Local food in the doldrums


Around now, when we wake daily to a pale and chilly world, it’s tough to stay connected to our eat-local ideals. There’s nothing to speak of in the garden (see: disappointing cold-frame crops). There’s no CSA and no farmer’s market. And the local stuff at even the most local-farmer-friendly stores is really limited.

This is when an industrious summer and fall food preserver is feeling pretty good about herself: selecting jars of tomatoes or green beans from her basement shelf; cracking open jams and jellies from the heady days of June; pulling out squash and potatoes from a root cellar. I didn’t do much preserving in 2010, and it’s now that I feel the pain. No salsa! No pepper jam! And it looks like I gave away all the pickles.

We’ve been way into Indian cooking the last couple of years, and one of its advantages is that it can be very appropriate for wintertime eating–all those lentil-based dishes, with most of the flavor coming from ground spices. Recipes often call for hot peppers, which we have in the freezer, or not-too-out-of-season carrots and cauliflower.

The book that can make a locavore buy tomatoes in January.

The newest cuisine craze around here, though, is Mexican. I got a couple of Diana Kennedy’s cookbooks for my birthday and lordy, are these recipes good! And, well, full of summer produce. We found ourselves buying fresh tomatoes and jalapenos last week to make a bean soup; you couldn’t get more out of season than that. Perhaps we’ll have to build a greenhouse.

Otherwise, we’ve been making potato soups, pizza (with sauce from canned tomatoes), cabbage dishes, roasted turnips and yams…stuff like that. And we’re still getting one or two eggs a day from our chickens.

How are you making it through the winter eating season?