Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Putting food by; putting memories by

Last night we had winter squash, lamb sausage, and wild rice for supper, made from food we had put up ourselves.

The squash and sausage was a recipe my mom used to make - just cooked sausage and onions  mixed with a baked buttercup squash. Definitely comfort food.

The wild rice dish was from Many Cultures, One Community:a book of stories and recipes thanks to Carol Zielinski. It calls for fresh wild mushrooms and wild rice. Several years ago in late October, I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. The book inspired me to cook with as much local food as possible. My next trip to the grocery store after reading the book was sobering. The only local foods I could find were winter squash, eggs and dried shitaki mushrooms. I bought all three. We love the wild flavor of the shitaki mushrooms and I buy them preferentially now. Maybe one of these years we'll learn to grow our own.

We have learned to harvest wild rice. It is a slow process, that involves paddling a river for six or eight hours in late August or early September. Dave paddles and I sit in the bottom of the canoe and using a long stick, bend the rice stalks over the canoe and then hit the stalks to dislodge the rice grains. We enjoy the ducks and swans flying overhead, the insects crawling along the rice stalks and this last year, the enthusiasm and questions of our grandson, Jasper. It took twice as long to harvest the rice because we stopped every once in awhile for a snack, securely lodged amongst the rice stalks, but it was a delightful day.

In the cold of winter, when I bake a squash, fry our sausage, and cook up a dish of wild rice, we are grateful for the food we have put by, and for the memories of summer.

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