ReLocavore: Redefining "local"

Back to Wisconsin, my cheesehead friends


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Gross Corn, or 12 x 12 = 144

The going price at the market for corn in Vermont and New Hampshire is anywhere from 6 ears for $4 up to $1 per year – or $8-12 per dozen. As a kid, the teenagers in pickup trucks along the side of the road charged, at most, $2/dozen, and we could often talk them down to $1.50. In Madison, I could buy a bakers dozen ears (13×13) from a local sweet corn farm, and they’d even haul the bags to my car for $3.50/dozen, and often not charge me for the full Baker’s gross. The most offensive price in the Midwest for an ear of sweet corn is at the Sun Prairie Corn Festival where FIBs* and Cheeseheads get overcharged for sweet corn- $2/ear including salt and butter. Last year, I got lucky and coaxed a kid to $5/dozen and complained to everybody around about the price of sweet corn.  So, paying $8 for a dozen ears of corn offends my Midwestern sensibilities. I was not going to pay $8 per dozen to freeze corn this year. 

We headed to upstate New York over Labor Day, where fertile soil and normal market pricing mechanisms conspire to produce cheap, high-quality sweet corn. I was determined to buy as much corn as I could haul back and put it into the freezer for the year. I accomplished my goal. $4 per dozen. A gross of corn (a dozen dozen), and we produced 43 zipper bags holding about 2 cups of corn each. Mission accomplished. 

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My chest freezer is a 15-cubic-foot frozen sedimentary rock

ChestFreezerFairy

The Chest Freezer Fairy. If you set out a dish of homemade jam, she’ll leave presents in your chill chest. Mostly frozen food, but the occasional frozen human finger has shown up.

Thinking back to your Elementary School Geology class, rocks come in three forms, igneous, sedimentary and some other type that I certainly can’t spell. Metamorphic? Point is, sedimentary rocks are made from silt and sand and other types of stuff that piles up in layers and gets packed down by the weight of the stuff on top of it.

My chest freezer is a 15-cubic-foot frozen sedimentary rock.

As we put food by, I freeze bags of stuff, and pile it into the chest freezer. Down at the bottom are the frostbit remnants of previous years’ preserving. Above that goes the strawberries and blueberries in the spring, through other fruits, herbs, corn all the way to the broccoli that sits at the top.

Once the fall comes, a massive geologic event hits the chest freezer.

We don’t eat our food in the order it went into the chest freezer, so each Fall I have to stir up the layers, bringing the spring fruits to the top and moving some of the fall vegetables to the bottom. To do this, I don thick gloves to protect my hands from frostbite (learned that lesson real quick) and I have to unload the whole chest freezer, spread out piles of corn, strawberries, etc, across the floor, then reload the whole thing in a mixed-up order.

I often find presents in the bottom of the chest freezer left by the Chest Freezer Fairy. This year I found some chicken stock frozen into 1-cup cubes, ham hocks, and Japanese fried tofu pockets to make Inarizushi. We’ve got a 4-rib bone-in pork roast that I should defrost and cook into something yummy. I moved the strawberries from the bottom to the top, and made room for the broccoli that should be arriving next week sometime.

We’re getting close to the end of the season of putting food by, and into the season of eating it all up.