One Local Summer 2015 – Week 20

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Winding down to the end of One Local Summer with just a few weeks left of our set.  Usually we drag this out through November, but we’re taking a break and wrapping it up soon.  At the top of the meal, we have a bowl filled with all sorts of tomatoes, drizzled with some balsamic vinegar and topped with basil.  Next around is a mug of homebrewed beer.  The on the main plate is zucchini, sweet potatoes, lamb sausage, and banana peppers stuffed with blue cheese and wrapped in bison bacon.  This meal involved a good bit of prep work, but once everything was cut and wrapped and ready, it all went onto the grill (except the tomatoes).  Pretty easy!  The lamb sausage was absolutely delicious and I’m glad I sprung for it at the market.  The whole thing together made for a great dinner.

Ingredients:
Tomatoes – My Garden, Full Circle CSA
Basil – My Garden
Zucchini – Full Circle CSA
Sweet Potatoes – Jack’s Farm
Lamb Sausage – Canter Hill Farm
Banana Peppers – Steer Vegetables
Bison Bacon – Backyard Bison
Cheese – Birchrun Hills, Blue Cheese
Non Local – Balsamic Vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper

One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 18

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Another week down!  This has become an annual favorite of mine.  There’s a magical time of year where sweet potatoes and fennel are both available at the same time.  Those get roasted in the oven with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and then sausage is added on top till that’s cooked through.  It’s a really easy dinner to create and the leftovers keep and re-heat well.  Add a bowl of applesauce (oh yes, there’s still more) and a mug of beer, and we have a complete dinner.

Ingredients:
Fennel – North Star Orchard
Sweet Potatoes – Jack’s Farm
Veal Kielbasa – Birchrun Hills
Old Tosser ESB beer – Armstrong Ales
Apple Sauce – grandparents house
Non Local – salt, pepper, olive oil

And just in case you were interested, the mug was even locally produced by Tom Longacre.  It’s a HUGE mug and works really well with session beers!

One Local Summer 2014 – Meal 6

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Another meal cooked by the husband.  How can you tell he’s cooking?  There’s beef on the plate.  It’s just not my thing, but it is husband’s thing, and he’s learned to cook beef just the way I like it (VERY VERY well done) so I’ll eat it when he’s around to cook.  This week, he found a neat coffee chocolate spice rub at the market which really changed the flavor.  I do find a HUGE difference between grass-fed from the market and non-specific beef from the grocery store, so that makes it a little more palatable.  I’d still prefer chicken or turkey or pork over beef any day!  Anyway, getting on with things, we have corn fritters again, made with the same pickled peppers that I had canned summers prior.  They’re really becoming a house favorite, and we’ve even been putting them on the grill for an extra crisp crust on the outside.  In the back, there’s canteloupe, then a slice of Soltane bread topped with Tomme Mole.  The bread isn’t locally sourced, but it is locally made, so we’ll allow a little leeway here since it’s SO good.  The bowl in the back has cucumbers and tomatoes with some onions, oil, and vinegar.  I could easily eat the whole container we made of that, they were so good.  To drink, there’s a beer from Armstrong Ales, a  local brewery.  So, everything (even the not-completely-local items) was sourced very locally and made for a great meal in some great weather outside!

Ingredients:
Porterhouse Steak – Bendy Brook Farm
Corn – Hoagland Farm
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Onion – Brogue Hydroponics
Tomatoes – Brogue Hydroponics
Cucumber – Brogue Hydroponics
Canteloupe – Brogue Hydroponics
Bread – Soltane
Cheese (Tomme Mole) – Birchrun Hills
Peppers – Our Garden
Non Local – Salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, java rub, beer

Making Vinegar

The blog has been a little silent, mostly because I’ve been too busy shovelling all winter long.  Whew.  I think we’re up to #3 snowiest winter ever, and from the looks of the forecast, we’re not done quite yet though there was some loud, house-shaking thunder this morning accompanied by freezing rain.  But hey, the last two winters I think we only managed about six inches of snow each, so it’s nice to have a proper winter again.  I do like everything to be covered in snow rather than trudging around in a mushy, muddy mess.

We’ve been up to something new!  Husband found an advertisement for a vinegar making kit in a magazine and hinted about it around Giftmas time.  So, I took the hint, and it ended up being his present.  The kit, purchased from The Brooklyn Kitchen, didn’t include the vinegar mother or culture for starting the vinegar, so I had to purchase that separately.  Basically, it’s a bacteria that converts alcohol into acetic acid.  The amout of alcohol in your starter liquid (beer, wine, hard cider) is the amount of acid you’ll have in your vinegar.  You want something around 5-7 percent alcohol, so if you’re using wine, you need to dilute it by half with water, and make sure it doesn’t have any preservatives or sulfites that will kill the vinegar mother.  The mother will slowly form as a slimy, gelatinous layer on top of the liquid.  It’s totally safe and completely harmless.  It likes to work at a higher temperature (85 degrees F), but we don’t keep our house that warm in the winter, so it just takes longer, no big deal.  For more information on making vinegar, check out this link.

Husband was pretty excited to get going on his vinegar, so he grabbed a case of Yuengling Premium and loaded up the barrel which means we get a malt vinegar (perfect for french fries).  It sat from December through February and we finally bottled it February 16th.  The information told us that when it starts to smell like nail polish remover, it’s almost done.  Sure enough, that day rolled around about three weeks ago, so we let it sit a little while longer just to be sure.  We bottled the finished vinegar into two 8 oz bottles and shared one with the neighbors.  It’s not much, and we left a good bit of starter liquid behind, but the resulting vinegar for our first go is really good!  Because this was the first use of the barrel, the vinegar picked up a TON of oak from the fresh char on the inside.  We even took a chunk of the mother out to start another glass container with a botched batch of mead to make a mead vinegar.  That should be interesting!  We decided not to pasteurize the vinegar (which would kill the bacteria and allow it to be stored at room temperature) and instead are keeping the bottle in the fridge.

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Today I decided we needed a label for the bottle, so I found a template and slapped together a small label for the wee bottle (the label only measures about 4″ high by 1.5″ wide).  I found a sheet of gummed label paper we used for homebrewing and printed out a sheet of labels that we can use on future bottlings.  I’m pretty happy with how they came out!

Vinegar Barrel – The Brooklyn Kitchen – $100
Malt Vinegar Mother – Beer & Winemaking – $17.99
Label Paper – Midwest Supplies – $5.99
Bormioli Rocco Bottle – Everything Kitchens – $2.99 (We found ours at a local store for less)
Label Template – World Label – FREE
Fonts: Marshall (“Oak Aged”) – Guttenberg MF (“Malt Vinegar”) – Horizon Wide (“Phoenixville”) – Savanne (“Date, Batch, Base”)