Eat Local Old Vegetables – UPDATED

February 2, 2010 at 9:02 am

Rob Gardner


It’s fresh.  It’s fresh we say when asked why eat local.  Fresh matters.  When your peas can smoosh in your fingers not just split in half, that’s a fresh pea, the pea you want.  Corn, asparagus the sooner they’re in the pot from the field, better they will taste.  Fresh matters also, on the other side.  Your CSA produce can languish for over a week until you get around to it.  Without all those intervening steps of process and distribution, your produce can work on your time.  By the time we get to fall and then well into winter though, we are not arguing that our food is fresh.  We know it is old.  We know that taters make fine winter fare.  We got roots a-plenty in our stores, but we also had some rather old vegetables that, with a little love, made it to the table just fine. 

We had one night, a dish from very old cabbage.  A few nights later, we finally ate the fennel still left.  Each of these vegetables look rather rotten before dinner.  If you remember from our last accounting of Bungalow food, we had two remaining white cabbage, with one especially tired.  I mean tired, crinkly, going brown.  Yet, shed those worse outer layers and what was inside remained highly edible.  Not edible for my world famous garlic-y lemon cabbage salad, but very edible for boiling and buttering.  And that fennel, it had gone mostly brown too; the fronds limp beyond any use.  It was not a dish for salad either, but fennel is a lot more useful cooked than sometimes expected.  Especially if you do what the Local Mom did.  Gratin it.  I mean you grate some good local cheese, find some bread crumbs in the freezer, butter, an oven, you would hardly know how decrepit it looked twenty minutes earlier.  Eat your local old vegetables.

The Local Family had been knee deep in preparing a meal for 150.  It left us without much time for blogging or eating-in.  So, do not expect to see much movement in the inventory below.   We did recently pick up a very large bag of local cornmeal and a smaller bag of local buckwheat.  At a Whole Foods in Milwaukee, we bought more rutabagas and more sunchokes grown by Harmony Valley Farms of Wisconsin. 

UPDATE: Working her way through the stocks of old veg, Ms. Local Family created a puree with dinner last night.  “Mashed rutabaga,” she said.  “Rutabaga’s not this white,” I said emerging from my attic office.  Mmmmmmm.  We tracked down the peels.  Kohlrabi.  She had grabbed a large kohlrabi from our basement fridge.  Kohlrabi.  Is there any more questioned item in the CSA box.  And the chief question always being, why do farmers always grow so much kohlrabi?  It actually makes sense.  For one thing, as last night’s dinner proved, it’s fine new or old.  It’s a keeper.  For another, those odd green orbs are really quite good.  To get the puree, my wife boiled til tender, tried to mash but found the food processor more apt, and seasoned to taste with cream, butter and nutmeg.  It was all quite sweet with barely a whiff of  cabbagey-sulfur.  I will say there were a few stray bits of woody parts.  If you have a restaurant, run it through a tamis.  This old veg thing is working out quite well.

Basement Storage

  • Winter Squash – acorn (3), carnival (2), spaghetti, pie pumpkin, butternut (2), red kuri (2), blue triamble (2), Australian butter, galeux d eysines, big ass orange
  • Red onions – 25 lb bag, untouched + 3 or so loose 
  • White onions – 6 or so, about 1 lb
  • Canned tomatoes – whole, sauce, puree
  • Spiced peaches
  • Peach chutney
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Misc. pickles, jams, jellies
  • Dried beans
  • Local oats

Basement Fridge

  • Cauliflower
  • Fennel (3) – very tired – Update – used
  • Leeks (5)
  • Daikon (5)
  • Red cabbage (3) – one very tired
  • White cabbage  – Update – used the very tired one
  • Kohlrabi (5) - 1 very large, 4 small – Update – used one large
  • Cranberries – 4 1 lb packages
  • Turnips (15) – assorted
  • Carrots (35) – assorted – Update – used about five in a dish of glazed carrots
  • Beauty heart radishes
  • 3 1 lb bags of assorted cultivated mushrooms

Basement Freezer

  • Frozen fruits – blueberries, grapes, cherries, peaches
  • Frozen veg – peas, corn, greens, pureed squash, tomato puree, dried tomato
  • Local meat

Kitchen Fridge

  • Leek
  • Jalepenos (6) -
  • Daikon – UPDATE: a bit left
  • Parsley root (2)
  • Turnip
  • Homemade quince-apple membrillo
  • Bosc pears – Update – last eaten on 2.1.10
  • Local eggs


  • Garlic (5)
  • Black walnuts
  • Dried fruits – strawberries, apricots, peaches


Root Cellar in the Sky

  • Apples – 25 lbs – Including Northern spy, red delicious, yellow delicious, winesap, honeycrisp, mutsu, gala, granny smith - Update: go through ‘em constantly
  • Potatoes – 40 lbs – 20 lbs or russet or related, 5 lbs yukon gold, fingerlings, all-blue — no reds oddly enough -
  • Sweet potatoes – 1 lb
  • Rutabaga (5) – Update – added three 
  • Turnips (15)
  • Beets (10) – Update – used four in a pasta dish, but these were beets we previously un-accounted, so total remains the same
  • Carrots – 7 lbs
  • Chestnuts – 1 lb
  • Sunchokes - 6 lbs – Update – added 2 more lbs
  • New – 25 lb of local corn meal
  • New – 5 lb local buckwheat

One Comment

  1. This is a profoundly important point. A significant portion of the foodservice and residential waste stream is food gone past it’s prime that is still edible-even nourishing. On a family, household and community level we must reduce that waste portion. We can’t count on the commercial sector to do this.
    I am suggesting “community foodservice” as a viable option for supplying prepared dishes in a community and co-operative manner. It could be in a church kitchen or a commercial storefront, but it would be patently non profit. This model would be ideal for catering to low and moderate income people and families, and would typically aspire to “soup kitchen” its leftovers before adding them to the waste stream.

    The menus would be based on seasonal, local, regional, historical and traditional foodstuffs and products. My particular passion also includes nutrient-dense nutrition utilizing things such as coconut oil, full fat dairy and most types of sustainable, pastured meats, broths and “offals”. I will also encourage- and suggest the profound need for- the availability of fermented and preserved local and seasonal foods from the vegetable, dairy and meat categories.
    My intentions to help create such a creature are just beginning to take shape after many years(a lot of them in the foodservice industry). I hope anyone reading this will look at the newly formed Facebook page “Community Supported Kitchen Chicago”, and remind the group of any local, seasonal or food justice event that seems to tie in. It is intended as a vehicle for networking, generating meetings, organizing a fundraiser dinner… and whatever should happen next. Thank you, Chris Carollo

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