It is Spring Equinox. It is also the Persian New Year. I thought about doing a Persian recipe, but lacked the time. But on March 18th, I started indoor seeds for later outdoor transplantation. Some of them could have been started sooner, but the atmosphere remains too “winterish” here to have gotten in the proper mood…
PS: I’d planned on a St. Patrick’s Day recipe, but while it was okay, it wasn’t begging to be posted… “Okay” means I’d rather optimize it.
This is one of my intermittent mostly-non-recipe Tuesday posts. Sit back and enjoy, or pass it over. If you live rural in Zone 5, any and all helpful hints are welcome!!! PS, I do not get any reimbursements for mentioning any of the resources talked about below. (I tried to get the Amazon link going back in Connecticut, but every time the phone rang to verify my Amazon, I was kicked off line… blam!)
I don’t really know why I am welcoming in spring, because we still have a ton of snow out there, and no promises that more won’t fall. In fact, they promise more WILL, this very week. Hey, I did CHOOSE to retire northwards. It’s pretty, but it does cancel a bunch of my physical therapy appointments. Minor grumbles. I can do some of that work on my ownsome, here.
My new life is 30 minutes from any decent supermarket — well, there’s a convenience store about 15 minutes away, but as for fresh food, that one only carries onions, potatoes, and (sometimes) bananas. Also milk and bread, but I don’t use those two items particularly often. And I steer clear of the ample supply of sodas and bottled waters. But if one wants “grape juice”, there are a few decent wine selections.
Back at my old place, I’d hit the supermarket about three times a week, usually because it was very convenient, (right off the road on the way home from work) and I had my choice of a couple of them (ShopRite, Stew Leonard’s), plus there was Costco and BJ’s, about a quarter of a mile from each other. (I’d be a member of one or the other, not both.) When I had to work weekends, when the highway wouldn’t clog up so fast after weekday work, I’d stop at Trader Joes and Whole Foods, which were also right off the highway, but they were closer to work.
You could always get something, and with just a little more effort, you could roll through Danbury, CT and visit the Atlantic Market (Asian, with an emphasis on Indochinese) or the Indian Market. Which got me a’ salivating!
And if I had to grab something super quick, if it wasn’t remotely obscure, I could always hit the Mom and Pop, about 3 minutes from home.
Now, while I am taking physical therapy in Westfield, I do stop at the Stop and Shop across the way – a 45 minute one way trip. Someday I hope to cease taking physical therapy, and I am not particularly impressed by this Stop and Shop anyway. There’s another small shop in Huntington where I get my farm fresh eggs (20 minutes) and I can pass close to it on my way to Westfield. They also have a limited selection of meats and fresh produce, but nothing to depend on when making a specific recipe for the blog or such.
Actually, the meats are easy. I buy my beef and pork via farmers’ markets and going in on portions of local pastured animals with other like minded folk, and I freeze the stuff. Chicken is harder, so I look for the better-raised (“free”-range or organic) chicken in supermarkets, when possible. That, too, can be frozen. I’ll be buying a free range lamb shortly, and that will end up in one or the other freezers, likely both.
Because I eat semi-Paleo (yes, I lost 40 pounds doing that, and there were serious health issues that kicked me into doing this – weight is incidental), grains and beans don’t make a majority of my diet. ( I think, actually, that both rice and quinoa in reasonable limits are healthy these days, and I never had a problem with most beans, if properly soaked.) I do keep lots of packs of frozen spinach, turnip greens, and broccoli around; and winter squashes, potatoes and onions have a good lifespan if properly stored. I still have one last autumn squash sitting here.
It’s the nice fresh green produce you don’t want turning into mush in the freezer, or brown and limp in the fridge. It’s the “ethnic” rarities. That’s what I’m actually missing shopping for once or twice during the week. (Well, and quality seafood.)
But, there’s a solution or two, and I’ve planned on it.
From Baker Creek, I ordered a batch of seeds. And gathered a few other packets from other sources. Some I know I can grow easily here, a few are off-chances I will be hopeful for. After all, now I have the sun I lacked back in CT, and the space. I just need to make the raised beds (difficult with some of our current snowfalls – I am writing this on March 8th, and yesterday we got something like 18 inches of white powdery…). And, editing on March 16th, noting we just got another oversized dollop, and may get more next week… Next year, I hope to get an interior herb/microgreen setup going, for those winter months. I also need to plan out my greenhouse. Plus I now have a root cellar. So many of these vegetables can last even longer stored at the proper temperature.
My Russian kale did wonderfully last year, and the strawberries were prolific. I transplanted the strawberries to their permanent locale, and I will add more this year. Strawberries are one of the few fruits (along with tomatoes) I like when dried. I put in garlic in the fall as well.
I plan to place at least three raised beds this year, so I can do crop rotation. Herbs will simply go by the side of the house; I can go out and harvest them any time. The three raised beds will (this first year) house nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes) and sweet potatoes; the second will have Brassica plants, and the third will hold everything else. I’ll add in two more raised beds in future years. One of the beds will share a place with perennial veggies which of course can’t get rotated — eventually it will become permanently perennial.
Last year I obtained four citrus trees (Australian finger lime, kefir/Thai lime, regular supermarket lime, blood orange). They, along with a fig and an olive (which isn’t doing so well) are overwintering in the house. Four apple saplings were planted out doors, one showed signs of death in the fall, but hopefully the other three will pull through the winter. For this year, I ordered two more apples, a grapefruit, a lemon and a persimmon. And some more figs. They’ll arrive the end of April. (I hope it thaws out there by then!)
There are also native high bush blueberries in the back forty. As soon as I can get to them, they will require pruning. Those berries are tiny, but they still taste good.
I saved seeds from two of last years’ delicata squash – they’ll be direct-sowed.
And some things I’m planting are just for pretty. Calla lilies and cannas for instance. A good friend is bringing up some of his hybrid cannas to join the ones I already have this May.
There will be chickens here, too. More about those guys next time I post.