A Glimpse Into the Local Home

December 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

Rob Gardner

A messy disarray, says the LocalKid.  The Cookbook Addict remains silent, but her obsessions can be found in every room.  Find local food in almost as many areas of the home.  We work to live the local life.  If we are not driving the 100+ miles to the year-round South Bend Farmer’s Market for value price heirloom squash, we are Sunday schlepping to Logan Square to pick up our monthly bag of meat from Mint Creek Farm.  The hardest part of being a locavore, walking the house.  I mean how many of your meals starts with a trip to the attic to find the bag of russet potatoes and then a trip the other way, to the basement for onions.  It is not just latkes.  It is exrcise.  So, to give you more of a flavor of locavore living, I thought today, I’d walk you through the Bungalow.

A bungalow makes for a fine local home.  It is filled with hidden storage caches.  The basement runs the full length of the house (a house that is much longer than it is wider).   A part of that basement extends beyond the heating elements.  With bare walls and shelves, we got ourselves a canning room before we committed to eat-loca-ism.  Since then, we have put on its shelves many a jar, jam and pickle picked up from our travels, and since my wife started canning, the room has also house peach chutney, spiced peaches, peach jam, and many variations of tomatoes.  The temperature there makes it good for bags of local grains.  This room stays nicely cool year round, giving us a place to hold extra onions and potatoes, but we found it failed as a root cellar.  So once we get into serious storage mode, we move the potatoes up to the attic.   Onions and garlic stay.

The standard Chicago bungalow mostly were constructed with a second floor for show.  Ours like many, though, got partially built out over the years.  Luckily for us, when we priced out finishing the rest, we could not afford it.  This left us with about 1/3rd of the top as raw space.  And yes that space even has some cookbooks.  It has many pieces of luggage splayed–the result often of the Cookbook Addict needing one more bag to return home her newly found books.  How cold does the attic get?  Cold enough that last night I could see my breath in it.  It holds several bags of apples; potatoes, and as of last week, turnips, beets and carrots.  It works well once it gets cold.

Back to the basement.  Not only did the Bungalow come pre-equipped with a canning room, it came with an extra fridge.  At the height of the season it is full with the contents of our CSA box and market visits.  Now, it contains a lot of cabbage, which I do not trust to the attic.  There are also roots that pre-date the arctic cold that makes attic storage possible.  Next to the spare fridge is our spare freezer, our essential eat local purchase.  We freeze some vegetables and a little more fruit.  Mostly, we use the freezer to stock our supplies of local meat.  We need to schlep to the freezer not for dinner tonight, but for what we will have for dinner in a few nights.

In keeping with the style of the Bungalow, we decorated our dining room a bit in the Mission style, highlighted by a solidly solid, oak buffet.  In the style of locavore, we have also decorated this room with winter squash and pumpkins.  As I type this, I see around me two pie pumpkins, five carnival squash, one delicata and one acorn squash.  (Some of the squash, bigger ones, are hidden away in the basement.)  There is also a big plate of black walnuts that will require much effort to crack. 

It takes some work to live local.  You cannot usually go to the corner store for your stuff unless you happen to find Michigan sugar at the dollar store like I did the other night.  You have to cook and compost your food scraps.  And you have to maintain a local house.  I’ve given you a glimpse inside the Bungalow, mostly avoiding the messy parts and other things the Cookbook Addict does not want me to talk about.  What does your local home look like?