Tag Archives: local food

a little garden bounty

My wife may be a “master gardener” but we have a lot of room for improvement and learning in the gardening department. It’s our second year gardening in this yard, and our first year in our community garden plot, and we’ve learned a lot. While I may not be as obsessively photographing everything we eat, our big win is in eating nearly everything we’ve grown. Sometimes that seems like half the battle. Here’s a small taste of what we’ve been harvesting from the yard lately:

Everytime I look at fresh peas from our garden I hear Gordon Ramsay saying (in his nicer Master Chef voice), “THE MOST AMAZING FRESH PEAS!”

I’m pretty sure Ramsay would agree with me that those Chioggia beets are stunning.

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Her name is Cherry, we’ve just met

Jess, along with our good friend Jordan, worked some sort of miracle and scored local organic cherries for $2.50 a pound, with a couple bonus pounds thrown in for free. Last night we all convened at the Bearded Lady Food Company’s (literally) sweet commercial kitchen for a cherry processing pizza party.

In case you’re wondering, yes it was amazing to be in a commercial kitchen with a six burner gas range and a wall of deep sinks to wash everything. Jess could not stop talking about those sinks.

We all donned Bearded Lady aprons, even Levi, and went to town on 22 pounds of cherries. Levi looks grumpy here, but I assure you that is just intense focus. Together he & I stemmed and pitted all the cherries in record time. That kid can be a workhorse when we get him on board a project.

Okay, for the sake of complete accuracy we pitted all of the cherries except the two pounds that became Drunken Cherries.

We used the recipe from Sherri Brooks Vinton’s Put ’em Up but threw in a little vanilla bean. Sweet cherries, bourbon, brown sugar and vanilla bean? How can this go wrong? We also made her Classic Cherry Preserves from the same book, one batch with vanilla bean and the other with black pepper. BLACK PEPPER CHERRY PRESERVES? Tell me you don’t want to invite yourself over for scones.

We always joke about cooking all the way through a book, but Jess doesn’t know yet that I hope we can actually achieve that with this book.

I’ve also got cherries and sugar macerating in an attempt to make this cherry shrub recipe happen. You may recall we enjoyed cherry shrub cocktails for our anniversary recently. Learn more about shrubs here from serious eats. We are well on our way to our dreams of a house filled with all sorts of jams and jellies and syrups and shrubs, hooray!

In case you’re wondering what we ended up with from our 11 pounds:

3 half-pint jars cherry preserves
4 pint jars cherries preserved in simple syrup
1 quart jar of drunken cherries
1 gigantic batch of cherry shrub

and one leftover pound in the fridge – I’m leaning toward a fresh salad with cherries and cheese for dinner tonight.

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an old favorite done local

Once upon a time, our month long New Year’s resolution was to try a new recipe a day for an entire month. I could have sworn we blogged this here, but apparently we didn’t. You can read all about it on the 31 recipes in 31 days Flickr set. It was a lot of work, but we made it the entire month and some days even tried more than one new recipe. The end result was we got out of a dinner rut and found quite a few new favorites.

So when we were shopping at the farmer’s market this week, it didn’t take long for us to decide we wanted to use local ingredients to make a couple recipes we tried back in January of 2009 that are now old favorites: Martha Stewart’s colcannon and barbecue braised short ribs from Vegan Vittles.

Here’s what we got: Walla Walla sweet onions, kailaan, and leeks.

Those onions were calling to us every week. It did force us to think about exactly how nearby something needs to be to be local. Walla Walla is a good 300 miles from us. The only answer we could come up with was “the closer the better,” and we decided to go for it with the onions that traveled 300 miles.

The kailaan was described to us as a green that is sweeter and softer than kale. We thought it looked a little like broccoli rabe, and it did taste awfully sweet raw. A little help from Google tells us this is also called Chinese kale OR Chinese broccoli. You can basically eat every part of it, and we sure did.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love leeks? I really love leeks. I love them so much I put an entire bunch in this batch of colcannon instead of just one.

And I do think the ribs were better than ever, smothered in all those sweet onions. Since we bought them with the stalks, I used the light green parts, too. I may have used extra onions as well.

This meal is so satisfying. You know it is good when the inevitable, “What’s for dinner?” hour arrives and the kid cheers at the answer.

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locavore pizza

This week’s trip to the farmer’s market was extra special for 3 reasons:

#1 First weekend I have had off in weeks, so I got to go!
#2 We got to get brown sugar waffles for breakfast.
#3 While we were inhaling our waffles, we ran into our adorable friend Mike who was also buying food and said he had been inspired by our blog. He had even picked some of the ingredients we had been eyeballing. Pretty cool.

Here’s what we came up with this week: eggs, morels, and cheese curds.

The eggs are from Stiebrs Farm in nearby Yelm and we actually get them on a regular basis at our co-op.

Before tonight nobody in the family had eaten morels. The mushroom guy at the market saw us hemming and hawing and reeled us in. We weren’t quite sure what to do with them, and it was pretty interesting to talk to him. He taught us that you can ruin them with water and they were already washed with a brush and some salt water. Hmmm. He also said they are good simply sauteed in some butter, or maybe in scrambled eggs. So we had him weigh up $5 worth of morels.

We’d been wanting to try some cheese from Twin Oaks farm at the market since Jess talked to them on another visit. It is interesting what you find out when you start asking questions about where your food actually comes from. You could be buying locally made cheese made with milk from who-knows-where, but when Jess asked these folks she spoke to the lady that milked the goats and cows herself. Win! We went for the cheese curds after some samples, thinking the mild flavor would be good to let the morels shine.

So remember when we made breakfast pizza? It’s so popular in our house that the first thing I thought of for our three ingredients was pizza. And since the mushroom guy made me think morels and eggs would go well together, it seemed meant to be.

Hey, morels are good stuff. We were also really stoked on how good cheese curds are on pizza. We also threw on asiago, salt & pepper, Italian parsley, and a bonus local ingredient: the chives growing in our living room.

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rhubarb mission accomplished

Finally, my wife scored me some rhubarb at the farmer’s market. One week she took this lovely picture and didn’t bring any home. Then she was given specific instructions to PLEASE BRING ME SOME RHUBARB. Somehow I just love the stuff even though I’m fairly certain the only way I’ve ever eaten it is strawberry-rhubarb pie.

Anyway, week after week since they’ve been sold out of rhubarb. That ain’t right. And this week she told quite a dramatic tale of asking one farmer who was sold out, who yelled down to the next farmer to see if they had any left, who yelled down to the next farmer who was also sold out, until finally she got her hands on our precious rhubarb. And she got to tell the guy, “I’ll take everything you’ve got,” and once again they were sold out. This is the stuff seasonal eating is all about.

Clearly this week’s three local ingredients had something specific in mind. In addition to rhubarb, we have:

English lavender grown right nearby in Rochester. Apparently this is a good choice for culinary uses as it is lower in camphor oil and therefore less bitter.

And we get Pixie Honey made right here in Olympia at the co-op, but Jess picked up their Fireweed honey at the market and got to chat them up a little. Apparently they have about a hundred hives at different farms around town! Wow.

Now for the cooking. Nobody ever said our local meal couldn’t be dessert.

For dessert tonight, I had something other than strawberry-rhubarb pie. I had this:

Rhubarb Lavender Crumble, recipe from the kitchn.

Oh boy.

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dandelion for dinner

It’s week two of challenging ourselves to eat more local foods. We’re not trying to make entirely local meals (yet!). The idea is to pick 3 local ingredients and make something new for dinner. The hope is that we’ll try some new foods and figure out new ways to eat the old ones.

This week Jess grabbed dandelion greens, green garlic, and sunflower sprouts at the farmer’s market.

I had never eaten any of these foods. This is eye opening. I eat stuff like pineapple and mango all the time, but dandelion greens and sunflower sprouts are exotic to me. How cool would it be if we could learn to like eating dandelion? Our yard is full of it, although Jess is quick to point out that once it has flowered it would taste pretty bad.

I have never tried a sprout I didn’t like. The sprouts had to go in a salad, and I thought it would be appropriate to pair them with sunflower seeds. From there I added green leaf lettuce, red cabbage, shredded carrot, and tomatoes. And it seemed like homemade dressing was in order, so I tried Martha Stewart’s avocado dressing.

Homemade dressing tastes so much better than most crap from a bottle, and it is never as big a pain as I think it will be. And wow, avocado sure makes for a creamy vegan dressing. Nice to know. Jess declared that if she had a dream of the most perfect salad dressing, this would be it.

Even though I always turn my nose up at the idea of spinach pesto, I decided to try out a dandelion green pesto. And might as well throw the green garlic in there too. Green garlic is just young garlic that sort of looks like green onions. It tastes a lot milder than garlic, so I was able to put a fair amount in there. And as long as we’re mixing it up, I decided to go for pistachios instead of pine nuts.

3 cups dandelion greens
6 green garlic stalks
1/4 cup pistachios
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup parmesan

This was pretty terrific, but I could tell if I pushed the dandelion any further it would have been too bitter. I think the other ingredients saved it, so I’m not entirely sold on dandelion greens just yet. I was a huge fan of the green garlic. I’d try to kick it up in this recipe and see how much I could add without getting too much bite. I might be sprinkling these on a lot of food in the near future.

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local eating challenge

Lately I’ve been stuck on a theme, watching documentaries like The Future of Food and Food Inc. and reading Michael Pollan books. Inevitably we’ve been trying to get better about eating closer to home. Sure, the food that will be coming out of our yard will be as local as it gets, but we still have a LOT of room for improvement. We seem to respond well to challenges, so I came up with an idea. We’ll buy three local ingredients and turn them into a new meal.

These days I work every single hour the Olympia Farmer’s Market is open, so Jess went this weekend and got three mystery ingredients for me to work with:

broccoli rabe, sunchokes, and pea shoots

I was most excited by the sunchokes. I’ve never eaten them and we’ve been talking about trying them for a long time. It seems like they came up over and over again on Top Chef, so they must be good. I had to do a little research, though, because I seriously had no idea what to do with them.

Even though people call them Jerusalem artichokes, they are nothing like an artichoke. Sunchokes are a root vegetable, the tuber of a species of sunflower. And after pouring through about a billion recipes, I realized people just treat them like potatoes, often pairing them with potatoes. Okay, that I can do. I’ve never made au gratin potatoes before, but I decided to do au gratin sunchokes and potatoes.

Peeling sunchokes turns out to be kind of a pain, they are so knobby. This is just layers of thinly sliced red potatoes and sunchokes, with some kick ass gruyere in between (plus a bit of nutmeg, lemon zest, and pepper).

Well, then of course you pour some cream over them all and bake. Whoa, those sunchokes really punched up the flavor. You get a potato bite and it’s super creamy, and then a sunchoke bite that is more tangy and flavorful. And then sometimes you get a bite that is the best of both worlds. Pretty decadent.

I also got to have fun with some organic grape tomatoes Levi and I found at the co-op.


BEFORE. With some garlic, olive oil, thyme, salt & pepper.


AFTER. Slow roasted in the oven.

And I came up with a salad of pea shoots tossed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil and topped with roasted broccoli rabe, the slow roasted tomatoes, and some pan-fried chickpeas. Oh, and some goat cheese that needed to be used up. We love salad around here but are in a perpetual salad rut, so this was great.

I’m already stoked to find 3 more local foods and get to experimenting.

xo Krista

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