Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012: The Year of Eating Dangerously

Looking out at our winter's first stay-put dusting of snow, it seems wrong that there are still buds on the tree from a few days of 50 degree temps. You can see that there are subtle changes happening in our weather systems, changes that may cause more unpredictability. Changes that will certainly continue to affect how and what we grow and consume. Last year the strawberries in our area were almost non-existent, beaten by hard rains that didn't let up. But the long, mild Autumn kept us in fresh peppers till November.

These little differences do pop up over time, of course, but the gradual shift from 4 clearly defined seasons to a weird melding of three-ish has been noticeable here in WNY. It's not a fluke, it's a sign-- directional or warning, I'm not qualified to say, but let's not pretend we don't see the patterns forming.

I expect that having a versatile cooking style and a well-stocked pantry may become more than convenient in future-- it may become necessity, or at least a huge bonus. Let's face it, being able to cook well with abundant, stellar ingredients is no great shakes. You don't have to do much there. Being able to make nourishing, sustaining and tasteful meals from what's on hand is a real skill, at times maybe even a life-saving one. It's something I'm always working on, aided by a low income and a love of reading about food.

My mother and grandmother both developed this skill. Mom had 6 kids of her own to feed, and later a couple of our cousins, too. Gram lived through the Great Depression. The need was there, and they didn't shirk their duty. I'm hoping to take it farther, in a way: making good food without meat, heat, or a bevy of seasonings if needed. You never know what you'll be up against in a crisis!

So many people have suffered lately from weather events, but we tend to think of those crises in terms of what material goods are lost in the end. What about how they got through it? Surely that is worth focusing on, too. From some firsthand accounts I've read, a shared meal put together by a circle of equally affected neighbors has truly been a way to face down disaster and bolster weatherbeaten spirits, just as a progressive dinner is a way to build up community in good times. I ask myself, how would I come through such an experience? It's not an idle question; I saw the blizzard of '77, and it was no joke, whatever Mayor Griffin said about settling in with a six-pack.

* Perry's ice Cream-- a homegrown favorite!

In the meantime, I think we can hope for the best, and prepare ourselves by learning to be flexible, generous and forgiving, as cooks and eaters; and conscientious as consumers. Do what you can towards keeping this a blue & green planet, and skip the guilt over what you can't.

It's been just over a year since I began this blog. In 2012, I am going back to basics in some ways-- rekindling my hubby-man's connection to our kitchen-life by revisiting old recipes we made together over a decade ago. And I want to learn more, try more ways of eating, more types of restaurants, more styles of food prep, more choices in baking. I'd like to take it to the edge-- but honestly, I'm not sure what that means.

Do me a favor, if you would, and post your own food resolutions, fears or predictions here. Or tell the tale of your year in food... I love to read a good story!

Peace, Mari

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