Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Happy New (Fruit & Vegetable) Year 2012!

Slices of Purple Cabbage on Yellow Cutting Board
Cabbages are Still in Season
It’s a new fruit and veggie year! Our CSA (consumer supported agriculture) farm is distributing the first of our seasonal shares this week. It’s time for new veggies, new recipes, and new ideas for conserving energy, both personal and planetary. This year I’m also changing my blog format to be more user-friendly. Instead of a weekly list of my veggies and menus, I’ll be writing a monthly listing of seasonal veggies, menu ideas, and recipe links, so you can get all of your menu ideas from one page each month. As I write new recipe posts during each month, I’ll link them up from that month’s reference page. I would love to find a stand-alone app to create weekly menus. If you know of one, please share so we all can make weekly menus easily.

Like last year I’m making some New Veggie/Fruit Year’s goals (otherwise known as resolutions), and invite you to do the same to make your time in the kitchen more fun. Any kinds of foods you’ve been drawn to, wondered about, or wanted to explore lately? New and intriguing cookbooks? Ideas for getting out of the rut of making the same things week after week? Inspirations for conserving more energy around foods and cooking? Family recipes you’d like to make more healthfully? Veggies or fruits you’d like to grow or pick-your-own at a local farm? New sources that that you’d like to post a comment about? Let’s share some resources!

Seasonal Root Veggies and Leeks
My first goal is to conserve more water, in the kitchen and elsewhere. According to our water bill, we have reduced our water consumption by 50% since last year, partially by buying a super-low water use dishwasher instead of washing by hand, and by installing super-low-flow toilets. This winter’s drought has inspired me to do more. I resolve to get more conscious about reusing veggie wash water, using less water to steam veggies, washing the car only at a carwash (where water gets recycled), putting another bucket in the shower to reuse in the bathroom. I’ll continue to brainstorm about this. Post a comment if you have some ideas.

Last year I’d wanted to explore Scandinavian cooking and experiment with the fish and veggie recipes as well as the treats. Since I didn’t do it last year, I’m recommitting to check it out this year. Does anyone have a Scandinavian cookbook that they like to use?

Two Barrels of Culinary Poppy Seedlings
This year I want to start a garden! And I want it to be almost all in containers. Renee Shepherd kindly supplied me with some seeds. So far I’ve got Super Bush Tomatoes in my indoor mini-hothouse (seedling starter kit with heating mat), and two kinds of culinary poppies in large outdoor planters. This month I’ll be planting various herbs, both in the mini-hothouse and outdoors. Wish me luck, or better yet, give me advice!

Last year I explored my Polish cooking roots, using an eastern European cookbook and some “cooking from the garden” cookbooks. I’m still looking for a good borscht recipe, and have no idea what my Bopcha (grandmother) used besides beets, perhaps the ubiquitous cabbage? And still have not recreated my other grandmother’s (also Polish) apple cake. The search for Polish culinary wisdom continues!

Barrels with Larger Seedlings
Poppy Seedlings a Week Later
Last year I learned a lot about which fisheries are sustainable and which are not. My best resources are the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and “Fish Forever: The Definitive Guide to…Sustainable Seafood” by Paul Johnson. In particular I learned why salmon farming is so detrimental to native salmon populations and to the environment, and why salmon produced this way are so cheap (our tax dollars subsidize the industry). “Salmon Nation” is a short, content-rich, and inexpensive resource for this information. My goal is to write more posts about sustainable fishing practices in 2012.

My last goal for seasonal eating exploration this year is the same as last year: to connect with other locavores and seasonal cooks who strive to use environmentally friendly and sustainable ingredients. Let’s share recipes, gardening tips, and ecologically sound resources!

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