Monday, April 22, 2013

Local, Seasonal & Grateful

 Call it Food P0rn, nudie rooster, 50 Shades of Chicken, but the truth is it's seasonal and local. Happy Earth Day, folks. This is what it's all about. Friends & feathers flying on a windy Saturday afternoon when the fate of the young roosters (who should have been laying hens) comes calling.

I call it the law of the land...if you're male, you're meat. And brutal as it may sound, they can't all grow up" to be the...errr, rooster. 
 "You're smiling way too much in this picture," was the comment. Really? Is there too much happiness in knowing that I, indeed, was responsible for the mayhem that would ultimately be my dinner as well as the other five feathered fowl who were cooked up this week in other kitchens?

Truth be known, that if most people were charged with the processing of their protein, there would be many more vegetarians in the world. Even my right-hand teenage deadly shot who has put venison & squirrel on my table cringed at the sound made by the popping meniscus as I dismembered the feet (which I would like to add, went to a lovely local restaurant for stock-making, but I won't mention it's name because I know there are some folks out there who are still a little squeamish about the cock's comb to toenails thing with cooking poultry). Although I must give her credit for bringing along her boyfriend for an afternoon of chicken processing. If ever there was a litmus test for dating, I'd say holding a pair of chickens while plucked by hand ranks right up there.

"How do I cook my chicken?" she asked. I handed her some fresh rosemary from the greenhouse of the woman with whom she shared her first season at market and a can of crushed tomatoes. I split the bird with my handy-dandy Pampered Chef Poultry Shears Mom had given me (BEST tool ever) and told her to toss it all in a pot with some fresh garlic, salt & pepper and bake at 325 until it smelled good and the wing tore off easily. She was pleased with the result.

For me, I had to kick it up a notch. This is the difference between a seasoned foodie and one in training. 
 People often ask me, "How long can I keep this?"  As a veteran of eating locally and seasonally, I can tell you that with the right conditions, some things keep for months. Take the wonderful fresh ginger from Shawna & Attila at Mountain View Farm I stocked up on last summer at the Bloomingdale Farmers Market. Given the bounty of their generosity as fellow vendors, I peeled and sliced my extra storing it in a mason jar covered with dry sherry. Every now and then I'll pick out a chunk and mince it in the awesome kitchen gadget my sister got me for Christmas along with a few cloves of garlic from the lovely braid Anna and Brooks from North Mountain Pastures brought to my Goat Roast last Labor Day
Tossed in a skillet seasoned with a slice of salt pork from Truck Patch Farms (again, this stuff lasts for months in the fridge) and a fresh sprig of tarragon from my own kitchen herb patch along with the lovely winter vegetables from Nicole at Two Acre Farm I see each week at Central Farm Market's Bethesda I simmered everything with a cupful of Toigo Orchard's apple cider (even if the jug was bulging a bit) until is was all gooey and tender. "Take whatever you want," she always says to me at the end of market and I try to only take what I know I will eat until I see her again. In return, I try to keep her son, Wyatt, well-fed with his favorite, goat chorizo.

And as the steam gently escaped the lid, the aromas melded into gratitude as I think about all the hands, all the hours, all the toil & soil, all the love and all the friendships that have gone into my simple meal. How sad I feel for people who are reduced to consuming faceless, nameless calories slung on a plate or into a bag by someone who could care less.

So, in honor of Earth Day, love your farmers because I sure love all of mine.

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