Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Loco for Local!

My little cousin - bringing in local produce by the (sustainable) truckload!!

Last week Chris and I dined on local foods with individuals who gave us our introduction to the lifestyle of eating locally.  About a year ago I received an invitation from my co-worker, Cookie, (who by the way is an amazing person fighting cancer), to come to a local foods meal and discussion night.  "How neat," I thought, and promptly volunteered to bring a dish made with local milk from a popular store - which I thought was from Kansas.  After doing a little research, I purchased milk from the Iwig Family Dairy, a dairy in Kansas.  Cookie smiled when I talked about choosing Iwig's over my original choice, and was happy I learned more about the source of my milk through my own internet research.

For this year's meal, we were much more informed.  Here's the local menu, and I'm happy to say, my addition came from my friend's apple tree and a local wheat farm.
  • Garden greens, beef and bread crumb casserole - another "from the heart" creation of Chris's.
  • African Peanut Sauce - including home grown sweet potatoes, yummy!
  • Semmel - A hard roll made from Hudson Cream whole grain flour.
  • Baked turnips, beets, winter squash, and pumpkin.  Brushed with olive oil and spices.
  • Apple Cake - It was voted "the best" by Cookie's husband, Dave.  Yahoo - I can cook, er, bake.
Try making your entire meal from local products sometime - it's a fun experience.  The first time we did it was mid-December, talk about a challenge!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our Winter Pantry

A few items we'll enjoy this winter...

Much of the local foods season is winding down, unless you were diligent this summer by canning, freezing and dehydrating all the great locally grown products available in our area.  Chris and I did our best, but we definitely aren't up to the standards of Barbara Kingsolver in her book, "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle."  Her family survived an entire year on locally produced products - plus one splurge item for each person (fairly traded coffee or chocolate, for example.  I'd have definitely chosen chocolate!)

Here's what we have in our winter pantry: 

Fruits:  Frozen mulberries, blueberries, blackberries, apricots and apples; Dried apricots; Canned apricots, apricot jelly, mulberry jelly and rhubarb jelly.  I canned June Berries but the canning process was flawed so we ate them soon after canning.  We've got some pears in the fridge, but those will be gone soon.

Veggies:  We didn't do so hot in this area - we have canned relish, beets, hot green pepper sauce and pickles.  A few butternut squash and two tomatoes await their consumption, as well as turnips, beets and a pumpkin we received from a friend Sunday evening.  We are still working on the last of the Swiss chard and we've still got carrots in the garden.  Chris froze a bunch of pesto.  We've got garlic and are drying beautiful peppers in the sun room.  Chris dried some beans - we're not sure what type of beans but they're brown.  :)  Hopefully next year we'll get to freeze corn, peas and other whole vegetables.

Meats:  We've got locally grown whole and parts of chickens as well as locally grown cuts of beef in the freezer.  The chickens have stopped laying for the season - shortly after our new puppy tore one of their chests open, ugh.   :(

Breads:  We've got our stock of wheat to use for bread products all winter.

Spices:  Chris dried dill seeds, and we got two large chunks of salt when we visited the Kansas Underground Salt Museum last weekend, but I doubt we'll be eating that! 

Beverages:  Apricot brandy and apple brandy - but since I'm pregnant, I doubt I'll be having much of that!

And so the planning and dreaming begins...we've got all winter to come up with our list of hopes for next year's garden.  I'm happy another chance to put away as much local food as we are able is given to us each year.  I expect every season we'll get better at doing this - the summer of 2010 was our first experience, and what a fun learning experience it has been!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Campaign for Local Food (part 3) - The Recipes!

Local Foods - Lavosch and Pinto Bean Dip are in the middle of the photo.

In a previous post I wrote about the local foods menu we helped to create for a campaign event.  The bulk of the ingredients, except for some spices and salt, came from Kansas.  And we are happy to say, the food was excellent!  I've asked my chef (that would be hubby) to share the recipes with readers, and he kindly obliged.  However, the man often doesn't really follow recipes, but cooks using his taste buds.  As he always says, "If you're not tasting, you're not cooking."  So, here goes...what he "thinks" he did...

Lavosch Crackers and Pinto Bean Dip - a great combination!

Lavosch Crackers 

He got this recipe from a restaurant he worked in, they made fresh crackers.  We started with fresh milled wheat, but you can purchase Hudson Mill flour, which is a local product, if you don't own a mill.

1 cup flour (freshly milled hard red winter wheat)
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 Tbsp brown mustard seed
1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 oz. melted butter

Combine all ingredients except flour, mix well.  Add flour and mix until combined.  Do not overmix.  The dough will be very wet.  Scrape dough out of bowl, wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge overnight to rest.  Remove dough from fridge and let come to room temperature.  Divide into 4-6 pieces.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  On a heavily floured surface roll dough to a thin sheet (hint:  when mustard seeds start to crack under the rolling pin, you are at an appropriate thickness).  Place dough on baking sheet, brush with oil, sprinkle with salt/pepper then cut with pizza cutter into desired shape.  Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

Pinto Bean Dip (This is really good - even if it doesn't sound like it!)

1# pinto beans
1/2 c. white wine
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. white pepper

Soak 1# dried pinto beans overnight, cook until tender (al dente).  Place all ingredients in a blender, blend thoroughly.  Pour mixture into a sieve or strainer and force through with spatula to remove skins.  Taste and reseason as needed.  Add more wine if thinner consistency desired.  Refrigerate overnight to let flavors mellow and for the mixture to firm.