February is here and I’m getting excited as my seeds arrive, the 2012 growing season is about to begin. Fresh ‘green goods’ from my garden no longer seem like a pipe dream as I look out onto the bland back yard. I’m imagining how wonderful they will look and taste in just a another couple of months. But something strikes through this imaginative state and I think about my edible garden from last year that is in the freezer? With a new growing season on the horizon have I forgotten about some fresh, admittedly frozen, ‘goodness’ from last year’s garden?
I spent valuable time in-doors last season carefully preparing and freezing various items. I can’t let myself forget about them even though I’m currently focused on going to grocers that offer high-quality fruits and vegetables so that we can continue eating fresh during the winter.
However, the whole purpose of preserving the harvest is to enjoy it once production has stopped, so last week I decided to break my current routine. I looked in the freezer before I went to the grocer. I made food from my February edible garden!
To start, blueberries. Remember the 50 lbs of blueberries I picked in the Pacific Northwest last summer? Little bags of frozen berries were stuffed everywhere in our freezer. You may be surprised to hear that only 4 bags are left! No, I have not gone wild adding a bit of blueberry to every dish no matter what it is.
Instead, my daughters (also sometimes referred to as ‘garden mates’ ) have developed a wonderful habit of eating a bowlful of frozen blueberries each night before they go to bed. It is so routine for them that they don’t even ask about dessert anymore, they just know they’ll get blueberries if they eat a good dinner. Now this is not to say that if I offer something different they wouldn’t snatch it up in a heartbeat with their little sweet-tooths. But they are completely content having a snack of blueberries as their dessert.
How did this happen? I don’t actually know…maybe it’s one of the positives that can happen from taking your children u-picking and forging a real connection about where their food comes from along with its beauty and taste…
Back to my February edibles…with only a moderate amount of blueberries left I decided to try one new recipe that would be healthy in nature and offer my family something beyond “blueberries straight-up!” I chose ‘Best Blueberry Muffins’ from Eighty-Twenty, a food blog that I like. These were easy to make and quite a good little ‘starter’ in the mornings as they include rolled oats, yogurt, blueberries, etc… with just a modest amount of sugar. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it.
Through the process of looking around in the freezer I found some packages of my homemade spaghetti sauce. You may be thinking, “o.k., some tomatoes from the garden”…but there are onions, carrots and lots of herbs in it as well. So really, lots of fresh produce straight from the garden, with a stop in the freezer, to the table.
And my third choice for the week was a sour-cherry pistachio crisp. Again, while searching the freezer I found several containers of wonderful sour-cherries that I picked from my mom and grandma’s trees. I looked for some recipes with a healthy bent and came up with this one from Martha Stewart. I was intrigued with combining these intricately flavored cherries with pistachios, a favorite nut around our house. Interested?
The crisp was a hit with my family ! Lots of cherry flavor combined with an earthy-nuttiness, just enough sweet and easy to make!
So I made a dent in my February edible garden and still have some ‘garden goodness’ to pull out. How about you? Do you spend time preserving your harvest and then find yourself forgetting to eat it during the winter months?
If so, hopefully this will be a reminder to go to your freezer or pantry to find your February edible garden!