Sunday, January 30, 2011

Oh! Now I have guilt!

Does January officially have 45 days? This month feels like it's never ending. The Holidays are over, the thermometer reads -30C and all I can see out my window is snow. I suppose that's all part of being Canadian. Then there's the flu, the ear aches, the tummy aches and all the other bugs that make you feel under the weather and make you want to stay under the covers and hibernate the winter away. 

Not sure if it's like this in your house but here, whenever we're run down by winter bugs, we always seem to come up with a new resolution: gonna wear an extra sweater under my coat (until I'm at the bus stop and realize I didn't), gonna do more exercise (as soon as I *feel* better), gonna go to bed earlier (yeah, right!), gonna eat more fresh fruit... wait! what? in winter???  Not if mommy-the-local-produce-obsessed-household-grocery-shopper has anything to say about it. 

Apparently "fruit" means: melons, grapes, pineapple and berries (all kinds - not frozen) and not the apples (local), bananas (my token acceptable year-round imported fruit), or oranges (currently in season) which are in my house. So... what's a mom to do? Offer beets and turnips? Epic fail. Sure enough, during my Saturday morning grocery run, what do I see at the entrance of the store? Blueberries (from Chile - gasp!) 3 pints for $5!!! The offer is too good to pass up!! For the sake of sanity I am standing 2 meters away from them contemplating the pros and cons. There is no way $5 for my 3 pints covers the entire cost of transportation or the farmer's wages, plus think about the Greenhouse Gas emissions, the pesticides, the freshness (surely they were not picked yesterday)... Yes. All of this is going through my mind because of blueberries in January. I finally suck it up and put the 3 pints in my cart. As Rex the big green dinosaur from Toy Story says so well: Oh! Now I have guilt!! I may have broken out into a cold sweat. I felt like I was wearing the scarlet letter. I turn to my Twitterverse and tell my followers that I might get struck by lightening because I am buying blueberries. 

I got home and guess what!?! Everyone is thrilled to have blueberries. So now the boys are going to be eating fruit all week. That's not such a bad thing is it? They eat their apples (most of the time), they find oranges messy and even in the banana container, my 5 year old still manages to make a banana mushy and won't eat it. A bit of change in the routine might do them some good. 

As for me, did I get over my sinful purchase? Not really. It just seems so wrong to have fresh berries in winter. But I did realize one thing, I need more freshness in my kitchen. So what did I do? I signed up for not one but two CSAs.What is a CSA? Consumer supported agriculture. You can read about it here. One is a local farm that delivers fresh produce year-round (even in winter - thanks to its greenhouses) and cellared vegetables. I can't wait to see what I get! I will certainly have a post about my first CSA experience. The other is meat and eggs and it's only for the summer. I have written a post about the Rock n Horse farm before and I only have wonderful things to say about their meat. Somehow I think perhaps these blueberries were put there for a reason, as a reminder that even in winter, local farmers are in need of our support. They're also a reminder that everything in moderation is good for the body and good for the soul.  

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Root vegetables... not chips.

As the second week of January begins and we finish (only) the third week of winter (hard to believe), the local produce in the grocery store is scarce and can seem boring. That is until you bring it all together, with a help of a few extras! 

In my last post I mentioned that I would try root vegetable chips. I am sad to report, those were an EPIC failure. I bought rutabaga, beets, carrots and parsnips (all available from Ontario at the moment) and sliced them with the thin setting on my mandolin. I made an industrial quantity of the stuff. Add a bit of olive oil, some sea salt and some dried rosemary from my garden and I thought for sure I had a winning recipe. No such luck. The slices either burnt to a crisp or never crisped after cooling. So I scraped the batch. As the old saying goes, there are no mistakes in the kitchen only composting opportunities! I washed off my mandolin, reset it to the thick setting and tried again. Smaller batch and no rutabaga. These didn't burn but they also didn't crisp. I still don't know what I did wrong and I was so disappointed. I've done potatoes the same way and I've always succeeded. I will try again, when I have a spare hour or so to dedicate to another attempt. 

The second batch wasn't completely ruined however as I chopped them up and added them to a dish of stewed lentils with bacon (local), spinach (not local but organic) and some canned tomatoes (product of Canada). ~ Side note: always check the origin of the canned product. Sometimes they can be made from Canadian and imported products or sometimes the country of origin isn't even listed. Why don't they list the country of origin? So frustrating! ~ The lentil dish was very tasty and those roasted carrots and beets made the dish very colourful. Even the boys ate the dish and probably didn't even realize they were eating beets ;)