Sept 07 Eat Local Challenge

Challenge update - final week!

Monday, October 01, 2007

The September Eat Local Challenge is officially over!  How did we all do?

Jeanne’s local meal for the week was a yummy all-local stirfry of eggplant, green beans, shiitake mushrooms and garlic.  She also went into a Whole Foods last week, her first trip to a big chain grocery store since the beginning of the challenge.

Their whole produce section just looked weird to me - what are they doing with grapefruits??? They don’t grow here and they are not in season in Florida!  Why on earth are they selling apples from Washington and berries from California???  After this Eat Local Challenge month, I looked at the produce department with all new eyes.

Naomi made a delicious-sounding local meal - she chopped a zucchini and half a bell pepper, and sauteed them along with a local egg.

Anj had a meal of potato salad (local potatoes, local celery, local hardboiled eggs) with homemade mayo (local eggs), and mizuna greens and garlic (both local) with a side of likely non-local free range no-horomone chicken.  And she went on a preserving spree last Monday, blanching and freezing okra (to be used for a gumbo), making kimchi (in the cellar fermenting as I write), and roasting tomatoes that were then stored in oil, garlic, and basil and frozen.  Additionally, Anj dried some figs and topped them with Shellbark Farms sharp goat and honey for a yummy snack.

I visited the Haddonfield Farmer’s Market in Jersey for the first time, tried a new locally made cheese and some locally grown hardy kiwi, and went on a freezing frenzy on Saturday - roasted beets, blanched kale and edamame and rutabaga tops, and fennel fronds in oil.  The latest glut of tomatoes became ketchup that got canned in a water bath, along with homemade applesauce and cranberry sauce made from some great white cranberries I snagged from the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal.  My local meal for the week was a stir fry of spaghetti squash and pork tenderloin.

Did you miss the update deadline?  Add your progress in the comments section!

Posted by Nicole on 10/01 at 01:00 PM

Challenge update - week 3

Monday, September 24, 2007

I can barely believe this is the last week of the September Eat Local Challenge - this month has flown by!  So how did we all do last week?

Naomi made local corn bread and a tofu stir fry, and shared the cornbread recipe with us.

Anj canned peppers in oil and vinegar, and made a great vegan vegetable soup using leftovers for the stock.  Better yet, she has promised to share her canning technique!

Jeanne collected a gorgeous CSA share from Greensgrow Farm this week, and went on a little shopping trip to the Schuylkill River Park Farmer’s market for peaches, figs, apples, and carrots.  Her local meal was a mostly local vegetable soup she had frozen earlier this Summer.

I tried a couple of locally produced cheeses, and made three local meals - Daikon ribbon pasta with tomato basil sauce,  and two meals using Butternut squash.  And I made pickled carrots.

Did you miss the deadline?  Just add your progress to the comments section!

Posted by Nicole on 09/24 at 01:22 PM

Challenge update - week 2

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 2 of the September Eat Local Challenge has come and gone - what have we got to show for it?

Jeanne made a lovely pasta salad with Severino pasta made at a family run company in NJ, homemade pesto, local apples, and home-dried tomatoes.  She also spent some time freezing carrots and summer squash.

Anj roasted a bevy of pimento peppers, which she froze.  And she plans roast some bell peppers and put them up in oil (and I hope she’ll share her technique with us - I’ve always wondered how to can things in oil!).  Anj and her partner, Sue, also had a great locally grown dinner of mozzarella, tomato, and basil salad with a mushroom egg omelet.

Sarah celebrated Rosh Hashanah with a Honey cake of local ingredients.  It’s dairy-free, too, and sounds amazing!

I made kimchi last week using Daikon and Swiss chard from the CSA share and garlic from my garden - a little experiment in fermentation!  And there were two locally grown meals to be had - a lunch of roasted beets and goat cheese, and a dinner of grilled lamb and mashed celery root, potato, and garlic.

Did we miss anyone else’s details for last week?  Add yours in the comments!

Posted by Nicole on 09/17 at 11:21 AM

Challenge meal week one

Thursday, September 13, 2007

For the first week of the September Challenge I wanted to make something simple. I’ve had some short ribs from Meadow Run Farms in the freezer so I figured what’s easier than braising some beef for a couple of hours. I found a couple of recipes and narrowed it down to the simplest. I set the meat out to defrost, decided I’d roast some potatoes to go with it and steam some green beans. I went out and bought a couple of bottles of local Cabernet. Then around 3.30 I got home and realized I’d lost the stupid recipe. I searched my browser history hoping it would turn up but it didn’t so I browsed my cookbooks and epicurious until I found a similar recipe and a good hour after I wanted to I got to work.

The biggest problem was that I didn’t RTFR. (thank you Smitten Kitchen for the perfect acronym.) I spent hours slaving over a hot stove in my un-air conditioned kitchen on a hot, humid Philadelphia summer day. The initial recipe called for all of the cooking on the stove top in a dutch oven, but the other recipes all called for the short ribs to braise in the oven. Never having made short ribs before I wasn’t willing to mess around. My dutch oven’s so large that cooking the potatoes in the oven was out so I decided to use my leeks and make mashed potatoes with leeks and thyme instead. Since I had a leek or two left over I found a recipe for swiss chard with leeks and made that instead of the green beans.

All of the cooking was extremely hands on and hot and by the time it was ready to eat I’d lost interest completely.  The worst part was that the ribs weren’t even all that good. The chard and potatoes were fantastic, but the ribs just weren’t as flavorful as I would have hoped. And seriously, braised short ribs with mashed potatoes would have been fine on a crisp, almost fall day like today, but it was not an appropriate meal for last Saturday’s stickiness.

At least my husband liked it.


Braised Short Ribs with Red Wine

Short ribs- Meadow Run Farms
Chicken stock- made from chicken from Meadow Run farms
Cabernet- Chadd’s Ford
Rosemary- my garden
basil (instead of sage)- my garden
Carrots- Lancaster, Pa via Farm to City farmer’s market
Onion- Red Earth Farm
Garlic Red Earth Farm
not local- salt, pepper, tomato paste, oil, bay leaf

Mashed Potatoes with Leeks and Thyme

Potatoes- Red Earth Farm
Leeks- Red Earth Farm
Thyme- my garden
Milk- Merrymead Farm
not local-salt, pepper, butter

Seared Rainbow Chard with Leeks

Chard-Red Earth Farm
Leeks-Red Earth Farm
not local, butter, oil, salt, pepper

Posted by Jackie on 09/13 at 07:48 PM

Challenge update - week 1

Monday, September 10, 2007

The first week of the September Eat Local Challenge is over!  How did we all do?

  • Anj and her partner, Sue, made an amazing looking frittata with bread salad!  And everything was local except the salt, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar - impressive!
  • Sue made Baba Ganoush using some lovely eggplants from Livengood Farms.  The recipe sounds delicious!
  • Naomi and her dad went on a canning free for all!  They put up “applum” jam (apple and plum), grape-ginger jam, raspberry-lime jam, and apple-tomatillo chutney - most from locally grown ingredients!  Additionally, Naomi made herself a locally grown meal - salad, a cabbagey marinated salad with SE-Asian style dressing, and roasted potatoes. Yum!
  • Jeanne had a huge week in local food!  She shopped at the Rittenhouse Square Farmer’s Market for the first time, and she swung by the Schuylkill River Park Wednesday Farmer’s Market where she found honey crisp apples from Highland Orchards.  She froze chopped zucchini, chopped onions, and rasperries, and plans to freeze carrots and more zucchini this week.  Jeanne’s local meals sound excellent - local bread with homemade strawberry jam; oven fries with local potatoes and BBQ baked local tofu (commercial BBQ sauce); panzanella with local heirloom tomatoes and Metro Bakery bread.  And last but not least, she found some locally produced foods at Whole Foods - Severino Pasta, made by a family-run business in Haddonfield, NJ, and ZenSoy chocolate pudding, made by a family-run business also in NJ.
  • I made raspberry jam out of raspberries my husband and I picked at Linvilla, and I made some really excellent tomato sauce last night using the huge glut of tomatoes from the CSA share and my garden.  I also roasted and froze bell and hot peppers, and made baked, breaded eggplant cutlets to freeze.  Eight ears of corn were also boiled and de-kerneled, and then frozen.  And the local meal for the week was steaks from Natural Acres and honey roasted Delicata squash from the CSA.

Missed the report deadline for last week?  Add your progress report in the comments!

Posted by Nicole on 09/10 at 03:34 PM

Linvilla Orchards - raspberries!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Linvilla raspberries

The Linvilla website reported this morning that raspberry picking was “excellent”.  The guys working the Pick-Your-Own stand were less enthusiastic.  “These raspberries are pretty picked out.  Jump on the back of the tractor and we’ll take you up to a patch hidden next to the apples,” they advised.

Of course, the man driving the tractor had yet another opinion.  According to him, it was the last couple of rows of the regular raspberry patch that we wanted.  “No one ever looks there!” he declared.

Happily, the tractor man was right.  The husband and I picked four quarts of gorgeous raspberries this morning.  And we amazed the guys working the stand in the bargain.  “We haven’t seen that many raspberries come out of there in at least a month,” they said.  Never underestimate the picking power of two determined people with a yen for raspberries!

One of these quarts will be frozen for a nice snack mid-Winter, but three of those quarts are now raspberry jam.  And, in a nod to the September Eat Local challenge, I used a new canning method.  Well, new to me, at least.  Short cuts tend to make me a little nervous, but the idea of skipping the water bath and simply sealing cans by inverting them was too irresistible. 

Raspberry jamAll my jars of raspberry jam have sealed correctly (I heard the “ping”!), so it seems to have worked.  It took such a small amount of work that I think this would be an ideal first foray into canning for the novice.

Here’s how to do it and what you’ll need:

3 lbs. raspberries
5 cups sugar
3 oz. liquid pectin
a mess of small canning jars

OK, start with your canning jars.  Separate the lids from the jars and put everything in the dishwasher.  Set your dishwasher to its hottest setting and put them through a cycle.  Alternatively, you can give your jars a wash in hot, soapy water and keep them warm in a 200 degree oven, and placing lids in a bowl of boiling water.  The point is that you need your jars to be hot when you start packing in the jam.

Place raspberries in a sink full of cold water.  Swish your hands around in there a few times and make sure all the stems and assorted stuff is removed.  Lift the berries out of the water gently and drain.

Puree the raspberries in a blender or food processor for about 15 seconds.

Put the berries in a large saucepan with the sugar and bring to very full boil and be sure you stir constantly.  Add the pectin and return to a full boil.  Boil hard for one minute and keep stirring!

Remove the pan from heat and skim off the foam that’s floating on the top.  Immediately ladle the jam into the hot jars (you should leave about 1/8 of an inch of headspace).  Wipe off any jam that gets on the threads of the jar and screw on the lids tightly.  Turn the jars over so they’re resting on the lid for about five minutes.

Turn the jars upright and be sure to test the lids to make sure they sealed within one hour.  There you have it: homemade raspberry jam!

And if you have a jar or two that doesn’t seal, you can always put it through a water bath for five minutes.  This made five half pints and two pints of raspberry jam.

Coincidentally, if you want to try to make jam minus the pectin, I found a recipe here.

And so it begins: Eat Local Challenge!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Where did the Summer go?  With the arrival of September comes this month’s Eat Local Challenge, Philly-style.  Several of us here at FTP (along with a few FTP readers) have pledged to do the following:

  1. Eat one meal per week during the month of September that is made using locally grown ingredients.  Non-local oil and spices are allowed.
  2. Can, freeze, dry, or otherwise preserve two things during the month.
  3. Utilize one new resource for locally grown food during September - that could be a new restaurant, farmer’s market, etc.

Our first progress report will appear next Monday! Woohoo!

If you’d like to participate, please leave us a comment!

Edited to note:  Even CNN is covering the Eat Local September Challenge!

If the food hasn’t been grown within 100 miles of where we live—we won’t buy it. That is the pledge concerned foodies across the country are taking for the entire month of September.

At its extreme, the 100-mile diet means no coffee, no spices and no chocolate. Most people don’t go that far, but they do embrace buying food grown and raised locally where possible.

CNN cites diversity and freshness of food, interest in supporting small farmers, and concern about the environment as reasons to eat local.  They point out several reasons why eating locally may be a challenge: convenience and not being able to get your favorite foods when you want them.  They also indicate that some people don’t like CSAs because it’s harder to cook because you might be unfamiliar with the produce. I guess it’s an article that’s trying to be balanced, but I’ve never really had problems getting to farmer’s markets and tend to think of eating seasonally and cooking according to what comes in the CSA as positive things. Huh.

Posted by Nicole on 09/04 at 02:47 PM

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