An Ode to Fresh Food
A blushing rose magnolia and a deep pink crabapple tree stand against the many greens of leafing trees. As a cool wind blows the clouds across a strong blue sky, I am settling in for spring. Everywhere I turn, there is an inescapable sense that the growing season is in high gear and nothing will stop it. And I am kind of excited about my sprouting artichoke seeds.
As nature grows, I start to think about fresh vegetables and fruits that come to us from local farmers. We are lucky to have a place in this town where local food is sold and bought. Our Goshen Farmers’ Market is one of the spots where I can see, choose and buy what is growing right now. And I can speak with the farmers that grow and harvest it. Rhubarb, asparagus and small onions are appearing alongside greens and micro-greens of various sorts. And that is just the start of the season.
When it comes to food, it’s easy to be lazy. Even though I am freer than I used to be, my schedule is still full. So how do I eat without the crutch of already made or processed foods? It’s all in the planning. I start my week by making lists: what do I want to eat, what can I use that is available locally, how do I work it into my schedule.
Many meals can be made in segments. Start one day, finish the next. This week, I made a chicken marinade using local chicken, then baked it the next day. It went into a green local salad made with local eggs one day, the next day it turned into a sandwich made with homemade bread. Today, it might get served hot with rice.
I am already eyeing a grilled cheese sandwich made with roasted asparagus for next week, and then an omelet with asparagus on the side.
Planning ahead is one of the keys for fresh eating. And, often, a simple meal brings out the best of these local ingredients. Let the flavours come through with minimal cooking, light seasoning, and great combinations. Since spring has sprung, I have access to fresh ingredients and I might as well use what the earth is giving me. Even at the grocery store, I can choose to shop the outer aisles and fill up on the fresh instead of on the pre-made boxes which are usually full of ingredients I don’t recognize.
And if I do go out to eat, I try to support those places that are cooking from scratch. When I worked at Rachel’s Bread, I discovered that many eating places just warm up pre-made food instead of making it from scratch with good ingredients. Now I try to find out where my food comes from. So here I go. Time to write out a weekly menu, make my list of ingredients, visit the farmers’ market and other local providers, and head to the kitchen to make, and then eat, good food. I have but one eating life to live and I intend to live it fully!