In mid-April the food stores are dwindling. Jars of pickles -- cucumber, watermelon rind, bean, asparagus and jalapenos -- still line the shelves in the basement pantry, punctuated by honey, relishes and jams. But only one jar of tomatoes remains. Long gone are the braids of onions and the basket of tiny, pungent garlic bulbs. Where multiple winter squashes crowded in November, now only a single pumpkin and two small butternuts await the soup pot.
The tornado shelter provided cool temperatures and adequate humidity to store winter vegetables for months. I brought the last cabbage up last week. A massive thing even after I peeled away the inedible outer leaves, it provided a surprisingly sweet slaw, accented a sesame pork stir fry, and bulked up a pot of vegetable soup. Now only a few potatoes, wrinkled and sprouting, inhabit one lone corner down there. I'll chit them tonight and plant them out later in the week. There are purple and red varieties from last year's garden, and a buttery gold and red fingerling from the CSA share.
There are still a few jars of preserved vegetables in the small refrigerator in the garage. Mostly we keep drinks colds out there, but I've claimed a lower shelf for lacto-fermented sauerkraut, cucumber pickles, grated beets, and carrots and onions. Lacto fermentation is a preservation technique that's been around for a long time. It's regaining popularity in large part due to recipes and recommendations in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Tonight we'll be spending the evening with friends, eating some of that sauerkraut on Reuben sandwiches.
Actual space is beginning to open up in the big freezer. I broke out the last container of applesauce to eat with sausages the other morning. The remainder will go in a carrot cake sometime this week. I'm saving that last bag of sliced peaches for a rare fruit pie. There are still plenty of beef bones to cook up for stock -- better do that before the weather turns warm. Oh, and there's plenty of beef liver. If anyone has a good recipe, I'd sure love to know it. My experience cooking liver is nonexistent. The rest of our Charolias eighth should just get us through to the fall. There's still a bit of broccoli, chard, zucchini and lots of roasted poblano peppers. And the bean harvest last year was so abundant we may never eat them all.
So we're nowhere near starving, but I've been venturing to the grocery story for salad greens, avocados, artichokes and asparagus. For potatoes, onions and garlic.
This Saturday the first farmers market will open for the season! I'm almost embarrassed to be so excited about that.