State of Superior Cuisine

State of Superior Cuisine: Yooper Food

Yooper Food

Vegetables, Potatoes, & Pasta

Vegetables

I grew up on a farm in Menominee County, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When I was a child, we were pretty much dependent upon what we could grow, raise, catch, or kill for food. Fruits and vegetables were pickled or canned, and enough of it put away to get us through the Upper Peninsula winters. During hunting season, everyone got a license, and everyone got their deer, whether they hunted or not; and enough venison was packed away in the freezer to last us a long while. Trips to the market were weekly events, but I don't think my mother ever spent more than $50 a week on groceries, and we were a family of seven.

Today, the markets have brought food from all over the world to their shelves, and the chances are that even if you live in an agricultural area, the fruits and vegetables found on your market shelves comes from somewhere else. I lived in Southern California for twelve years, and in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas for more than twenty years, both citrus growing regions. Yet, while I would pass by orange groves on my way to work every day, the oranges I would see on the shelves in California were grown in Florida, while in Texas I'd find oranges grown in California. Texas oranges are probably exported to Florida, or some other citrus growing area.

Today's market are not restricted to locally grown produce, or by the growing seasons. With few exceptions, you can find your favorite vegetables, relatively fresh, in your local supermarket all year long.

Of course, anyone who has lived on a farm, or who has grown a garden, knows that there is a big difference between what you can buy fresh from the supermarket shelves and that which you have picked fresh from your garden.

On the other hand, you'll probably agree that, during an Upper Peninsula January or February, the fresh vegetables that you can find in any supermarket produce section are probably much tastier than the ones your mom canned after the last growing season.

Iím sorry mom, but it's true. I truly hated those canned beets.

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Potatoes

I miss having a potato cellar. Off of the kitchen, was a door leading down a narrow, steep stairway to a dirt-floored cellar, which was always very dark, even with the overhead bulb on. The only thing that I can remember ever being stored there was potatoes.

My dad owned a few forty-acre lots (known as forties), on which he rotated crops. Some years, we'd grow potatoes as a cash crop, but each season we planted at least enough to keep us in potatoes throughout the year.

The amazing thing, although I took it for granted then, is that very few of them went bad. Once in awhile we'd have to go down there and break off the eerie white sprouts, devoid of chlorophyl, but seldom would we find potatoes that had gone soft or rotten.

Now, if I buy a 5-pound bag of potatoes, we end up composting a quarter of them, not because we don't eat potatoes, but because they don't last much more than a week. I suppose we could avoid that, simply by storing them correctly. Instead, we buy fresh ones from the supermarket.

Pasta

Today, I think itís safe to say that most of us eat pasta that has been dried, and made from semolina flour, a flour high in gluten-forming protein, ground from durum wheat.

Pasta is made by kneading the dough, then forcing it through dies to create the many different forms and shapes available. Automatic dryers then remove the moisture under controlled conditions.

If you are not going to make your own, pasta is available in three different forms: dried, fresh, and frozen.

Dried pasta is usually found packaged or in serve-yourself bulk bins. Fresh pasta can be found in the refrigerated section of the supermarket. The most common types of frozen pasta are lasagna noodles, egg noodles, and filled tortellini and ravioli.

Visit our Sister Site: Pasties, Plain & Simple