Saturday, September 27, 2008

Here we go!

Thus begins Cooking the Seasons. Logically, we would start this endeavor in the Spring, but Keja and I are more impulsive than logical, which is perhaps why we get along so well. We also had strangely similar upbringings, on opposite coasts. Add to that that our parents went to college together in Ohio, we randomly moved to the same neighborhood in Somerville, MA where we met while walking sleeping kids in strollers, and our sons are fast friends, and you get the picture: we were meant to do this project together.

We technically started a few months ago when we decided to jump in feet first and drove over to Sears to pick up a chest freezer. We showed up in the pick-up area and the Sears guy came out and saw the two of us, combined probably 230 lbs. dripping wet, and incredulously asked if we had a car with us (we did: a pick-up truck). You could see the bubble over his head with a picture of us sitting in our Jetta, arms out the windows, holding on to our chest freezer. We successfully got it into my basement, where it was promptly filled with Trader Joe's pizzas and overflow homemade stock that my husband and son make after any dinner where we eat meat with bones. But soon, I was buying pounds of extra peaches and berries at the local farmers' market and freezing them.

Berries: wash, let air dry. Spread out on cookie sheet and freeze until solid (4 to 6 hours should more than do it). Put into a freezer-strength ziploc bag or tupperware and freeze until ready to use.

Peaches: peaches are the best fruit ever invented. They also have really nasty spray, and I am never sure if the ones I get at the farmers' market are sprayed or not, so I err on the side of caution and peel them. If they don't peel easily, they're either not ripe or mealy (compost them if they're mealy; there's really no hope for them, unless you have a lot of good ones that can masque the mealiness of a few in a pie or the like). Once peeled, slice into ten or twelve slices each. Put a few cups worth into a ziploc or tupperware and freeze. I have rarely found peaches worth buying in a grocery store, although at least once a year I fall for it and am almost always sorely disappointed and embarrassed (I should know better! Every time, Renée, every time.). Starting with a quality product is very important. The best way to ripen them is in a paper bag for a few days.

Introducing Cooking the Seasons

Cooking the Seasons is a step by step journal documenting the process of two women who live in the city yet still want to eat locally-grown food. We are doing this to be environmentally responsible and to feed our families healthier food. The seed was planted when, after swimming lessons one day, we were lamenting the dearth of cooking magazines that focused on seasonal food (a lot do) and also spoke to our particular region (southern New England).

So we decided to do it ourselves, and write a cookbook that goes through the year and gives recipes for what's in season and also explains how to freeze, can, dry, preserve, etc. so food that isn't in season can still be enjoyed. We will also touch on composting and container gardening.

This book (and blog) are for people who live in our area and who want to tap into local foods, if only because seasonal foods are less expensive, but also because they taste better, are healthier (for the consumer and the environment), and support local growers. Along the way, if they want to explore gardening, composting, and food preserving, great!

We are not experts on this. We know some, and want to learn a lot more, and think that our experiences will be helpful to people in a similar situation. We hope you enjoy our journey, and are inspired to start your own.

Renée Scott and Keja Valens