Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Simply NOT in Season Soup...

We've been away for over 2 weeks, which has brought to my attention how hyper seasonally we eat at home.  Jon and I have lots of dietary preferences, mostly around avoiding GMOs, eating local, and buying from small farmers.  Jon bakes all of our bread at home with organic flour from DeRuyck's Top of the Hill Farm, we trade veggies with Henry Meat's (5 miles from our house) for all of our meat, and we eat only our own produce, other than the occasional lemon, avocado, mushrooms, or ginger.  So, we eat a lot of potatoes, squash, carrots, leeks, and beets in the winter.  Oh, beets.

However, if there's one thing either of us detest more it's purists.  We're "go with the flow" kind of people.  We've been known to purchase food through a magic window on road trips, and I would never complain about anything that's put in front of me.  I actually often enjoy the change, and sometimes think of it as reinforcement for how much better our seasonal produce is (you eat an imported hothouse tomato in January and tell me local & seasonal doesn't make a difference!!).  Plus, it's good to keep tabs on the competition, and sometimes we can get to local Farmer's Markets and try something new.  I know that the average person doesn't eat like us.  I get it.  When you don't grow your own food, what's the difference in January between buying a zucchini at the store or buying carrots from us?  We do the best we can, but it's not always convenient for everyone to order once a week and sometimes you run out.  The store is open all the time-- the conveniences of modern life!

  Because we are fortunate enough to grow our own food-- and perhaps because we are pretty frugal, too-- we eat what's available when it's available, preserve or freeze what we can for variety, and look forward to the spring, especially by the time we hit March.

I made a squash soup in Seattle with a blue kuri from the Farmer's Market which turned out great-- We don't grow that variety, and so it was nice for a change.  We also don't grow delicata, one of Jon's favourite squash, so we bought some of those.  I realized how much I miss zucchini & broccoli when Stacey made tempura for us.  We enjoyed some local pea shoots, but thought ours were better.  So, today, when asked to make soup for tonight, I opened up the possibilities.   I knew that Alyson had a copy of Simply in Season, my favourite cookbook, and so I "cheated" and picked a soup from the "summer" section.  Southwestern Corn Chowder it is!
 Having already checked my favourite produce department in town and being somewhat disappointed with the quality and carbon footprint of the veggies, and knowing that the Farmer's Market is closed today (and that if they were any kind of market they wouldn't have what I needed anyhow) we went to the Safeway where I worked for 5 years-- Only after picking up a free range bone-in chicken breast at the market in Inglewood, on an unrelated quest for the best spices ever at the Silk Road Spice Merchant.  I'll eat industrial meat without batting an eye, but it's hard to wrap my head around buying it when there are other options.

I was disappointed that the red pepper was from SPAIN, and there was no organic frozen corn (and even more so, the jolly green man touted the "naturalness" of the corn I bought, which SHOULD be labelled GMO, because it in all likelihood is-- Canada needs to get up to speed with it's labelling).  But what can you do?  Someone worked hard to produce that food, and despite it not being exactly what I want, it's still whole foods cooked from scratch.  It's not always possible to be perfect, which is why I felt compelled to write this today.  We all do the best we can, and that's all we can do!

I didn't follow this recipe-- I rarely do!  I used it as a starting point, but used the bones, fat, and skin from the double chicken breast and cilantro stems to make a gorgeous stock (the only real secret to making great soup in my opinion).  Decided it needed more substance and so added the chicken breast cubes and a sweet potato.  Skipped the tomato because tomatoes at this time of year are worth skipping.  I did follow the directions as far as pureeing some of the corn and sweet potatoes which made the pot a bit more cohesive.  This is being served with grilled shrimp skewers and a mango cilantro salad that Dion and Alyson made last night.  It's all going to be delicious, and who cares if I fell off the "locavore" wagon?  I think that conscious and informed consumption is more important than a bunch of self-imposed dietary restrictions: and to be honest, I DO get tired of beets.  Can't wait to make this again in the summer!

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