Returning to Our Roots // What's in Season?
I've been thinking a lot about shopping for seasonal produce. I am not quite sure what the draw to this way of shopping and eating is, perhaps it is our accessibility to local produce or our upcoming transition into preparing for our kitchen garden, but I think this might be an interesting and fun challenge to attempt! When I think about the kinds of messages that we want Under A Tin Roof to send, I always think of simplifying your lifestyle, country living, minimizing your carbon footprint, and changing with the seasons. I believe these are all things that we often portray, and I would really love to transition even more with the seasons in real life! Looking back at the way we have eaten produce in the past, I find we gravitate towards the same types of fruits and vegetables that we have always eaten, not because we love them, but because we know them. Recently, I began looking at seasonal produce across the United States and a little closer to home, in the state of Iowa. There are so many different types of produce that I have never tried nor do I know how to cook with them! What a great way to support local farmers by shopping at our Amish stores and farmer's markets and to also train our minds for our own kitchen garden. So what is in season for autumn?
When we moved to Kalona a little over a year ago, one of my favorite places to go during autumn was Stringtown Grocery. If you haven't heard me talk about this Amish grocery store before, it is really quite an experience! The entire store is filled with bulk food packaged in large bags and various sized containers. It can be a bit overwhelming if you're walking in without a plan! My favorite aisles are the baking aisle and the herb section. They have various dried herbs for sale, as I believe the Amish practice herbal medicine (their medical needs aisle is filled with herbal remedies), and they have plenty of not-so-common herbs there! It's been a huge help, especially since for everything else I have to order online. That's the fun part about living in the middle of nowhere! Anyway, to get back on topic, Stringtown is so wonderful at the beginning of each season. This summer, the entire front of the store was line with wooden rolling carts filled to the top with fresh flowers and vegetable sprouts to plant. Now that autumn has arrived, the front of the store is filled with crates of various gourds, squashes, and pumpkins. There are mums lined from end to end, filling the first few parking spaces and most of the lawn. Soon, there will be larger pumpkins and giant wooden crates filled with the apple harvest. I can't wait!
Now, this challenge may a bit difficult for me to nail down completely, as so many different regions of our country have different varieties of fruits and vegetables growing right now. With that in mind, I believe I am going to keep my sights set on produce that is currently in season here in Iowa, which in turn will help me when shopping at our markets and the Amish grocery. I think this would be a fun challenge for you wherever you are living! Check into your local markets and co-op grocery stores - this is a great way to support your community! This list is a great way to see what produce is growing throughout the year in your home state. Here is the comprehensive list of what is currently in season for autumn in Iowa:
- Sweet Peppers
- Shelling Beans
- Winter Squash
- Brussels Sprouts
- Celery Root/Celery
- Green Beans
- Green Onions
- Various Greens
My next question when it comes to cooking with seasonal produce is, well, what to cook? Now that we have a few of our ingredients, I believe that this will be easy and challenging at the same time. The challenging parts I believe will be cutting out cravings for unseasonal foods (which I cannot promise I will stick to, this is just a project not a diet!) and finding recipes that only contain the foods contained within each list. Autumn, of course, will be one of the easier seasons as most fruits and vegetables are ready for harvest at this time. But where to begin looking? One of the easiest options is Pinterest. So many great recipes on there, especially because the best ones tends to get pushed to the top as they have been repinned the most. Another great option is seasonal cookbooks. My very favorite cookbooks are by the Beekman Boys, as I have stated many times, and they always organize their books by season, which helps so much when you are deciding to cook this way! I suppose it is a farmer's way of thinking, and we are getting there little by little. I think I may need to take a trip out to Barnes and Noble to see if there are any other great seasonal cookbooks on the market. Any recommendations? I would love to hear them! Especially if they have pretty pictures. So, who's ready to cook what it's in season? I sure am, and I am excited to share!