January 09, 2007

I've, more or less recently, gotten interested in paying attention to the seasons. Not just in a "Gee it's really stormy this afternoon" kind of way, but in a "Circle of Life" kind of way (with apologies for the Lion King reference). And part of paying attention to the seasons, for me, seems to be eating local, seasonal food.

There are lots of reasons to eat locally and seasonally, not least of which is minimizing how far the food has to travel before it ends up in my kitchen. Yes, it's possible to get strawberries in January, but they didn't grow anywhere around here. How far did they travel? How much fuel was used to get them here? And keep them happy, not too hot and not too cold, on the trip? And how green were they when they were harvested so that they would be perfectly red on the market shelf and not overripe and smashed?

But here's the trouble I've run into: I haven't the slightest idea what to do with some local, seasonal foods. Kale? No idea. Cauliflower? Nope. Any winter squash other than a butternut? Uh-uh. For that matter, I'm pretty clueless once I've looked beyond the potatoes and the broccoli. Sure, I can look up a recipe and follow directions, but it's hard to find the motivation to do that when I'm not sure what the final result will really be.

So, here's my solution: a cookbook with good pictures and easy-to-follow steps with local, seasonal, no-fail recipes. There should be some background info on each vegetable including how to pick a good one at the store, a rough idea of what it tastes like, what goes well with it, and the basics of preparation (to remove the ribs in kale or not to remove). The recipes should be flavorful, straightforward to prepare, and designed to help people get over their fear of the "unknown scary vegetable". We could call it No-Fail Recipes for Scary Vegetables.

Because, even though it's yummy, there's something really depressing about eating Roasted Squash Risotto all winter long.


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