Sunday, May 6, 2012

An Entirely Local Meal!

This month, Hogtown Homegrown is once again hosting the Eat Local Challenge. The challenge is self-explanatory. Try to eat local, seasonal foods at home or in locally owned restaurants every day for the entire month of May. Since I buy local, pastured eggs, this is incredibly easy for me as I eat them everyday for breakfast. But what about an entirely local dinner? Could I have a well-rounded meal from local sources? Yes!

It's almost an embarrassment of riches! Local, grass-fed sirloin! Local cherry tomatoes! Local corn! Local green beans! Local broccoli! Local zucchini! The only thing not local was the olive oil I used to grill the zucchini. I let the sirloin marinate for 24 hours. Usually I'm not this organized; I was intending to cook this meal last night but after my son's seventh birthday party, I was so tuckered out that I just couldn't bear to cook. I had Craig pick up a rotisserie chicken from our supermarket. The kids were so full from the party they didn't even eat dinner! I choked down the chicken, but it was so dry and tasteless. It was nothing like a local pastured chicken tastes. 

Honestly, eating local food has kind of ruined my tastebuds. Everything pops with flavor! Factory and industrial agriculture foods taste bland and boring. Plus, I can't really enjoy most restaurants anymore either, since almost all cook with nut and seed oils that start turning rancid as soon as they are pressed. I guess I'm stuck with cooking for myself. This is a true First World problem, I know.

Even dessert was local! One of my favorite farms sold these tiny melons, about the size of a grapefruit. I filled it with fresh blueberries. Delicious! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two Drink Minimum

I usually eat with my parents and my grandmother every night. My mother is a little frazzled by taking care of my 93 year old grandmother, so I help out by cooking for them and my three boys (husband included). We got our CSA share when all seven of us were eating together. However, my parents, being snowbirds, have migrated North for the summer. I have a ton of CSA produce hanging around that I can't seem to finish as all three of my boys can be picky. I can only eat so many vegetables, you know.

What about juicing, you say? I have a Jack LaLane Power Juicer sitting around that I've never really used. I browsed some juicing websites and thought, "nothing ventured, nothing gained." (Really, I did. Sometimes I think in clichéed adages.)  Here's the result:

I juiced one beet, one (spicy?) pepper, one enormous cucumber, about 20 leaves of red leaf lettuce, one gala apple and a hunk of ginger. The first four ingredients were from the CSA. The end result was such a brilliant fuchsia! I may have put too much ginger in because it was sweet and spicy at the same time. Or maybe it was a spicy pepper, I have no idea. I think I may be hooked on juicing the extra veggies and fruit. I didn't take any pictures of the initial juicing; let's just say that I didn't have all the pieces of the juicer on properly and there were little pieces of dry beetroot everywhere. Luckily my friend Kim helped me figure it out! I won't offer this particular juice to the boys because of the spiciness, but I will start juicing things for them that are on the sweeter side.

Here's the second drink, this one definitely for adults.

This was a variation on my drink from Saturday Night Special post. I had some extra watermelon lying around (sadly not yet in season here in Florida) as well as the last blueberries from the blueberry farm. I poured strained watermelon juice in a tall glass about two-thirds full. Then I added the blueberries, mint and firewater. I finished it off with frozen watermelon cubes to keep it cold. Make the frozen watermelon cubes but cubing the watermelon and then freezing it. Pretty self-explanatory. Should I have even given directions for it? Anyhoo, it was delicious and I will repeat it. I'm sure rum or vodka would be a great alcohol in it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cooking Shortcuts.

No, I'm not Sandra Lee and I'm never going to make a terrible, horrible cake. (I found out that Semi-Homemade is trademarked. That was the original title of this post but I'm not bringing her wrath on me by using it!)

I got my CSA share today. Michael and Mariana, the farmers, gave everyone onions, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, lettuce and basil. I'm kind of sick of cucumbers because I don't like them very much and I've gotten them for the past three weeks. I love tzatziki sauce, but how much can I really make? I started thinking about global agriculture and how lucky(?) we are to have an almost unlimited variety of fruits and vegetables available year round. Of course, it really isn't unlimited as we have lost hundreds, maybe thousands of heirloom varieties of fruit and vegetables due to big agribusiness. Before, when people had to rely on their own gardens and local farmers, seasons ruled availability. You ate what grew that day or the day before or you ate canned or preserved food from prior seasons. If you pined for something different, tough. As my son's kindergarten teacher says, "You get what you get and you don't pitch a fit." I appreciate that I am getting fresh, local food, even if it repetitive and not always what I would have picked.

Enough philosophical waxing! On to dinner!

I sauteed diced onions and sliced zucchini in extra virgin olive oil. I then added jarred tomato sauce and some of the fresh basil and let it simmer. I poured it over rice noodles and baked chicken. Delicious! And for the record, I can make homemade tomato sauce, but I didn't have the time today to do it. Have I failed my Italian grandmother? Probably, but I'll make and freeze my own tomato sauce when tomatoes are in season, to enjoy when fresh tomatoes are no longer in season. I also didn't amok my own rice pasta. I'll leave that to the experts.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Take-a-Chance Tuesday

I love that I have a wonderful fishmonger nearby. (The word "fishmonger" is woefully underused, by the way.) Not only do they have fresh Florida seafood, but they also have local grassfed beef in the freezer. I opted to get shrimp fresh off the boat from St. Augustine for dinner tonight. Neither of my boys eat shrimp so I decided to get a little creative with the meal.

I melted a mixture of butter and coconut oil in the skillet. I added some chopped ginger (from a bottle, sadly. My fresh ginger root had become moldy because I didn't use it quickly enough.) and let it infuse the oil. Next I added the shrimp. I was going to leave it at that, but then I saw a jar of Thai Kitchen Green Curry Paste in the fridge. Why not? The kids certainly weren't going to be eating it. I added a tablespoon of the paste and stirred, then about 1/4 cup of leftover Chardonnay. Chopped scallions I bought at the farmers' market on Saturday finished the dish. I also added some leftover chicken from a roasted chicken from last night. (The chicken was pastured and this farm produces the most delicious chicken I have ever tasted. It tastes like chicken.)

I had leftover sweet potato from last night's dinner and put the shrimp on top of it. Side note, you should only ever bake sweet potatoes. Microwaved sweet potatoes are gummy and bland. Baked sweet potatoes have caramelized and are soft. End Note. I had a sauté mix from the farmers' market that included mustard greens, chard, spinach and other mystery greens. After I put the shrimp on the potato, I sautéed the greens in the same pot to get the curry flavor on the greens. That was okay, not great. Mustard greens and curry don't mix well, FYI. Maybe fresh greens with a curried dressing might be interesting...

However, the spicy shrimp paired with the sweet sweet potato was perfect! I'm totally doing this again!

My picky eaters ate broccoli yet again. Don't they ever get bored of it? At least they're eating some vegetables...