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One Local Summer 2017 – Meal 1

This is going to be my NINTH year of One Local Summer which is pretty incredible.  Last year, I ended kind of abruptly at week 13 after we found out that my dearest girl-dog, Mattie, had a fast-growing, incurable cancer and was given two weeks to live.  She made it 5 more weeks post-diagnosis, but it’s safe to say that she became my top priority at that point in time, and One Local Summer just didn’t seem that important when pitted against the pup’s health situation.  After she passed, my heart was broken, and really, still is.  I spent more time with her than I have with my husband who is out to sea for work more often than he’s home, so it’s been incredibly difficult to deal with the loss of a beloved pet, confidant, and the best, most earnest listener ever.  Her brother is still around, but he’s always been a more aloof sort of dog whereas Mattie would take every opportunity to weasel her way onto your lap (yes, all 50 lbs of her) to beg for head rubs or just to curl up and snore her happy little face off.  She was my little peanut and I miss her tremendously.

That’s a long way of saying we had a loss in the family, and I couldn’t focus on much else since I was grieving.

(and now that I’ve probably made you cry… moving on…)

In case you’re not familiar with One Local Summer, the idea is that you make one meal a week using only ingredients found locally which serves to reduce your “food miles” by using food grown and raised near home instead of across the country.  It means that your food uses less fuel to get to your home, reducing your overall carbon footprint.  It also means that you get to know your local farmers, purchase from local small businesses, and support local agriculture.  Getting to know the people who grow/make/raise the food I eat has been such an incredible experience over the past nine years – I joke that our local weekly farmers market is my farmers market family, and they’re a wonderful group of people that I enjoy seeing every week!  I’m going back to the meal-by-meal format instead of doing set weeks.  Let’s face it, some weeks get away from me, and rather than feel stressed to cook and blog about it when I’m just out of time and energy, this gives me the option to double up some weeks, and give myself a break other weeks if I need it.

I kind of can’t believe it’s been nine whole years of this already.

Our market went to regular summer hours at the beginning of April, so I figured I might as well start this thing off at the same time, even though it’s a month earlier than the usual start of our market summer season.  The market is still on in the winter on an every-other-week schedule since a lot of producers grow in hot houses.  There’s not all that much available at the beginning of the season in terms of vegetables – lots of leafy greens, but not too much else – so the earlier meals end up being a little simpler.  Well, not this one!  I found a recipe for baked empanadas that had a great, easy recipe for the dough that was basically just lard and flour, so I knew I could do that locally.  For the filling, I deviated from the recipe and decided on veal, spinach, scallions, and cheese curds and it was PERFECT.  Really, you could fill the dough with just about any combination of veggies/meat/cheese/etc and get creative with these, so I may re-visit this recipe later.  I made the filling and dough the night before so they had enough time to chill and then assembled them the next evening.  It’s a bit more work than I usually put into a One Local Summer dinner since I don’t necessarily enjoy cooking (a girl’s gotta eat though), but the result was well worth the extra time!  I added some mushrooms and cheese curds to round out the plate since hey, mushrooms and cheese curds, who could say no?!  The wine glass features mead I made from honey from our hives, so that was an extra special treat.

Ingredients:
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Lard – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Cheese Curds – Birchrun Hills
Veal – Birchrun Hills
Spinach – Charlestown Farm
Scallions – Jack’s Farm
Mead – Our Beehives
Non Local – Salt, olive oil

One Local Summer 2016 – Week 13

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It may not be the world’s most exciting meal, but it’s classic Chez Sheetar comfort food – meat and potatoes.  It was a quick and easy meal to make in the oven in one pan, and I get to show off the peach jam I made!  Our single little peach tree yielded quite the harvest this year, so I was able to do two batches of jam, a run of canned peaches, and even froze two bags of skinned and pitted peaches for pies over the winter.  Of course, the squirrels got a fair share of the peaches too, but it’s no big deal since there were SO many.  Anyway, the meal is kielbasa with potatoes plus a small salad and some cheese and jam.  The cheese is Birchrun Hills’ Red Cat that was washed in Tired Hands beer and it was OH SO DELICIOUS with the jam.  It actually made for a nice little dessert!

Ingredients:
Kielbasa – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Potatoes – Jack’s Farm
Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Lettuce – North Star Orchard
Tomatoes – Our Garden
Peach Jam – Our Honey, our Peach tree
Non Local – Salt, Olive Oil, pectin (for jam), Salad Dressing

One Local Summer 2016 – Week 12

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Yep, still playing catch-up.  It should be week 15 as I’m posting this, so I’m still behind.  Life just keeps getting away from me and the first thing to go when things get to be too much is cooking.  But hey, I’m still here making the effort, and I have to wonder if I’d even bother cooking at all if it weren’t for this challenge!  So, this meal was a ham steak with grilled onions and eggplant and a cucumber and tomato salad on the side.  Everything was cooked on the grill, so it was great to not have to heat up the house on a day that was already too hot to begin with!  I may have ever so slightly overcooked the ham steak, but it was still delicious since it was given a little rub down with our own honey before it was introduced to the grill.  I need to remind myself that I don’t have to be fancy, and it’s okay to slap meat and veggies on the grill and thats good enough (and better than a microwaved boxed dinner).

Ingredients:
Ham Steak – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Tomato – Kimberton CSA
Eggplant – Kimberton CSA
Cucumber – Jack’s Farm
Blue Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Peach – Our Tree
Honey – Our beehives
Non Local – Olive Oil

One Local Summer 2016 – Week 5

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I actually have TWO this week for One Local Summer, so I’m jamming them into one post instead of splitting them into two.  This week was husband’s final week home before going out to a ship for quite a long while, so he took advantage of the time home to cook up a storm.  This is me, not complaining.  First up!  A house favorite, biscuits and gravy with a side of yogurt and strawberries and of course, coffee.  We made our biscuits with lard – I have no idea where the recipe came from, but if I find out, I’ll add a link – and they come out so delightful.  We had the buttermilk for the gravy and it felt like it would be a slight not to include it in the biscuits as well.  The flour is probably my favorite part of this.  We actually have an old stone mill locally that buys their wheat from PA farmers and then mills it with a gigantic water wheel just a few minutes down the road.  They sell it, along with cornmeal, to help fund the mill’s educational programs and it’s SUCH a delight to have locally grown and milled wheat available to us, not to mention the historic aspect of the fact that it was ground in a mill that’s 250 years old!  In order to make the meal just a little more healthy, we added the side of strawberries and yogurt.  The coffee?  Not local, but I dare you to tell me that I can’t have it with breakfast.

Ingredients:
Lard – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Sausage – M&M Creek Valley Farm
Flour – Mill at Anselma
Strawberries – Hoagland Farm
Yogurt – Seven Stars Farm
Buttermilk – Maplehofe Dairy
Non Local – Coffee, Salt, Pepper

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I did mention this was a two-fer, right?  Second local meal for the week features ribs with grilled vegetables, a cucumber salad and CHEESE.  The ribs were cooked in the slow cooker first and then given a quick roast in the oven with our own homemade fruit ketchup using tomatoes and apples from the farmers market and peaches from our own tree.  Pretty sure this is the same recipe we used from the Ball Canning Book for the ketchup.  The veggies on the side were carrots, snap peas, and zucchini.  Then there was the classic cucumber salad – cucumbers soaked in vinegar making not-quite-pickles, but a nice refreshing not-lettuce sort of salad for the side.  Then there’s the CHEESE – I believe that’s all Birchrun Hills cheese between Fat Cat, Red Cat, and some Clipper.  REALLY a good dinner – the ribs were absolutely perfect and it was a nice way to end a stormy evening.

Ingredients:
Ribs – Countrytime Farm
Cucumbers – Jack’s Farm
Zucchini – Jack’s Farm
Snap peas – Jack’s Farm
Carrots – Charlestown Farm
Cheese – Birchrun Hills
Non Local – Homemade Vinegar, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil

One Local Summer 2016 – Week 4

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Week four, cooked and consumed already during our One Local Summer.  Husband was home again this weekend, so I was happy to step aside and let him take charge of the kitchen!  The vegetable supply is really starting to diversify since so many farmers start seeds early, so we already have zucchini and snap peas available.  The meal is a veal chop marinated in vinegar, salt and pepper, cider, and cilantro then grilled with some cheese on top.  On the side are grilled carrots, snap peas, and zucchini and some more cheese (because there can always be more cheese), paired with a nice leafy green salad tossed with some olive oil and vinegar, and a glass of homebrewed cider.  The cider we had here actually finished off a 5 gallon keg we’ve been nursing for over a year now, but fortunately we have the next batch ready to go, made from apples picked at my grandparents’ home some four hours west of where we live.  Since the apples followed us on a trip we would’ve made anyway, I include them into local summer since their “food miles” didn’t count as just transporting food.  We crushed and pressed the apples into cider ourselves, gave the juice some yeast, and let it do its thing.  The resulting cider came out tart and dry, just how I like it, so while I’m a little sad to see this keg go, I’m also eager to see how the second batch tastes!  Anyway, enough about the cider, the meal was a nice way to cap off the long holiday weekend since this was Monday’s dinner before husband left again for the week.  Hopefully he’ll get in one last OLS meal before heading out on a long stretch for work, and then it’s all on me!  I may have to entice some guest chefs to visit and contribute (read: beg friends to cook for me) during the summer.

Ingredients: