Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 26, 2008

Before Winter

21 little local honey bears for the winter




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.

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17 Comments:

At 1/27/08, 2:19 AM, Anonymous sher said...

Oh, those pictures are so lovely. I really love the little bears full of honey--they made me smile immediately!

 
At 1/27/08, 6:57 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Thank you Sher, the little honey bears made me smile too :)

 
At 1/27/08, 11:38 AM, Blogger Hazza said...

COuld you not buy dried chillies where you are? Seems such a chore to have to dry them. Maybe you can mail order them. I normally buy chilli and garlic fresh, the former will last 2 weeks in the fridg while the garlic will last months.

 
At 1/27/08, 9:13 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hi Hazza, I could buy some cheap at a local Asian market, but the ones I got fresh from a local farmer are really flavorful and it was fun to learn to dry them! :) Also, thank you so very much for the Char Siu recipe, it sounds good, and I will try it in the spring when I can cook outside. I only have an oven (as you said, it does dry out meat) to cook with during the winter.

 
At 1/28/08, 8:58 AM, Blogger Eric and Katie said...

We are starting to get into the stocking up for winter thing as well. The honey is a great idea ans the dried peppers sound like a good solution. We usually pickle a bunch of peppers. The hard thing is our lazy chickens, who stop laying when it gets cold. You get used to fresh eggs. We could try pickling eggs, but there are only so many pickled eggs I can eat. Kate's big thing is marinara. When tomatos are at the height she makes a couple of gallons and freezes it in ziplocks. We're still using some from last summer.

 
At 1/28/08, 11:34 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hello E and K, How many pecks of pickled peppers did you pick? Pickled eggs, I have never had one, but I am impressed that you preserved your eggs that way. At least winter is so short here, the gals will start laying eggs again soon. Now, I am seriously jealous that you have gallons of sauce put up. I could only swing about 1 gal. in my little freezer, and I am using the tomato sauce sparingly through this winter.

 
At 1/28/08, 5:02 PM, Blogger winedeb said...

Oh Lannae, seeing those beautiful eggs reminds me of my summer in Ohio this past year. Every Sat. I would get such wonderful eggs from one of the farmers. The yolks were sooo orange and the flavor was too much! I miss that!
As for those hot peppers, I grow cayannes here in containers and they go wild! Hubby loves hot and spicy foods so we have quite a variety of peppers for the pickin'!
I love the photo of the honey bears, too cute!

 
At 1/28/08, 6:25 PM, Anonymous Nicole Sauce said...

I wish I had known you were dying for spicy foods at that time - Mark and I were positively DROWNING in hot peppers last May.

This year, we bought a local pig with some friends and a Lamb - the Lamb was definately the best deal. I might get two next year... Uhm - let me know if you need a local lamb chop...

 
At 1/28/08, 6:29 PM, Anonymous Nicole Sauce said...

One more thing on the local food topic: If everyone in the world only bought local and food was never shipped, what would happen in regions with devastating crop failures?

This question has plagued me for years ...

I do not mean this in a bad way - just wondering.

 
At 1/29/08, 9:27 AM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hi Winedeb, thank you for noticing how cute the honey bears were. I left them on the counter for a few weeks before putting them away because they were so cute all lined up. I have a very shady and tiny lot that I live on, but this year I think I am going to try and plant a potted pepper plant to see how it goes. I love peppers!

Hey NS, yeah, I used hot red peppers in nearly everything, including some desserts. If you have a ton this year, let me know! About the pig and lamb, I would like to do that, but I have a really limited freezer, plus you live really far out now! I mean Houston is really far! LOL. Just kidding. The other phiilosphical question - the answer - famine.

 
At 1/30/08, 2:15 PM, Blogger katiez said...

Like you, I don't think I could store enough onions and garlic for the winter... I suppose I would have to start using more cautiously. The herbs, though, I've got down pretty well. Thank the kitchen gods I have a freezer... it's full size and all that goes into it is vegetables!

 
At 1/30/08, 6:55 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hello KatieZ, ah, I see you have the same problem I do - really liking garlic and onion flavors all the time! I am glad you have a good freezer to help with veggies for winter. Too bad we don't have room for a full sized freezer in our small house.

 
At 2/1/08, 10:11 PM, Blogger cookiecrumb said...

This is so heartening.
It's all about planning and learning. Who cares if you makes misjudgments at first?
I was going to suggest growing your own peppers, but you probably use too many to make do with a dinky bush or two. Still, it would be gratifying.
Rock on.

 
At 2/2/08, 12:36 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hi Cookie, I was thinking of germinating some seeds from my dried peppers and growing them in pots. They may not give enough fruit to last me all year, but I agree, it would be gratifying!

 
At 2/6/08, 8:39 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

I've never dried peppers; that sounds like a great idea. I'll have to think about that next summer. I put some garlic in my basement, but unfortunately didn't buy nearly enough.

 
At 2/6/08, 2:25 PM, Blogger Lannae said...

Hi Lisa, I just strung the peppers up like garland, and hung them in a warm place to dry. Yum! Super easy, super convenient. This is the 1st year I dried peppers myself.

 
At 2/19/08, 5:13 PM, Anonymous Nicole Sauce said...

We are planting at least 20 pablano pepper plants and maybe another 10 jalapeno pepper plants this year and will share. We got enough peppers off 3 jalapenos to last the whole year so far and I gave tons away. Never thought I would long for drought again this summer, but it will help my peppers...

 

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