6.04.2008

Mutiny in the pantry

The other day, Alex's friend Adam arrived for the summer. Planning to live in our basement for a few months, he brought with him the necessary material items, along with the trappings of a Stop n' Shop visit. A bunch of Eko-bananas filled the empty fruit basket, boxes of cereal were stacked atop the fridge, and a bag of pretzels was tucked into the cupboard alongside a jar of honey mustard dip.

When the crisp pop of a jar of peanuts opening reverberated through the kitchen, Alex swung around and looked at Adam like a starving child. With the same eyes, he noted the cereal, pretzels, pringles, and bananas. Blame it on age (our generation was, after all, raised during the era of the snack cupboard), but he was clearly feeling deprived.

"Why don't you ever buy Kashi any more?" he demanded, suddenly wondering at the empty cupboard. "And what happened to the fruit? Where's the food?"

I started to explain, but he held up a hand. "Let me at least enjoy Adam's peanuts in peace," he pleaded. Clearly, he had had just about enough of this experiment. Though I left the two of them to their snacking, a nagging feeling of failure to feed remained with me through the day.

That evening, determined to please the hungry mouths of my household without sacrificing too many of my local-food ideals, I took stock of the pantry. I found ten pounds of oats, 5 pounds of flour, a quart of honey, jars and jars of jam in every flavor from beach plum to strawberry, two of cranberry chutney, a row of pickled beets, a loaf of bread, and a jar of tomato sauce. Surely from these items, along with the milk, butter, beets, greens, meat, rhubarb, seafood, cheese, and apple cider in the fridge, I could make at least one snackable food.

After a long stare, I settled on granola. Cereal seemed to be the biggest score I needed to settle, and so I began the process of oven roasting the oats. As for the fruit, I decided to make a new allowance for bananas. After all, the first importer of the fruit, Lorenzo D. Baker, started bringing them to his hometown of Wellfleet in 1870. Had my great-grandmother grown up here, she'd surely have seen a slice or two in her morning routine.

Between the granola and the fruit, the mutiny was quelled by morning. Still, the experience reminded me that every locavore has a limit. It's not so disastrous to pick up a banana every once in a while, whether in Baker's neighborhood or not.

SIMPLE GRANOLA

Makes enough to fill one gallon jar


Preheat oven to 350. Melt 1 stick butter over low heat. Stir in 1/2 cup honey. Pour over 6 cups of oats in two 9 by 13 Pyrex pans, stir until oats absorb liquid. Bake, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool overnight; store in an airtight jar or container.

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All text, photographs, and other original material copyright 2008-2010 by Elspeth Hay unless otherwise noted.