Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Eating Omily: What to Eat During Hungry Month

Something really. Really. Exciting has come to the Farmers' Market.

More exciting than bourbon. More exciting than gluten-free, super rich, and fudgy, spicy chocolate brownies. Did I mention more exciting than BOURBON?

It's...ROLLED OATS!!!! :-D

Well I didn't say more glamorous than bourbon, or fudgy spicy brownies, did I?

Ok, I don't blame you. Bourbon and perfect brownies definitely sound more exciting than rolled oats, but here the thing:

Those are treats. I don't eat them in large quantities. (Well, ok, the bourbon goes fast around here...)

But rolled oats? Those are staple breakfast AT LEAST once a week! To say nothing of fried oatmeal with greens and friend eggs for dinner, and of course, oatmeal cookies! This is probably something that you always keep around at home, and now you can get it organic, and local!

Now THAT'S exciting!

What do you like to put in your oatmeal in the morning? You can grab some tasty adjuncts at the same place you'll be buying your rolled oats from now on: maple syrup, honey, bee pollen (try it!!), milk, yogurt, butter, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, jams and preserves, berries (frozen this time of year; fresh in the Summer), peaches, apples...mmmmm!

You know what they say: breakfast is the most important meal of the day!

Even if oatmeal is not your breakfast of choice, you are guaranteed to find some awesome staples at the vendor proffering the rolled oats, from cold pressed sunflower oil for your baking and frying needs, to wide variety of delicious dried beans for cheap local meals, and delicious grains and flours, you'll be stopping by every Wednesday! Might I recommend the freekeh? OMG, so good!!
Here's my bag of cornmeal, which I mostly use to make polenta. They also sell a courser ground cornmeal that they call polenta, but I prefer the creamy texture of the polenta made from this stuff.
Organic, local, and owned by those who grow the crops. You can't go wrong!!
Another not glamorous, but super awesome buy waiting for you at the Farmers' Market on Fridays is, soup bones! I didn't take a picture. let's face it, unglamorous is probably the nice way of putting it. They come in random weight bags, easy for you to dump into a big pot along with some aromatic veggie and herbs. The delicious stock you'll end up with is a nourishing hot drink by itself, which I love for breakfast, but of course will be more hearty with the addition of meat, and or veggies. I like to poach an egg in the simmering broth for an easy and high-protein breakfast or lunch.

You may have picked up on the fact that I'm taking a positive approach to what can be a frustrating season: oatmeal with sweet frozen berries, and a big bowl of hearty homemade chicken stock can be wonderfully comforting in these late Winter days, when some of us seem to start taking the continuing cold weather personally. Remember that Spring doesn't start till late March! Nothing is coming out of the ground right now, and stores are getting low.

If you take a walk through the Farmer's Market in these late February days, you'll understand why every native American language calls February 'Hungry Month'. You can still get plenty of root vegetables, winter squash, and even cabbage, but fresh, tender greens are long gone. Even the heartiest of kales can't grow up through ground frozen hard as a stone! A few growers are using green houses to capitalize on our impatience: delivering sweet, tiny spinach leaves, and scarlet tomatoes, for a price that will let you know just why local eaters are often stereotyped as elitists.

If you need to treat yourself, do! I picked up some of that $8/quarter pound (yes, you read that right) baby spinach myself, but you won't hear me complain about it. It'll be back to a couple bucks for a huge bunch in just a couple months, when I'll be losing myself over asparagus...just like every year.

This is the lean time. It's what we signed up for. Bake yourself a beet cake, or a whip up a hearty helping of buttery mashed potatoes, or break out your slow cooker for glazed carrots or applesauce. Delicious flavors abound! If the only root vegetables you can think of are potatoes, carrots, and beets, prepare to be stunned by sheer variety: rutabagas, kohlrabi, a myriad varieties of sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, celery root, parsley root, sun chokes, multi-colored carrots and potatoes...if you try one new root vegetable each week, the asparagus will be coming up before you get through them all! When in doubt about how to cook them, cut them up small, toss them with a high-smoke point fat (might I recommend duck fat, which you can buy at the Farmers' Market[!]), salt, and roast around 400 degrees, till they're brown all over and slightly shrunken.

And I promise, Spring will come around.

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