The 250 in January
A few of you have emailed to ask what the 250â€”Mile Diet is like now that itâ€™s January. And my answer is: easy. So easy that Iâ€™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.
Iâ€™ll also admit that Iâ€™m digging into my â€œpantryâ€ (a.k.a. every known available space in my one bedroom apartment including under the bed) quite a bit. But thatâ€™s more a matter of trade off than something new imposed by my local eating regimen. Itâ€™s actually easier to take down a jar of my home-canned tomatoes than relying on Muir Glenâ€™s Organic because I donâ€™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 Iâ€™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 wonâ€™t be starving any time soon.
The most interesting thing about the 250 in January is not what I donâ€™t have but how to use what I do have. For example, I ran out of tomato paste weeks ago. Itâ€™s a taken-for-granted pantry staple that Iâ€™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 Iâ€™m glad that I dried so many tomatoes during the season last year.
If youâ€™re getting the idea that this local eating experiment wouldnâ€™t be quite as easy without some food preservation skills, youâ€™re right. But you may not realize that those are much easier to master than you probably thought.
Still, itâ€™s an interesting point. I think most people have the idea that food preservation is about survivalâ€”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!