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In the Kitchen

Thursday was my first “eat local all day” day. My observations:

1) Eating Local Takes Planning

Unless you do it daily, you will need to think through what you want to eat and where you need to buy the ingredients. I can see that it gets easier and quicker the more you do it

2) Eating Local, at least in winter, costs the same as eating organic

You won’t save money by eating local, unless you are willing to REALLY plan out where and when to buy the ingredients (local farms, canned fruits from summer, etc). But, it costs about the same as buying organic.

3) Eating Local is fun and delicious

Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter and jam (I ran out of time to make the eggs)

Lunch: Ballard cheddar cheese, bread, apple, carrots

Dinner: Cashew crusted trout, sweet potatoes, greens

Snack: Hot and spicy pecans

Cashew Crusted Trout w/ Greens and Sweet Potatoes

There were a few ingredients that were hard to find, including locally made crackers, fruits, vegetables, and I opted out of making fresh bread crumbs with local bread. It also appears the only local vegetables readily available are potatoes, onions, and winter squash. I expanded my definition of “local” to the west coast to include organic apples, carrots and swiss chard.

Overall, the planning and shopping was fun for me and my daughter, the day was full of delicious meals and I learned more about local providers and brands.

And, a special call out to City Peanut Shop who made the day’s eating extra tasty with fresh-ground peanut butter, locally roasted cashews, and locally roasted sweet and spicy pecans.

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My friend Janet Hawkins Moore is eating local during the month of January (in Boise, Idaho…not as easy as some more temperate climates). Looking at her first day’s post, it looks like a delicious initiative.

When I first saw Janet’s  post about eating local, I thought “Good idea, and since I already do a lot of local shopping, it won’t be hard”. But, I’m realizing it takes a lot more planning than I anticipated, at least in the beginning.

And, since I didn’t want to rock the boat too much on New Year’s Day, I simply monitored my normal eating (we had some great food yesterday…including leftover cake for breakfast and spicy shrimp for dinner! Yeehaw!) Turns out, only about 20% of the ingredients I used were local (fresh pasta, local milk, local honey) and although I buy organic vegetables from Brown Box Organics and The Boise Co-op, I’m not actually sure if they are locally grown.

So…this will be a learning adventure.

The Plan: Eat entirely local one day per week this month. Observe and chronicle my observations and learnings.

Stay posted! This week’s local day is Thursday. I’ll post my first “findings” then.

Happy New Year!

I don’t usually like grape juice. But this weekend while at the Farmer’s Market, one of my daughter’s classmates was handing out grape juice samples. She was working so hard (she is in 5th grade) and helping her grandparents, how could I not buy a $5 jar of fresh Galena Grape Juice?

When I arrived home, I poured some over ice and took a sip. Delicious….so much so, that I can NOT WAIT to get more this weekend at the market.

My suggestion to you…run, don’t walk, to your local farmer’s market or local vineyard and see if you can get some fresh grape juice of your own!

And, now that I have a new passion (I don’t use the term “nectar of the gods” often), here are a few things I may try this weekend with grapes:

1) Sausages with Grape Sauce, which is a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks “Intercourses, An Aphrodisiac Cookbook”. I highly recommend this cookbook….and NOT for THAT reason, hee,hee…though THAT is a good reason, of course. Every recipe I’ve made from the cookbook turns out great and is relatively simple. Here is a similar recipe I found online at Lidia’s Italy.

2) Click here to learn how to make your own homemade grape juice (sounds a little messy, but could be fun)

3) And, I did an online search for “Galena Grape Cocktail” and read about one that had only two ingredients: Galena Grape Juice and Vodka!

Cheers!

I get it now….the  joy and rapture felt by the mean food critic in the movie, “Ratatouille.” Do you remember that scene…the emotion, the memories, the savoring every single bite???

After I saw the movie, I made ratatouille for the first time. It was ok. Nothing special; probably because I used out-of-season ingredients. (tisk, tisk—I should know better.)

Monday night, I made it using the freshest of ingredients from my garden, from Jennifer’s garden and from the Farmer’s market, including unbelievably flavorful tomatoes and a variety of eggplants (purple striped ones, yellow and purple ones, white ones—and yes, I should have taken a picture but my camera wasn’t charged). Plus, onions, garlic, red bell peppers and thyme.

After assembling the ratatouille, I had some leftover onions and peppers and decide to do a little “test.” I decided to roast the extra veggies on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper–just like I normally do. And then, I’d bake the ratatouille at the same time.

What an eye opener…the roasted vegetables were fine…slightly dry and smoky with good flavor. BUT, the ratatouille was oozing and dripping with flavors from the garden…the onions at the bottom of the casserole were tender and amazing…all the flavors melded together, while also keeping their unique individual essence (Can you see me channeling that food critic from the movie? Yes, that’s what happened on my front porch while I ate dinner. Now wouldn’t that  have made a great photo?!).

I based my casserole on a recipe in Mark Bittman’s ” How To Cook Everything” cookbook,  but I disregarded quantities and just did one layer of each.

Ingredients (forget all that measuring–just go for it )

Eggplants
Bell Peppers
Tomatoes
Onions

Garlic
Thyme
Salt & Pepper
Great Parmesan Cheese (I added this…liked the idea of a little salty extra)

In casserole pan:

Spread a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of sliced onions, next a layer of red bell peppers, followed by a layer of eggplant, topped with a layer of thick sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle whole, peeled garlic cloves on top, and fresh thyme (leaves from 6-8 good size sprigs), a generous amount of salt & pepper and then drizzle olive oil on top (maybe 1-2 Tbs). Cook until all the veggies are soft.

At 30 minutes, I checked on vegetables and flattened the casserole with a spatula, did the same at 40 minutes plus added a little Parmesan cheese on top, and at 45 minutes it was complete.

Baked in a 400 degree oven.

 Yes, I’m in love with ratatouille.

(So much so, that I will be continuing my love fest this weekend with a Ratatouille Cornmeal Tart recipe!)

UPDATE September 21: Ratatouille Tart was tasty, but not as mesmerizing as the simple Ratatouille. Looked gorgeous though! As did my daughter’s Tomato Pie, in the background.

 

Our first Sunday Supper was fantastic! Nine families, 30 friends ranging in age from six to 70, and glorious early-summer weather. The pictures and menu tell it all.

Big thanks to our friend Robin, owner of B&B Photography, for taking the awesome pictures!

Farmer’s Market Sunday Supper Menu

Appetizers (clockwise from top): baskets of sliced bread, warm chevre, radishes, olives, warm chevre, frittata, tapenade

Wedge of Petite Basque cheese and red wine

Spring salad, leek and beet green frittata, and sliced beef roast with morel-sherry cream sauce

Cranberry-stuffed olives with orange zest

The hostesses serving dinner

Linguine with pesto

Take one of each: cupcakes of dark cocoa or lemon with candied lemon peel

Fragrant peonies

For our first Sunday Supper we served a combination of two sirloin and two tri tip beef roasts that were 2.5-3 pounds each.

Roast Beef

The day before you cook the roasts, rub them generously with a blend of dried herbs, salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Add 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper to ½ cup herbes de Provence (see recipe below). Taste the rub to make sure it has enough salt in it. Use about ½ cup rub per roast. Place the meat in a glass dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Remove roasts from refrigerator about an hour before you plan to cook them. Set roasts on roasting pan lined with foil. Place them in a 425 F oven for 30 minutes. Using an instant read thermometer, check the internal temperature of the roasts by placing the thermometer in the thickest part of the meat. When the temperature reaches 125-130 F, remove meat from oven, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes.

After the meat has rested, slice each roast against the grain and on the diagonal into thin slices. Serve with morel-sherry cream sauce.

Herbes de Provence

From Emeril Lagasse at foodnetwork.com

Makes one cup

2 tablespoons dried savory

2 tablespoons dried rosemary

2 tablespoons dried thyme

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil

2 tablespoons dried marjoram

2 tablespoons dried fennel seed

In a small mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients together. Store in an air-tight container.

We made three of these for our first Sunday Supper. We planned to make them with asparagus, which we bought at the farmer’s market the day before, but we lost it in Susan’s car. Thankfully the beets we used for the salad still had their beautiful, bushy greens attached, so we washed them up and used them instead.

Leek and Beet Green Frittata

12-14 large eggs

2/3 cup milk

½ tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2-3 small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced

2 leeks, white parts only, washed and cut into ¼” slices

2 shallots, minced

1 TBL butter

1 large bunch beet tops, washed and coarsely chopped

1/3 pound feta cheese, cut into small cubes

3 TBL grated Parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 350 F. Place the potatoes in a microwave-safe bowl. Fill bowl with enough water to cover potatoes. Cook for 6 minutes on high, then 4 minutes at 50% power, or until potatoes are almost cooked through. Drain; set aside. While potatoes are cooking, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat; sauté the leeks and shallots in a tablespoon of butter over medium heat until golden and fragrant, 5-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Place beet green in the pan, return the pan to medium heat, and add ¼ cup water and cover. Let steam for 2-3 minutes, until greens begin to wilt. Remove lid, stir greens and continue cooking until greens are wilted but still have good color. Do not overcook. Transfer greens to a strainer set over the sink; let drain and cool. While beet greens cool, beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. When greens are cool enough to handle, squeeze the moisture from them; discard the water, and set greens aside.

To assemble the frittata: butter either an 11” round baking dish or an 8.5”x11” rectangle baker. Arrange potatoes evenly on the bottom of the baker. Do the same with leeks, beet greens, and feta. Pour beaten eggs over layered vegetables. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until almost set. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top of frittata. Return to oven and cook another 5-10 minutes, or until frittata is fully cooked. Serve warm or chilled.