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A great thing to be knowledgeable about in order to improve both your life and this big ol’ world we all share is to keep your meals ‘seasonal.’  I’m not kidding, the more I think about it the more I think I’m saving the world by cooking seasonally, not to mention that it’s healthier and cheaper!

In my opinion, fresh, local produce is the key to unlocking all these benefits.  If you’re buying in season, your money is going to the farmer and not towards the cost of transporting the veggies from a hot house three states away or from another country.  When you spend your hard earned scratch at a farmers market or a store that supports local producers, you help to support your local economy and reduce the amount of evil released into the environment by the trucks and planes shipping produce around the world.  Also, when your fruits and veggies don’t have to travel so far, they are picked riper and their wonderful nutritional qualities are much closer to their natural peak, rather than an apple that was picked a month ago and gassed into maturity in a hot house.  If you’re interested in learning more, go check out Slow Food International, they’re my heroes.

I always try to spread my budget around, spending my money on dry goods and staples at a discount grocery store and using the leftover for something seasonal at farmer’s market.  Because you’re not paying for the $4 per gallon gas it took to drive it across the country, when produce is in season is when its the cheapest!  So, stock up when the getting is good; can tomatoes when your garden explodes in the summer, go berry picking in the late summer, buy citrus in the early spring, and look forward to seeing root veggies at farmers markets in the fall.  I’ve been having so much fun preserving the summer’s bounty, including jars of pickled and roasted peppers, home made jams and jellies, canned fruits in syrup, and a freezer full of nature’s goodies.

We had good luck blackberry picking earlier this summer 🙂

Living in the mountains, like I do, isn’t so easy for local produce, but we’re happy to pay a little bit more at our farmer’s market that producers from the Sacramento valley come to.  But one thing we do have locally is some good fishing!  After a season of getting largely skunked, I finally had a bit of luck.

(Later in the week, as an additional nod to seasonal ingredients, I’m going to put up my recipe for chocolate zucchini bread!)

For this dinner, I seasoned my trout with Spanish paprika, salt and black pepper then seared them on a hot griddle.  I paired it with a filling and nutty brown rice pilaf and a fresh broccoli coleslaw, based on a recipe that I absolutely loved from my friend who has an awesome barbeque blog.  (the original recipe: http://barbecueforlife.com/simple-broccoli-salad-great-and-affordable-side-dish-for-parties-picnics/)  I got a great deal this week on a bunch of broccoli, and after using the florets for other meals I wanted to use the the stems, and the flavors in my friend’s recipe are killer.

Since I got the trout for free, the total meal cost only approximately $1.03 per serving.

So colorful! It’s like confetti in your mouth!

Broccoli Slaw

Serves 2 – costs approx $.67 per serving

Ingredients

  • 7 oz broccoli stems, peeled and cut into matchsticks ( $.33)
  • 1 lg carrot, peeled and cut into matchsticks ($.16)
  • 3 scallions – sliced thin ($.20)
  • 2 Tbs raisins – ($.10)
  • 2 Tbs dried cranberries – ($.10)
  • 2 Tbs mixed nuts – I had a bag of mixed sunflower seeds, pinenuts and almonds on hand, but any would be great on their own ($.20)
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tsp lime zest – Optional, you could substitute any citrus juice or zest, remember that the rest of that lime is good for salsa, margaritas, gin and tonics, whatever…
  • salt/pepper – to taste

Directions: mix everything together, taste and adjust seasonings.  Easy and yummy, can’t be beat!

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