Agora

Every Wednesday we have the Farmers’ Market in town, and it’s one of the best things to happen here in a while (this is the second year). There’s music, and a flea market in the adjacent field, and prepared food as well as the usual produce, cheese, bread, meat, and wine. There are cooking classes for kids, and the weather has actually been pretty good on most of the recent days. It’s always fun to see people we know, and it really underscores the positive aspects of living in a small town; where else can you make plans with both a French sommelier and Peruvian shaman while someone weighs you out some pork belly?

I also picked up some chicken for dinner, though I didn’t quite have it in me to light the grill. The cat had woken me up at 5, and I was out all day, so by this time culinary ambition was getting its ass fully kicked by efficiency. The last two turnips from our spring crop awaited (the row is reseeded with more for fall) and I had pulled up some selvetica arugula and purslane to make room for extra carrots since we never have enough. Thus did chicken pieces and cubed turnips bake together in the oven with garlic cloves and a sprinkling of spices on the skin. I gave the greens a squeeze of lemon and olive oil, and that was it.

As much as I love the weekly market, it only underscores how shitty our shopping options are when the season is over. (This is a downside of living in a small town). I’m really starting to chafe at the brevity of our growing season, so I’m formulating plans to expand our garden so we can grow enough of the staples to last us through the winter. Our place isn’t ideally set up for it, but I can make a few big (yet inexpensive) improvements in the fall and spring that should help me feel a little better. If we only had a basement, this would be a lot easier.

I was going to title this post “Agoraphilia” but it turns out that it means the love of sex outdoors, or getting turned on by being outside- which, sure- but not exactly what I meant.

5 comments to Agora

  • Zoomie

    If you're serious, Peter, you can actually dig yourself a small root cellar below the frost line and keep some of your veggies in it all during the winter. I'm not sure how it's done but I'm sure you could research it on the interwebs. The temperature down there is constant even when the temperature of the air varies. I'm talking a reasonably sized hole, not the size of a house cellar. You install a hatch over the hole and insulate (I think) with straw. Anyway, it seems like the perfect project for a guy like you.

  • peter

    I'm going to do it in the crawl space under the house- it stays above freezing. The challenge is to keep the mice out of the food.

  • cookiecrumb

    Totally the crawl space. Put your food in closed wire-mesh baskets (and this will make it easier to lower and fish them up when you want them).
    Also… you thinking maybe greenhouse? Next year?

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    Our CSA farmer suggested that rather than dig the root cellar (ie. the mouse issue) make sandboxes and store things that way, with tarps over the boxes. And, yeah, sure the mice can still get in, but you're making it harder. I also do tons of blanching and freezing.

    I love the book, PUTTING FOOD BY, by Greene, et al. I'm not a canner (although they have plenty of canning suggestions), but they've got other alternatives which I use all the time. This is assuming you have a chest freezer, but from other posts, I'm assuming you do.

  • peter

    CC: I would build a greenhouse in a second if I had the money.

    Jen: I'm going to do sandboxes with lids and hope it's enough. No chest freezer yet, but I might get one soon.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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