed oil (healthy at high temps) sprinkle with sea salt, then bake at 350. You end up with a delicious crispy skin that tastes great. Nothing wasted.
Good grass-fed butter, salt & pepper is all they need at this point, though plain potatoes are delicious with a dollop of greek yogurt and some chopped chives or onions.
Since potatoes vary in size, I try to choose a handful that are relatively close in size, so that they will finish baking at around the same time. I then do a ‘squeeze test’ to see when they are done. I love it when I find a bunch of smaller yams – this makes for a quick – cooking side dish! Usually done in 20 minutes!
It’s wonderful to keep some frozen peas in the freezer at all times. Since they are frozen so quickly after picking, they retain most of their nutrients – and are SO good for you. More on why here.
For sweeter peas, buy ‘petite peas’ – though I’ve found that Woodstock Organics peas have always been sweet – even though not labeled ‘petite’.
They key to cooking delicious frozen peas is not to overcook them. We add just a splash of water in the saucepan with the frozen peas, then put the lid on to steam on medium-low heat. Taste them to see when they are fully thawed, and just heat them until hot enough to melt butter. Add a pat of butter and serve. Simple and family friendly!
Course: Side Dishes
- 1 lb. carrots cut (I don’t bother peeling organic carrots)
- 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger grated
- 2 tablespoons butter (preferably organic grass-fed)
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- sea salt to taste
- Wash, cut and cook carrots in a saucepan with salted water, until just tender when poked with a knife. Drain and add back into saucepan.
- Grate ginger (with a fine grater like a microplane) directly into hot carrots, add butter, honey and parsley, mix.
- Season with sea salt and serve.