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Soup of the Day 20110107 and so on

Ended the X-Mas season with ye greate throwaway souppe, all 22 litres of it (the size of my biggest pot). We'll be eating it for two weeks. After X-mas, it's on to the remaining roots and the dried beans and grains, and the occasional treatcheat at a restaurant downtown.

If you're just joining this blog, this is part of the getting back to seasonality experiment we've been doing for a couple of years now. The idea is to keep food local through winter, which means relying on root cellaring, pickling, drying, candying, etc. as well as the more usual freezing and canning. From that perspective, Christmas is where you eat up everything that won't keep, and it's around January 6, or twelfthmas, when you hit that point. You need to do something with what you have to feed yourself between now and Lent, which is a good season for fasting, because there isn't anything to eat anyway and the greens haven't greened yet. (See, those church calendars had some rhyme and reason to them, since they're just the pagan ones with halos tacked on.)

Practically anything that will not survive any longer goes into it. The keeper beets, now all soft and covered with a thin layer of mould like a chèvre cheese have reached their end and are peeled. The Enormous cabbage with parchment leaves on the exterior, the drying leeks at the back of the fridge, the potatoes that are just about to go yog-sothoth, the last of the garlic that's gone rubbery and dry, any onions that didn't dry enough for long-term storage, and the sprouting carrots, which we actually had a huge surplus of this year, so our remaining stock is in wet sand. To this is also added dried beans and lentils, and one herb that grows in surplus here every year: winter savory.

The stock for the soup is a part of the lamb that would normally be thrown out: the breast. Lamb's breast, if cooked like ribs, is a bit like eating a corset made of rubber bands and suet. But three hours in a pressure-cooker, it turns into a lovely broth and stringy bits of meat that go into the soup to give it some substance. The fat is rendered off and frozen for next year's figgy puddings/yorkshire puddings, and the bones are composted, having been reduced to soft sticks.

Sounds horrible? Actually, it's very nice and a major comfort food, and with that much around, we'll be eating it almost into the end of January if I freeze, can, or otherwise keep it from spoiling. It's actually cooked very thick, so when I make a portion for us to eat, I water it down 1:1.

There are a few concessions, though: we had to use store-bought local canned tomatoes since we couldn't manage to do our tomato preserving this year (no tomatoes and both of us injured), and of course we use salt, and it really is much better with a few cloves and a couple of enormous bay leaves.

So, about 98% local ingredients in the dead of winter in the land of snow and blackfly, and will feed us for two or three weeks. I call THAT an accomplishment.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 9th, 2011 06:09 am (UTC)
I am impressed. It makes me blush to go to the grocery store and pluck items from neat stacks.

Jan. 10th, 2011 10:21 am (UTC)
You should try it yourself. It's a sure-fire way to keep family out of the kitchen and to get strange looks from your neighbours!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )