There's been a flurry of activity around here recently. Not all food related, but mostly. Two weeks ago, on that snowy Saturday, we drove up to Canton to pick up our annual grain and bean CSA share. When we got home we packed over a hundred pounds of flour and popcorn and beans and cornmeal into the cupboards and basement in Mason jars and giant white tins.
We were out of just about everything—we ate the last popcorn the week before, a sure sign that things are getting dicey—and after that the only things left were a few black turtle beans and some rainbow colored dent corn. Getting in the new shipment felt like a very solid form of food security, not on a big scale, necessarily, but in the sense of having something tangible tucked away.
We cooked the first beans the night after we got home—Soldier beans, I think, or maybe Jacob's Cattle—and they were insanely good. I didn't do anything unusual, just soaked them overnight in cold water and then boiled them the next morning for a few hours on the woodstove. When I drained them they practically melted into the strainer, and for lunch that day I cooked them with olive oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt. We inhaled them, all of us: soft, billowy cushions of beany butter.
Beyond that we've been focused on spring: placing a seed order and reading up on the possibility of getting chickens and planning out a new set of cold frames on the south side of my parents' new cottage. There's a list going on the chalkboard: move the compost pile, fence the garden, weed and mulch the flower bed outside the kitchen window. It is too early to do most of these things—the girls are still sledding down a stubborn patch of snow between the pear trees and the raspberries—but it's nice to dream.
And it must be coming, because today at the farmers market we were able to get onions and pea shoots and kale and basil and a big pile of suet to render down into tallow. I've never made tallow before, but I have rendered fat back to lard, and apparently it's a similar process. We're out of lard and we buy ridiculous amounts of olive oil and coconut oil and butter, and supplementing with a little beef fat for cooking seems like a good way to keep things more local, spend less on cooking fat, and get the health benefits of fat from a grass fed animal.
I'll let you know how it goes. In the meantime, here's a little inspiration from around the web.
—A lovely piece from Molly Wizenberg on the importance of letting kids help in the kitchen.
—A Ted talk on the importance of WHY we do what we do, and an interesting-looking app for generating collaborative change within an organization.
And finally from the physical written world: Simply Nigella. I checked it out from the library last week, and it's gorgeous. Best of all, every recipe is simple and inspiring!
Have a good one, friends.
Have a good one, friends.