Do We Do Anything Besides Count Our Food
Does not it seem lately that the Local Family column is an homage to the Book of Numbers in the Torah. Just endless lists. Don’t we want to move on the Deuteronomy, where we can brush up on the eating local laws, as well as finish the story? Or at least get some ideas on what we do with all that food we tuck away around the bungalow.
I’ll tell you up front, we use a lot of eggs. For instance there was that dinner last week. Mom baked eggs over locally sources corn grits, and garnished with frost-kissed winter spinach.
Did I say eggs. Or did I mean spinach. This was dinner two nights ago. We used recently purchased spinach in a Rick Bayless inspired wilted salad with C&D Pastured Pork chorizo and cubed apples (the apple’s substituting for the jicama in Bayless’s recipe).
Brewing for tonight, locally raised beef braised in Chicago lager, accentuated by storage turnips, carrots, and leeks. We would have eaten this last night if it was ready, but instead had to improvise with pesto from the freezer and a side of local mushrooms browned in the pan.
It seemed like for the longest time we did not need to brew up anything new because we were working and working and working our way through a pot of Michigan beans my wife cooked up with a large Wettstein smoked pork shank. In fact, after a while, she pureed the beans into soup. She made soup partially for a first course in a dinner she was trying to impress her brother with, but mostly to trick us into keeping on eating it. Those grits mentioned above, they came from this dinner too, where they served as the n’, in shrimp n’ grits. Who cared anyways if the entree was shrimp, the meal also featured a salad of winter cabbage, the now famous sauteed turnips, and a soon to be famous “hypocrite” pie of apples and custard.
Like shrimp, rice is not local to our area, but as the Local Family believes in a practical approach to eating local, we include things like them in our diet. And when the Local Mom makes rice, she makes almost as much rice as she makes beans. The first of it supported leftover Chinese food, but the second batch went with Kim Snyder’s Faith Farm bacon, freezer peas, and a local duck egg for fried rice. Leftovers from that, I made into rice salad with Wisconsin feta, salad turnips, and far-away anchovies. See how local food works.
We eat local all winter using a combination of foods stored and preserved and foods obtained over the season. Use what works for you. Use what you have. It helps to have made arrangements ahead of time so there’s a package of pesto from a fall market or you have several heads of cabbage in your fridge, but you can also hit one of the Chicago area markets for the mushrooms and spinach. We don’t just keep local food. We use it too.