Savoring the Seasons: Hundreds of Ways to Enjoy

The Recorder, January 26th, 2016, by Mark McClintock

Last Friday afternoon, a friend and I had great fun at the Textile Company selecting bright batik fabrics we’ll make into tank tops. Gazing at the many colors, I thought about a favorite poem of mine. By Rumi, it says “Let the beauty you love be what you do, there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” Indeed, so many ways to use that lovely cloth.

After dinner that night, we planned to work on the shirts. I told my friend I’d meet her at my house after I stopped by Green Fields Market. Luckily, she knows me well and made herself at home because “picking up a few things at Green Fields Market” often evolves into a longer adventure.

As I walked into the market, I saw Garth Shaneyfelt and Melinda Baughman. Garth held up something that looked like a sweet potato and said, “Have you ever had yacón? It’s a Peruvian ground apple that tastes like jicama and it was grown in Brattleboro.” Garth broke off a bit and handed it to me.

It does indeed combine the juicy crunch of jicama with the sweetness of apple. Garth said they were going to add it to their salad.

Intrigued, I found the sign saying it was grown by the Old Schoolhouse Plantery and talked with Bryan in the produce department. He said it can be peeled or not, and unpeeled it tastes “earthier.” He said there are ways to eat it cooked, but he didn’t know any recipes.

My friend and I enjoyed it that evening. Have you tasted yacón? I recommend it. I’m curious to learn more about how it grows and if anyone else is growing it in the area.

The next day, I got a call from Aaron Falbel, who is “SouperMan,” organizing the Soup Café at the upcoming Greenfield Winter Fare. Aaron said there’ll be soups at the Farmers Market from three Greenfield restaurants: Clay Oven, Frosted Bake Shop, and Hope & Olive. Aaron didn’t know what all of the soups would be, but said Clay Oven will serve a spinach and chicken soup and Frosted will serve Cheeseburger Chowder.

I also heard from Kate Stevens that Ashfield’s local food potluck will be on Friday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. at the Ashfield Congregational Church. I look forward to that potluck every year for the tasty food and lively conversation about growing, storing and enjoying local food.

As I pondered what I’ll take to the potluck and what wonderful variations on winter foods we’ll enjoy, I again remembered the Rumi poem. Absolutely, there are hundreds of ways to savor local foods available to us in western Mass at this time of year and I’m always discovering new ways. I look forward to tasting Clay Oven’s spinach and chicken soup to see how it varies from my soup (see below).

What are some of your hundreds of ways to enjoy locally grown food this winter? Please send recipes for me to share on the Winter Fare Food/Farms page I’m writing for Feb. 3.

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This week we’re eating. . .

Woodstove Chicken Soup
By Mary McClintock, Conway

Chop into bite-sized pieces: raw chicken (I prefer thighs, use your favorite parts), onion, carrots, parsnips or rutabagas, and potatoes. Put everything into Dutch oven (or other woodstove-able pot — no plastic handles, sturdy bottom) with chicken or vegetable stock (or just water or water/stock mixture) until everything is covered and pot is mostly full. Add lots of minced garlic and dry basil and thyme. Cook uncovered on woodstove until chicken and vegetables are well cooked and flavors have “melded.” About 10 minutes before removing from stove, add juice of a lemon and lots of fresh spinach.