Archive for the ‘seasonality’ Tag

Carrot Time   Leave a comment

As far as snack time goes, today was officially the first day of winter. Over a year ago I overcame my cracker “addiction” to switch to fruit and vegetable snacks as part of my pre-pre pregnancy prep, and since I only eat what I can get at the farmer’s market that means carrots in the winter. ( When I cracked open my container of carrots this afternoon “U Can’t Touch This” popped into my head, but I can’t write out the tune, so I put it in the title instead.)

We’re lucky here in the Sacramento area to have several year-round farmer’s markets so that we can always eat seasonally locally. Not everything at the market is organic, but much is at least pesticide-free (the difference is that they haven’t gone through expense of certification or that they don’t follow other organic practices). I generally figure that even if they do use pesticides, smaller farmers probably use less than big monoculture farms. As a result, I focus more on eating local, rather than organic. In California the vendors at the farmer’s markets have to be from within the state, but stuff from southern CA is not exactly local to Sacramento. (That doesn’t stop us from buying the avocados, though). Most of the vendors at our market really are local and come from our county or a neighboring county. From the Delta to the Sierras that means multiple climate zones and growing seasons. So after tomatoes are done in the Delta, farmers in the Sierras still have several weeks of production. Thankfully that is true, because otherwise carrot snack season would have begun in early fall.

So I’ll have a few carrots (thin ones cut shorter, not “baby” carrots; scrubbed but not peeled to save time and maximize nutrients) every weekday from now until late spring. Then I will avoid carrots for a few months while feasting on snow peas, cucumbers, tomatoes, and bell peppers. As part of my afternoon snack I also make myself eat fruit, which varies similarly. It’ll really be winter for my stomach when there are no more apples. Then I’ll have oranges/mandarins/etc and kiwis. Long after the time that I am thoroughly sick of anything orange-y or kiwi-esque, spring will bring cherries. That’s the light at the end of the orange tunnel. Cherries, and then apricots, plums, and nectarines. Heaven must have year round stone fruits. 🙂

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Peaches and Cream Oatmeal   Leave a comment

This weekend it has been pleasantly cool again, allowing me to enjoy an occasional but treasured treat: peaches and cream oatmeal. Since I only eat seasonally, this dish requires a confluence of factors: a weekend so that I have the time to cook steel cut oats, cool weather so I won’t overheat the house, and fresh peaches in the market. It is an example of how eating seasonally does not just refer to what produce one eats, but what dishes as well. I know lots of people adjust somewhat to the seasons, for example by eating more salads in the summer than in the winter, or cooking outside (read: barbecue). With the use of air conditioning keep the house cool no matter what the other conditions are, such planning and seasonal adjustments are probably less common now than decades ago.

For me, adjusting like this also keeps the things I love special. I love oatmeal and other hot cereals, but if I ate them all the time I think I would get tired of them. Only eating them when the weather is cool introduces scarcity, which makes them more valuable experience (funny how some economics concepts translate to real life: scarce items have higher value than common items). In the late winter/early spring I start looking forward to more scrambled eggs/omelets/ breakfast burritos, which take the place of oatmeal since they require less cooking time; and then in the fall I get excited about returning to hot cereal. When doing meal planning, think about what’s fresh, how much cooking you want to do, what effect the cooking will have on the house (heating a cold house, overheating a hot house), and what your body craves (cooling salads or warm and filling casseroles)

I also encourage everyone to make their own hot cereal mixes and not be limited to what marketers create for us in the store. As kids we used to enjoy the occasional treat of M&Ms in our oatmeal. Now this past winter my flavor du année was dark chocolate/white chocolate. I swirled dark chocolate chunks or cocoa powder with sweetened white chocolate chunks. The white chocolate provided the sweetening and the richness, while the dark chocolate offered a hint of flavor. I also love chopped walnuts, sometimes with maple syrup for sweetening. To do nuts in your oatmeal, put them in when you first start warming the milk or water so that the nut oils can diffuse into the entire pot. Apple cinnamon is another occasional treat. When putting fresh fruit in hot cereal, chop the fruit when you start the cereal on the stove and put one third to one half of the chopped fruit in the pot near the start of the cooking so that the flavor and sugars disperse throughout. That fruit will also often partially disintegrate and add to the texture. Right before it is done cooking you add the rest of the fruit so that you get the fresh flavor and texture as well. When adding cinnamon to hot cereal there are two ways to do it: stick and powder. If you add a cinnamon stick when you first start warming the milk or water there will be an almost perfumy cinnamon flavor throughout the cereal, and if you add powdered cinnamon during or at the end there will be a more forceful cinnamon flavor.

Posted June 20, 2010 by mayakey in food

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