Y'know, even 'tho things are a little crappy lately, I am finding comfort in our new food routines. I wondered if we would want to stray back to packaged convenience when stressed, but it looks like the new patterns are really becoming set.
Fresh applesauce, Sunshine Jam, and a Faschnacht with molasses to dip it. What's a Faschnacht? It's a Pennsylvania Dutch potato donut, made for Shrove Tuesday. They call it Donut Day in some places, and local fire company Ladies Auxiliaries make huge batches that the volunteer firemen hawk at stop lights as fundraisers. My mother brought us a dozen today, apparently so we can pratice for Tuesday.
I indulged in a carrot muffin at a Wawa convenience store the other day when I filled the gas tank. I didn't like it. It was too sweet, too oily, and didn't have raisins or nuts or good spices. The fake cream cheese icing was heart-burn sweet. Bland. I've done nothing but think about good carrot cake muffins ever since. Today I peeled and grated the last of the fall carrots, and I'll make muffins tomorrow. I also made pear butter, applesauce, and Sunshine Jam today.
I can't wait for spring, but I really have been enjoying the winter food.
We are now good at making yogurt, stock, pizza and pasta sauce. We make a weekly pot of bean soup, and we are eating more cabbage and potatoes. I've added a weekly batch of applesauce, and a batch of sweet potato puree to have on hand for biscuits. I keep meaning to try other biscuit recipes, but the sweet potato biscuits are so good, and we get extra beta-carotene, too.
I find I am finally getting into the swing of putting together routine meals that come mostly from staples in our pantry. We make a weekly trip to the farmer's market for milk, pasture-fed eggs, cheese, apples, and greens. We hit a grocery store to stock up on a few loss-leaders every other week or so. I have a good idea of what I need to can/plant/store more of for next winter.
The supply of squash and sweet potatoes (all local) have held up well in the cellar this winter, and we still have a few left. The carrots, parsnips, and cabbage did well in the fridge (also local, but now gone). The white potatoes did not do well. There are a few sprouting ones I will plant. I ended up buying 10# bags of taters every few weeks. I didn't grow even a fraction of our onions, and none of the garlic, nor did I find local sources for those.
I have been making 2 quarts of applesauce almost every week. We've used massive amounts of eating and cooking apples this year. I guess that means I would have to make 100 quarts for a year for my pantry, if I went strictly with local apples in the fall, in addition to eating apples. The local ones I bought got eaten before we could test their cellar storage longevity.
But, there is this thing at the market. I've been going on Saturdays and asking one of the produce vendors if there are apple seconds. He usually gives me a box of bruised apples and pears for a few dollars. This week, I got about 10# of apples and 5# of Bosc pears for only ONE dollar! I have discovered that I need to go right home and make applesauce and pear butter, or the fruit flies go nuts. I brought fruit flies home on a pineapple, and they found the worm composting bin, and we have had trouble keeping them down ever since. I've been freezing the peels in a bucket out back instead of composting them, until we get the flies under control. When the ground thaws, I will trench-compost the thawed peelings.
These apples and pears are mostly not local, a mix of whatever gets culled each week, many from Washington State, a mere 2500 miles away. But they would be discarded if I didn't use them, I think. So, on one hand, I am not buying local, but on the other, I am reducing waste while saving loads of money.(I found a recipe for apple jelly that boils the peels to
make a pretty rose-colored jelly. I also want to try
making my own vinegar. Then I would *really* be
getting all I can out of an apple.)
I think the middle ground might be to make some local applesauce in the fall, and supplement it with the weekly throw-away apples. At least until that time in the future when shipping becomes so expensive that Washington apples don't come here anymore.
Anyone have arguments for a different solution? I do buy local produce regularly, and devote part of my grocery budget to doing so every week, directly from producers whenever I can. Should I be turning down produce from afar, as a point of principle? The dollar-stretcher in me would have trouble walking away from this apple deal.