Eating Seasonally

mulberry treeIt’s a long road to the self sustainable life. For me, it started a few years ago when I stopped eating gluten, dairy, and eggs and started cooking for myself. I’ve become acquainted with gardening, lacto-fermentation, essential oils and herbal medicine, sewing, and a plethora of other traditional crafts we have now woven into the homespun fabric of our daily life. A newer addition to the list has been eating seasonally.

I used to eat seasonally, seasonally. You know –  eating from the farmer’s markets and kitchen garden in the summer but then swinging back to the grocery store in December for raspberries and asparagus because, well, they’re there. I decided this year after reading Gluten-Free Girl‘s blog that I would challenge myself creatively by truly eating seasonally. As of this summer I’ve only been eating what vegetables our garden produces, with a few small exceptions. Right now, in late June, we have spinach, several kinds of lettuce, strawberries, and rainbow Swiss chard. That’s it. And boy are they DELICIOUS! While it’s been boring eating the same rotation of vegetables each week, my mind has been freed, in a way, by having a smaller selection to choose from while meal planning. Instead of having the entire range of the vegetable kingdom available to me at my local Trader Joe’s, all I have are a few humble green tablefellows to consume. The spinach is tender, mild and faintly vegetal without the overwhelming “vegetabley” taste that most kids hate. The lettuce is butter-soft, crisp and dainty. And the strawberries? Like vibrant red jewels, bright splashes of flavor on your tongue.

mulberries

Another aspect of seasonal eating I am trying to implement into our lives is using what we have from our wild plants. I’m still learning about harvesting wild food, but mulberries and stinging nettle are on my radar. Our mulberry tree is quite prolific, and if you walk underneath it your feet are sure to be left splotched with purple stains. I’m not sure how I feel about mulberries. They look deceptively like blackberries, are sweet for sure, but don’t really have much flavor. I’ve found that when used in baked goods they take on a brighter flavor, but otherwise they’re kind of just….meh. The challenge lies in using these free, organic, wild berries because they are here, and not buying the luscious blueberries, figs, apricots at the grocery store. Well, okay, I bought a few, but keeping my focus on what we grow ourselves is the goal.

 I created this recipe for the mulberries because I was tired of using them in sweets. Really, don’t we have enough sweets, too frequently? Plus it is more challenging for me to create a savory recipe using fruit since I am not much acquainted with that type of cooking. This recipe for lamb is really delicious. The meat is so tender, moderately spiced, and falls apart without a hint of dryness. Persian cuisine frequently features mulberries. They are known in that culture as the “king of berries.”

Slow-Roasted Persian Lamb with Mulberries

Slow-Roasted Persian Lamb with Mulberries

Ingredients:

1 4-lb boneless leg of lamb

2 lbs carrots, chopped

1 1/2 cups fresh mulberries

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon ginger

1 slice preserved lemon

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Method:

1. In a food processor, blend together mulberries, preserved lemon, and liquids until completely broken down.

2. Add in other spices and combine well. It should taste spicy and pungent.

3. Place the lamb in your crockpot and cover liberally with mulberry sauce. Place chopped carrots around (but not on) the lamb.

4. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, until meat is falling apart and aromatic.

I served this dish with yellow rice, sauteed chard and coconut yogurt.

This post was featured on Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday.

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