Savoring the Seasons: What’s local for lunch?

  • This winter, many of Mary’s lunches started with roasting a whole chicken. Metro Creative Graphics

For The Recorder
Published: 4/5/2016 6:28:07 PM

For much of my life, my work has been a flexible schedule combining self-employment and part-time jobs. Since December, I’ve had a part-time job as a writer/editor at a small publisher based in Florence. There’s flexibility to work at home when the weather is icy or I’m sick, but, in general, I’m expected to be there with my co-workers three days a week.

This relatively new routine has changed how I prepare food and what I eat. Instead of working at home, grazing as I feel like it, or fixing something at the last minute, I need to plan ahead. Because of many evening meetings and events, I prepare something at the beginning of the week that I can eat for lunch all week. 

I could go out and buy a sandwich or food at a restaurant, but that’s expensive and local food is harder to find.

So, what’s been local on the lunch menu these past few months?

During a really busy time, I ate egg salad, crackers, and apples.

This winter, many of my lunch meals have started with roasting a whole chicken and potatoes or sweet potatoes. I eat the dark meat of the chicken for a few dinners, and turn the rest of the chicken and the potatoes/sweet potatoes into some combination. Since I had the “lasts forever cold/sinus infection” going around this year, for many weeks I combined the chicken and potatoes with sauteed leeks, spinach, and herbs into chicken soup.

I also found a bag of dried shitake mushrooms from New England Wild Edibles in Colrain tucked away in my kitchen cupboard. That meant an enhanced soup/stew with lots of great mushroom flavor and texture.

I’m happy eating the same thing over and over again. However, I do have limits. After many pots of chicken soup during the never-ending ailment, I’ve taken a break from chicken soup. But, I still had whole chickens in the freezer and stored potatoes. Then, I noticed on the pantry shelf jars of bread and butter pickles and maple pickled beets I’d bought from Barberic Farm at the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market.

I thought … “I bet I could make a chicken and potato salad with cut up pickles or beets.” After roasting the chicken and potatoes, it was easy to cut up cold chicken, potatoes, and pickles each morning and mix it with a bit of mayo and pickle juice.

The result … very tasty! And, very different from chicken soup, even though the main ingredients were the same.

This week, I moved out of the chicken/potato routine and will make meatloaf using ground beef and pork from Sidehill Farm in Hawley and bacon I got from Bostrom Farm at the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market. I’ll have meatloaf and local spinach sandwiches and apples I got from Scott Orchard farmstand on Rte. 116 in Ashfield. I’ll make enough meatloaf to freeze some in slices for future meals.

Once the weather is warmer, and I’m less inclined to roast chicken, I’ll make salads with local lettuce and spinach topped with chunks of local cheese.

What’s local on your lunch menu? Please share so we can all add variety to our lunches!

This week we’re eating…Meatloaf

Sue Atherton, Atherton Farm, Buckland

(Mary’s note: This recipe was created several years ago using ingredients from the Conway Farmers Market)

1 lb. ground beefalo (Chestnut Lot Farm)

1/2 lb. sweet Italian ground pork sausage (Wells Tavern Farm)

1 large or 2 small egg(s) (from Ellen)

1 large or 2 small onions, diced (Atherton Farm)

1/2 to 1 C. milk

Tomato paste

3 slices day old bread crushed (from Ellen)

1 tsp. Bell's poultry seasoning

salt & pepper to your liking

Mix everything together. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins. to 1 hour.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer for Greenfield Community College, Interim Executive Director of the Franklin County Community Meals Program, and Brand Promoter for Goshen-based local food company Appalachian Naturals. Send column suggestions and recipes to: mmcclinto@yahoo.com


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