Thank God It’s Getting Colder

February 11, 2009 at 8:41 am

Rob Gardner

If Monday’s stock events led me to change Tuesday’s column, then Tuesday’s continuing warm weather leads me away from more chicken talk and back to what I meant to talk about on Monday, events in the cellar in the sky.  It seemed like not that long ago, I inspected the stored food and found it holding up just fine.  Then, we needed sweet potatoes.

I am a big believer in complete and complimentary meals.  If we open a package of tofu, however, local said tofu will be, the rest of the meal will taste Asian.  And if we are getting around to cooking our C&D pastured pork ham, with the same recipe that got us to buy it in the first place after sampling; “this much water (thumb and index finger an inch apart) and ten hours in the slow cooker”; then the side would have to be sweet potatoes.  When I had been rooting around for apples about a week ago, I noticed that some sweet potatoes had a bit of mold.  I figured that when I made my dish, I would isolate the moldy parts and roast the rest (adding them to excess squash I had peeled the week before). 

The process worked just fine on the first potato.  I found myself with plenty of usable meat.  Yet, as I worked my way through the rest of the five potatoes I had brought from the attic to the kitchen, I found less and less that seemed safe.  A few potatoes just went straight into the compost bucket.  I peeled and sliced and triangulated but just was not coming up with anything near a dinner quantity.  I went for reserves.

The initial go-around featured the smaller, thinner skinned, more, what, typically seen sweet potatoes we had.  For the next thrust, I was going for the big ‘uns, the larger (nearly a foot), and thicker skin ones.  I expected these to be very long lasting giving their extensive flesh and tough, un-marred coating.  Yet, one by one, they faded.  A false front.  Good looks concealed weak constitutions.  The battle was over.  The battle was lost.  The ham would have no sweet potatoes near by.

I could not concede yellow.  The many a-pound of white potatoes did not seem right for the dinner.  I went for more squash.  OK, let’s cut to the chase.  Most of the squash were not eat-worthy to begin with.  I roasted some with the hope that maybe cooked they would hold up.  Nope.  Well, one carnival squash made it, wonderfully sweet, but hardly enough for a dinner for six.

This was all before the unfortunate warm up.  I thought the un-heated attic in the Bungalow a worthy root cellar.  We manage to be the local family because we have large stores of apples, roots and tubers up there.  Yet even in these good conditions, items have not lasted as long as we wanted.  As I am wont to admit, we are still trying to get the hang of this eat local thing.  Next year, I will not expect sweet potatoes to last this long.  I will also, probably, keep them in more arid storage, in the basement, instead of up top, where I keep a pan of water for humidity (and sprinkle water around every so often).  The squash going bad, well, I had been warned by one farmer that squashes would not hold up as long this year because of our excessively moist fall, but I was hopeful, at least wishful.  Really, squash should be just fine at this point in the cycle.

The rest of the stuff up there should be hold on for a while.  Thank god it’s getting cold again.  I hear there will be snow by Saturday!