Preparing a Local Winter Feast

Check out these clever winter projects brought to you by the staff of Sunset Magazine. Follow their creativity as they plan and execute a local and delicious winter feast with homemade wine, home-grown vegetables and much more.


| November 2012


Based on the James-Beard-Award-winning One-Block Diet, The One-Block Feast (Ten Speed Press, 2011) is the ultimate guide to eating local. Complete with seasonal garden plans, menus, 100 recipes and 15 food projects, this guide explains how to raise and produce everything needed for totally made-from-scratch meals, all from your own backyard. The following excerpt on how to prepare a deliciously local winter feast is taken from “Winter.” 

You can purchase this book from the GRIT store: The One-Block Feast.

Preparing a Local Winter Feast

Bright, chilly weather with an occasional frost, followed by a few months of rain—this is winter in the Bay Area. Even though it’s nothing like the long, hunker-down, snow-blanketed hiatus of the Midwest or the Northeast, it’s still a slow time that made us take stock of where we were and what we had.

Our wines sat quietly aging in their carboys. The olive oil, stored in small dark bottles, was a little over a year old and starting to lose some of its oomph. But we had cases and cases of it, enough to last several more months if we kept it cool and dark. The vinegar thrived, despite our forgetting to feed it several times. Our hens were doing fine, laying eggs regularly, and they liked the heat lamp we’d turn on for them whenever the temperature hit freezing. They’d hang out in the henhouse all morning until the sun could warm up the yard. Their favorite new treat was maggoty olives. They hailed down from our trees daily, tiny weights on the collective conscience of Team Olive—which hadn’t yet found a practical and affordable solution for dealing with the infestation of olive fruit flies. But at least the chickens were happy. They scarfed up those black, wormy nuggets like party crashers at a caviar bar.



We were especially reluctant to treat our trees because we didn’t know whether the spray would harm our bees. And the poor bees! As it was, they were battling a seemingly unending stream of pests and diseases. The latest two were the small hive beetle, which eats brood, bees, and honey; and nosema, which is sort of like bee flu. We dealt with the first by using traps and pouring a concrete slab under the hives so the beetles couldn’t pupate in the ground beneath, and the second miraculously seemed to go away on its own.

Mites were a more persistent problem. We had already tried dusting the bees with powdered sugar (when they clean themselves, they knock off the mites) and using Apiguard, a mite-killing gel that the bees track all through the hive. Now it was time for pads soaked with formic acid, which gives off awful, powerful fumes that make your throat burn and your eyes water. It was a good thing that the women of Team Bee were utterly smitten with the hives—with their uncanny collective intelligence, their hardworking drive, and their sheer power, which Margaret would sometimes describe as “a tiger in a box.” They would do whatever they could to help those hives survive.







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