Monday, May 17, 2010

The Right Stuff

The wife, she was out for dinner with a friend, leaving me and the boy to fend for ourselves. We took a walk, did some gardening, folded approximately one million more paper airplanes, and made dinner. When it comes to prep, rolling out pasta is his A subject. We mixed up a nice whole wheat/rye dough (about two cups of flour and two eggs, with a drop of water and salt) and let it sit in the fridge to relax for half an hour while we test-flew many planes off the balcony upstairs. Paper airplanes are as complex and frustrating a craft as any other once you move beyond the simple paper dart. There's a lesson in there, along with bags and bags of recycling.

The dough rolled out beautifully, and then we ran it through the fettucine rollers. I tossed it in some whole wheat flour to keep it from rejoining into a gloopy mass, and whipped up a super-simple sauce of homemade bacon, garlic, wine, tomato purée, and minced spinach from the garden. Some of the early plantings are beginning to bolt, so I'm pulling up spinach and arugula to make room for more heat-resistant salad stuff. It's a nice way to use the natural pace of plants to make more room in the finite confines of the garden. Having said that, it's still too damn small and in the fall–if not sooner–I'm going to enlarge it in two directions.

We're a long way from subsistence farming, but what's missing right now is the space to grow enough roots and other storage crops to get us through the bulk of the winter. They grow and store easily, and I've been having success just leaving things like carrots and parsnips in the ground, so it's not a lot of work. If last winter was any indication, clocking in at exactly three months long, growing more of our own plants to eat is going to get easier before it gets harder (droughts, riots, dogs and cats living together, etc.); we had nettles, garlic mustard, wild chives, and some of the fall-planted garden greens in early March, and can rely on the garden until December, so that's not too bad at all. More turnips, beets, onions, and other durable goods along with frozen perishables safely ensconced in the new chest freezer (not to mention all of the fruit I'm currently planting) would really give us the level of independence and quality that I have imagined for so long. I'm hoping that by this time next year I'll be set up for the next stage of home food production.

I'm so happy to go out and let the garden/yard tell me what we're having for dinner. It doesn't take much to make a meal, really, when it comes to fresh greenery, provided that the pantry and freezer are well stocked. How ironic then that I should feel compelled to drone on about this subject in the middle of a post featuring tomatoes and cheese from Italy. Originally, my plan was to make a carbonara featuring our homemade bacon and some wonderful local eggs, but when I ran this by the boss he emphatically insisted that the sauce be tomato. So I figured I'd make him a little tomato sauce, and then bust out a carbonara for me, but when I saw, smelled, and tasted his plate, the carbonara idea sort of faded away and I actually made another batch of the red sauce exactly the same way. I grated a bunch of good parmigiano all over our bowls of wholesome goodness, and we tucked in.

A face full of food like this also is a powerful lesson in its own right.


Girl Foodie said...

I can't think of anything to say about this besides aaaggghhhh *drool*
I can taste it through the screen.

El said...

I *love* this post. See all along I thought you were a look-what-I-can-buy kind of guy but now I understand you're just a frustrated fresh-food farmer who hasn't turned over enough dirt yet.

Congrats on the new chest freezer! That's a big step, really, and you will love it.

(Oh and I will let you know how the DIY hard Italian-type cheese goes as it's still one of my gotta-buy item crossed off the list at a time though. Just to grease the wheels of possibility ne c'est-pas.)

Ant Kendall said...

I think you'll find that's " n'est-ce pas"

peter said...

GF: You have a better monitor than I do.

El: There's a local cheese that's not bad as a parm substitute, but I was out. And yes, I need to plant more things. It's coming along.

Ant: I wasn't going to say anything.