Monday, November 26, 2007

A Pretty Dang Local Thanksgiving

So Thanksgiving was a blast! Here was our menu:

Bryanna Clark Gorgan's Soy and Seitan "Turkey" (not local but homemade!)
Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes (local potatoes, half and half)
Cornbread stuffing (local cornmeal, celery, onion, sage)
Good Gravy (local thyme, milk)
Steamed Brussels Sprouts (local sprouts)
Cranberry relish (local cranberries)
Buttermilk-Blueberry Pie (local buttermilk, blueberries, eggs)
Maple Pumpkin Pie (local pumpkin, half and half, eggs)
Potato Rosemary Rolls (non-local, but homemade)

Everything was delicious! We were especially in love with the "turkey" - it is amazing to find that you can make you're own tofurkey like product for so cheap and with so little effort - and the results are way better than tofurkey! Seriously, I think the whole roast cost us about $5 in ingredients and fed us for well over 4 days - some of those days more than one meal. And the toddler LOVED it. We will definitely be making this again - like maybe once a week until the end of time. And supposedly they freeze well, too. Yay!

I would also like to add that I made both of my piecrusts from scratch this year - I've NEVER made piecrust before and I was a little worried. Then I saw Martha Stewart on Wednesday and she made it look soooooo easy to roll it out and whatnot that on Thursday, I was like "This will be a piece of cake! Or pie!" Fast forward several hours, hissyfits and globs of dough flung across the kitchen in fits of rage....The goddamn dough kept sticking to EVERYTHING! Yes, even after I refrigerated it! And froze it! Goddamn dough! Then I remembered reading somewhere that I could roll it out between pieces of plastic wrap, so I gave that a whirl as a last goddamn chance...and it worked. Beautifully. As if I had never squished the everloving shit out of the dough in frustration nor thrown in at my window in despair. It all came out beautifully. So note to self: use the goddamn plastic wrap, you idiot. Save some years on your life.

I would also like to say how awesome and easy it was to make REAL homemade pumpkin pie! With a pumpkin! And no cans of any kind of milk, just real, local half and half! It was a miracle, and so delicious. Definitely making that one again!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

DDELC Week #5

Meal #1: Ok, this doesn't totally fall into my guidelines for local-ness, because we had a lot of non-local spices and such, but the bulk ingredient of each piece of this meal was local, so I'm letting it in! The coconut creamed spinach was so good I thought I would die of deliciousness. I've never been a huge fan of creamed spinach, but this was a totally different animal!

Cumin-Lime Tofu: ok so the bulk of this was local tofu (Ann Arbor, MI - 40 mi) and the marinade was totally non-local (cumin, evoo, allspice, braggs, lime juice, cayenne pepper). Oh and local honey (Davisburg, MI - 41 mi)

Dumpling Squash (Capac, MI - 51 mi)
Organic Butter (non-local)*

Coconut Creamed Spinach
Spinach and Garlic (Yale, MI - 65 mi)
Dried Chilies (non local but soooo old)
Coconut Milk (non local but leftover from another meal the day before)
EVOO, S&P - nonlocal

Meal #2: So delicious! I'm in love with my newest cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. The black bean cutlets (and the black beans themselves), and the broccoli recipes were both from there and totally freaking awesome! I can't believe how easy and delicious the cutlets were. I'm never buying veggie burgers ever again.

Black Bean Cutlets:
Black beans, oatmeal, eggs: Kingston, MI (83 mi)
onion: Yale, MI (65 mi)
chili powder, salt & pepper: non-local
mostly water, with backyard thyme and non-local braggs, cornstarch s&p
Roman-style broccoli
Broccoli: local farm, can't remember where in MI
Garlic: Yale, MI (65 mi)
Chilies: non-local but in the pantry forever
evoo, s&p: non-local

Delicata squash with Honey Butter: Yale, MI (65 mi)
Honey: Davisburg, MI (41 mi)
Butter: non-local organic valley*

Meal #3

Victory is mine! I've been looking for a good vegetarian bean sausage recipe forever - most use soy (which is fine, but highly processed and not usually local). So I took the black bean burger recipe from the other night and paired it with the seasonings of a tempeh sausage recipe I like. The results were fabulous!

Black Bean Sausage
2 cups beans (or 1 14-oz can) drained (Kingston, MI 83 mi)
1/2 medium onion (Yale, MI 41 mi)
2 cloves garlic (Battle Creek, MI 118 mi)
2 T Braggs (or soy or tamari) (non-local)
1 egg (Kingston, MI 83 mi)
1/2-3/4 cup rolled oats (not instant) (Kingston, MI 83 mi)
1 T fennel seeds (non-local)
1 t dried basil (Dirty Girl Farm, ??? MI)
1 t dried oregano (Dirty Girl Farm, ??? MI)
1/2 t dried sage (Dirty Girl Farm, ??? MI)
1/2 t red pepper flakes (non-local)

Put everything in a food processor and pulse until chunky, adding a little water or onion if it's too dry or more oats if it's too wet (to test, just grab a small handful and try to form it into a sausage patty - it should stay formed reasonably well and not be too gloppy).

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add 1-2 T olive oil. When hot, add as many sausage patties as will fit (leaving room to flip over). Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over each of the patties while they fry. After about 5 minutes, flip over and salt and pepper the other sides. Cook until the other side browns, about 4-5 minutes more.

These are so good and easy. IF you don't feel like frying up the whole batch at once, just pop the mix in the fridge and fry it up as you need. The mixture even holds together a little better after it's been refrigerated. Just use within 2-3 days probably.

I'm totally psyched to keep messing with this recipe - different beans, different spices...I really want to add some chipotle pepper next time (dried or canned in adobo?). I love recipes with endless possibilities!

We had these sausages with local scrambled eggs. YUM!

*The butter debate: I was really conflicted whether to buy local non-organic butter of unknown production methods rather than non-local organic butter. At this point, I'm going with the non-local organic valley butter. The whole point of this local thing is that I'm trying to tread more lightly on the earth, and if I have no idea how sustainable the animal husbandry practices are of a particular non-organic farm (and we can probably assume the worst unless I could find it directly from a farmer, which I can't), then I feel good about supporting the farmers that contribute to the Organic Valley coop. From what I've read about it (and maybe it's all just PR), they support small farmers and sustainable methods. Plus, I've also heard that the conventional fallout like pesticides and herbicides are more concentrated in fat cells, so butter is something to really buy organic. So that's my reasoning at the moment. Subject to change.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dark Days ELC Meal #4

The star of this week's local menu was Curried Butternut Squash Soup! I got the idea from Laura of Urban Hennery, the lovely hostess of the Dark Days Eat Local Challenge.

I started with a winter squash soup recipe out of How to Cook Everything and then "currified" it, adding 1 tsp of curry powder, 1 tsp of freshly ground coriander and a splash of lime juice. Other than that and 1/4 tsp of marjoram, the soup was allllll local, with apples, squash, onion, milk and butter all from well within 100 miles. The soup turned out sweet and tart and mysterious. YUM!

Other local fare that we enjoyed this week included Maple Baked Beans, with the star of the show being local navy beans from Hampshire Farms in Kingston, MI. The recipe came out of Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson, and although I've been generally happy with the book as a whole, I was NOT a fan of this recipe. They were sooooo sweet that it made my stomach turn as soon as the beans hit my tongue - blech. I tried to tame the cloying beans by adding different vinegars and even some liquid smoke, but nothing really saved them. I'm not sure what I'll do differently next time - probably abandon this recipe altogether and try a different one. Any good veggie baked bean recipes out there than you could recommend darling readers?

Although it was probably only 50% local, we also enjoyed some Chickpea Noodle Soup this week, where I substituted leftover cooked navy beans for the chickpeas. This is a great vegetarian faux-chicken noodle soup recipe, I highly recommend it! In addition to the local navy beans, this soup also starred local carrots, onions, mushrooms and garlic.

We also made a fairly mediocre Gingerbread Apple Pie featuring all local apples and butter, from the cookbook Vegan with a Vengeance. It was just really bland! And the gingerbread crust kind of burned, even though we followed the directions. Oh well. The local cinnamon ice cream helped to ameliorate my disappointment.

And, of course, we've been having lots of local breakfasts featuring local eggs and bread. And speaking of bread, I'm feeling bitten by the bread bug, so some fresh homemade bread may make an appearance on the menu this weekend. Whether or not I use the bread machine will all depend on the terror known as Silas, the toddler.

I'm hoping that this next week's meals are a little less disappointing....wish me luck!

Friday, November 02, 2007

Dark Days ELC, Meal #3

Hello, hello!

This week here at Maybe Local, we enjoyed a really delicious meal of Portabello Stroganoff with Roasted Roots on the side.

Portabello Stroganoff Breakdown
  • 3 tablespoons butter (40 mi)
  • 1 large onion, chopped (CSA)
  • 3/4 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced (farmer's market - local)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (non-local)
  • 1/2 cups sour cream (173 miles)
  • 2.5 tablespoons all-purpose flour (Hampshire Farms, 83 mi)
  • 1 Squeeze Braggs (non-local)
  • 1 tsp veggie worchestshire sauce (non-local)
  • 1 splash white wine (non-local)
  • 8 ounces dried egg noodles (produced in MI from ingredients with unknown pedigrees - my 1 freebie per meal)
I followed the directions pretty much as written, except I added the braggs, worchestshire sauce and wine with the veggie broth, and reduced the sour cream as others on had suggested. It was GREAT! We will definitely have this again. Next time I'm thinking of adding beef-style seitan - wicked good!

Roasted Roots
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chunked (local - farmer's market)
  • 3 parsnips, peeled and chunked (local - farmer's market)
  • 1 onion, cut in wedges (CSA)
  • 1 handful of small beets, halved/quartered (CSA)
  • 1 delicata squash, peeled and chunked (CSA)
  • Olive Oil (non-local)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (backyard!)
  • s&p (non-local)
Basically I just combined all of the above and threw it in the oven for about an hour at 375. I stirred things around a few times.

And although I reserved my squash seeds for roasting, I didn't use them in this meal, so no bonus squash points for me!

Other delicous local endeavors this week have included: Ratatouille (local peppers, onions, garlic, eggplant and tomatoes baked in olive oil and herbs - yum!). We're still enjoying those leftovers. I also made a pretty local apple crisp that has been rocking our socks - although it would be slightly enhanced if we weren't out of cinnamon ice cream (from our favorite local producer!). There's a road construction issue that's standing in our way of ice cream, and it's not pretty.

Tomorrow should be another local success: Maple Baked Beans and collard greens! I've got the navy beans cooking in the crock tonight (local from Hampshire Farms! I freaking love that place). Tomorrow I'll get the beans "baking" in their maple-y goodness and figure out how the hell to make collard greens. Any tips would be appreciated!

I'm really looking forward to the farmer's market tomorrow. I never knew how much it could anchor the whole week. Tomorrow we're in need of some onions, garlic and eggs and whatever else is inspiring. Oh and portabellos! And maybe squash, because, can you ever really have enough winter squash?!?

And I'd also like to report that there have been no breakdowns in mental health despite the fact that our CSA has ended. This was our first Tuesday in many many weeks that we did not pick up a share. I know I'll miss it, but I'm actually just enjoying the freedom right now of only eating veggies that I'm in the mood for. There are just only so many peppers, eggplants and arugula that a girl can eat, you know?