Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hanging In in Wisconsin

January 25th. Our cold frames have taken a beating. Initially the weather was too warm, and our low-tech cold frame turned out not to vent well. We got some mold, but few sprouts, and soon the wood started to mildew, so we decided to cash in on that project. Beo thinks that next year if we increase the angle of the top to allow for more sun, and use only a single pane of plastic sheeting, we'll have better luck. We also have a line on some used windows that we hope to make use of as Spring nears. Our hot house garden experiment has done only slightly better. Most of the sprouts that initially came up took a hard hit from the warming which recently dissapeared leaving us with a typical frigid Wisconsin winter. We did harvest a few tiny radishes on a mid-December night before a hard freeze. When we saw the forecast, Beo tromped out through the snow and furitively plucked them from their chilly beds. As if our neighbors didn't think we were crazy enough, it was after dark and we set up a light to facilitate this process. I had to document this craziness and the resulting little frozen rubies.

These days, there is some teeny spinach, but everything else that had come up couldn't take the wild temperature fluctuations and gave up the ghost. We're hoping that as Spring approaches, our spinach will take off and we'll get a nice early harvest. Meanwhile, Whole Foods continues to be our best source of local produce. We picked up a big bag of carrots and two cabbages, all grown about 40 miles from our home. We realized that if we liked rutebegas, parsnips, and their cousins, we'd have even more to choose from. Unfortunately, we're both picky in that family. We still have access to relatively local eggs, fed on a diet of greens and pasture, and this is Wisconsin after all, so local dairy is no problem. We still have local maple syrup, my apple butter, and started on a 2 pound bottle of honey harvested about 20 miles from our house. So don't give up, fellow Locavores. Keep searching for SOLE food no matter where you are this Winter

Monday, January 01, 2007

Local Winter in Wisconsin

As expected, buying locally has been tougher as Winter has grown in strength. We've slowly used up the last of our local preserves. We're on our last bit of frozen applesauce, the frozen veggies are gone, and we're down to the last of frozen sauce, strawberry preserves, and apple butter. My last batch of jelly turned out not to have jelled properly, despite passing all tests to the contrary. Ah, well. At the markets, we slowly watched our favorites dissapear. One week spinach was gone, then onions. Our local potatoes have gotten smaller and smaller and are now about the size of golf balls. The last time I hit the Farmer's Market, we found some broccoli, and sweet potatoes, but our favorite Feta Artisan was gone, and there were no greens to be found. After finding more local produce at Whole Foods than at that trip to the market, I gave up on the market and have gone to seeking out local exclusively at Whole Foods. So far we've been able to reliably get cabbage and leeks that are local and organic. Last time we were there the produce manager hinted that the bag of local organic potatoes we'd found would be the last, and our local carrots were gone. Local mushrooms are gone from the Farmer's Market, and hit-and-miss at Whole Foods. Still, we've done our best to use what local is available. We still have some squash hanging in from the harvesting season, though I think we all got squashed out during the Late Fall. Leek and Potato soup is a big favorite, and we've been trying to come up with new ways to use cabbage. Tonight I made a red cabbage stir fry, with a good dose of fresh ginger to ward off the coughs that seem to be lingering everywhere. It was a great splash of color and flavor in the midst of Winter. Keep an eye out, you may be able to find some unexpected local produce in your neck of the woods.