Savoring the Seasons: Spice up your lunchbox meal with a classic pork stew

  • Dice up some carrots and add them to the mix for a nice flavor note in today’s pork stew recipe. Contributed Photo

  • Mary McClintock

Published: 4/4/2017 11:43:40 AM

For many of us, lunch is something we pack up in the morning and take with us to work. A friend of mine who leaves for work earlier than she wants to eat, packs herself both breakfast and lunch. Whatever the timing of your work shift, lunchbox meals are a great opportunity to savor locally grown food.

My work is a combination of stay-at-home freelance writing, editing, and book indexing and a three-day-a-week writing/editing job in Florence. So, three days a week, I pack the mini-soft-cooler or wide-mouth thermos with variations on yummy local food to enjoy at work. In the winter, I try to make a big vat of soup to enjoy all week. The soup I mentioned last week has been one of my standards in the past few months thanks to produce from the Greenfield Winter Farmers Market and Diemand Farm turkey I froze after Thanksgiving last November. This winter, I’ve also enjoyed ginger squash soup made with butternut squash and locally grown ginger I stored from last fall’s Greenfield Farmers Market. I am out of stored squash now, but still have ginger I froze and I’m plotting how to make a chicken, spinach, and ginger soup.

Recently, I looked back through recipes I’ve shared in my column in past years to spark new ideas for lunch soups and was thrilled to remember Carolann Zaccara’s Cabin Fever Pork Stew recipe. It will be perfect for Bostrom Farm stew beef from the freezer along with some Winter Moon organic carrots and parsnips.

Some weeks, I don’t get around to making soup, or I save it for supper. Those weeks, I boil eggs from Conway’s Farm on a Rock and make egg salad to enjoy with crackers and some of Barbara and Eric Goodchild’s Barberic Farm maple pickled beets or bread and butter pickles.

Sometimes, I make what my friend often takes for her “work breakfast” and eat it for lunch: Sidehill Farm yogurt, Benson Place blueberries I froze last August, a chopped-up local apple from Clarkdale Fruit Farms or Apex Orchards, and a dollop (or two) of Boyden Brothers maple syrup.

When I really haven’t budgeted enough time to make something in the morning before I head out the door, I silently bless the cooks and farmers at Diemand Farm and pull a turkey pot pie or pint container of stew made with their beef out of the freezer and toss it in the mini-cooler. I’m grateful that my workplace has a way to heat up frozen food.

Whenever spring really settles in, I’ll shift to my warmer weather lunch standard — some form of salad, often including local mesclun mix, spinach, carrots, and radishes, Gill Greenery sprouts, chunks of Chase Hill Farm Farmstead cheese or Eden Pond Farm chicken and Appalachian Naturals Maple Balsamic dressing.

What’s local in your lunchbox?

I’m always happy to hear from readers and hope you’ll send me your recipes for your lunchbox favorites.

This week we’re eating ...

Cabin Fever Pork Stew by Carolann Zaccara, Wagon Wheel, Gill

Cut pork butt into chunks. Dredge in flour, salt and pepper. Brown in a mixture of butter and olive oil in the bottom of a large heavy pot.

De-glaze pot with dark beer (I used Berkshire Brewing’s Cabin Fever). Add in diced onion, carrots, turnips, parsnip, and rutabaga. Add fresh thyme and bay leaves. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Cover by 1 inch with stock (I used pork and vegetable stock I made with the pork butt bone). Bring to simmer and cook for ½ hour.

Add potatoes, butternut squash and apples. Simmer until pork is tender and potatoes are soft. Add salt, black pepper and a little hot sauce. More often, I make this with Wheel-View Farm beef rather than pork.

Local food advocate and community organizer Mary McClintock lives in Conway and works as a freelance writer, editor, and book indexer. Send column suggestions and recipes to:


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