December is a month of long nights, cold weather and not much growing.
Here is what you can find in the markets this month:
Fresh Crisp Fall Apples
Apples: are a lasting favorite and are wonderful now through February. Choose crisp, firm apples and make applesauce, pie or tart or Warm Apple Dumplings. Know what’s really good? Saute apples, onions and parsnips and slather that over roasted pork or chicken. YUMMY!
Serve warm Apple Dumplings with whipped cream and caramel sauce. A few fresh berries add color to the plate.
Beets: Golden, red, or baby beets roasted, peeled and served with orange zest are simple sweet and delicious. Make some pickled beets because at the end of this month, you won’t find fresh harvests until May.
Bok Choy: Is about to disappear and will be well gone by the end of the year. Grab some for stir fries and a really good bok choy salad with red peppers, onions is delicious.
Cabbages: It’s getting cold out there and these are nearing the end of the season. Slice it fine for coleslaw, saute or make stuffed cabbage rolls.
Carrots: Delicious sweet carrots, roasted, steamed and served with a dab of butter are a classic favorite.
Collards: There is a reason these are available all year, sturdy, and a powerhouse of nutrition. A nice pot of beans, collards and cornbread is a comforting and satisfying meal.
Cranberries: If you haven’t yet, pick up a few bags for the freezer. Cranberries are about to disappear until next fall. The season is short for fresh berries and they are so easy to freeze, just plop the bag into the freezer. Done. Make cranberry liquor, cranberry sauces for roasts, or drop a bag of those frozen cranberries into a food processor with a bit of something sweet, like an orange, swirl it up into a lovely frozen sorbet like treat. A really nice treat in the spring or summer!
Herbs: You should try growing the herbs you use the most. It’s very economical and you’ll always have what you need on hand.
Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach: Pack some punch into your salads, saute up a big bunch
Massaged Kale Salad
and see how much these lovely greens shrink!
Peanuts and Pecans:
Candied Spiced Pecans
I’m lucky to know someone who has a pecan orchard and when they have a harvest, I load up with fresh pecans. There’s nothing like them! Find a place where you can buy them like this, you’ll be amazed. Make Spiced Pecans!
Sweet Potatoes: are a great way to satisfy a sweet craving. If you can find them, choose the garnet sweet potatoes that have that deep garnet flesh inside, not just on the outside skin.
Inside a baked garnet sweet potato; isn’t that a great color?!
Turnips: Mix them with your vegetables, add to soup, pickle some for a real different treat.
We are entering the time of year where fresh foods are hard to find. Of course due to modern technologies, you can find just about anything you want at any time of the year.
Eating local and seasonally reduces the carbon foot print and let’s us realign with the natural cycle of life. For some odd reason, eating strawberries in December just don’t have the same flavor or effect as eating fresh strawberries in the spring.
In times past, people put food up to get by in these cold months. From canning, drying, curing, freezing or just a cold cellar would protect many late harvested foods.
For me, eating in season allows me to truly appreciate the foods as they come available throughout the year.
What about you? Do you eat seasonally or locally?