>I credit my increasing foodie awareness to reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. As I’m planning supper and adding to the grocery list, I’m also thinking, “What do I already have in the house? What can I buy nearby or locally to enhance it?”
My beans are coming along slowly, a handful at a time. I’m not getting enough to cook as a side dish or freeze for later, so I’m just adding a few to each soup or stew I put together. Last night was one of those nights. The minestrone soup started with a little leftover stew diced up smaller, grew with the addition of a single serving of beef vegetable soup that was in the refrigerator. A can of tomatoes (mine aren’t ripe yet), a can of garbanzo beans, a handful of garden beans and the last few garden peas, diced peppers, onion, and the usual herbs – oregano, thyme, and basil made it complete. I brought it to a boil and then let it simmer until the fresh veggies were done, and it was ready to serve. It would have been a better local meal without the cans, but there are limits.
Then came the zucchini project. Four squash sitting on the cutting board just waiting to be of service, ready to be prepped for – well, for something. I peeled them, sliced them to fit in the food processor, then shredded all four. After I decided to bake chocolate zucchini bread (recipe will be posted soon!), I froze the rest. P.S. I snuck a little grated zucchini into the meatloaf, too.
Rhubarb! A few years ago I read that rhubarb was little or no good after July 4th. That summer I frantically harvested all the red rhubarb right after Independence Day, diced it, froze it. Then it kept growing. Yes, friends, the rhubarb came right back up and continued to thrive in its sunny spot next to the garage. I kept harvesting and baking it all the way into apple season. Apple rhubarb crisp tastes fabulous when both are fresh!
These days, I don’t fuss about getting the rhubarb in by July. I do pick it when the plants start getting outrageously large. I have a batch on the counter right now; I’ll dice it in the food processor, then bake something and freeze the rest, just like the zucchini.
Later in the year, maybe even when the snow falls, I’ll be able to bake zucchini bread and rhubarb muffins (whole wheat, of course) and have a taste of summer. All of this tasty pleasure happens because I’ve taken advantage of the locavore philosophy, incorporating more and more of my backyard garden and the local farmers’ market goods into my family’s diets.