18 August 2008

Local and Seasonal

En français ici.
I've been lucky enough to be eating a lot of fresh garden grown vegetables lately and it's got me thinking how important it is to eat food that's grown locally, and how sad I am not to have a garden where I can grow herbs and vegetables.

This weekend, I got to visit some friends of mine who not only have a wonderful garden, but also live in an area with a lot of farms and who have decided to buy as much fresh fruits and vegetables while they're in season and preserve them for the winter (by freezing, canning and dehydrating, mostly). They even bought a chest freezer for their pantry and in the two days that we were there they froze almost 4 quarts of string beans (bought for $5 at a farm stand) and a whole bunch of sliced peaches.

Even at my parents house, where things are much less methodical, as soon as we arrived we went out into the garden and then made a wonderful salad with fresh heirloom and baby tomatoes and garden basil.

I realize there are a lot of things I should learn -- canning for instance -- although I don't think I have a pot big enough at the moment. At least I might try to freeze some fresh fruits and vegetables for the winter, until my little freezer won't hold anymore... Also, I'm going to see if there's the kind of program in Paris where you subscribe and get a basket of fruit and veggies a week from a farm depending on what's in season.

Do any of you preserve food? Do you grow your own or buy from local farmers? Besides being much better for the environment (especially if it's organic), supporting local food is often cheaper with gas prices going up and up. I definitely recommend it!


Cicero Sings said...

I preserve whatever I can get my hands on ... unfortunately, we don't have too much local stuff as our growing season is so short.

I like to make my own tomato sauce and freeze it in one cup portions ... just the right size for two of us for a sauce etc.

I've frozen a few peas from my own garden this year but I need to grow a whole lot more if I wanted a winter's supply! Beets are coming on and I will pickle some of those, some will store, like potatoes in the cold room. My potatoes will likely last until January/February and I'm hoping the carrots I grow this year will too. I'm growing pie pumpkins to make pumpkin puree for muffins, loaves and pie ... even soup.

Tonight I ate a garden zucchini halved, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with spices and broiled for supper along with two small garden tomatoes and a side of pasta tossed with: sauteed (in olive oil and butter) onion, prosciutto, garlic and ring of habanero, deglazing the pan with White Vermouth and tablespoon of lemon. Finally tossing the pasta with parmiggiano and a bit of cheddar. Very tasty.

I really wouldn't want to be without my chest freezer. I have had one since I moved out on my own back in about '76. (prior I lived a couple of years with a family, then a couple of years with a couple of other girls and finally on my own for 28 years ... then I married D ... and he was worth waiting for.)

I'm 100% behind home grown and local grown if you can get it! The taste is fabulous.

Sam said...

I couldn't agree more that it is important to buy local and in season. We normally stock our freezer up with fruit when it's plentiful and cheap, we also pick wild blackberries for the freezer.
I've mean meaning to try bottling peaches as they're really good value at my local market right now I'm just no sure how to do it. Something for me to work out I suppose.
Good post.

Hopie said...

Cicero - I like to do that freezing in individual portions with pesto, but I've never tried to make my own tomato sauce. I think I'll get started as soon as I get back to Paris!

Already I'm surprised how much longer the growing season is in the Paris region than in the Northeast US (although I guess technically Paris is further north latitude-wise, but the climate is milder).

Also, your dinner sounds seriously delicious. When am I coming to British Columbia? ;-) Too bad it's so far away!

Sam - Mmmm, wild blackberries, yummy. Also bottling peaches while they're cheap and delicious sounds like a great idea. Good luck and I'd love to know when you figure out how!

Colloquial Cook said...

I'd love to learn the art of canning! It's true that it's a real shame to let veggies got to waste. It's easy enough to make jams (and yummy too!!) to save the fruits!
Love the picture of the heirloom tomatoes!

laney said...

Hope! I just tried out a new recipe, bread pudding with peaches and a rum custard sauce (but we didn't have rum so I made it with grand marnier). It turned out SO good, I really have to send it to you. But it has a lot of brown sugar in it, so I don't know if it would be possible to make in France.

Hopie said...

Colloquial cook - yea, when I learn canning, I'll share the secrets ;-)

Laney - mmmm, bring it on!! I have my sources for brown sugar... mwauhahaha!

Here, There, Elsewhere... and more said...

I'm soo into home grown and/or locally grown organic produce (but also wild berries from the bushes, mushrooms collected locally in the woods...)
I just wanted to say though, that you don't actually need a garden to grow your own (I'm sure you already know this)...
I grew tomatoes, chives, rosemary, thyme, mint...you name it - all on my kitchen window sill (when I lived in a flat as a post grad.)...
I'm lucky now to have both a garden and a roof terrace and I use every cm. of space I have to grow a mixture of flowers, aromatic herbs and fruit (strawberries, raspberries) & veg.-I'd highly recommend the AMAP (http://amap-idf.org/) system you mentionned - I've used it here and found it to be great.
The only reason I stopped is because we moved and I now have a farmers' coop. 5 mins away where I get the same quality produce with more choice...
P.S love the above recipes from Cicero..!

Katharine said...

Cicero - Would you share your recipe for tomato sauce using fresh tomatoes made to freeze? While she was home (and what exactly do you mean, Hope, by "even at my parent's house"?) Hope and I made a quick cooking fresh tomato sauce with garlic and basil that was fun to create together and very tasty - it was gobbled up too quickly to make it to the freezer! -- Hope's Mom

Hopie said...

Here, there - Thank you for the AMAP website. I knew the system in the US, but not how to find it here! I'm definitely going to look into it for this year. I have started to grow some herbs on my windowsill and I think I will continue to do so as I get better settled in in my new apt. I'd love to try tomatoes too. Any tips you have would be great.

Mom - I second that request! It was lots of fun making tomato sauce with you. When I get around to it I'll try to make a post about it. I just meant that at our house things our less organized and there are less people involved in the garden and preserving stuff. Usually just you (and me when I'm home)!

Cicero Sings said...


Thanks for your last comment ... I'm finally getting around to answering you! You asked about knitting. I'm really not a knitter. Maybe because my Mom and sister were such big knitters I never really needed to ... I've been well supplied over the years! My sister creates her own patterns and can knit so fast she is like a machine!!!! I do know how to knit and crochet ... but it really isn't "my thing" ... and I've absolutely no patience in teaching it either! The project I was working on was a sewing project. One day I'll get it done and post a picture of it.

I had just learned that, people with visual-spatial problems, had trouble with math ... something I had never thought about ... because I never needed to I guess. I'm pretty good at math myself. I had just been looking up a syndrome to try and better understand our nephew and that is where I learned about this ... and then you commented on the very same thing!

As for my tomato sauce ... it is no big thing. I have this Italian press that I put my tomatoes through that separates out the seeds and the skin from the good juice and pulp. I freeze that to be added to soups or reduced for sauces. Sometimes I add fresh herbs to flavour the sauce, before I freeze it ... preserving tomatoes and herbs at the same time. The pure tomato sauce is more versatile for later use however. We found the taste so much fresher than the bought, canned tomato sauces.

Last year I made a tomato marmalade that was VERY good ... way better than you'd think. A unique taste.

I often don't go back to read in the comment section after I comment but wanted to answer your question about knitting ... that is why I saw the question about the sauce. I think you folk thought it more than it was ... sorry if my comment was a bit misleading!

Now I see you've a new post up. Welcome home to Paris! So nice to have ones own things about them again. It looks like you had many wonderful feasts at home, good visits etc.

P.S. ... it looks like your Mom has a blog but I can only see a profile ... no blog ... perhaps it is a private blog???

Hopie said...

Cicero Sings - Putting tomatoes through an Italian press is such a great idea -- I wouldn't have thought of that! As you say, it's much better than canned. The tomato sauce I made with my mom was pretty simple but very delicious. I'll try to post the recipe when I get a chance. Love to see a picture of your sewing project when you're done! I'm currently knitting an infant bonnet for a friend who's having a baby (the hat's for the baby, not the friend, as I'm sure you could figure out -- the grammar didn't work out quite right though!).

I don't think my mom has a blog yet, just a profile -- but she should get started!