Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: Of Veg and Cheese...and Java Dilemma

In the original "Of Veg and Cheese" post I outlined how, in accordance with life in the early 1940's, we would be limited to seasonably available produce during the rationing year, with the exception of canned and frozen produce which would be subject to ration points and market fluctuations.

So how did it go?

Well, last winter was tough - no bones about it. With just one pound of frozen vegetables setting us back one quarter of our weekly blue/green points, we were forced to work with seasonally available produce. This meant mostly carrots, potatoes and cabbage. And trust me, with all other green, leafy vegetables unavailable you start to appreciate cabbage on a whole new level.

Going without fresh salad for a few months definitely helped us understand how much we really love salad, even if it's as basic as a few green leaves and a simple dressing. Luckily, growing lettuce and mesclun indoors (or in a hoop frame or cold frame) is so easy we were able to get a jump start on our spring greens.

Once early summer came around we had locally grown produce available from our gardens, the farmer's market and our CSA bag. As you know, we had a hard time maintaining our Victory Gardens, and my new work schedule made visiting the farmer's market logistically tricky. And for a second year the CSA bags were a bit of a disappointment (some of the produce was actually of poor quality); I don't believe we'll do CSA bags in the future.

On the other hand, you just can't beat locally grown fruit. This past year we consumed our share of local strawberries, blackberries, apples and pears. Nothing can beat a fruit that was allowed to ripen fully before picking...and then immediately eating it. Really, I cannot downplay the physical and sensual joy of experiencing a local "u-pick" establishment.

As far as cheese goes...well, it's a staple we never want missing from the fridge. The versatility of hard cheese (snack, recipe ingredient, sandwich topper) make it a very useful, albeit rationed, resource. And thank goodness sour cream and cottage cheese weren't rationed - they have frequently been used to bulk up a sauce or soup (the former) or add protein to an otherwise light meal (the latter).

And finally, coffee. As outlined in the post "Java Dilemma," during rationing each adult received one pound of coffee every five weeks, assuming shortages didn't throw a kink into your coffee purchasing week. Both TMOTH and I increased our coffee consumption during the past year, in exchange for shrinking our soda intake. Even with that change, though, we were never in danger of running out of coffee supplies before the next ration amount could be purchased. We even had enough of a coffee surplus to, umm, be creative.

So, what of veg and cheese and coffee after rationing? We plan to continue focusing on seasonably available produce in an effort to reduce the carbon footprint of the fruits and vegetables we eat. And we'll continue to drink coffee at our current rates and avoid heavily-sugared sodas.

And cabbage...dear, sweet cabbage. You will always have a special place in our hearts...even if you're not as frequent a visitor at the table.

--Rational Mama

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