Posts tagged california
Posts tagged california
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here. To be honest, the winter months left me uninspired and a little sick of the repetitive nature of the citrus and squash options.
Well, the sun is back and so are berries, peaches, and lots of other delicious, fleeting options to shake things up. Went back to the market today and enjoyed cooking a bit as well. Two things I hadn’t done in a while…
Hope that June finds you well!
January with Supermarkets - Week 2 and 3 of the Self-Imposed Challenge
No, I didn’t make it a whole month without supermarkets. After somehow escaping the flu that had been spreading around my co-workers and friends for over a month, I finally found myself at home sick mid-January, missing the weekend farmers’ markets. I was craving fresh citrus and some greek yogurt to whip up an enlivening smoothie, but my kitchen was empty except for some wilting, earthy greens and roots. Oh, and nuts. So many raw nuts.
So, here we are after a quick trip to Safeway:
Personal lessons learned as part of the January resolution challenge
1) Sometimes, going to the supermarket will actually be the healthier choice. Yes, it may be a great goal to try to avoid supermarkets and focus on sourcing your food from farmers’ markets. However, when you run out of food and are starting to sustain yourself on raw nuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe you should give in and just go grocery shopping the now “normal” way. Nuts day in and day out do not represent any kind of healthy balance. I can’t wait to hit up the Whole Foods salad and veggie bar for lunch again, because health-wise, it’s bound to beat multiple slices of whole wheat bread with honey or nut butter on the days I ran out of time to cook…
2) Some things are worth buying instead of making. My “make your own nut butter” experiment ended in a total disaster and lots of money wasted on a cruddy machine that fell apart after a single use. Turns out, unless I want to shell out $200 for a fancy food processor, homemade results will likely be questionable and frustrating. Back to Whole Foods I go to grab the freshly-ground stuff there! Sometimes, convenience is key.
3) To get used to new foods, introduce them slowly. I bought fennel despite some initial apprehension, and rolled with it, making it a main ingredient in this recipe. However, another bulb of fennel arrived three days later via my CSA box. Dun dun dun. I was not happy. I live alone and thus cook for one, and there’s only so much I want to eat of a new food unless it blows me away the first time around. So, the second fennel is still sitting in my fridge rejected. Poor little thing. Again, that’s where something like the variety at Whole Foods comes in - I try new things all the time, but I just add a spoonful of new tastes onto familiar tastes. Less risk, less potential disappointment, and way more fun. It’s how I’ve vastly increased the variety of my diet over the past one to two years. It’s sustainable personal change. Going Full Monty on it, though, by eating 100% seasonally, was a little too much for me. That CSA-delivered avocado is still staring at me from the fridge —— it’s just TOO BIG.
So despite all of those shortcomings, what practical, more universal advice can I share?
These are the take-aways I’ll keep applying to my life:
1) Start your grocery shopping at the weekly farmers’ market, and only supplement your kitchen with supermarket purchases.
2) Try at least one new fruit or vegetable a week.
3) Don’t stick to any food rules too closely. Live a little. If you’re too limited, you’ll start making irrational choices. Too little salt, too little variety, etc. just because something is not in season. If a banana is a great on-the-go breakfast you know has worked for you, don’t shun it. Nope, it’s not local. Yep, it’s still healthy. How many mornings in a row can you eat yogurt with kiwi or oatmeal before you start missing variety? I WANT MY BANANA, and I want it now. Eat what feels right, fuels your body and is mostly natural, and you’ll be off the best. Balance, kiddo, balance.
In many ways, I am out of touch with where my food comes from. I can admit that I used to prefer meat in a shape completely unrelated to its natural form (think nuggets or patties instead of bone-in meat) and only touched vegetables with a sweet undertone or the faintest of flavors. Iceberg lettuce and I, to the horror of my holistic medicine Dr. mother, used to be real tight. Though now I make a substantial effort to eat locally, non-packaged foods, and am eating less meat instead of only that which doesn’t tell the story of its origin, I have always been a city mouse and have never had any connection to farming. In recent months, as I’ve found myself drawn more and more to farmers markets, organic foods and have even (gasp!) started to cook, though, I’ve become entirely fascinated with how we can individually and at large reconnect with our food, our roots and our health.
When I stumbled upon a tweet about CUESA’s Growing Inspiration Farm Tour, I signed up immediately. After much excitement on my part in weeks leading up to the event, we arrived at Catalan Family Farm on Sunday morning. The Catalan family welcomed us to a degree almost unheard of, allowing us to prance through their fields as they taught us the ins and outs of their farming practices in Hollister. In between trying lemon cucumbers in total disbelief (“What is that? What? Cucumber? No - it couldn’t be!”), eating a leaf of dandelion green straight from plant to hand to mouth (arugula spicyness x10) and feasting on the most vibrant, colorful spread of freshly picked, sliced and diced watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, salad, grilled corn, a variety of agua fresca, chips and homemade tomatillo salsa (another first!), I picked up so many different tidbits of information about farming, organic foods and general attitudes about eating and working. Without further ado, here are a few of the points that I wanted to share:
Catalan Farm & Family
Of course, I have several pages of notes from this tour, but I’ll cut it short for now.
Above all, this fascinating farm tour allowed me to see things I had never seen before. I didn’t know how a pepper plant looked or that a cold Northern California summer would do wonders for strawberries but leave tomatoes green. Granted, I was one of very few individuals in their 20s or 30s that had joined the tour. I think that’s precisely the problem. Yes, my mother would surely know these things, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. Have you? Has your child? I think it’s about time.
My extensive thanks go out to the Catalan Family Farm for welcoming the tour group with open arms, providing the freshest produce I have ever eaten, and sharing their wisdom with us. I cannot say enough positive things about this experience. They enabled me to learn with my ears, hands and tongue. “Try it!” was the response to every question about their produce. Hospitality at its absolute best.