Sunday, September 28, 2008

October Eat Local Challenge

It's almost time for the Eat Local Challenge! This is my second time participating, and I'm quite looking forward to it. We're a month later this year, so I'm interested to see how that impacts my food choices.

Here is my statement of participation:

1. What is your definition of local?
I'm going to go with the 100-mile radius. At this point in my adventures as a locavore (one and one-half years) I am pretty well set with suppliers, and they are all within that radius.

2. What exemptions will you claim?
-The usual suspects: tea, sugar, salt and pepper, spices, oil
-The (very) occasional pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks (I don't think I can make it through October without them!)
-Any condiment/seasoning in my refrigerator
-Bread that is not made with entirely local ingredients, but comes from local bakers or bakeries.
-yogurt for cultures (just enough to make my own with local milk)

3. What is your goal for the month?
I want to learn to make things that I normally rely on local producers to obtain, most notably pasta and bread. I am in possession of a bag of local wheat flour, and I plan to use it! My oven is too dubious for loaf bread, but I plan to try some flat breads and maybe bread machine recipes. I'd also like to come up with more inventive meals, and limit the meat-veggie-starch type of offering.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Behind on updating, and another breakthrough local meal

Okay, so I haven't been so good with the updating. I could blame it on Hurricane Ike (which gave Ohio a pretty thorough spanking) or on the green beans (have I put up enough to last the winter?) but instead I shall throw out some mea culpas and try to be better.

This past weekend was so amazing that it will take several posts to cover it all! Farmer's marketing, the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival at Freshwater Farms, and the freakin' spectacular "Shake the Hand That Feeds You" dinner by Slow Food Columbus at Flying J Organic Farm were all crazy, wonderful highlights.

First, the Ohio Fish and Shrimp Festival! We rushed through the markets on Saturday morning and then made the hour drive out to Urbana, Ohio, for a quick visit to the festival. I fed the trout, petted a sturgeon, and stuffed myself on grilled shrimp and shrimp cocktail (along with the best fresh kettle chips EVER) before spending all of our money on fish and shrimp. I'd never had freshwater shrimp before, and I have to say they were delicious! I wimped out and only bought shrimp tails; we never found the place that was selling the heads-on shrimp, and I'd spent all of our money anyway. Next year I shall be more intrepid and acquire the whole beasties and make some shrimp stock.

If we'd had more time I'd have stopped to pick raspberries (there are a couple of big berry farms are in Urbana), but with a dinner to get to I headed home.

So this is what happens when you buy a bunch of fresh fish and shrimp, don't have an opportunity to cook it immediately (and must consume it all in one meal):

Not only do you get a crappy, blurry, dark picture, you get cornmeal-breaded trout topped with creole shrimp, served with a side of Swiss chard with onions and garlic!

The only non-local ingredients in this meal were the canola oil for frying, salt and pepper, and a little tomato-paste-in-a-tube to augment the tomatoes in the creole shrimp. The best part is that this was a totally unplanned meal - I had all of the ingredients on hand. The fish was dredged in local wheat flour, then local egg, then local cornmeal. The creole shrimp had local butter, onions, garlic, poblano peppers, freshwater shrimp, and grape tomatoes and celery from the garden. The Swiss chard was cooked with locally made apple cider vinegar and local butter. And the whole meal took under an hour start-to-finish, and that included peeling and de-veining the shrimp.

No wonder my diet isn't working! A wonderful meal, and one I am very proud of. Being a locavore rocks.

Monday, September 1, 2008

One Local Summer - Week 13

It's the final week! This dinner was a vegan tribute to Debbie, the coordinator for the Midwest for this challenge. (Thank you for all of your hard work!) It was a simple dish, served warm, and was somewhere between a stew and a salad. Local black beans teamed up with onions, bi-color corn, and grape and pear tomatoes from the garden. The only non-local ingredients were the oil (for sweating the onions) and the spices (cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika.) I am sure I will be revisiting this dish over the winter!

Leaves are already crunching underfoot in my yard, but with the warm days and bountiful markets it definitely feels like summer is still with us. I did see the first pumpkins this past weekend - but I think I'll wait for watermelon season to end before I start buying fall produce!