My family and I just moved to KW this past January. We wanted to move closer to family and my wife got a new job, so we left the warmth of the American South for the much colder North. However, we arrived to a much more vibrant local food economy than what we experienced in our southern clime. Thus it has been with great enthusiasm that we have embraced winter foods and cooking local with much greater success than we’ve ever had before!
From my early impressions as a newcomer, the region of Waterloo is a place full of wonderful options for local food. Since I am still awaiting residency I have become a stay-at-home dad, spending my days with my two young boys. During their afternoon naps I make our meals and it has been so much fun discovering new winter vegetables that I’ve never cooked with before and being able to cook entire meals using only minimal ingredients from beyond our region or province. It has become our Saturday morning routine to head down to the Kitchener Market and buy the majority of our produce for the week. Although it is not always organic, the distances traveled by those foods are minimal and the opportunity to meet some of the growers gives us a chance to know more about where our food actually comes from. In terms of our budget, most produce is cheaper at the market and we’re often surprised at the deals we seem to find. What we can’t find at the market we can usually still source locally, either through Bailey’s, or at Central Fresh Market or Vincenzo’s (both of which are walking-distance from our house).
What, then, have we been eating this winter? Lots of root vegetables and cabbage, and many new homemade breads made from local grains! And even though we’re very excited for Spring to begin (in more than name), we keep buying and enjoying the following local vegetables: beets, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, cucumbers (greenhouse), kale, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, turnips, and winter squash (those last ones have mostly disappeared in the last month).
Finally, as Spring and Summer approach I have been making plans for our garden. I bought about 20 different types of seeds and planted the first round last week. Most have sprouted and now I have to keep them happy until I can get them in the ground. No vegetable is more local or more delicious than one that you grow yourself (it’s possible that personal satisfaction adds to the flavor…) and I wish that everyone could experience homegrown food for themselves.
Thus I eagerly await warmer weather and even more food options, but I don’t lament the winter nor the foods I’ve been enjoying these past several months.
What follows is a sampling of one week of meals my family has eaten lately. Many of the recipes come from the wonderful cookbook, Simply in Season. Most are vegetarian, but not all.
- Leek and Mushroom Fritatta (the mushrooms were our addition)
- Kale Slaw
- Whole wheat bread (local flours come from Oak Manor, purchased through Bailey’s)
- Maple-glazed Parsnips
- Apple-Carrot Salad
- Whole Wheat Popovers (they are like cute little super-easy rolls)
- Kusherie (Egyptian lentils and rice, topped with tomato sauce and onions, served with yogurt on the side )
- Ginger-glazed Carrots
- Curry Carrot Soup (Frozen a while back)
- Cabbage and Paneer (make the paneer, an Indian cheese, ahead of time, or buy Local Dairy’s)
- Whole Wheat Naan
- Roasted Winter Vegetables
- Steak (from Vibrant Farms, ordered through Bailey’s)
- Kale Salad
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Pair with Ontario Red Wine!
- Pizza – dough made from local flours, and all toppings local.
- Beet, Mushroom, and Potato Casserole
- Simple Cucumber Salad (made with Ontario cucumbers!)
Websites to check out for local inspiration:
http://seasonalontariofood.blogspot.ca/ – tasty but simple recipe ideas featuring local foods.
http://abundanceonadime.blogspot.ca/ – great menu ideas and lots of local and organic foods!
http://wellpreserved.ca/ – great inspiration for preservation, and lots of good cooking tips, all with an emphasis on the bounty of our region.
http://localkitchener.wordpress.com – this is my own blog that I recently started to help me stay committed to my goal of continuing to eat local all year long!