the Plight of Cooking in Winter:

Right now, my garden sucks. Like hard core. The only thing edible out there right now is the nectar from a sage which I see the hummingbird slurping up every afternoon. And a few leaves of really tough arugula. And onion tops, which could be added for seasoning, but can’t really base a meal out of.

Last winter we did alright, and had a steady supply of kale, carrots, parsnips, fava greens, beets and chard. While we never have full sun, winter is the worst, with only a few hours shining down on only a third of the yard. If I had a larger space, or I was better at timing, I would have started winter crops in August or September and given them growing time before the sun shut off and the perpetual 30 degree nights rolled in. But, we were growing tomatoes in all the sun space and getting married, so the garden didn’t get the attention it needed.

Our kale and chard are the exact same size they were 2 months ago: 5 inches tall. The peas vines are growing, but there are no pods (and only 1 flowers, for that matter). The favas are stuck in the “poke out of dirt” stage. Parsnips and cilantro are holding steady at two bract leaves. Its like time has frozen in the yard, except slugs and bugs still come.

Occasionally I will catch a farmers market, if I drive 20 minutes out of the way, and can pick up some kale, but overall its almost hard to find fresh, local produce. I don’t even have eggs to trade with neighbors for other produce. Of course I could easily pop into the closest market, for me thats Whole Foods, and pick up any produce I want, organic at that. BUT…

…I HATE HATE HATE buying produce. I go to the store almost every day, to pick up dairy, bulk or beer, but it feels WRONG to buy produce. Like I’m cheating on my garden, or something. Why pay for something when I’m perfectly good at growing it myself, albeit seeming can’t?

Which is why right now I’m miserably either forced to buy produce at the grocery store or create an exciting meal from storage: onions, winter squash, canned tomatoes and the assorted things in the freezer.

I know I really shouldn’t complain, and I try to pretend its the 1800’s and I’m living in the Dakotas like Laura Ingalls, and fresh produce is never an option and I’d be living off cornbread and potatoes, but I’m going to complain, because I’m good at that. 🙂

I thought I would compile a list of things that look yummy, and with a well stocked pantry and freezer, won’t require me to buy (much) fresh produce. Perhaps you are in the same predicament and will find inspiration:

winter garden

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2 thoughts on “the Plight of Cooking in Winter:

  1. Don’t worry! We’re with you in the garden doldrums as well, even in Zone 8. Thankfully, I sliced off two nice broccoli crowns today, some broccoli leaves (to stir fry), and (like you) took a picture of the lone pea flower just looking silly all by itself. Their leaves are delicious, though, so I plucked 4-5 off of each plant (I have 20) and wilted them into my soup for lunch. It’s the little things in the winter.

    Only a few months off now ’til spring. Hang in there! And BAH! don’t feel like you’re cheating at the grocery. Get some bok choy (it’s seasonal here) and stir fry it with chives, red cabbage, tofu and teriyaki for a little pick-me-up. Your plants will never know what you don’t tell ’em. 🙂

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