The Challenges of the Season this Menu Monday
Eat Local Problems
This Local Family has six members. The Condiment Queen of Tomato Mountain employ, two grown but homed daughters, their humble servant, me, and two critters. Moe the cat spends most of his days outside screeching at other cats that enter his territory and very much living the eat local life off area vermin; yes he’s be best locavore of the brood. But I call Molly, the last, the eat local dog. See, for sixteen years, we owned Shotzie, a fetch-crazed bulldog of a dachshund. Out for him meant opening and closing the back door. As we quickly learned, open the door for Molly meant thirty subsequent minutes of chasing her around the neighborhood since she could hop the fence. Yard out, we needed to walk Molly, and walk Molly a lot to work off all that hop over the fence energy. Where’s all this going? Walking Molly meant acquiring a wardrobe of tweed, Filson, you know all that rugged outdoors clothes to battle the elements. And country clothing makes me, at least, think of country living, long Sunday lunches that begin with soup and ends past the nuts with snifters of locally produced brandy. Everything I dreamt about in the eat local life became encapsulated in walking that dog. The walks these days, as you might have noticed, do not need quite as much of the hard wool, the scratchy stuff. It’s a warm November.
The locavore life challenges me this warm November. On one end, I made it to the end of my bell peppers this weekend. What you see up there is about all that’s left after roasting on Tamarday. As I believe I mentioned, at the last Oak Park Farmer’s Market I bought a ton of peppers with the idea of flame-roasting them and putting them up in oil. We always have more eat local plans than proceeds right? With a batch of peperonata from my second to last spot of peppers still taking up room in the fridge, I had been hesitant to work more peppers into the menus. That and the work involved in roasting peppers. So, I used a few peppers here and there in salads and such, keeping the rest around for a roasting day. That roasting day became nigh as nature started picking off the peppers. I lost about four to outright spoilage and about three more, I had to cauterize parts, leaving them too unstructured for roasting. They will be my salad peppers for about a week. One challenge I face this warm November is coping with my loss of peppers. I should say that I have about fifteen tomatoes left, and my problem is, that on one hand, I cannot face losing them too, but on the other hand, if I don’t eat them, they will be vulnerable to rot like those peppers.
I cannot let go of warm weather eating, but challenge number two comes from the fact that it won’t get cold. Normally by this time of year, I’d be stocking the root cellar in the sky and we would make good use of our unheated mudroom as an extra fridge. A bag of brussels sprouts turned mostly to mold that was in the mudroom showed the challenges I face. We do not want to eat all the food we have now, yet if we cannot put it away effectively, it’s a waste. The obvious answer to this challenge is to re-think the methods of preservation. I mean is global warming taking the root cellar out of the equation? Many parts of the world put away without the benefit of cold storage. I might need to freeze, pickle or ferment.
We live in cruel times, this Local Family. On one hand, cold weather removed peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, cukes and zukes from my menu. On the other hand, it cannot get cold enough to assist in the storage of carrots, cabbage, and radishes that are a pouring in from our CSA–last week we got watermelon radishes, which I like a lot, but we got like 18 watermelon radishes, how long does it take to eat 18 watermelon radishes? All six of us have been a Local Family for many years. Every time we think get the hang of it, we find new challenges.