That is the distance (as the crow flies) to Prince Edward County where my family is rooted.
They keep me grounded and have thus far been very influential in helping me to develop the framework of my blog. It would only be fitting to include them in this journey with me (Not to mention my mom is a kitchen goddess with a green thumb and my dad is a master angler, catching some of the best pickerel Wellers Bay has to offer). Needless to say, I’m never too proud to accept their gracious charity especially when I comes in edible form. As well, the “Taste Trail” which features an eclectic assortment of vineyards with wines that are just as unique and the vintners that make them is one luxury I’m just not willing to give up. The taste is just simply too pleasing to deprive my pallet.
Lesson one on my journey has already been learned. Originally, my serendipitous start to this journey was to be the vernal equinox on March 20th, but upon looking in my fridge at a half-finished jar of County pickles, a yet to be opened local vodka and a fillet of pickerel hiding in the corner of my freezer I decided I was not as brave a J.B. McKinnon1 and I was going to need to do a bit more prep work. So I ordered my first winter CSA (Community Supported Agriculture basket) from Roots and Shoots.
I journeyed to the Piggy Market in Westboro later that week to pick up my CSA. It was great. What a treasure I had stumbled upon, their selection of winter vegetables is best described as a colorful cornucopia of wonderfulness that even boasts greenhouse spinach. How lucky could I be? It was a mild sunny evening, perfect for biking and everything fit nicely in my trusty backpack. I was now set with 7lbs of nutritious food all sourced within my 200km boundary for a reasonable $35. Best of all I still had two weeks to plan out how I would combine them to showcase their flavours in my first meal. Eating local made easy, or so I thought when I tossed the sack of delectable treasures in the fridge and left to visit family for Easter.
Unfortunately, I neglected to take into account that not every vegetable stores best in the fridge. One of the delectable treasures I picked up in my Roots and Shoots CSA just so happened to be garlic. Garlic as it turns out is considered an herb not a vegetable and does NOT store well in the fridge. In fact, it does quite the opposite. The cool humid climate that a fridge is so gracious as to provide, has an uncanny resemblance to cool humid climate of soil in the spring. My garlic came alive. It sprouted lovely green shoots; the uplifting sign that spring is arriving. That however was not what I envisioned to be the life of my garlic. My garlic was meant to complement and enhance the flavors of all the delectable local meals I was to be creating for months. Fortunately not all the garlic had sprouted. I roasted the salvageable parts of those which had.
Now one would think the garlic mishap would make me more vigilant to the best practices for storing the rest of my produce so that I might enjoy them as part of my first official local dinner. Seems like a reasonable enough assumption. So why then was I still surprised to find the starting’s of a colony of mold making their home on my prized cylindrical beets? Again, I salvaged what I could and roasted them (I see a recurring theme already).
Lesson One: Pay attention to vegetable types and best storage practices.2
Before you know it, it has been almost two weeks. Tuesday night rolls around, the night before April 10th, the New Moon. I open my fridge: Local cheese, vodka, oats and tucked in my freezer a brown package with the label “stewing goat bone-in” that’s hard as a rock. But alas I have talked about this journey for months and last week I made the leap to initiate this blog, so I can procrastinate no longer.
I hold tight to the idea that this will not be a blog of hardship and those who know me can attest to my ingenuity and culinary ability. Thus, I am feeling quite satisfied with my 200km start. I enjoyed oats from Castor River Farms sweetened with Crerar’s honey as a start to my day. I finished the day with wine and cheese courtesy of Harwood Estates and Alpenblick Farms respectively. Tomorrow, I pick up another winter CSA from Roots and Shoots. With an important lesson in food preservation already under my belt, I’m eager to see what flavor combinations I might unlock with this basket. The New Moon is the perfect place to start to this journey. In fact, I don’t think I could have planned it better!
1. J.B. McKinnon Co-Author of 100 Mile Diet.
2. Harvesting and storing home garden vegetables. (University of Michigan)