Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Worst Time of the Year

For someone who likes to eat locally, at any rate. The contents of the freezer are diminishing; the farm stands are dark and empty, the fields are just an endless expanse of brown. I used up the last of the fingerling potatoes yesterday. I threw the rest out because they are getting soft and sprouting. (Of course if I was a true locovore and didn’t eat anything but local foods, I’d keep on with the sprouting potatoes in lieu of anything else)

About all I can think of that I’m eating locally is eggs and chicken. Got a big package of chicken from the farmer earlier in the month and the farm where I stop to get my eggs still has enough for the locals. Did you know that chickens stop lying in the dark winter months? Small scale farmers will use lights in the coop to extend the daylight a bit over the winter. On industrial farms, I guess it doesn’t matter as those chickens never know if it’s summer or winter anyway.

I haven’t been cooking anything imaginative lately, just the usual repertoire and using up the soup I froze in the fall.

I’m writing a new standalone for Poisoned Pen Press right now. This book will have a back story of a Loyalist (i.e. refugee from the American Revolution) woman to came to the wilderness of Upper Canada (now Ontario) in 1783 in the way that Scare the Light Away and Burden of Memory, my first two books, had a backstory of something that happened in World War II.

Writing her story is making me think about how we lived when everything was local. You grew what you ate or you didn’t eat. The Loyalists got assistance from the British government to settle once they arrived including land and money and farming equipment and supplies. They stopped giving supplies in 1788, Just in time for an exceptionally severe winter. Most of the settlers didn’t have productive farms yet,. Remember they had to cut down the forest and build their houses first. And there were no cities or towns within an easy travelling distance. It was a tough winter and some people starved.

No supermarkets to pop out to when the last of the potatoes were finished. No fresh greens trucked in from California when you got tired of eating cabbage. And none of the neighbours had any more than you did.

I’m thinking maybe shrimp curry with rice and imported bok choy for dinner tonight. And I’ll raise a glass of wine to my ancestors who worked so hard so that I don’t have to.


Donis Casey said...

Did you plant your sprouting potatoes? I threw some in the corner of my fallow garden a few weeks ago and now I have a lush plant popping up. Or is your ground still too cold for that sort of thing?

Vicki Delany said...

Good idea, Donis. I won't have much of a garden this year as I'm going to be away most of the spring and I can't ask the housesitter to do much more than plant the annuals. A crop of fingerling potatoes would have been just nice. Too cold still though.

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