Local Food Notes
I have some committee notes to report from the Events Committee meeting, but I've decided to write about that in another post in the next couple of days. Instead, I want to share some food notes instead. As most of you already know, I am six months into a local eating challenge in which I am not buying any non-local produce and limited myself to purchasing mostly local packaged goods with a few exceptions that include oil, sugar, and a couple of condiments. Although most bread wheat is not grown locally, we are committed to only buying flour from local mills.
I did a lot of canning and freezing last fall which has really helped us get through the winter without feeling particularly deprived of good food choices. One of the things this challenge has really helped me to appreciate even more than I did before, is that eating truly seasonally has this side effect: that when you haven't eaten a fresh asparagus spear for ten months and then you see local fresh asparagus appear in the market it feels like finding a gold ingot in the rain gutter. It sharpens your food imagination and when food is eaten only in it's proper season, it gives you the opportunity to get excited about it in the same way that some people look forward to football season.
I would rather be tied to a truck and dragged through some mud than spend a few months glued to football games on the television- but I feel just like a football fan must feel when anticipating the opening of our local farmer's market season. Which happened two Thursdays ago.
There is an incredible selection of foods available at our farmer's market. You won't see tomatoes, peaches, or other summer delicacies for a while yet. But I bought: lettuce, strawberries, broccoli, radishes, bread, fava beans, zucchini, basil (!), spinach, and a buffalo bone for my dog which she later threw up on my nice carpet.
We are in the part of the season where those of us who have canned and frozen food from the last harvest still have plenty to use up and there isn't so much produce variety available that we don't need to use some of our pantry supplies. The dinner I made last night was a perfect example of how to use what's fresh in combination with what I already had. I will write up recipes later to add to our slow food group's collection.
I was very surprised to see fresh basil already and am not prepared to make a summery pesto with it. Partly because I froze 30 batches of it and have at least ten left. So, without having access to it's usual partner in crime- fresh tomatoes, I needed to figure out what I could make with it that would be exciting. Here's what I came up with:
Tomato bread soup. Yes, usually recipes call for the use of fresh tomatoes and I seriously don't think a commercially canned tomato sauce would result in quite as wonderful a result...but I meted out my home canned tomatoes very carefully this winter and actually have quite a few left so I used one jar of sauce and one jar of stewed. The bread was stale pieces of a sliced wheat sourdough from a Portland bakery (not an artisan bakery).
I used some frozen pureed garlic and the fresh basil. What resulted what an incredible hearty easy to make soup. I will time it next session to see if it would fit in my "30 minute" vegetarian meal series I hope to compile. It didn't take long to make and the simplicity of the ingredients made me wonder if this might be a great candidate for a recipe that the food pantry could use for its patrons?
To go with the soup I made a salad of butter lettuce, home made croutons, some home canned