Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eating Omily: I Dream of Summer Salsa (Conscientiously...)

The name for this post, and the dish in question, came about Sunday morning when, knowing we'd be going for a run right after church, I wore my crop sweatpants to church, with my running shoes, a tank top, and this adorable little antique house jacket I got from my friend's Grandpa's attic. Ok, I was not about to win any fashion awards, and "What Not to Wear" would have had a field day with me, but we were just going to the coffee shop and then to church! Why bother taking my hair down from the knot on top of my head?

The husband didn't even make it out the door before he started snickering, and by the end of the first block he had decided I looked like a Genie (not a genie, the Genie: as played by Barbara Eden), and by half-way through Mass he was singing the song "I Dream of Jeanie" in my ear. Most distracting...

Well, to be fair, I actually made the salsa on Friday. But after two days hanging out in the fridge, it really came into its own, developing a cohesive texture and flavor perfect for chip dipping and fantasizing about warmer days to come, and the heirloom tomatoes they would bring...

"WHAT? SALSA?? IN MARCH???"

Yes! Salsa in March!

If you're not on the locavore train you're probably wandering what the big deal about salsa in March is. Get caught up on that big deal by reading this post. Well, it's pretty much the quintessential Summer food: fresh, ripe tomatoes, sweet and spicy peppers, delicate herbs, all chopped and tossed together raw! In any other season, you won't find the necessary ingredients at your local Farmer's Market to make the stuff.

However, if you're a hard core locavore, the kind that owns a canner, and turns her or his kitchen into a person processing plant for those high-volume and high-flavor summer months, then you CAN have salsa any old time!

Pull out one of your quart jars of tomatoes (see this post for that recipe), your bag of frozen roasted bell peppers, and chilis, some fresh garlic and onion, and if you keep an herb garden on your window sill, cut a little cilantro.

The tomatoes are super easy to cut into chunks, being squishy from the canning proccess, and they come with their own hit of citrus acid and salt, too! Chop up your onion and garlic, and a handful of sweet and hot charred peppers, and stir it all together. The longer you can let it sit, the better it gets in terms of taste and texture. By day three, it's like what you'd buy in a jar at the store, except soooo much tastier! Bright, bursting Summer flavors in every bite...the perfect pick-me-up for those rough Winter months.

You know what else you can have any old time of year? A kick-ass Italian style breakfast burrito! Just throw some of those frozen roasted bell and chili peppers in a nonstick skillet, and once they thaw out, use your wooden spoon to chop them into pieces. Add an egg (free range from your Farmer's Market, naturally...), some salt and pepper, maybe some dried herbs, and scramble up! Meanwhile, spread some of your homemade frozen pesto onto a tortilla. Your body will thank you for making it whole wheat or corn! When the scramble is done, I warm the tortilla on the burner itself, with the heat turned all the way down, or even off, so it's pliable. Pile the scramble in the middle of the pesto tortilla, fold up, and Nom! Great breakfast, even better lunch. It's only a few minutes to prepare, and you can eat it on the go!
In ever single native American language, the word for "February" translates directly to "Hungry Month", but that's because the native Americans didn't have canners and freezers! The seasons, and what you've put by, provide a constant source of ideas so that each meal is a delicious creation inspired by Mother Earth, and your own hard work. Damn, that is awesome!
My latest issue of Yoga Journal features a poll taken of readers about their dietary preferences. The breakdown goes:

41% some meat, fish, or poultry
28% vegetarian
14% conscientious omnivore
11% no limitations
7% vegan

My first response was elation that there was a category that I fit into, and pleasant surprise that every yogi under the sun isn't against consuming animal products after all, but these feelings were followed closely by confusion. There was only one 'conscientious' category, and just a little over a third of those who consumed meat were in it. Why so few, and why was there no conscientious category for vegetarians and vegans? Are we assuming that someone who doesn't eat meat obviously already deserves a medal for his or her heroic levels of conscientiousness? I ranted about this a bit in the 2010 Thanksgiving post. Being a vegetarian or a vegan can indeed reduce the amount of resources required to feed you, and do a lot of good for you body and the planet, but just because you don't buy CAFO meat doesn't mean your dietary choices can't harm yourself, the earth, and your local community. We should ALL be conscientious eaters, shouldn't we?

Shouldn't we be conscientious people?

I think, ultimately, that's the challenge I level at everyone who reads this blog. Be a conscientious person, and let that include how, and what, you eat. And if you don't know where to begin, click the 'eating omily' tag on the right, and do a little research! Delicious, delicious, research...
Sadly, no, magnolia blossoms can only be had for a few beautiful Spring days, canner or not...

~em

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