Finishing Our Food – Inventory Report

March 9, 2010 at 10:02 am

Rob Gardner

What do I say more often than anything on the Local Beet.  It’s this: the reasons to eat local do not end once the days get shorter.  So, my Local Family tries to eat local no matter what the time of year.  Sure we eat some seasonal citrus and maybe a tropical fruit here and there in the winter, but for the most part our meals are as local now as they were when the CSA boxes came full.  We eat local all the time because we make the effort to eat local all the time.  That effort means putting aside a great deal of food to last us through the winter.  And what’s tricky is knowing when to finish the food put aside.

It’s a tricky act going through stored foods.  Our primary goal is to continue to eat local foods.  If we put away local foods, we get to continue to have local foods.  We need enough local food then to last us until enough new foods arrive in Oak Park, say late April.  Yet by early March, we face two challenges.  First, we lose the natural conditions that make it possible to store foods.  Our root cellar in the sky warms up.  Second, some foods stored under good conditions, still start get icky.  We have onions kept in a perfectly dry, dark location sprouting madly.  Some root vegetables make it better than others.  The Local Family had enough food to make it to this point, and now the Local Family needs to eat the rest of its stored food before it’s too late.  It’s kind of like a hotel putting their rooms for bid on Priceline.  They have value, they have value, and then bizaam, they have no value.  This week the food tastes fine.  Next week it is (could be) compost.

Like a lot of the tales of the Local Family, I serve merely as the scribe.  The hard work I leave to my wife.  She’s been attacking the stores the last week or so.  First, she made a big ol’ mash-up.  Then, she sauteed the remaining Brussels sprouts.  For the mash, she isolated all of the edible, if gross turnips, a few rutabagas from a supply still mostly fine, and some potatoes a bit too green in the skin.  By the time she set down her peeler, you would think these vegetables arrived yesterday.  Well, maybe not, but a little boiling, a little milk, maybe more than a little butter, some nutmeg, and who cared the age.  The mash lasted us several meals, including once fried up with turkey as a kind of hash.  The Brussels sprouts, freed of their outer coating tasted just fine too.

Not content, she also took her peeler and her steamer to work on some really old kohlrabi, that most maligned of CSA inclusions.  Yet count me as someone never going to malign a kohlrabi again.  Here’s a veg that can turn a bit gray and gnarly on the surface yet put fourth great taste so many months later.  After steaming til soft, the kohlrabi were peeled and used in a farro casserole.

Yesterday, she tackled a large batch of carrots and parsnips that she will roast today.  She also did the heavy lifting on a few of our squash in advance of final preparations.  You can see what’s left below.  As it warms up, the items left in the attic will have to go to the basement or the basement fridge.  You will notice in few cases, we probably waited to late.  Sometimes the time to have had something was yesterday.  To supplement, we can find local apples probably for sure.  We are desperately in need of a trip to Cassie’s Green Grocer for some indoor grown rocket or lettuces.  We think we have a trip to Madison on the agenda in a few weeks where we can pick up some needed garlic.  This is definitely the trickiest time of year for a locavore, but we think we can make it.

Basement Storage

  • Winter Squash – acorn, pie pumpkin, butternut (2), blue triamble (2) – Used a carnival; the Australian butter and galeux d eysines are about ready to be used.  We had to toss the spaghetti squash
  • Red onions – About 1/3rd of our 25 lb bag of red onions remains but several have sprouted; there are a few other red onions around that are in good shape
  • White onions – 4 or so, about .75 lb
  • Canned tomatoes – whole, sauce, puree
  • Spiced peaches
  • Peach chutney
  • Dried mushrooms
  • Misc. pickles, jams, jellies, relishes
  • Dried beans
  • Local oats

Basement Fridge

  • Cauliflower – still there but we kinda blew it on this
  • Leeks (5)
  • Red cabbage (3) – one very tired
  • Turnips (15) – assorted
  • Carrots – assorted - All the carrots left downstairs have been peeled in anticipation of roasting them soon
  • Beauty heart radishes – see cauliflower above

Basement Freezer

  • Frozen fruits – blueberries, grapes, cherries, peaches – used some fruit is a crisp last Friday
  • Frozen veg – peas, corn, greens, pureed squash, tomato puree, dried tomato
  • Local meat – Used ground pork and ground lamb for a meat pie and a smoked turkey for a pot of white beans

Kitchen Fridge

  • Leek
  • Parsley root (2)
  • Turnip
  • Homemade quince-apple membrillo
  • Local eggs
  • Assorted cheeses
  • Smoked trout


  • Garlic – Like 1/2 head left, not good
  • Black walnuts
  • Dried fruits – strawberries, apricots, peaches


Root Cellar in the Sky

  • Apples – Rapidly finishing up the apples.  Went through the big bag of honeycrisps; some Northern Spy used in crisp
  • Potatoes – Roasted all of the fingerlings, used some of the misc. white potatoes in the mash described above leaving us mostly russets and some all blue
  • Rutabaga (4) - Mashed several 
  • Turnips (6) – Ditto
  • Beets (10) -
  • Carrots – 3 lbs
  • Chestnuts – 1 lb
  • Sunchokes - 8 lbs -
  • 25 lb of local corn meal
  • 5 lb local buckwheat

One Comment

  1. artjackson says:

    How I’d love to raid your pantry!

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