Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Eat Like You Live Here: August

Wow, it's August already? Let's see, if I just got okra and beans and tomatoes (even green ones) at the farmers' market, it must be so.

Eating foods in season truly does make a difference. Not only are these vegetables and fruits fresher, but their flavors seem so much more appropriate to the weather. A ripe tomato or a juicy peach tastes so much more refreshing on a hot day, don't you think?

Well, if you're not sure, now is the month to try that thought on for size yourself. Around here, this is a big harvest time for all those Midwest favorites, and I intend to take full advantage of it.

Did July find you exploring your farmers' market and local foodshed a little more? A couple of local friends reported that they sampled different mushrooms at our market, and they also enjoyed cooking with some of the other delectable produce. Tina announced that she found maple sugar at her farmers' market, so I believe we'll be making a swap soon!

As for me, I really enjoyed last month's challenges. Maybe you think I went a little crazy finding new ways to use blueberries (and blueberry pancakes are coming up tomorrow morning), but it was a real joy for me to explore what other flavors combine well with this local favorite. (The answer? Cardamom, ginger, and even savory flavors like cumin and curry.) Aside from the goat milk fudge, there weren't too many new items at the market to sample, but I did enjoy trying new recipes for old friends.

I'm having a lot of fun trying new ways of preserving produce, both in drying individual foods and in combining flavors in chutneys, and I look forward to doing more of that in the next couple of months. And all of a sudden, having almost entirely local meals every day got easier between finding that the local dairy not only had butter but unsalted butter (which I prefer) and using all the local baking ingredients I've squirreled away.

I hope you're having as much fun with this challenge as I am, and to keep you eager about eating locally, I'm making August's challenge really easy. (Blame it on this heat wave and my disinclination to work, if you like!)

1. Go back and follow July's challenge again, trying more new foods and new recipes. With more produce coming in every week, this should be a real treat!

2. Instead of just enjoying local foods on your own, invite friends over for an entirely (or almost so) local meal. Here's your chance not only to share really good, fresh food with people you love, but also to show them just how rich your local area is in food production. And if you've got a garden, share some of your homegrown food, too. (I can tell you from long experience that that always impresses and pleases guests!)

Eating should be a pleasure, and eating locally should be doubly so. It's hardly an indulgence to savor all this good produce.

Go! Buy local! Eat! And don't blame me if you’re hungry.

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