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Archive for August, 2007


Happy little thai eggplants.


What a find. At Garlic Fest last week (yes, still more on that later), there was a vendor selling just the cutest little thai eggplants. I recognized the little green balls from the Sweet Green Curry that I can’t get enough of from True Thai Restaurant in Minneapolis. The ones I found ranged in size from a cherry tomato to that of a small peach. The skin is crisp, and the innards a little softer and full of seeds. I searched around for a recipe and really didn’t find very much. I could have just followed any old green curry recipe, but I was looking for something different.


I found this at epicurious.com: jungle curry with pork and thai eggplant

The recipe turned out to be very easy, just some chopping for prep and a bit of stir-frying. I was able to use my beautiful cast iron wok, which really doesn’t get used enough. And of course, we used our rice cooker, because how can anyone live without one of those things. Along with the eggplants, which are crisp and fresh, there was fresh ginger, red jalapenos, baby corns (fun) and green beans.

Not all of the ingredients were local, but maybe 80%. Or 50%? The rice, the red curry paste and the fish sauce are the obvious ones to name. But the dish was born from the eggplants and the pork, which were both local. And the beans. The beans were local. Where does baby corn come from? Click here to see what Wikipedia says; Baby Corns. Huh. We all just learned something new.

Regardless, the meal was great, and even provided me with lunch for the next two days. Husband wasn’t a fan of the little eggplants, but I was. So more for me, right?

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It’s time to be honest..

This eating local thing is really hard. Just ask K! I’ve snuck a couple bananas, but only one diet coke, and I even (shame on me) had a mango smoothie. (Although I don’t think there were any actual mangos in the packaged mixture.

But I’ve had some successes. The local corn right now is fabulous. I’ve been enjoying Cultural Revolution yogurt with farmers market raspberries. I bought some fun little ground cherries, and have been snacking on them. Two weeks in a row we’ve had mashed potatoes, because they’re easy and potatoes are available. But my proudest achievement was the Cedar Summit Farm meal. It included rib-eye steaks from the farm, the mashed potatoes were made with the farms butter and milk, the bread was buttered with the beautiful stuff, and the bernaise sauce was made with the same milk and butter. I only regret not buying more of their cheese.

So it’s been interesting. I found a “local” peanut butter, or at least its manufactured here. I’m determined to buy my eggs and most of my meat direct from the farmer. I’m starting to fill our freezer with frozen goods. But day-to-day, my stomach often wins out over my mind.

There are more local stories to come, including the adorable little thai eggplants I found at Garlic Fest. Bon Appetit!

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Freezing corn on a Saturday night!!

I really need to get a life. On the drive back from Garlic Fest (more on that later), I stopped at a roadside stand and picked up a dozen beautiful ears of corn and a few pounds of tomatoes. (note the tomatoes and the glass of wine in the photo.) I should have noticed the name of the farm, because the woman helping me couldn’t have been sweeter, and even walked me through her own process of freezing corn. And despite the rainy weather, the day was perfect.

I set my largest pot on the stove loaded with water and started husking the corn. And this was beautiful corn. I could feel the moisture of the kernels as I tore off the husks. A quick boil of 8 minutes, and brief introduction to a cold bath, and then I cut the kernels off the cobs and loaded them into freezer bags. I ended up with eight cups of kernels, and will probably need to freeze more for the long winter.

I’m looking forward to warm bowls of corn chowder, as well as this recipe from my new favorite book, Serving up the Harvest.

Corn Risotto
(serves 4)

1 cup water
kernels from 3 ears corn
3 1/2 veg. or cx stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 t sugar
1/2 t ground turmeric
2 T evoo (thanks rachel)
2 c. arborio rice
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 shallots, minced
1/4 pound turkey breast, diced
1/4 c chopped basil
salt and pepper

1. bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. add the kernels from two ears of the corn, cover and cook until quite tender, 2-3 minutes. let cool slightly, pour into blender and puree

2. return the corn puree to the saucepan and add the chicken broth, wine, sugar and tumeric. heat to boiling, then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer.

3. heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. add the rice, bell pepper, and shallots and sauté until the rice looks dry, 4-5 minutes

4. add 1 cup of the corn-broth mixture and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the liquid is absorbed. continue adding more of the mixture, 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring after each addition. the liquid should be mostly absorbed before you add the next cup

5. when all the brogh has been added, remove from the heat. stire inthe turkey, the remaining corn, and the basil. season with salt and pepper. cover and let heat through for about 1 minute. serve immediately

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Day 2, well, we can’t control everything.

After a locally baked scone from Yum, loaded with beautiful mixed berrys that I’m sure couldn’t have come far, I ended up at, of all places, T.G.I Fridays for lunch.

Yuck.

But the clients picked it, and we tried to change their mind to The Good Earth, but you can’t win them all, eh? It turned out to be a pleasant lunch, despite the food. One client brought her three-year-old son, who behaved so well, I often forgot he was even there. We ordered the crispy green bean fries to start, and like anything deep friend, they were addictive. Here’s their description:

CRISPY GREEN BEAN FRIES
Crunchy and crisp battered green beans with a cool creamy Cucumber-Wasabi Ranch dip. Be warned, these are addictive.

Yes, they were battered and fried, but wasabi was as far from them as local ingredients were. The clients tasted something “hot” but I suspected some the classic substitute, horseradish.

I asked the server if they had any vegetarian options, and not surprisingly, he pointed out one. It was a portabello pasta, which didn’t sound have bad. But there were 8 pages of dishes, including the pastas and salads and sandwiches, and that was all he could come up with? I turned to their “healthy” page and ordered the dragonfire chicken. I believe chicken can only be so bad, or so rubbery, but the other option, the mahi-mahi, kind of made my skin crawl. Here’s the description of the chicken:

DRAGONFIRE CHICKEN
Marinated chicken breast topped with fiery Kung Pow sauce, mandarin oranges and pineapple pico de gallo. Served with stir-fried brown rice and cilantro lime seasoned broccoli.

And it was edible. In fact, the sauce was pretty tasty. I wouldn’t really call it fiery, but hot at least. The rice was brown, yes, but brown rice? Probably not. It had the soft texture of white rice, with some sauce and dried vegetables mixed in. Though not a fan of broccoli, I ate it because, well, it’s good for me, right?

So the meal wasn’t a total waste, although far from being local. But my real beef was with the straws. I told coworker on the way out, that if the server offered me a straw, I would refuse it. (Too many straws go directly to landfills.) But before I even noticed, he set the (plastic) glass of water in front of me with a STRAW!! Eeck. And the worst part. Instead of filling up my water with a pitcher, he brought me another (plastic) glass of water with ANOTHER STRAW!! So, not I’m guilty for TWO STRAWS!!

(I’ll have to drive that scooter for months to offset that plastic.)

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Eating Local Day 1

Cultural Revolution yogurt with farmers market raspberries and co-op granola.

Toast with local honey and scrambled eggs from Otis Family Farm.

Bison burgers from Eichtens, with my homemade refrigerator pickles served with Minnesota Sweet Corn and garden tomatoes.

There’s some watermelon in the fridge for dessert.

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A local, and very tasty, breakfast.

Okay – so its not ALL local, but most of it is. The eggs are from Otis Family Farm. The bread was baked across the river. The plums and raspberries are from local farms, but the peaches are from Colorado and the bananas, well, they’re fairtrade and organic. So we’re close. The butter is from Cedar Summit Farm, so I think I get bonus points for that, right?

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“Honey, it almost smells like Oceanaire in here!”

Well, almost. Or maybe for a few minutes. Regardless, the kitchen smelled great. And now, you want to know what we made? Well, let me begin. Husband was in Colorado for a couple days and was able to hop on an earlier flight. Sick of eating pasta and leftovers from the depths of the refrigerator, I grabbed a copy of Gourmet and started paging through. There on page 79 was a recipe for Mahi-Mahi wtih Charred Onion, Tomatoes, and Tapenade Vinaigrette. In five days I won’t be eating much fish, so I went for it. The bonus? Total time was listed at only 25 minutes.

I ran across the river (Mississippi) to my neighborhood Lunds (closest store to the house) and found a beautiful piece of fish. The butcher/fishmonger and I had a long conversation about Mahi-mahi, and how a friend of mine caught one in the virgin islands, which lead to a chat about St. John, where he told me he’d visited 20 years ago and it was still the best vacation he had ever been to. He stayed at Caneel Bay, and if you’ve been there, you know that is THE place to stay. Most of us couldn’t even dream about being able to afford the place, but he had won the trip. But back to dinner…

So, this dish was really very simple. I tossed some local cherry tomatoes and red onion wedges with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then coated the beautiful piece of fish with the same. With the vegetables on one half of a baking pan, and the fish on the other, I placed it under the broiler for 12 minutes. Meanwhile, a quick wisk of some green olive tapenade (you could make your own, but the 25 minutes limit would be shot), some more oil and a dash of red wine vinegar. When the fish was done, I poured the drippings into the sauce.


So it smelled great, and now I could tell it looked great. But how would it taste. On a sidenote, I’m an onion fan and I love grilled or broiled tomatoes. I love how they juices get juicier and absolutely explode in your mouth. The olive sauce was just a dazzling touch. So, yes, the answer was that is tasted great. I think better than Oceanaire, because there wasn’t a $34 tab attached to my plate.

And the best part? I think I just learned a really easy little trick for preparing fish. I think any firm white fish would work, and it would fun to play around with other vegetables. Maybe some squash, or eggplant next time. Anything is better with olive oil, right? I sure will miss it for the next month….

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