Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy New Year!

Or more specifically, happy spring.  But, as I said in my very first post, spring is like the start of the year to me.  It's the start of the world coming back to normal.  This year more than usual, it's the start of the return of food (but just because it's been so warm).  And, it's my birthday.  Technically my birthday is tomorrow, but I tend to celebrate it on whatever day is the equinox.  This only doesn't work if the equinox is on the 20th (my actual "birth day" is on the 21st) and you're turning 21, and trying to get into the bars by explaining that, really, equinoxes and solstices are a more accurate calendar than the one we use.  The bouncer does not car.

Keep your pants on, tulips.  It's not that time yet!

This past year has gone really fast.  Maybe that's because I haven't really been denying myself anything.  I do feel like I've learned a lot, and I feel like there's so much more to learn.

On the most basic level, I would say that being a locavore - really and truly - does not make sense unless you live in San Francisco or somewhere equally temperate.  In the Midwest, at least, it just does not make sense.  No citrus, no bananas, very limited selection of nuts, very limited selection of fish.  Taken a step further, no chocolate, no sugar, no olive oil.  Not really a great way to eat, both in terms of health and in terms of lack of chocolate.  Unacceptable.

So 100% locavore, no.  But there is so much more out there than people take advantage of.  Here are, in no particular order, the top 10 things I have learned over the past year:

  1. You can generally get something green at the Winter Farmer's market, no matter when in the year it is.
  2. Milwaukee has two options for salad greens all year round: Sweet Water Organics, and Growing Power. 
  3. Flour from Great River Milling costs way less when purchased from Amazon.
  4. My husband will not bury a garbage can in our back yard to create a root cellar, but winter squash lasts pretty well in my basement.
  5. Apples are available all year long at the Winter Farmer's Market, so it is not worth while to can mass quantities of apple pie filling in a ridiculous manner.
  6. Chutney should be used not only as a garnish, but also to braise things in.
  7. Canning is exceptionally useful, if done properly.  
    • More:
      • Jams/Jelly
      • Fruit in general
      • Bruscetta Topping
    • Less:
      • Pickled Zucchini/Zucchini Relish
      • Pickled Peppers (or at least in smaller jars if they're going to be so damn spicy)
      • Apple Pie Filling (a lot less!)
  8. Zucchini not used in caning should instead be shredded and frozen for Zucchini Fritters all winter long.
  9. Oreos are local
  10. Food contests are extra awesome when you win.
So what's next?  My year is up.  Am I going back to how I ate before?  Maybe a little, but more of this will stick with me than not.  Yes, more seafood (but only if it's approved by the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch).  More fruit (in season.  Checking pesticide risk, buying organically when appropriate, and locally whenever possible.  And, not buying fruit totally out of season, because a strawberry in December doesn't even taste good.)  But local is still primary.  It's gotten to where, for most things, it isn't even hard.  I've got my CSA starting in June, and a fridge full of local beef, and all of my farmer buddies at all of my regular markets.

This blog will not be ending, but it will be changing a little.  I'd like to spend more time researching; more time talking about larger topics and not just recipes.  I plan on going out to my CSA's farm, and spending more time at the Urban Ecology Center, and Sweet Water Organics.  I'd like to learn how to make cheese.  I'd like to learn how to make sausage.  I'd like to learn how to butcher a pig.  My wonderful husband got me a food dehydrator for my birthday, so I see dried things in my future.

I'd like to do more research on the issues that are important to me: GMOs and pesticides, and bad fats vs. good fats, and things I probably don't even know I'm passionate about yet.

This might be more than one year.

All of my visiting and researching might mean a few less posts, and it might mean a few longer ones.  I hope you stick with me, if I drop down to once or twice a week.  My journey into food is not yet over, and I'm glad to have you along for the ride!

1 comment:

  1. http://www.thecheesemaker.com/workshops.htm

    Cheese making workshops!