In mid-September, our family began what has turned out to be a fun and educational adventure in local eating. After months of canning, drying, and freezing every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on, after many talks with other local folks committed to eating Colorado-grown food, after many, many trips to the Farmer’s Markets, we thought we were ready.
We quit buying bananas, veggie burgers, avocados, and most other packaged foods (I have ended up letting my children pick one non-local item on each grocery story run. Most often that’s Pirate Booty or Fig Newmans and I can live with that!). We continued to make our own yogurt and started making our own butter and sandwich bread too.
And we started to eat out of our freezer and our pantry. I have to say, I was just sure we were going to run out of food and be desperate for veggies by April when the farmer’s market resumes here in Boulder County. So I am pleased to report that not only do we still have plenty of food (OK, enough food to last through spring and into summer when the “real” substantial vegetables start showing up at the market), but we’ve still got fresh stuff including garlic, onions, potatoes, winter squash, pumpkins, apples, carrots, cabbage, beets, parsnips, and rosemary (the rosemary, in fact, is still alive out in the garden despite a few weeks of really, really cold weather). And nobody (including Matt) has asked for bananas. Surprises all around.
Now it’s late January and I’m starting to plan the garden for this-coming season. I’ll be gardening a 50×50 foot plot with a neighbor this year in addition to the space I have in my own yard, so you can bet that a ton of the food that goes in our freezer this fall will be from our own efforts! This expanded space is going to let us plant things that were either scarce or expensive at the local market, including:
- Cauliflower – We’re addicted! And they never had enough for our needs at the market. Amazingly, this is the first vegetable that we ran out of this winter, and not because we didn’t freeze much–we did a good 20 pound case of the stuff, but we’ve been roasting it with onions, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts, salt & pepper for an easy and delicious side dish that even the kids will eat!
- Tomatoes – I could never have enough and have been
miserlyjudicious in my use of my dried tomatoes and canned/frozen sauce.
- Basil – Because you can never have enough pesto.
- Peppers – See basil, above 😉
- Tomatillos – Hello, $4 a pound?!
- Cilantro – Oh, the Gazpacho I’ll enjoy this summer…
In addition to these garden staples, I’m experimenting in two new areas this season: beer gardening and tea gardening. And no, that doesn’t mean drinking beer/tea while gardening (although I often do!). It means that I just placed an order for five different varieties of hops from The Thyme Garden Herb Company and that I’m going to have one heck of an herb garden this year in hopes of making my own tea with medicinal herbs like chamomile, bee balm, ginger, and lemon balm, and tasty stuff like spearmint and stevia.
Of course all of this means that I’ve got work to do, so I’d better stop blogging and get back to my gardening catalogs (poor me!).