Last winter I read Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology, I was reading food blogs including Cookiecrumb's, and reading Cookie's recommended eat locally group blog about eating locally on the budget of the average American. These three readings inspired me and my household to eat completely locally for one week in May. Well, the household had no choice because I am the primary cook in my house, so they either ate what I made or went out without me. I had no idea what I was getting into, and I was not prepared. The one aspect I was lacking in was flavoring for food. I could happily eat the same thing for a week, as long as the aroma and flavorings have variety, fun, and zip. The only flavorings that I had was a little bit of honey, and traditionally easy herbs to grow like oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage. I have been growing and drying these herbs organically for years, so I was thinking that these flavors would be enough. No, I miss my hot red pepper flakes, garlic, onions, spicy paprika, and savory curries.
The week long experiment was a success, and I continued on with incorporating local foods in every meal I make. It was fun during early spring and harvest fall with the bounty to be had at various Nashville farmer's markets. There were bulbs and bulbs of spring garlic and onions, there were fresh greens, carrots, and tomatoes. There were my peppers dripping off the plants, and herbs surviving the drought we had.
Each day last year as I bought locally grown garlic, onions and peppers, I thought about preserving them to keep for a long bland winter. With limited freezer space, I had to rely on old try and true methods of preservation: drying. I bought a bunch of spring garlic and onions and hung them for a few weeks in the dark shed closet we have out back. I didn't cure some of the garlic enough, and they rotted out. Luckily, I have a couple of garlic bulbs left to use. The onions amazingly lasted as long as I wanted to use them, but since I use garlic and onion for nearly every meal, the onions are gone. I feel like I remember a fable or story about the squirrel who did not stock up for winter and starved. I was really trying not to be that squirrel.
I bought hundreds of red peppers last fall, and dried them. AHHHH! I have hot spicy zip to my food for winter. These little peppers were a great success to dry. Thank goodness. During my week experiment in May, I had not one flake of pepper or hot spice to use. It was ok for a couple of days, but red hot peppers is the spice of life. The week after the experiment was over, I wanted flavorful, hot and spicy foods, like Prince's Hot Chicken, hot Thai and some hot Indian.
This winter, I have a couple more garlic bulbs, lots of dried red peppers, dried herbs, and honey to sweeten everything up. With these base flavorings, it is gonna be ok. Note to self for next year: get as many onions as possible and cure them for winter.
Labels: Eat Locally