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Food for the snow-bound

(article, Deborah Madison)

While there is food in New York state and Washington, D.C., the problem is getting it to market, and getting shoppers to market. This is true whether it’s the Fresh Farm farmers’ market or Safeway — at least for this week. 

It doesn’t take much for food supplies to dwindle, but you don’t have to have a year’s worth on hand to get through a storm, even a prolonged one, with ease.  

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A trip to Wooster, Ohio, last week was [/author/DeborahMadison/blog/localrootsgreatfoodinanohiotown "very inspiring,"] even if the snow that fell while I was gone provided a white-knuckle drive home. 

I was especially thrilled to find pale, fragrant maple sugar, which is my favorite sweetener for baking. But in terms of local foods for a local diet, Wooster had a lot more to offer. Consider the spelt and wheat flours; winter vegetables both stored and fresh; a variety of cows' milk cheeses; pastured dairy, as in milk; grass-fed meats of all kinds and cuts; amazing eggs; and honeys, preserves, and more. 

If your pantry were stocked from this larder alone, you’d be sitting pretty and eating well during these extended snow days.

With regard to my locally stocked pantry in New Mexico, I’m not doing too bad, either. Pinto and bolita beans are on hand, as is a bag of blue corn flour. A bolita-bean soup is in the freezer, along with a small vat of red chili and applesauce from last summer’s apples. I’ve got three types of local goat cheeses, eggs, a few fresh vegetables from the now-dwindling winter garden, and Jerusalem artichokes, beets, celery root, and some greens from the farmers' market. 

[%image reference-image float=right width=400 caption="Prunes Stuffed with Walnuts, Chocolate, and Orange Zest."]

Not so bad, especially when you consider that this local winter fare wasn’t even a dream just a few years ago. Local is best, for sure, but I’m grateful for foods that I buy from afar, too, especially when snow by night and mud by day makes travel a challenge.

To add interest to a snow-bound diet, I also look to grains: quinoa, farro, barley, brown rice, and oats; flour for baking; and legumes, including red lentils, which cook quickly. A few cans of coconut milk don’t hurt, nor do cartons of soy milk and tofu. 

A good spice cupboard helps if you need to be rescued from boredom, and ghee is a great asset for its fine flavor and the fact that it’s stable at room temperature in case the electricity goes out. 

But say you crave a sweet, and the power is out? By all means keep some dried fruit on hand, and chocolate, and nuts. With these few ingredients, you can make all kinds of sweetmeats, like Prunes Stuffed with Walnuts, Chocolate, and Orange Zest (from my second book, The Savory Way.) And feel free to use figs if that’s what you’ve got, or almonds instead of walnuts. You’ll be able to come up with a little sweet or two with ease.

p(bio). Deborah Madison is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks, including Local Flavors. She lives in New Mexico.


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