We escaped the clutches of the January 2019 Polar Vortex and were blessed within days to experience over 50º weather. No, we didn’t fly to a southern state, it all happened right here in the Midwest. Those couple of days of sunshine and warmth had me longing for fresh food. Perhaps something from the garden: freshly pulled carrots or a warm ripe tomato. Or maybe a few fresh morels gathered from just beyond the edge of the yard.
But it is still February in Central Illinois. Gathering any of those things fresh fom the earth is still a few months away. We do what we can in the meantime. There is a container of fresh alfalfa sprouts growing on the counter, ready to add to a sandwich or salad. That crisp, fresh crunch is a welcome blast of nutrients.
A basement grow station is providing fresh basil, rosemary and cilantro in addition to the starts of tomatoes, peppers and onions that will populate the garden in a few short months. On days when it warms up just enough, say to 30º or so, it’s ok to open the cold frame and pick a salad of baby lettuces and spinach.
The next best thing is to forage in the freezer or pantry for preserved items. The freezer is full of tomato sauce, carrots, peppers, onions, garlic bulbils, strawberries and peaches. We even have some Elderberries waiting to be processed into syrup. The pantry holds rows of home canned tomato juice, pickles, jellies, jams, pie fillings, hot pepper sauce, relishes and our special Bloody Mary Mix.
So until the sun warms the soil enough to garden, we will feast on these things and dream of summer to come.
What summer food do you miss most?