Eating Local in February

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I went online to see which foods are in season during February.

Like many people today, I try to eat local foods, products raised or harvested within a 50-mile radius of where I live. That’s a departure from feasting globally on foods that have traveled long distances, often across countries and even continents before arriving at my table.

Here is what my research revealed. There are some local fruits and vegetables available: apples and pears, cabbage, onions, Brussels sprouts, white potatoes, yams, turnips, beetroots and kale. These are clearly local holdovers from the 2018 growing season, which have been sustained through refrigeration.

I found some surprising suggestions online for menu options in February: nachos, quinoa burgers, meatloaf, scones, chocolate pudding pie and Cinnamon White Russians. Among these menu suggestions, fresh foods are noticeably absent. If you live anywhere near Philadelphia, locally grown produce is scarce, unless you canned, bottled or froze enough fruits and vegetables during the summer and early fall to last you until spring.

I concluded it’s almost impossible to be locally correct in February. It’s a month to hunker down with root vegetables and cabbage, the way my great-grandparents did in Vilnius, Lithuania before immigrating to America, seeking liberty and abundant food. It made me appreciate that I live now and not when eating local in February was the only option.

Cinnamon White Russian | Dairy

Serves one

  • Ice cubes
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • ¾ ounces coffee liqueur
  • ½ ounce cream
  • Cinnamon for sprinkling

Spoon two to four ice cubes into an on-the-rocks glass, depending on their size. Pour the vodka and coffee liqueur over the ice and stir to combine. Very slowly drizzle the cream over the liquors so that the cream floats at the top of the drink. Dust some cinnamon over the cream. Serve immediately.

Cheese Nachos | Dairy

Serves six to eight as an hors d’oeuvres

  • 1 large bag of tortilla chips
  • 2 cups of cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, grated

Note: Simply Tostitos, Garden of Eatin’ and White Corn Tortilla Chips are brands that are certified kosher.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the tortilla chips in two large round ovenproof baking pans. Sprinkle the two cheeses on top of the chips. Place in the oven for 5-8 minutes, until the cheeses melt and the chips turn golden. Serve immediately.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Yams and Turnips | Pareve

Serves six

  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • 1 package of Brussels sprouts
  • 2 yams or sweet potatoes
  • 2 turnips
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray.

Rinse the Brussels sprouts under cold water. Cut off the remainders of stems and discard. If the Brussels sprouts are large, cut them in half. Reserve.

Peel the yams and turnips. Rinse them under cold water. Cut them into pieces about the same size as the Brussels sprouts.

Move the Brussels sprouts, yams and turnips to the prepared baking pan. Sprinkle with kosher salt and garlic powder. Drizzle olive oil. Toss the vegetables so they are coated with the oil, salt and garlic. Place in the oven to roast. Turn every 10-15 minutes. Drizzle on more olive oil, if needed.

After 55 minutes, drizzle the apple cider vinegar over the vegetables and toss to coat. Roast another 5 minutes. Move the mixture into an attractive bowl and serve immediately.

Lithuanian Braised Cabbage | Pareve, Dairy or Meat

Serves four to six

  • ½ head of red cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ pounds ground beef, optional
  • 3 potatoes, coarsely diced
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup beef or vegetable broth, or more, if needed
  • 2 tablespoons dill, chopped
  • Optional accompaniment: sour cream

Cut the cabbage into thin slices. With your fingers, break them apart into ribbons. Reserve.

Drizzle the oil into a large pot. Heat over a medium flame until warm. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add the ground beef, if using. Sauté until browned.

Add the cabbage, potatoes, salt, pepper and your broth of choice. Stir until combined. Lower the flame to medium-low. Cover the pot and braise, stirring every few minutes. Braise for 35-40 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened. Add more broth if the braising liquid dries up.

Move to an attractive bowl and sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately with sour cream, if using.

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