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Coordinating your cooking with the season (like a mouthwatering Vegetable Tagine) is the solution to the Mid-Winter blues

Mid January. The feasting of the holiday season has come and gone. The Supermarket is a blizzard and a half away. Fruit is selling like a Vintage Cabernet: beyond my budget and around since 2008. 

Hello, my name is Vanessa, and I am in a rut with my cooking.  

Naturally, I want out. I begin the escape by narrowing down the three major causes of my recent take-out addiction.

  1. Price: The foods I eat most of the year are grown in warm climates. As we all know, supply and demand determines cost. It will cost me just as much to make it as it will for someone to make it for me.
  2. Distance: The weather is shit- I’m lazy and cold. I don’t want to go shopping!!!! 
  3. Freshness/Availability: Blueberries: White and fuzzy. Avocados: Hard as rock, Soft as mush. Corn on the Cob: Corn in the Can. Strawberries: Brown. 8 legs. CRAWLING! AHHHHHH!

So what solution did I come up with? It’s very simple, and quite obvious. Buying in season. This allows us to stay in budget, gets us creative in the kitchen, and overcoming the cereal-for-dinner blues. 

IN SEASON REEEEEEEMIIIIIXXXXXX

  1. Price: Cheap. Items don’t need to travel far, and are plentiful.
  2. Distance: Unfortunately there isn’t any advice I can give to make getting out of bed easy. However, conquer that, and you need only make one stop. Stores who buy local carry stock limited to what suppliers can grow. If you’re cooking with the season, you will find everything you need in one place. Better yet, with all unneeded imported ingredients missing, items are found in a more timely fashion.
  3. Freshness/Availability: Buying ingredients in season means they are very much available, and bought locally. You are getting food that was likely at its source earlier that day. 

Get inspired to cater your food to the seasons! Here is the recipe that got me doing so. It cost me $12.00, all the produce is organic, and feeds 4. I found every* ingredient at 4 Life Natural Foods (257 Augusta Ave) in Kensington Market, in 5 minutes. 

Winter Vegetable Tagine – From “Kitchen Seasons” by Ross Dobson

3 tablespoons light olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
14oz canned diced tomatoes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into thick batons
1 parsnip peeled and cut into 2-3 cm pieces
1 turnip peeled and cut into 1cm thick rounds
4 oz sweet potato peeled and cut into cubes
1 green apple, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges
a small handful of fresh mint leaves roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups couscous (I substituted quinoa)
1 tablespoon butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan and cook the onion and garlic over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add all the spices and cook for 2 minutes, until aromatic but not burning. Add 3 cups water and the Tomatoes and season well with sea salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and add the carrot and parsnip and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes. Add the turnip, sweet potato, and apple, and cook for 20-30 minutes, until all the veggies are soft, and then stir in the mint.

Meanwhile, put the couscous in a large heatproof bowl with 1 tablespoon butter. Pour over 1 1/2 cups boiling water, quickly stir once or twice, then cover with plastic wrap and leave for 15 minutes. Stir the couscous again with a fork and cover for a further 5 minutes. Finally, fluff the couscous with a fork to seperate as many grains as possible.

Serve the couscous with the Vegetable Tagine spooned over. 

*I had the spices at home already.

~ Vanessa Brazeau

 

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