Squirrels in the Attic, Sun in the Mudroom and Other Worries About a Winter Ahead

November 10, 2011 at 10:55 am


I like the Evanston Farmer’s Market. I like it about as much as any farmer’s market in the Chicago area. It is one of the few places one can get organically grown local apples. It is the only place to get the bio-dynamically grown variety of Henry and his farm (along with the nickel bag). It has some of my other favorites like Nichol’s Farm and Green Acres. There’s cheese and other dairy from Trader’s Point Creamery, and there’s a lot of other stuff from an assortment of area farmers. There are no donuts. And even if there were donuts, my wife’s planted, with car, at Oak Park. What Evanston is to top Chicago area market, the Oak Park to Evanston journey is to Chicago area schleps. Except last week she planted her Tomato Mountain flag in Evanston, and I made the long trek out there.

Where’s the squirrels?

We’ll get to that. Before getting out to Evanston, my wife and I talked about household needs. Where did we stand for the coming months. As you can see below, we stand well given the circumstances. We did decide we needed something. Sweet potatoes, sweet potatoes are one of the few things that have not shown up in our Tomato Mountain CSA, and for whatever reason, we have not taken to buying them yet this year. With Thanksgiving ahead, we needed sweet potatoes. I made good use of the Evanston vendors, buying an assortment of sweet potatoes, heirloom and straight, yellow, white and orange, big and skinny from Henry, from Green Acres and from Geneva Produce. I have more stuff to store.

Storing food has been a challenge so far in 2011. It’s all that damn nice weather. Every extra bit of Indian summer just makes me stew over the fate of my fruits. To allow the apples in the sky the ability to thrive, I’ve taken to opening the attic window. Unfortunately, this allows the squirrels the ability to enter, and those neighborhood varmints have taken a liking, not just for local apples, but for the highest price, most exclusive local apples. The went after our Northern spys! My wife, the Other Cookbook Addict, insists we keep the windows closed. I’m thinking I just move my office in there, you know wi-fi, and scream at any squirrels that enter.

With attic problems, we’ve taken to putting a lot of our stuff in our over stuffed “mudroom” outside the kitchen. As this room is un-heated, it is fine now, although in a month or so from now, it will probably be too cold. Root cellaring requires cold but not freezing. I’m telling you, the hardest part about eating local year-round is the moving of food and in-gathering of food. We’ve got bushels of onions here that will have to be bushels of onions there. We have potatoes up there that require a StairMaster output each time they are to be used. And then, of course, there is the rooting around for bags in the basement fridge. If only it all looked like this. Alas, we do not have an old dark-room converted root cellar. We just make do.  Since we believe in the worth of eating local, we believe in trying to eat local year-round.  We fully believe, based on experience, that we can do it by putting aside food.

You can see our previous inventory report here.  Our current inventory of local food looks like this:

Kitchen Fridge

Cauliflower – remnants of a big, white head mostly already used
Turnip (white “hakurei”) – a lot
Sweet and hot banana peppers – waiting to be roasted and marinated
Hot peppers (habaneros) – 5
Homemade quince-apple membrillo
Local eggs
Asian pears – 10 or so
Radishes (long red Japanese “shunkyo”) – a lot
Broccoli – tons
Zucchini – About 3 weeks ago, I purchased some of the last zucchini for stuffing, but we never used that way, now they sit
Red cabbage (2) – small
Cucumbers – A few left
Home-made harrissa
Herbs – parsley, mint, cilantro
Local grains

Kitchen, Dining Room, Living Room

Winter squash – (delicata, acorn, butternut, blue hubbard, blue “cindarela”, pie pumpkins)
Garlic (10)
Apples – ongoing supply
Pears – only a few left
Tomatoes – the last
Bell peppers – (yellow, red, green) – 8
Hot peppers – (jalepenos) – several
Red onions – (6) – large
Dried herbs (marjoram, oregano)
Red onions – a few
Shallots – several
Watermelon – Family fight over including this, because some of us our embarrased we have not eaten it yet.


Yellow onions – (medium and large) – 1/2 bushel
Cranberries – 1/2 bushel, less 2 pies and one cake’s worth
Sweet potatoes (assorted) – many


Canned tomatoes – whole, sauce, puree
Spiced peaches
Peach chutney
Dried mushrooms
Misc. pickles, jams, jellies, relishes
Dried beans

Basement Fridge

Cauliflower – 1 each, romesco, cheddar
Leeks (6)
Kohlrabi (12)
Green beans
Local grains
Bok choy/tatsoi – probably more than we can ever get to

Basement Freezer

Frozen fruits – blueberries, grapes, cherries, peaches
Frozen veg – pureed squash, tomato puree, dried tomato, caponata, prepared green beans
Local meat

Root Cellar in the Sky

Potatoes – (assorted including fingerling, red, russets) – not quite enough
Carrots – (assorted) – several
Apples (mutsu, Northern spy)