Savoring the Seasons: Flavor, variety and connection

  • Becky and Tom Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farm with their award winning fruit in the Round House at the Franklin County Fair this year. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

For The Recorder
Published: 11/8/2016 11:37:58 AM

This month marks the 15th anniversary of my focus on locally-grown food. In November 2001, I attended a presentation by John Hoffman and Kate Stevens about Gary Paul Nabhan’s book, “Coming Home to Eat,” and how we can support local farmers. I learned that most food eaten in the United States travels an average of 1,500 miles and goes through six “middlemen” from grower to consumer.

A few days later, I walked into a big chain supermarket and stopped, gazing at the endless aisles of countless packages of food. I walked up and down, looking at the cans, jars, and boxes and thought, “Where did all this food come from? How did it get here?”

Although those experiences changed my life in many ways, it boils down to three things: flavor, variety and connection. That’s what I’ve thought in recent weeks as I shopped at farmstands, farmers markets and small local markets, talking with friends and people I’ve never met.

Flavor! There’s nothing like the flavors of food you’ve grown yourself or your neighbors have grown. Sometimes, the burst of flavor when I take a bite stops my thoughts and all I can think is a grinning “wow!”

Variety! My most recent grinning “wow” experiences came from Clarkdale Fruit Farm pears and apples. If you haven’t tasted Goldrush apples or Packham’s Triumph pears, get yourself to Clarkdale. Yes, Stillwater Bridge is closed and some of us now drive other-than-usual routes to Clarkdale, but I can 100 percent guarantee that one bite of a ripened-a-few-days-in-a-paper-bag Packham’s Triumph pear makes up for a small detour. Eat that pear while standing over the kitchen sink, because they are so juicy. The fruit-from-away in the mega stores comes in just a few standardized, often not-so-flavorful varieties. Locally grown food comes in many fabulously flavorful varieties.

Connection! Sometime this fall, I was at Maria’s Lyonsville Farm booth at the Greenfield Farmers Market and I enthused about delicata squash to a woman I’d never met. I said my favorite way to prepare delicata squash is to make “squash smiles.”

Last Saturday at the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market, I was at Maria’s booth and a woman next to me said, “I’m buying delicata squash because of you. Now, I know what to do with them.” It was Linda Damp from Greenfield. She also told me she had never liked fresh ginger before because it was rooty and fibrous, but she really loves the fresh local young ginger that is delicious, tender and sweet.

That conversation with Linda was one of many conversations I’ve had in recent weeks about delicious locally grown food.

Sandy Kosterman, who I’ve never met, called me to ask about ways to modify a recipe and shared her recipe for “hurricane soup” that uses whatever happens to be on hand in your kitchen. I’ll share Sandy’s soup recipe in a future column.

My friend, Grace Edwards, and I looked up ways to use the fresh turmeric and ginger I’d bought from Maria at the Farmers Market. I’ll share Maria’s recipe for Golden Milk and other fresh turmeric tips next week in time for you to get some at the next Greenfield Winter Farmers Market on Nov. 19, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Four Corners School.

I’d love to share your experiences of how local food brings flavor, variety, and connection into your life. Please send me your stories and recipes.

This Week We’re Eating

Delicata Squash Smiles

By Karen Warren, Pelham (shared by Mary McClintock)

Rinse squash, scrubbing off any dirt. Slice squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and put in compost bucket. Slice squash in ½ inch to 1 inch wide “smiles.” Spread out in baking dish or on cookie sheet. Roast at 375 degrees until soft. Smile at the smiles until they’re cool enough to touch. Then, eat the smiles (skin and all).


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