Tuesday, May 4, 2010
'What comes around goes around', 'what's old is new again', 'when I was your age'...We've all heard these phrases at some time in our lives, and it seems it's coming true for one of the basics of life - food.
With the economy not being as strong as it was ten years ago, we are looking to the past for answers. There's an increased interest in vegetable gardening, a rise in the sales of organic food, and farmers markets are popping up everywhere. (Sorry, but I couldn't help pass up a plug for our market.) One part of the 'old is new again' in food, is seasonal cooking. Not only does it remind us of how economical it can be, it reminds us of how good food used to taste, and how easy it is to implement.
For those who didn't live through the 1930's or were brought up keeping up with the Jones', you may not know what this means. While economy was the reason I grew up with it, there are also good memories attached to my seasonal way of life. For me, it brings back the memory of getting excited by the warmth of the Spring sun, and closely following that, the little shoots of green in our home garden. Throughout the growing season it involved eating food that was bursting with flavor, easy to make, and required few ingredients.
One of my favorite seasonal dishes required a bit of patience. Each Spring day, I would make a trip to the edge of our garden looking for signs of the sour, yet tasty stalks of our rhubarb plant. When the plant first emerges, it looks a bit strange to those who have never seen it before. But a few warm days later, it morphs into a plant with leaves that resemble the decorative elephant ear plant. Once we knew the stalks were at their tastiest, we'd head out to the garden to cut the stalks down. We'd cut them into small one inch pieces and put them in the freezer for use later.
A few weeks later, my mom would buy a couple of pounds of sweet strawberries from a local farmer. They were so ripe and juicy that we had to clean and cut them up outside. The berries were so juicy that my hands were stained red for a day for two. (Who wants dry strawberries with white empty centers?) And when we were least expecting it, we would have a surprise for supper - freshly baked rhubarb strawberry crisp.
It's funny how you look back and remember how great food tasted. And now that Mother's Day approaches, I feel bad that I complained to my mom that I wanted to eat the prepared foods other kids ate. Now that I'm an adult, I realize that we should do a better job listening to our parents. I digress...
While my mom did it mainly for reasons of economy, there are multiple benefits to cooking seasonally. So I say, get old fashioned and give it a try. And you don't have to have a full home garden to embrace this way of life. Just remember to schedule a visit to your local farmers market or check out the roadside stand on your next trip outside of town. Your pocket book will be spared, your kids will give rave reviews, and your mom will be so proud!
Posted by Farmers Market on Historic N 1st St at 9:48 AM