On seasonal eating

IMG_1389Pea season

“Guess what’s NOT for dinner tonight, folks?”  I have just walked in from the garden, colander brimming, and I am addressing my husband and daughter.  “SALAD!”

“Woo-hoo!” was the response.

Don’t get me wrong:  we adore salads in this house.  We easily eat between six to nine cups of salad an evening for dinner:  that’s the equivalent of about one of those huge bags of premixed salads you buy at the store…though ours is much better, of course 😉  Our daughter eats a good two cups by herself.  And it’s not like salads aren’t still on the menu, because they are.  It’s just that other things are ripening and moving the salad over.  Last night’s big harvest was broccoli, and it was really quite tasty.  Tonight will be greens of some variety, perhaps turnip or spinach or rapini, to pair with the pot of cranberry beans bubbling away on the stove at the moment.

Eating seasonally means you do need to take what’s available:  it’s completely different from “well, what do YOU feel like eating for dinner tonight?”  The garden dictates our diet!  One more day and that broccoli would’ve opened too much, another 5 days my spinach will be bolting.  While many people would find this incredibly limiting, I instead pity their narrow-mindedness and lack of opportunity.  Everything we eat is at its nutritional peak, still warm from the sun.

The downside, if it could be considered one, is when something’s in season, that’s what you eat.  It’s license to be a glutton, I think.  Asparagus!  Green garlic, multitudinous greens, spring onions, broccoli, Asian cabbages.  It’s not a bad way to eat, frankly.

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17 responses to “On seasonal eating

  1. That’s living the good life, isn’t it.

  2. It is indeed a joy. I am drowning in mesclun and other salad greens right now, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Salad 2 or more times a day, yes please! And isn’t amazing how the seasons work, while we are waiting for the other spring/summer veg to yield their goodness, we have fresh salad greens after a long dearth in winter. And by the time it is too warm for lettuces/greens, the fruits and veg of summer have made their way onto our tables. Wonderful.

  3. Exactly. We just have to get daughter to eat salad.

  4. It’s been a struggle, learning when to plant what and finally having the lightbulb go off about succession planting!

    4 years ago the plan was for a big, huge! flower garden with room for tomatoes…..now, good luck flowers…you’ll have to squeeze in here or there…still important for the pollinators but no longer the prime focus. Lavendar has to make do with a bit too much water, it’s planted just under the pear tree.

    I think eating fresh from the garden isn’t tyranny, it’s like coming home and asking (the garden) “what’s for dinner?”! No decisions to make….it’s liberating.

  5. Well earlier this year I was getting sick of spinach. I was slightly thankful when it bolted. I did freeze some of it when I knew I just couldn’t eat it all.

    I’m still stuck on greens though. I’ve got chard and Asian greens and of course lettuce. Sadly my broccoli is dying from root maggots this year. So sad. The other brassicas seem to be free of them thankfully. I saw my first pea bud today so I’m eagerly waiting on them. My carrots will be big enough to eat in a couple of weeks. I don’t mind eating with the seasons, but I really do get tired of greens for every lunch and dinner. Or I did. Then I had to travel for a couple of days. When I got back I was very happy to be eating them again. In the summer I’ll get sick of zucchini, but I have some nice recipes now to hide it when I don’t really want to know I’m eating it anymore.

  6. I think the glut/tired of/dearth/looking forward to cycle is part of the whole seasonal thing. Eating what’s out there, rather than trying to figure what we want and purchasing that, is both a discipline and a freedom, as you’ve noticed.

    If only I’d managed my succession planting so that things overlapped more than just kale, I’d be even happier!

  7. I agree! And actually, I find it incredibly freeing once the garden gets going. I don’t have to think and plan meals as much,or at least it feels that way. I just walk outside and look around for what *needs* to be eaten.
    Have also learned not to miss foods that aren’t readily available locally. The foods that are ready to eat locally taste divine and are well worth the wait!

  8. I find that just as I’m getting tired of eating something, it’s season is over and its on to the next fruit or vegetable. Lovely.

  9. So exciting! We harvested our first peas this week too…I’ve decided I planted our broccoli way too late this year. Right now, catepillars are enjoying it more than anyone 😦

  10. Pamela, well, I sure think so, and it’s not just because I have the blisters and aching muscles to make it happen…

    MC, I remember well your dry season this winter. It does take a bit of work to fully understand how things grow, as you know! But it can be much more tasty, going this route…but you’re right, you might have to like eating a lot of mesclun along the way.

    Ed, well. Your girl is older so you probably can’t pull things over on her like we’re able to do with ours. Frankly, our salads are such a mix we’re usually able to get a few of her favorite lettuces in there, and that’s how she’ll eat the arugula too.

    Petunia, you’re quite right, it is liberating. We don’t need to know, it just tells us! Yum. And I don’t know about you but it doesn’t need to be a gigantic serving to be part of the meal. Only one small handful of asparagus tonight and a few small florets of broccoli? Okay!

    Daphne, you have described well what my husband and I call “Going Off the Res(ervation)” and eating Other People’s Food in that whenever we leave home we’re sorely disappointed by the foodstuffs. Even days spent in big cities can be a turnoff after a while despite all their ethnic food bounty; we still prefer garden goodies. Oh and zucchini is meant to be a stealth food whenever it gets bigger than 6″ I think!

    Stefaneer, that succession-planting thing you and Petunia both mentioned shouldn’t be discounted: it can be a real juggle at first! I swear once you get the hang of it, it’s second nature. I wouldn’t say it’s my goal to feature one new or different vegetable to eat every night during the high season but that’s what happens. Now, we’re cycling through 5 different ones; not bad, considering the gardens are only 3/4 planted.

    Amanda, I adore your chicken coop! And the fact that you’re really going nuts in your back yard, despite “your delicate condition.” But yes, it’s great, just going outside with the colander and letting the garden do the work for us. Every night I just need to make sure I harvest an onion-like thing and some parsley; the rest fixes itself. And you’re right: excepting a particularly intense period of citrus lust in December, I would rather scrounge locally too.

    GB, exactly! Though I would appreciate it if strawberry season lasted a little longer, which is why I got some day-neutral plants from a friend. There are ways to get around one’s desire that don’t involve long-haul trucking.

    Lindsay, ugh, too bad about the caterpillars. I try to just keep a steady supply of the stuff so the caterpillars don’t get too much of a chance. But peas, yes! LOVE pea season.

  11. Ok, that’s it! I’m expanding my garden next year!

  12. actually, it is liberating. Never have to think about the grocery list and what’s for dinner. You go outside, and dinner suggest itself, in all its glorious freshness! certainly a reason to plant lots of different things in small quantities. For me, pea season is here. I just love the “mange-tout” type.

  13. Jules, you must! 😉

    Sylvie, I am glad to hear it’s not just me: this IS easier. Okay maybe some people think gardening is work, how silly they are, eh? Oh and others think cooking is work too I suppose! But both you and Ed just love those mange-tout peas! Me, I like the shelling kind, even though the shelling isn’t so fun.

  14. Good News!!! The dead tree, that I’ve been saving for the birds to peck bugs on, came down with all the rain (5.1″!) we got last night! It was right where we wanted to put in the winter garden, the one that would get all that winter sun for the greens bed. Yippee! The rest will come down this weekend, and the plot plan begins!

  15. Ok, I really meant 1/2 the dead tree came down, the top half.

  16. Jules, that’s great news, especially since Mother Nature did half the work for you already! Of course she didn’t help you with cleanup, but still, this means she wants you to put in the winter garden!

  17. Pingback: Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener » One Local Summer

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