Swiss Chard Gratin

When I was looking for new recipes for Swiss Chard Overdrive week, I started at my usual point - Google. For some reason, a Swiss chard gratin popped into my head, so I did a search for that. It turned up a recipe...from a cookbook I already own. Doh!

The recipe was chard gratin from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food. I started from the ideas in Alice's recipe, but streamlined it. Alice boils the chard until tender, toasts the bread crumbs in the oven, sautes an onion, adds the chard, then moves everything into a baking dish to brown in the oven. I cut this down to two pans, and two techniques - one pan for sauteing everything, then into the baking dish for browning in the oven.

The results were a dish that balances contrasts very well. The bitter chard had a creamy taste and texture from the flour and milk, with a hint of sweetness from the onions. The tender chard played well with the crunchy, toasted bread crumb topping.

This recipe is a lot lighter than I thought it would be; when I hear gratin, I think of potatoes covered in cheese and cream. This isn't a diet recipe per se - butter, milk, flour and bread crumbs are involved, after all. But the recipe uses just a little of those ingredients for flavor, with the chard being the star of the show. If you want to serve chard to someone who thinks they won't like it, this recipe is a great place to start.

Recipe: Swiss Chard Gratin

Blog Carnival: Sunday Suppers with Pam Anderson

I'm a little late to the party by being early.
*Just my luck.

Maggy Keet, Pam Anderson's daughter, organized a Blog Carnival of recipes from Pam's Perfect One-Dish Dinners, with a "Sunday Dinner" theme.  A bunch of bloggers who follow Pam, Maggy, and Sharon on ThreeManyCooks.com and through her cookbooks signed on.

I thanked them for being invited, but said I had already posted my review of Perfect One-Dish Dinners.  I forgot about it...until Monday.  That was their blog carnival day, and suddenly my Salmon Bites with Sushi Flavors posts was getting a LOT of traffic.  They added me to the list, even though I jumped the gun.

To thank everyone who included me in their Sunday Suppers posts, I'm joining in...a little late.  Better late than never, right?  Check out my review of Pam's Perfect One Dish Dinners, then the stories and recipes about their Sunday Dinner from the book:

DadCooksDinner.com
RecipeGirl.com
ArtofGlutenFreeBaking.com
KitchenGadgetGirl.com
MyBakingAddiction.com
Wenderly.com
BluebonnetsandBrownies.com
TheSensitivePantry.com
WhatsCookingBlog.com
TwoPeasandTheirPod.com
WhatsGabyCooking.com
Bellalimento.com
SmithBites.com
MyFavoriteEverything.com
FoodForMyFamily.com
SavorTheThyme.com
Ivoryhut.com
DineAndDish.net
GlutenFreeGirl
Picky-Palate.com
TickledRed
SheWearsManyHats.com
WhatWereEating.com
ThisWeekForDinner.com
SugarCrafter.net
GoodLifeEats.com

Maggy, thank you for organizing this, and Amber, thank you for the blog carnival list!

Inspired by:
Pam Anderson Perfect One Dish Dinners

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Sauteed Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins


For Swiss Chard Overdrive week, I needed a weeknight side dish. I sure wasn't going to use up all my Swiss chard if I waited for the weekend.

Here is a fancy update to my basic sauteed Swiss chard, using the classic Mediterranean combination of greens, pine nuts, and raisins. The sweet raisins and creamy, nutty pine nuts match well with the slightly bitter greens; I add a splash of balsamic vinegar at the end for a sour edge that perks up the flavors. And, really, it is the same amount of work as my basic Swiss chard. Just add the pine nuts and raisins after sauteing the stems. That's it - suddenly I have a much more complex side dish than the basic version.
*Which makes me wonder - what took me so long to figure this one out?

Puzzled by what to do with the Swiss chard in your CSA box? Try this recipe, and you'll never leave the chard in the vegetable adoption bin again.

Recipe: Sauteed Swiss Chard with Pine Nuts and Raisins

Swiss Chard Overdrive


The Loneliness of the Vegetable Adoption Bin
or
What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

Swiss chard is my favorite green. It is a tender, mild flavored green, and quick enough to cook that I can make it as a weeknight vegetable side. I love its rainbow of colors- red, yellow, pink, orange, and all different shades of green. It is one of the prettiest things you can eat.

I don't understand why it is not a favorite at my CSA. Whenever we get Swiss chard, I find it in the vegetable adoption bin. I can't help myself - it comes home with me. It was particularly bad a couple of weeks ago; I got a huge bunch in my CSA share, and someone left their huge bunch in the adoption bin. I drove home thinking "That's a lot of chard. I'm going to have to come up with a new recipe for this week, just for some variety."

And then...life happened. The next morning was a Saturday, which is when I usually do my grocery shopping. Both of my sons had soccer games, and I'm the coach of my youngest son's Kindergarten soccer team.
*The kids were cute. My coaching consisted of as many high fives as I could possibly give out, reminding them you can't use your hands in soccer, and yelling "Look out! Here comes the ball!" a whole lot.

Diane wanted to help out by doing the grocery shopping while I was coaching. I was reluctant; call me strange, but I enjoy going to the grocery store. But it seemed like a good plan, because we were going to be very busy otherwise. I quickly put a meal plan together, and filled in the grocery list below it. I wrote down all the vegetables I got from the CSA in the middle of the page, so I would remember what I had while I made the meal plan for the week. "2 big bunches chard, new potatoes, beets..." and so on down the page. Normally I title this section, something like "CSA Vegetables", but today I didn't. I was in a hurry. Diane left for the store with Natalie while I got the boys ready for their games.

The boys and I were late, as usual. We were in the middle of a frantic search for shin guards and matching socks when my cell phone buzzed. Diane was calling from the store. I thought "I'll call back once we're in the car...we're late..." And promptly forgot all about the call. Of course, she was calling to find out what the list of CSA vegetables in the middle of the shopping list meant. She was suspicious, but when I didn't call back, she bought the whole list to be safe. Now I had double my usual amount of vegetables. Except for the Swiss chard, which was quadrupled.

So, I'm declaring this to be Swiss Chard Overdrive week. Wondering what to do with that last crop of Swiss Chard from your CSA? I found a couple of delicious recipes while I was using up my jumbo chard pile. Stay tuned...

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Favorite Swiss Chard recipes? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:
Basic Swiss Chard Saute
Swiss Chard Saute with Pine Nuts and Raisins (Coming Tuesday)
Swiss Chard Gratin (Coming Thursday)

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Grilled Barramundi with Avocado Orange Salsa


Barramundi is another example of a good farmed fish. They are native to waters from Southeast Asia through Australia. Barramundi are particularly prized in Australia and Thailand, both as a sport fish and a favorite for eating. They can survive in a wide range of salt levels; some live in the ocean, others in inland lakes and rivers. In the United States, barramundi is farmed in closed inland systems to protect against escapees and pollution.
*Barry Eastabrook wrote about how good Barramundi is for fish farming in an article last week.

Today, I'm going to share a recipe for grilled barramundi. Grilled fish is a sticky situation. I mean that literally - fish will stick to your grill like it was spot-welded if you are not careful. There are four keys to keep fish from sticking:

1. Preheat your grill: It has to be as hot as you can get it. For charcoal this is easy; once the coals are ready the grill is ready. But for gas grills, you have to preheat for at least 15 minutes to get your grill grates ripping hot.

2. Clean your grill grates: If the grates aren't scrupulously clean, fish is going to stick. Luckily, the easiest time to clean grill grates is after they've been pre-heated. And you already did that for step 1, right? Brush them down, making sure to get all the carbonized bits of food off.

3. Oil your grates and your fish: I lightly coat the fish with oil. Then, right before putting the fish on the grill, I rub the grill grates with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. I have read arguments for one or the other working better; I take the belt and suspenders approach and oil them both.

4. Flip once, flip gently: I know that a cross-hatch of grill marks looks great, but it also gives the fish another chance to grab onto the grill. I start fish flesh side down, sear it until it has a nice brown set of grill marks in it, then flip it skin side down to finish cooking. Even with all my other precautions, fish will still stick to the grill on me. I gently work a spatula underneath it, until I can tell it is free of the grill grate. Then I flip quickly.

My apologies to Stephen Raichlen, who sums this up much better than I do. His mantra is: "Keep it hot, keep it clean, keep it lubricated."

Recipe: Grilled Barramundi

Tilapia with Brown Butter and Lemon Sauce


Tilapia is an example of a good farmed fish. They are omnivorous, and thrive on a vegetarian diet; don't mind being packed tight in growing pens; do well in any water conditions, as long as it is warm; and grow quickly to market size. And, in the United States, tilapia is farmed in closed inland systems to protect against escapees and pollution. Because of these traits, tilapia is now the third most common farmed fish, behind carp and salmon.
*Tilapia's big advantage is being omnivorous, which helps their feed conversion ratio. They take in less protein than they produce; tilapia farming is a net gain in protein. The counter-example is salmon. Salmon are carnivorous, and farmed salmon requires at least three times as much protein as it produces.

Tilapia is a mild tasting, white fleshed, flaky fish, perfect for a weeknight fish dinner. I like them steamed and poached, but my favorite way to cook tilapia is sauteing. I coat this mild fish in a cornmeal crust to give it some crunch, and make sure to serve it with a flavorful sauce. In this recipe, I went with a simple browned butter sauce and a squeeze of lemon. The result is a fish dinner that even my kids will eat, that comes together in no time at all.

I try to find farmed tilapia from the US, as recommended by Seafood Watch. If you want to try really fresh tilapia, seek out your local Asian market with a fish counter. I can almost guarantee they will have a tank of live tilapia, and will kill it for you on the spot.*  Don't worry if the water in the tank looks dirty or cloudy, or if the fish are packed in there - tilapia thrive under those conditions.
*As Tony Bourdain said, the Asian definition of fresh fish is much different from ours.  Theirs is: was the fish alive when it entered the kitchen?

Recipe: Tilapia with Brown Butter and Lemon Sauce

Review: Four Fish by Paul Greenberg

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

Last year, I shared my personal philosophy towards fish in my Sustainable Seafood post. I just finished reading a book that helped expand my knowledge about fish, and the challenges we have ahead of us.

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg is an entertaining, sobering, in-depth, and practical look at fish and sustainability.

Mr. Greenberg focuses on the four fish that predominate in the modern fish market: Salmon, Tuna, Bass and Cod. He shows how fishing for each of these species has advanced across human history, and the problems and successes we have had with their sustainability. Don't be fooled by this summary - the book isn't just history and environmentalism. Mr. Greenberg approaches fish from his viewpoint as an enthusiastic amateur fisherman. Four fish is a fascinating view of today's world of fishing, with stories of the people who catch and farm our fish. And, as a fisherman, Mr. Greenberg feels he has to catch these fish himself, and his personal fish tales are some of the best parts of the book.

In the book, he answers questions like: Why is wild Alaskan seafood sustainable, but wild bluefin tuna almost certainly doomed to extinction? Why did striped bass start appearing on every restaurant menu at the same time?  Why is farmed salmon a bad idea, and why are attempts to farm bluefin tuna are even worse? *The answer to the last one, in a nutshell: feed conversion ratios. It takes three pounds of wild fish to grow one pound of wild salmon, and tuna is much worse. But he's not against fish farming. He makes a strong case for it, as long as we pick fish that lend themselves to farming, like tilapia and barramundi.

What I really like about the book is that he doesn't just throw his hands up and say "That's it, fish are doomed. Get used to eating chicken." He has thought through the problem, and investigated what is working in the world today. Mr. Greenberg has some good suggestions on where we need to go to have fish in the future. His conclusion is that we have to change our view of fish. Instead of viewing all fish as an inexhaustible bounty, and driving them into extinction, we have to view them as two different types of fish.

The first type is wild fish. Some wild fish are sustainable, if caught in a well managed way. Alaskan salmon and halibut are the best examples of this; Alaska has a good track record for sustainable fishing. But we have to stop treating wild fish like commodities; we have to view them as a delicacy, as wildlife, and not a factory food source. Mr. Greenberg suggests a model similar to what we use with Maine lobsters, where licenses help fishermen take the long view. Their license is worth more if they support the environment the lobsters are in, do not over fish them, and therefore have a better harvest in the future. They take of the fishery, and over time, their license is worth more.* Will this make wild fish more expensive? Yes. But if we want them to be available to eat in the future, we have to start treating them as a delicacy. Copper River salmon is a good example; high quality wild fish that is expensive, but worth it.
*Mr. Greenberg explains this as the dilemma with bluefin tuna. They are so far-ranging that it is impossible for one government to set limits on their catch. Everyone wants their piece of the pie. We (the US) could set limits, but there are so many countries that have a legitimate claim to tuna that it wouldn't matter. Tuna fishing is every man for himself, with the tuna on the losing end. Wild salmon works better, because one government (US/Alaska) has control over the breeding grounds and a lot of their natural range.

His second type is farmed fish. Right now, our farmed fish are chosen because the wild version is popular, not because it is a good choice for farming. Again, see farmed salmon; we farm it because it is popular, not because it makes sense. Mr. Greenberg suggests we focus on fish that it makes sense to farm, fish that are good at being sustainably farmed. (In other words - fish that have low feed conversion ratios, that breed well in captivity, and that don't cause problems with waste or disease. Fish that do well in closed system farms are particularly good for farming.) These fish can be treated as commodities, and as the generic "fish" that can be used as cheap protein for the vast majority of our fish purchases. He likens it to the animals we have chosen to farm - beef, pork, poultry, lamb - where we have, over time, picked the handful of species that work well as human food sources. We need to go through the same process with fish, using modern knowledge instead of centuries of trial and error. As I mentioned above, tilapia and barramundi are two good examples of this.

I'm going to follow Paul Greenberg's advice. This week, I'll be sharing recipes for tilapia and barramundi, two of the fish he highlights as good fish for farming. If you are interested in sustainable food, where your fish come from, an entertaining fish story, or all of these topics, get a copy of Four Fish.

Highly Recommended.

Related Posts:
Sustainable Seafood
Sauteed Tilapia with Brown Butter Sauce
Grilled Barramundi (Coming Thursday)

Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food

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Pressure Cooker Black Bean Soup


My youngest son, Tim, has turned into a bean fanatic. Black, pinto, kidney...it doesn't matter, he loves beans with just a little sea salt sprinkled on them. Yes, sea salt. I brought home fleur de sel de Camargue from my trip to Provence, and it is Tim's favorite. I love watching him carefully pry off the cap, pinch two fingers worth of salt, and carefully sprinkle it over his beans in a circular motion.

The only problem is, I can't keep up with his demand for beans! I used to make a pound of beans at a time, and I would have a couple of two-cup containers left over that I could freeze for make-ahead beans. Now I only get one extra container, and Tim eats it for lunch the next day.
*As far as problems go, this is a good one to have. I love that Tim is eating his beans. But I'm going to have to start doubling my bean recipes to get ahead of him.

I've been trying out a bunch of simple bean recipes to find new ones that pass Tim's "yuck factor" test. (If there is too much other stuff in there, he's not going to eat it.) This vegetarian black bean soup is one of my favorites. I love the combination of earthy black beans with cumin, coriander and oregano. Pureeing some of the beans gives the soup a thick, rich, creamy body. One of the keys to the recipe is to season the soup heavily at the end; the lime gives it a hint of fruit and acid, but the soup needs a lot of salt and pepper to bring the flavors out. When making soup, seasoning to taste makes difference between bland and delicious.

The best part is, by pre-soaking the beans and using my pressure cooker, I can have this hearty soup ready in a half an hour.*
*I use a brine for pre-soaking the beans, as suggested by Cooks Illustrated.  This helps season the beans, and really adds to the flavor of the recipe.


Recipe: Pressure Cooker Black Bean Soup

Slow Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs


I've been reading a lot of authentic chinese cookbooks recently, looking for ideas to expand my weeknight stir-fries. One technique that caught my eye was red cooking, braising meat for a long time in a Shaoxing wine, soy and caramelized sugar broth. The result of red cooking is tender meat with a reddish hue from the broth.

I don't have one of the traditional Chinese sand pots that are used for red cooking.  And, I was looking for a weeknight dinner, not a weekend extravaganza.  So, I turned to my trusty slow cooker. It seemed like a natural for red cooking - a long simmer at low heat is exactly what the slow cooker does best. My cooking instincts were good - red cooking chicken thighs in the slow cooker is a great idea. The chicken was fall off the bone tender, and flavored through with the sweet, sour and salty broth. The only problem was the aroma - it smells so good, but you have to wait six hours to eat!

Now, my red-cooked chicken thighs weren't exactly red.  It was more of a dark, wine/brown color that looked quite interesting. At least, I thought the color was interesting.  The kids were put off by the color at first. "Oh, no, not the slow cooker!" was Ben's comment. I replied: "Try it - it's been simmering in chinese barbecue sauce all day".
*Yes, I'll bend the truth a little if I think it will get them to try something. I think of it as marketing. If I can get my kids to try a new food because they think it's something else, I'm OK with that.

After some hemming and hawing, he tried it. And loved it! He went back for seconds, even mixing some of the sauce in with his rice. If you're looking for a simple slow cooker meal with an international flair, try out these red cooked chicken thighs.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chinese Red Cooked Chicken Thighs

Cooking Authentic or Cooking Everyday?

A little bit ago, there was a kerfluffle in the media about Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray. Apparently, Martha said something about Rachel's kitchen skills, and how they were lacking. This quickly morphed into a food blog personality test. Who ya got? Who are you as a cook, Rachel or Martha? Are you Rachel Ray, as in 30-Minute Meals, using shortcuts and prepared ingredients and bagged, pre-cut vegetables to get the meal on the table as quickly as possible? Or are you Martha Stewart, as in Martha Stewart Entertaining, do it The Right Way, have a large garden so you can have fresh greens, raise your own chickens, and have dinner linens that match the seasons?

I started in the Martha camp. Or, in my case, the Cooks Illustrated's Best Recipe camp. I cooked elaborate meals on the weekends, got really deep into multiple day barbecues, and would take forever just to get dinner on the table. Then I set out to learn the Rachel, get a dinner on the table on a weeknight side of cooking. Except...her show hadn't come on the air yet. In my case, it was Pam Anderson's How to Cook Without a Book. For a while, all my cooking was simple and direct, as I learned basic techniques.

Now my cooking is bipolar.* I love cooking, so doing things The Right Way appeals to me. On weekends, for dinner parties, when I have the time, I'm going for it. I love to find out the Right Way, the ultimate recipe, and do it that way (at least once). But, on weeknights, I have to use the 30 minutes or less style. Life gets in the way; if taking a few shortcuts lets you get dinner on the table, then it's the right thing to do. What's wrong with tailoring your cooking to the time you have available?
*As readers of this blog already know. My posts veer between recipes that are "done in 30 minutes" and recipes that start with the words "2 to 3 days before you want to cook, salt the meat..."

As I've improved my cooking technique, I've had the two styles bleed together. There are shortcuts that I won't use any more with my weeknight dinners, and complicated techniques that I skip when making elaborate dinners. I can't just follow a recipe any more; I have to use my intelligence and experience to make it fit my cooking style. I use homemade stock, or I'll use water - no canned broth. I make my own vinaigrettes, because bottled dressing tastes like its stabilizing chemicals to me. I dry brine everything I possibly can, because it adds so much to the flavor. But...I use canned tomatoes and mayonnaise all the time. Bagged salad gives me a quick vegetable side. And I always have some frozen corn and peas in the back of the freezer, just in case.
*And, at my best, I can use the elaborate style to help the everday meals. I make pressure cooker chicken stock on the weekends, after a roast chicken dinner. The result is stock that makes a quick weeknight soup or sauce taste like I slaved away on it. And I did slave away...when I had a little free time.

It's about a mindset. I think: am I cooking a Pam Anderson, How to Cook without a Book meal or a Cooks Illustrated, Best Recipe meal? Is it Mark Bittman's simple side of Simple to Spectacular, or is it Jean-Georges Vongerichten's spectacular version? Rick Bayless from Mexican Everyday, or Rick Bayless from Fiesta at Rick's? And, does it all have to be one way or the other? Can I short-cut a few of the sides, and do the main dish in an elaborate fashion on a weekday? Can I make a hearty, homey stew that doesn't need a lot of fussing while my guests arrive for a dinner party?

I think the problem comes in when you try to do a Martha recipe in a Rachel way. Or vice versa. Paella is not a weeknight dish, and the compromises to make it in 30 minutes are too great. You might make a good rice dish, but it's not Paella. A weeknight dinner is about feeding your family simple, good food, and making every dinner into a multi-course showcase is overkill. But for a family gathering, a party, or a holiday? Stand back - I'm going all out.
*Rick Bayless hits the nail on the head in the opening of Mexican Everyday. Cooking an everyday meal for your family should be simple, healthy cooking. Cooking a meal for a party (Fiesta!) is completely different, and should be about celebration and excess. And we need both kinds of meals in our lives.

What do you think? What are your cooking personalities? Are you a Rachel kind of cook, or are you a Martha kind of cook? Let me know in the comments below.


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Pumpkin and Squash Soup


Diane had an unexpected bonus in our garden this year. Tim, our youngest, planted a seed while he was helping Diane, and it gave us a mystery squash that we were puzzling over for most of the summer. We assumed it was a rogue zucchini, but there was only one of them, and it kept getting bigger and rounder. It had tendrils reaching out to our deck, and was taking over one side of the 4 foot garden box it was planted in. Eventually, it became obvious, even to a garden novice like me - Tim had planted a pumpkin!

Tim was so excited. He loves helping mom with the plants, and now he had a pumpkin of his very own. Every time he saw it, he would wiggle with excitement. Finally, it was a nice, bright orange, and it was time to pick it. Now what? I had to do something worthy of Timmy's pride and joy.

I went with a recipe I learned from Patrick Payet while I was in Provence. This recipe that taught me the value of patience in cooking. The pumpkin simmers for a while, then is pureed, then the puree is returned to the pot and simmered some more. When the puree went back in the pot, Patrick had me taste it. It was bland and watery; there wasn't much flavor. Mentally, I wrote the dish off. "This one isn't going to work", I thought. Then it simmered down, and I learned that extra twenty minutes makes all the difference. The soup went from watery and bland to thick and full of pumpkin flavor. Sometimes, all a dish needs is a little more time to come together.

So, are you looking for a recipe to use those beautiful pumpkins you see at the Farmers Market, or that you received in your CSA?  Try this one out.

Recipe: Pumpkin and Squash Soup

Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry


I am a sucker for fresh produce. My checkbook trembles in fear when I go to a farmers market; there is always something that looks so good that I have to buy it. What happens when I go to an apple orchard? Especially a you-pick apple orchard? I wind up with a lot of apples.
*A LOT of apples.

What do I do with all those apples? Here is a quick, easy tarte tatin recipe that I learned while I was on my trip to Provence.* Tarte tatin, an upside down apple pie, is a great example of simple French cooking. Butter, sugar, apples, lemon juice and puff pastry - that's it, and the results are better than any apple pie I've ever made.
*Did I mention that I spent a week in a cooking class in Provence? Yes? Well, it still makes me happy just thinking about it.

Now, I'm not a dessert kind of guy. Don't get me wrong, I like dessert. I won't turn it down if it is offered. But, in the end, I'd rather eat more of the main course and pass on dessert.
*Diane, my loving wife, is exactly the opposite. She's the baker in our household, and has quite a sweet tooth. When I need a dessert, I ask her to do it.

That's why this is the first dessert published on DadCooksDinner - I don't make dessert that often. But I'll admit, when I'm entertaining, I like to have something sweet as the final course for my guests. When Diane isn't making dessert, I turn to this five ingredient recipe.*
*OK, there are six ingredients if you count a tub of good vanilla ice cream. And, really, if you're going to make an apple tart, you don't want to forget the ice cream.

The key is the puff pastry; it makes this recipe almost laughably easy. Thaw the puff pastry, and it is ready to top the caramelized sugar and apples. No fussing with a dough, no rolling, no resting; just a quick slash with a knife, and fifteen minutes in the oven to brown.


Recipe: Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry

Eat Local Challenge


This week's posts are inspired by my fall CSA box, a trip to a local apple orchard, a rogue pumpkin planting from my youngest son, and the Ohio Eat Local challenge.
*Yes, there's a theme in there. Really. I promise.

From the Ohio Department of Agriculture:
Eat Local Challenge, October 2-8: The Ohio Department of Agriculture challenges you to eat local! This week, plan and prepare one meal every day using foods that are made, grown or raised in Ohio.
Regular readers of this blog know that I try to eat local as much as possible.* In my neck of the woods (Northeastern Ohio), this is a great time of year to eat local. We have the tail end of the summer's vegetables, and fall vegetables are starting to come in. In my last CSA box, I had the last of the year's tomatoes, and the first winter squash, leeks, chard, and broccoli. *I do live in Northeastern Ohio. Eating local in the middle of February means meat and a lot of root vegetables. I can't bring myself to give up on fruit and green vegetables at that time of year. I have enough problems with Seasonal Affective Disorder as it is. That's why I'm a regular attendee at my local winter farmers market...but that's a discussion for another day.

So, I'm taking on the Ohio Eat Local Challenge. What do I have up my sleeve for a week's worth of local meals? Meat is easy - we know meat here in Ohio. I can get good, local chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and even buffalo. (I'm still looking for local duck.) Dairy? Cheese? Eggs? No problem. Apple season is just starting, so fruit is taken care of. And as I mentioned above, fall produce is coming in strong; with my CSA box I'll be good for the week.
*And I guess I'll have to drink Great Lakes beer all week.  And maybe throw in a glass of Harpersfield Pinot Noir for variety.  Oh, the sacrifices I have to make.

The hard part is the starch. This is the perfect time of year for local potatoes. But...the kids just won't eat potatoes. Unless they are french fries. This baffles me.  When I was a kid, I lived for mashed potatoes with a big pat of melting butter in the middle.
*The butter had to be pushed into the mashed potatoes, so it didn't leak.  I would try to eat from the middle, so the butter was trapped in the potatoes for as long as possible.

What can I do?  I'm going to try to get some local flour at the farmers market this weekend, so I can make bread or pizza. But after that, I'm kind of at a loss. Pasta? Other grains? I know we can grow wheat and grains here in Ohio, but I don't know of a source for locally grown versions.
*Forget about rice and corn tortillas, two of my kids favorite things to eat. We're too far north to grow rice locally. I haven't found an ohio grown version of Masa Harina. Actually, I haven't found an American version; when I buy Masa Harina, I trust the experts, and buy Mexican brands.
**And no, I can't count the Great Lakes beer as my starch.  At least, not for the kids...

Can you take on an Eat Local Challenge in your neck of the woods? One meal, every day, made entirely of food grown in your state? Know of any good sources for Ohio grown grains, for my own Eat Local Challenge? Let me know in the comments.

Special Thanks:
To the people who keep me in locally grown food:
Crown Point CSA
Cuyahoga Valley Conservancy Farmers Market
Brunty Farms (for my eggs and chicken)
Acme Fresh Market
Mustard Seed Market
West Point Market

Related Posts: 
Tarte Tatin with Puff Pastry (coming Tuesday)
Pumpkin and Squash Soup (coming Thursday)

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All-Clad Factory Sale: Winter 2010

All-Clad Factory Sale: Winter 2010
*The dates for this winter's All-Clad factory sale have been announced, so I'm posting my usual heads-up to my readers...

All-Clad's factory is located in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. Twice a year, on the first weekend in June and December, All-Clad holds a factory seconds sale at the Washington County Fair and Expo Center.

The 2010 winter sale is Friday, December 3rd and Saturday December 4th. Friday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Here's the link to the location of the sale: Washington County Fair and Expo Center.

This is about a two hour drive from the Akron area. You get prices from 40% to 70% off on factory seconds. In most cases, the damage is just cosmetic; a little scratching on the stainless, or a lid handle that's a bit offset from center.

They have most of their line of cookware available, but not all, and some favorites (like the 12" stainless fry pan, and its lid) are hard to find. Overall, though, it's an amazing value. Make sure you get there early - there can be up to an hour wait to get into the sale.

*I'll be the person clutching a large flared roasting pan to my chest, while whispering "my precious"

Related Posts:
Things I Love: All-Clad Stainless Cookware
Review: All-Clad Stainless Cookware with d5 Technology

Map:

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