I'm no stranger to procuring my own meals but the one pictured below has bit more meaning to me then most. It is a dish that tells a story. It's planning out the garden in the winter, purchasing seeds then finally sowing them when the climate agrees. Then weeding and waiting for a harvest. This dish is about commitment. It's a dish that is community supported and eventually prepared with love.
Most of use take for granted the ability to have any ingredient whenever we want, no matter where we live in the world. When I worked in restaurants, many moons ago, we would create seasonal menus on a quarterly basis, but it was more of a country based menu then a county based one. While our menus nicely expressed the seasons, the ingredients we used were generally sourced from 1-2 food purveyors who sourced their ingredients world wide. So while peppers may have been in season, they were likely coming from Mexico, some 3000 miles from where we were cooking.
Over the years, as I have learned to forage and grow more of my own food and incorporate animal husbandry to the mix, I am more easily able to source a majority of the food I eat from my surrounding landscape.
So, lets talk about the dish.
The protein source was rabbit, which has been a wild ride and full of great lessons. I purchased a trio of breeding Silver Fox rabbits in hopes to put a dozen or so in the freezer for winter. Not as easy I thought! I lost one of the does and the buck just couldn't seem to figure out how to "do the deed". Just when I thought I should sell them, 7 bunnies were born. Better late then never I guess! I kept the bunnies indoors until finally building a rabbit tractor, utilizing materials scattered about the barn. Although everything seems to be going well for a few weeks, they would all end up escaping and staking claim underneath the barn. Since they stayed close, I actually didn't mind and in ways, prefer more feral animals then highly domesticated. Just as long as they don't destroy my garden! When it came time to harvest a rabbit, I had to rely on my trusty .40 caliber to do the trick. I would end up braising the rabbit in hard cider, onions, garlic, and herbs growing on my window sill. What's also included was a separate side of the liver and heart which i paired with shallots, mustard, and chili peppers.
The beans came from my buddy T who handed me over a few pounds one day as a simple gesture of "neighborly love". These were grown just a few miles from me and would get soaked for 24 hours then simmered slowly with a gorgeous ham hock from Dandelion Spring Farm and a strip of Kelp from the Seaweed Man. Once the beans were cooked through, I added and wilted some greens from the garden.
The final side was the probiotic rich lacto-fermented carrots that I started months ago. For the past few years, I have developed a great relationship with Peacemeal Farm, who offers a vast array of organic vegetables, and best of all, they live right down the street from me.
To close out the circle, I poured a tall glass of mulberry mead that continues to age in my root cellar, sat down, and enjoyed this meal with my family and good friend who was visiting from LA.
I give thanks every day for the opportunity to create a more meaningful relationship to the food I harvest, cook, and prepare from myself and my family. I am truly blessed.