Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Kale-ifornia Dreaming

We might see 60-plus-degree days in January here in northern Ohio –- once in a while –- but we're definitely back to winter, with snow, slippery walks, and wind chills that burrow under multiple layers of clothing and make you feel as if you'll never be warm again.

OK, it hasn't been quite that frigid here this week, but it's been on the chilly side, with not much sun to be seen.

(photo courtesy of My Daft Unca)

It's quite obvious, Dear Readers, that this is not a fair-weather state at this time of year, with no tropical breezes wafting through palm trees. (Granted, Florida and California are feeling a bit nippy these days, too, I'm told.)

No, we Ohioans are sturdy folk, accustomed to the onslaught of winter and eating plain because we've got very little in the way of local produce to keep us going this time of year. Right?

Ahem. Well, over at the Ethicurean, both behind the scenes and on the site, we've started an ongoing discussion about seasonal eating and what that means to those of us who aren't fortunate enough to live in the Land of Plenty (or of Too Much, depending on your point of view). I'll contribute to the public discussion this weekend, with an article on winter produce, but you'll find the views of those who adopt both pragmatic and idealistic stances on the matter.

And while I tend toward the idealistic, trying to eat locally as much as possible, even I have my limits.

I've eaten a lot of squash and potatoes this week (under the rubric of "research," naturally), testing recipes and taking photos, and frankly, I've had enough for now. I bought a bunch of kale (not local) at the grocery store yesterday, knowing that I needed a serious infusion of dark leafy greens, and that –- along with the random contents of my fridge –- inspired tonight's dinner:

Here's my temporary restraining order against cabin fever: a pasta dish that is at least half not local. True, I made the pasta from scratch, and the garlic was local, but everything else? That's right, a shocking indulgence from distant climes, using kale, a vegetarian breakfast patty (highly processed, to boot!), half an orange, some Bulgarian feta, olive oil, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

If I may be permitted to share a secret with you, friends... it was good. Very good. Lip-smackingly, lick-the-plate-clean good.

And I don't feel one bit guilty about it.

See, I'm trying to take the approach in my eat-local adventure that it's great to give it my best effort, but sometimes it's just fine to "bend the rules." It's not an all-or-nothing proposition.

I'll get back to cleaning out the freezer and the canned goods and the remaining stored vegetables soon enough. Heaven knows I've got enough put up to get me through most of the rest of the winter!

But tonight, it's worth it to dream a little dream about warmer days and more produce variety.



At 1/19/2008 8:28 AM, Blogger Kelly said...

gaah. blogger eating my comment.

I babbled on a minute ago about how good it feels to say no to the guilt, to enjoy what's available from far away as an accent to the local. How it feels like balance instead of rigid perfection and that makes me happy.

and your noodles look awesomely homemade! I've still yet to try making any. That might be a fun thing to try with the kiddo today.

At 1/19/2008 8:49 AM, Blogger Ed Bruske said...

I comfort myself with the knowledge that humans have been shipping food long-distance since the beginning of time. Growing my own is definitely the most satisfying, but I'm not going to have a meltdown if I can't find local olive oil. There are limits...

At 1/20/2008 11:59 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Kelly, I quite agree that it's good to say no to guilt. We have traditionally let guilt spoil so many of our honest pleasures in life, and I think it has no place in our eating.

Hope you get a chance to make noodles with the kiddo... they are wicked fun and easy to make, and you can play with the dough to make fun shapes.

You're right, Ed. There has long been trade in food substances, and while that history is checkered at times, I see no reason to give up some of those little "luxuries" when they are genuinely appreciated. Not having them often or using them in moderation definitely helps me appreciate them all the more.


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