The 250 in January

A few of you have emailed to ask what the 250—Mile Diet is like now that it’s January. And my answer is: easy. So easy that I’m almost embarrassed to post about it. Admittedly, GT and I are already getting restless cooped up indoors and with more than two more months before we can spend time in the garden.

gt at the garden door
I’ll also admit that I’m digging into my “pantry” (a.k.a. every known available space in my one bedroom apartment including under the bed) quite a bit. But that’s more a matter of trade off than something new imposed by my local eating regimen. It’s actually easier to take down a jar of my home-canned tomatoes than relying on Muir Glen’s Organic because I don’t have to go to the store.
Do I miss anything? Well, yes. I was a little too happy to get salad greens in my monthly CSA share last week. Those are already gone, but were much enjoyed while I had them. If I was really desperate for salad I could still get mesclun greens and sprouts at the farmers markets, but for a steep price. So mostly I do without salad, although I’ve come up with a couple of very good ones based on my homemade sauerkraut (cabbage is plentiful here in winter!) and chopped apples, plus some of the black walnuts I foraged in the fall.
But I’m not just relying on my pantry. Here is some of what I spotted at my local farmers market this past Saturday: collards, leeks, garlic, winter squash, scallions, kale, of course cabbage, and all kinds of root vegetables. Plus meat, eggs, cheese, wine, apple cider, and apples. I won’t be starving any time soon.
The most interesting thing about the 250 in January is not what I don’t have but how to use what I do have. For example, I ran out of tomato paste weeks ago. It’s a taken-for-granted pantry staple that I’ve found is easily replaced by reconstituted and minced dried tomatoes. They have a similar richness of flavor. Actually, I think the results are tastier, and I’m glad that I dried so many tomatoes during the season last year.
If you’re getting the idea that this local eating experiment wouldn’t be quite as easy without some food preservation skills, you’re right. But you may not realize that those are much easier to master than you probably thought.
Still, it’s an interesting point. I think most people have the idea that food preservation is about survival—making sure you have enough jars of canned food to get through the winter. What I can vouch for is that it is just as much about providing yummy ingredients to vary a winter menu. Like those dried tomatoes providing richness to a stew, or a chutney showing up on my plate to enliven a mundane chicken breast.
So how is it going in January? Deliciously!

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Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules



3 responses to “The 250 in January”

  1. Miriam says:

    Leda, I agree. To take advantage of the lowest summer prices, I dry tomatoes – for the luxury of their taste, as you say, and to have on hand in a pinch. If my “pinch” lasted all the winter months, I’d be drying a lot more. Last week all the local tomatoes were green, so so I reached for the the dried ones. Over several days they went into soup, rice, a pot-roasted chicken, an herby sauce for pasta, a vinaigrette. I like to dry different varieties of tomatoes in season. It’s great to select tiny, sweet, dried red or yellow cherries, or fat slabs of Romas, depending on the dish I’m cooking.

    Another useful thing I’ve learned from you is to make the salty verdurette mix, now in winter when root vegetables are at their best. I always have you in mind when I put up a batch!

    Miriam

  2. SaraAnneC says:

    Hi Leda (and Miriam!);

    I have begun a research project here in Southwest Indiana that will culminate in a short series of articles (for our local newspaper) on the Slow Food movement and area locavores, probably to run in the spring. It will include a list of food sources within about 200 miles of Evansville, IN.
    I say this to let you know, Leda, that your own project/blog has been a great inspiration to me and I look forward to your posts!

    Black walnuts in salad … hmmmm ….. how’d that work out?

    SaraAnne

  3. acmeplant says:

    What a great idea for a tomato paste substitute, thank you! I’ve got many more dried tomatoes in my pantry than tomato paste. I love the picture of G.T.

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