So, I’m starting to cook again, which is a relief. Although the Albertson’s frozen lasagna and mac-and-cheese did see me through the worst of it, I always liked cooking, and not being interested was strange to me.
Last weekend I made a soup (I blogged it but then lost the entry in a small snafu) from leftover duck stock I found in the freezer, lentils, sausage and a mix of kale and turnip greens (also from the freezer and last summer’s garden). It was great — the unctuous duck stock is the perfect foil for the slightly bitter turnip greens, the lentils provide the perfect neutral base note, and the garlicky sausages provide the right note of interest. I’ve been eating it for lunch all week, and somehow, in the dead of winter, eating dark greens from the garden feels healthy in both physical and spiritual ways.
Late last summer, I bought a box of salmon from a neighbor. Twenty-five pounds of gorgeous wild salmon that Chris caught himself off the coast of Alaska. It’s packaged in big fillets — one side of salmon per plastic vaccuum pack. And until recently this has sort of defeated me — that’s a lot of salmon for one gal to eat. But last week, after reading an article somewhere about Omega-3 fatty acids and depression (not that I’m depressed — in a family of depressives I’d recognize real depression, but I am still considerably sad and if Omega-3s can help, well then I’m all over it), I got inspired. I threw a salmon side in the fridge to start to thaw, and then when it was just slightly thawed, I cut it into single portions, which I then resealed using my handy seal-a-meal thing I bought last summer. Now I have five portions of yummy salmon in the upstairs freezer. So, last night I had a piece of salmon I’d thawed, and I went downstairs to see what’s in the freezer veggie-wise and noticed that I have a lot of tomatoes left. When the tomatoes came ripe last summer I drizzled them with the parsley-basil oil I made, oven-roasted them and froze them in packages. So last night I put a piece of salmon in a gratin dish, dumped a package of my own tomatoes over them, and baked it for half an hour. It was delicious. It took two minutes to prepare. And it was all home-grown (or caught), and somehow, eating tomatoes from last summer, tomatoes I grew myself and harvested before disaster struck was really comforting.
Today I’m off to Bozeman to do some errands — get my hair cut, that kind of thing. And I’m going to buy half a lamb from Thirteen Mile Ranch. Unlike the lamb I didn’t buy last fall after Patrick died, this one comes already butchered and packaged (although I had been looking forward to watching Matt, of Matt’s Meats butcher my lamb — well, next year). I love lamb, and would eat more of it but finding local lamb in the grocery stores around here is difficult (I’m not sure why), and buying Australian or New Zealand lamb at Costco when I live among sheep ranchers seems the epitome of everything I was hoping to subvert buy starting a garden in the first place. So on the way to get my hair cut, I get a lovely detour out the Springhill road, where I can pick up a box of lamb to go in the freezer with the box of antelope that Parks brought me, and the box of salmon that Chris caught.
I like knowing my food. I like knowing and paying the people who produced (or procured) my food. And as I learned last fall, buying food from people you know, and with whom you live, makes you a part of the community in a really visceral way. And you never know when you’re going to need to rely on your community.
Or as the bumper sticker says around here: “Be a Yokel, Buy Local.”