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.
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.