The Flip Side of Extravagance

Yesterday’s post talked about extravagance–something we get to indulge in because autumn is such a generous season. There’s a flip side, however:  Autumn isn’t bountiful with everything, only produce that ripens at this time of year.  While the collection of autumn-ripening produce is definitely the biggest, it doesn’t include things like asparagus, queen of spring, or snap peas and cherries which brighten early summer.  Even summer squash and green beans start disappearing after the early days of September.

One of the neat parts of becoming a seasonal eater is learning to devise incredible meals with just what a season has to offer.  Yesterday we talked about having lots of peppers at this time of year, so practically every dish I make gets a color and sweetness boost from peppers.  That’s easy enough to figure out.

The harder part comes when a recipe calls for, say, asparagus and red peppers, a combo that doesn’t fall in the realm of seasonal possibility.  “Does that mean I can never make that recipe?” you might be wondering with dismay.  Of course not.  Our year-round-availability grocery stores will always stock the entire panoply of produce regardless of seasonality.  We are privileged to make whatever we want, whenever we want.

But volunteering to stay within seasonal bounds has unexpected benefits.  For starters, It’s fun.  Just as necessity is the mother of invention, coming up with meals using just what’s available leads to innovative–and surprisingly tasty–combinations.   It’s also comforting and time-saving because we don’t have an endless universe of options to process through and decide upon.  Finally, it feels really right to work with, instead of despite, nature.  It’s quite freeing to opt out of the “you can have it all” food philosophy dished up in supermarkets.  I get a pleasurable feeling that I’m in control of what goes in my mouth and that I’m supporting things that are important to me, like food grown in a way that will ensure farmlands will produce wholesome foods for our children and their children.

Tomatillas

Ready to experiment with seasonal eating.  Try tomatillas.  They are certainly what nature has dished up in our area after a long hot summer.  While our tomatoes struggled with the heat, the tomatillas survived and thrived–with practically no attention.  As odd as they might look, the sweet tart fruit under those husks make a great addition to an egg scramble, salsas of all varieties, hashed brown potatoes–you’ll find all sorts of uses for them.


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