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In which sprouts and sauerkraut count as salad

December 12, 2010

Happy Monday Friends,

How’s your Christmas cookie intake?

I wish I were as disciplined with mine as Col and Rose are with the daily opening of their advent calendars. Dan’s mom made them these amazing advent calendars, which must have been an engineering feat of tracing paper, exacto knives and 10th grade geometry resulting in perfect alignment of tiny snowmen and their attendant rectangular door flaps.

And even though every child whose seen Col and Rose’s advent calendars have mentioned that theirs contain chocolate, Col and Rose pry open their daily doors as awestruck as if they’ve descended on the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at Times Square from their native aboriginal island. “Cows!” Rose exclaimed yesterday morning about the sleepy eyed bovines under flap #12, while we discovered Col’s #12 had been prematurely flung open by a zealous toddler at our last playgroup. “That’s okay,” Col said magnanimously, likely remembering the crop of siblings who roamed around our house plucking wine bottles out of the recycling to chew on. Having toddlers on site reminded me that despite my own airbrushed nostalgia for Col’s toddlerhood, if you did an MRI on my brain at the time, it would reveal that 85% of my mental faculties were concerned with keeping Col from walking into traffic/chewing electric cords/swallowing gravel and generally dying, 15% on sniffing out dirty diapers. Oy.


Aside from snazzy advent calendars, the big news around here is that I’m taking a break from writing the San Juan Table column. I  might start again in spring when dandelions and baby lettuces pop up like old friends, but for now, eating locally in Colorado is almost entirely based on what level of food preservation you engaged in back in fall; which is to say, it’s all about the eating now and it doesn’t seem fair to bill my editor for a recounting of our meals.

Like this one: sweet dumpling squash, rice, chevre, sprouts, salsa (all local except the rice)

Thank you for reading the columns, and for trying your hand at sauerkraut (Andrea) or bread baking (Jennifer, Kristen), roasted zucchini (Sue) or mint dipping sauce (Steph). Writing about local food became this wonderful circular thing where the writing inspired the living which inspired the writing. And all that time chopping and canning and freezing and packing potatoes into buckets has become what now feeds us in December.

winter salad: beets, carrots, chard

Eating seasonally has stretched my ideas. For instance, salads haven’t contained lettuce for a month; but grated beets, carrots (which, stored in the fridge are still perfect after 2 months) and greenhouse chard zinged-up with a vinaigrette is just fine. Sometimes a motley pile of assorted sprouts stands in for salad, or even a scoop of sauerkraut fills that space on the plate. It’s all an experiment, but I haven’t missed lettuce yet.

But, the weekly responsibility of producing the column has been exhausting. It’s a little like running a marathon where instead of people handing you power bars and gatorade at rest stations, you get laundry and overdue library books tossed at you. Last week I locked myself in my room to conduct a phone interview with Trent Taylor of Blue Horizon Farms while little people thudded their bodies against the door.

Plus there’s a strange and disturbing stench in my car I will finally have time to investigate. Rose says it’s sour milk, spilled during one of our milk runs; at least it’s local.

San Juan Table Archives are available on the Edible San Juan Mountain homepage, or up top as a “page” on this blog. Thanks again for your support and may your advent calendars and toddlers be merry.

ps: any gift suggestions for an 8 year old boy?

14 Comments leave one →
  1. abozza permalink
    December 13, 2010 10:28 am

    What a great, great advent calendar!!! My kids are also right on the money, every morning, opening up the new day on the advent calendar, and ours, like yours, does NOT contain chocolate. :)

  2. Ami permalink
    December 13, 2010 12:00 pm

    Cool post. I’ve been “meaning” to make an advent calendar for Cole, but it’s never happened, and that one looks do-able! Thanks for the neat idea! Also, I know my Cole is only 6, but someone just gave us the card game “Set.” Have you heard of it? It’s a GREAT game and I think it’d be just right for a kid around 8 yrs old…

  3. Melissa permalink
    December 13, 2010 12:36 pm

    Is it an 8 y.o. who likes art? I always think art supplies and/or books make great gifts . . .

    Playing hooky today because my girl has the dreaded RSV . . .and I cracked up about your toddlerhood mama brain observation because it’s so true.

    And good for you for taking a break from your column, letting it all ferment, as it were.

    Leeor has been dabbling with sustainable meat so yay, he made meatballs and spaghetti last night. No salad, and we don’t have the excuse of it not being locally available, but sometimes I don’t want to eat cold food when it’s cold outside . . .I’ll take my broccoli rabe on a Delfina pizza–which I nabbed for lunch after Lilit’s doctor visit bc I needed a treat (:

  4. Audrey permalink
    December 13, 2010 12:41 pm

    Lovely post, as always. I kind of like the unique vandalism that comes along with playdates. Clementine would never think to scribble that particular word on the wall and then stick the pencil in the socket — who do you think that was? Kind of CSI parents.

    For anyone with less crafty grandparents who don’t want the crappy chocolate in those cheap advent calendars, UNICEF has some lovely ones:

    (It’s not local, or lovingly handmade, but hey, it’s UNICEF!)

  5. December 13, 2010 12:56 pm

    Homemade Advent calendar?? WOW. Now I know where you guys get your DIY genes…well, at least Dan’s.

    We went to brunch at a Swedish restaurant on Saturday and they gave us a chocolate Advent calendar for my daughter! Of course since it was already the 11th, there was much catching up to do.

    And if you find the answer to your question, I hope it will apply to an 8-yr-old girl as I am wondering myself. I don’t even know where to begin! Are they still into Hannah Montana?

  6. December 13, 2010 1:55 pm

    Well, I’ll miss your column, but brava for keeping it going (and the local food eating–we’ve descended into the maws of bananaland, and are loving it) as long as you did! Looking forward to your spring installments. And salad? Are we supposed to eat salad in the winter time?? Dang. I thought ketchup was a vegetable. When my boy was 8, he was teetering between obsessions with rocks & minerals and World War II. Is there a gem shop where you can get geodes and fossils near by? Or an Army Navy Surplus Store, with bins of old uniform patches and insignia?

  7. December 13, 2010 2:11 pm

    What an incredible Advent calendar! Dan’s mom has officially set a high standard for grandmotherly craft projects.

    I’ll be sorry to see your food columns go, but will look forward to them when you’re ready to write again. And in the meantime, I will do my best to remain a home bread baker. (Two loaves made yesterday!) :)

  8. December 13, 2010 3:00 pm

    I’ll miss your column, enjoy the break~!

    That winter salad looks divine btw. I would also highly suggest a sling-shot made out of wood, or magnets for an 8-year old boy.

  9. December 13, 2010 5:00 pm

    Christmas cookie intake FAIL. It’s my mom’s fudge. I have no resistance. Maybe if I grate some locally grown beets on it and add a tasty vinaigrette it will be all right? Yes, right, please??

  10. December 13, 2010 5:23 pm

    I am so very impressed with what you preserved, Rachel!
    Knowing that the fresh foods I am eating now are what tip this place towards paradise. :)

  11. December 13, 2010 6:33 pm

    I think the advent calendar is one of the highlights of the season. We have 2 and the kids trade off which they “open” chocolate of no. My mom made one, I made the other.

    My 8 yr old boy suggestion: a yo-yo. Perhaps the kind that bounces back up on its own depending on the ability of said boy. My son played yo-yo and still plays in multiple places. Very portable. Restaurant and quiet place friendly. Helps with the wiggles.

  12. December 13, 2010 9:05 pm

    oh, lordy, you crack me up! the marathon analogy is spot-on. maybe if we paid an admission fee, we could get power bars instead of stinky socks? oh wait. we did. it was called labor.

    darn it.

    your mil is an xacto whizz, by the way.

    happy holidays, you colorado lovelies.

  13. December 13, 2010 10:24 pm

    Lego? Thrift stores may be offering it up right about now, or if you want to splurge, my oldest loved Snap Circuits (intuitive electrical sets), or tools. My boy loves receiving a new tool. A hammer and a few various sized nails might be a hit. Have fun coming up with something!!

    It sounds like your winter season is humming along beautifully. Love the grated beets and carrots! We need to do this, we have a surplus of both. We grow great roots around here! :-)

    This is our first year without our advent calendar. I think my cloth one (not hand made) is in the crawlspace. We were late to retreive it, and then had a challenging beginning of December. Coming back up for air once again. Be well :-)


  14. 6512 and growing permalink*
    December 14, 2010 11:11 am

    This is so fun to read and I like your colorful pictures and accurate descriptions…Love you, Dan

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