One Local Summer – Week 14

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My little garden in the backyard has finally started producing something! After a REALLY disappointing zucchini season – read: Lack Thereof – the garden has made up for things by giving me a ton of cucumbers. I planted lemon cucumbers, regular old green cucumbers, and miniature white cucumbers.  I’ve foisted some off on the neighbors, and have been eating a lot of them fresh out of the garden, but there are still too many.  So, I found a wonderful recipe for cucumber soup.  I doubled the recipe, using three green cukes, two lemon cukes, and two of the over-ripe white cukes that turned bright yellow.  Used cilantro, oregano, basil, and sage from the deck herb planters, plain old water instead of broth, and left out the avocado.  My soup isn’t bright green like the picture in the recipe, but I let the onion get a good carmelization going which contributed to the brownish tinge to the soup.  It’s great both hot and cold, with or without the dollop of yogurt.

Cucumber Soup:
Cucumbers – My Garden
Herbs – My Garden
Goat’s Milk Yogurt – Shellbark Hollow Farm
Garlic – North Star Orchard
Non-local – pepper, olive oil, lime juice, salt, cayenne pepper

One Local Summer – Week 6

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I finally made it out to the Anselma Mill Farmer’s market this past week to get flour and a few other things.   I don’t think all the flour is grown locally, but it’s definitely ground at the mill using the centuries old equipment. It’s really pretty awesome to think that this mill has been around for so long and is still useful today.   Here’s a link with more information about the flour, if you’re interested.  I also met the woman who runs Pure Blend Tea and came home with the Fruit Boost tea which made one heck of a batch of iced tea.  Anyway, onto the ingredients in the meal, starting in the back.

Salad:
Lettuce – Charlestown Farm.  Nice and crispy!
Cucumber – Smith’s Produce.  I was so psyched to see cucumbers already, I had to bring some home.
Goat’s Milk Yogurt – Shellbark Hollow Farm.  It actually made a really great dressing for a simple salad.

Ravioli:
For the ravioi pasta, I used a basic recipe I had found ages ago on the web and have modified a bit. It’s one cup flour (here, there’s 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour and 1/4 cup buckwheat flour), one egg, one teaspoon olive oil, and water to make consistency. I roll it out using the good old KitchenAid pasta roller set which makes the process SO much easier.  To form the individual ravioli, I found a form that pasta sheets are laid over, filled, then sealed with a rolling pin.  First batch using this was a little off, but the second batch came out perfectly.
Hot Bison Sausage – Backyard Bison.  Just the right amount of spice!
Cheese – Birchrun Hills.  Used the Equinox cheese inside the ravioli with the sausage.
Flour – Anselma Mill.  Used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
Buckwheat Flour – Anselma Mill.  They said this was a new one for them and I heard that adding buckwheat flour into the pasta dough mixture made it different, and it did, in a very good way.
Egg – Mountain View Organics.
Sauce – Homemade.  We found a few bags in the freezer left over from our 2008 amazing tomato year.
Spinach – Charlestown Farm.  Put a bunch of leaves in the steamer for just a minute.
Non-Local – Spices, Salt, Pepper, Olive Oil.

As a bonus this week, there was also Jam!  Two types.

Jammed Yellow Cherry Jam
A friend and I went to Walnut Springs Farm to pick cherries.  I LOVE yellow cherries and when the folks running the booth let me know there were two types available to pick, my eyes must have lit up like I had won the lottery.  I immediately knew that they were destined for a batch of jam, and sure enough, three pounds turned into 5 jars of sunny yellow jam.  I sort of want to go pick some more, add in a few blueberries, and see if I can make green slime jam because that sounds like fun.
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I did actually pick some red cherries too.  Three pounds of those (I came home with about 10 lbs, but did a lot of taste testing while we were there too) became Black Forest Preserves.  It’s a recipe out of the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving and involves cherries and cocoa powder.  I have to admit that the chocolate doesn’t really come out in the recipe – the jam just tastes RICH – but it’s destined to be a part of thumbprint cookies when cookie baking season kicks into full gear.

Introducing the Lemon Cucumber

I’ve taken to growing this peculiar little vegetable in the garden every year after finding a packet of seeds in Target (Thank you Martha Stewart).  I thought, Wow, that’s different, let’s give it a shot.  Well they grew like weeds the first year, but our soil wasn’t quite ready to support them, so I got a few, but the vines died off.  We tilled in a little compost this year and they’ve all but taken over the garden.

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They’re somewhere between baseball and softball sized usually and, when ripe, have a yellow skin that ranges from a very pale yellow to nearly orange. All the information I can find online says that they’re less bitter than traditional cucumbers and have more seeds.  Today, one little cucumber was destined to be a part of my sandwich, paired with some bison bologna, lettuce, goat’s milk feta cheese, and some rustic wheat bread.  DELICIOUS!  This upcoming week, we’re going to review the Zucchini, all week.  If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you understand the agony of finding new things to do with zucchini after you’ve already steamed it, fried it, and grilled it.  I’m going to try and do all the recipes using only local ingredients to go along with my One Local Summer challenge.

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OLS: Week 4

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Week four!  This week was a full dinner for two and I may have cheated a little more than I usually do with the locality of all of the ingredients, but to do a meal like this, well, sometimes you have to do what works.  This week features most items coming from a trip to the Anselma Farmer’s Market.

The wine is the May Wine from the Mount Hope winery.  Not sure if the grapes in the wine are local or not though, but it was a great bottle of white wine.  In the back is a salad using red lettuce (still) from Week 3 and cucumbers from the Anselma Market.  There’s also a piece of Dillicious cheese from Week 3.  The blueberries for dessert are also from the Anselma Market and were perfectly ripe and delicious.  The main plate was the bulk of the cooking, but 100% worth the time involved.  The pork chops come from Wright’s Meats at the Anselma Market.  They were brined in a salt/water/maple syrup for about 5 hours.  The Maple Syrup we have is from Miller’s Maple in PA, so even though it’s not from around the corner, it’s closer than Vermont and still counts as local for me.  The chops were then browned quickly on the stove and put in a baking dish in the oven with a vinegar and maple syrup glaze that was basted over the chops every 15 minutes or so.  The idea isn’t mine, so I’m giving credit to Elise of Elise.com for the recipe which I modified a little, omitting the onions.  The potatoes are again from the Anselma Market and were tossed with olive oil and roasted in the oven.  There’s a dressing that goes on top of the potatoes, another recipe from Elise.com, which again I modified a bit to fit my local theme.  I used basil and oregano from the back deck, omitting the mustard and vermouth but adding vinegar.  Overall, pound for pound, the non-local ingredients I used when put in contrast with the local ingredients still keep the mileage total down.  So, even though it’s not 100% local, the spirit of local ingredients is there for sure, and the husband didn’t seem to mind if it was local or not, because he ate everything on the plate.  It was fun to make a nice dinner for two this week for something different and I’m glad I challenged myself to do so, especially when I’m the first to admit that I’m not a great cook and don’t necessarily enjoy the kitchen.  These past four weeks have taught me a lot already about my culinary skills (which I previously thought were non-existent) and that sometimes, cooking isn’t so bad, especially when the results taste SO good.

Not Local: Salad Dressing; sugar, vinegar, olive oil, pepper, salt (pork chops); olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper (potato dressing).

I really need to start bringing around a notebook to the markets with me so that I can keep track of what comes from where.  These incredible vendors deserve credit and I never seem to be able to remember what comes from which stand, especially after the dinner is done and the packaging is in the garbage.