we’re nibbling little fresh bits from our garden here and there still- brussels sprouts, our first artichoke, and the tomatoes that are still ripening in the windowsill, finally pulled off their vines and rescued from the ensuing cold. certainly there will be greens for a while yet- kale and chard are such mainstays. there are beets and leeks we can pull at our leisure. and parsley, good old parsley.
as we move into the season of dreaming, of living off the pantry we have stocked with the abundance of our gardening season, we attended a fill-your-pantry market in our area. ok, it was 66 miles away, barely within the 100-mile diet radius, but it is the only thing of its kind within that radius. it was everything i imagined, and more crowded than i would have guessed! i have this dream of building the same phenomenon here on the coast… while we are about to launch our first winter farmer’s market here in lincoln county, we have a serious lack of staple foods grown locally. our market will allow locals to buy local greens throughout the winter, and other odds and ends, but a woman cannot live on green smoothies alone. what really fills our bellies all winter is staple crops, and for us on the coast, that means buying non-local goods. they just aren’t grown here. (yet!) i do my best to get things from as close to home as i can, and when i special order bulk grains and beans from our food coop, they sometimes come from the willamette valley… but other times i am blindsided (the black beans are from china! goodness, bananas are more local than that!) we eat less rice these days, more potatoes… it’s a work in progress, one of mindfulness, making possible such tantalizing dinners as the burrito shown below that quinn can be seen super-enjoying the other night. (fried potatoes, eggs, cheese, whole wheat tortilla. lots of local cilantro in mama’s! the tortilla was all the way from eugene, though who knows where the ingredients came from…. sigh! on my wish list is a tortilla press… oh yeah, and a grain mill!)
(sometimes he’s extra tired after overnights with dada and falls asleep a little early- new schedule working out great other than that!)
the fill-your-pantry market fills a niche that i see as wide open here in lincoln county- waiting to be filled. there we found bags of oats, barley, wheat, flax seeds, rye. eight-pound wheels of raw goat cheese. corn for flour, corn for cornmeal, wild rice, and gourmet-looking soup beans of all sorts of multicolored heirloom varieties. honey by the gallon (i have always wanted to own one gallon of honey- my day has arrived!) garlic, potatoes, winter squash by the box. beets and parsnips sold packed in sawdust in buckets- all ready for your root cellar. it was heavenly! it was amazing to see all the abundance, and heartening to see how quickly some of it was selling out! (also a little scary, thinking more in terms of local food security, but heartening for the farmers who were making a living that day!) as a consumer but also an aspiring farmer, there was a lot for me to pay attention to that day. when i paid for my bucket-o-wheat berries, the woman behind the table turned to the man next to her who had sold them to me and said a quiet, “congratulations.” seeing that i had overheard this exchange, she smiled and explained, “he’s really into those buckets!”
me too! (i hope i’m not the only one, but proud to have been the first!) quinn’s chosen purchase was a set of pure beeswax candles, which smell just like honey and he is pretty sure that is what they’re really made from. we had such fun enjoying jack-o-lantern lit dinners recently that i think candlelight dinners will be a big theme of this dark part of the year.
(random photo of our acorn harvest, soaking to leach out tannins…)
it’s got me pondering what i want to grow, when i can grow larger quantities. what staples will do well here in our coastal climate? if we ate a 5 mile diet, would it all have to hinge on potatoes? can we do grains and beans out here? it was thought that only soft white wheat would grow in the valley, but apparently farmers are finding their way to growing quite a variety or varieties. what nuts will grow? (nuts were missing from the fill-your-pantry event, though i imagine they will come along as like-minded folks get their hazelnut groves grown up to maturity.) i have definitely got my research ahead of me on all of this… lots of winter reading ahead, as we enjoy our somewhat-more-local grains, barley soup, calypso bean burritos, tiger’s eye bean chili, homemade granola bars from local oats and flax seeds, and a large dollop of honey. and also a bit of experimenting with eating the few handfuls of beans we did manage to grow (scarlet emperor runner beans, aztec half runners and jacob’s cattle), the wheat berries that survived from our wheat-grass easter basket, the popcorn that might have to become the coastal staple of choice- i could think of worse things to subsist on…