We had two local meals this week. We’re going out of town this weekend so I spent some time cleaning out the fridge.
Meal #1 was hamburgers (leftover from a BBQ) with baked potato slices, zucchini slices and green beans leftover from the same BBQ (steamed in foil on the grill). The sandwich bread was local too. Salt and pepper weren’t local. The hamburgers had spices in them there weren’t local. But the Parmesan cheese on the zucchini was local!
Meal #2 was homemade pesto (my first time making it and it was good!!) with store bought noodles (sorry, haven’t taken that step yet), zucchini, braised green beans and toasted garlic bread. Noodles weren’t local (discount bin) and the butter on the bread and with the zucchini weren’t, but otherwise everything else was local.
Last night when I came home from work I had no idea what I was going to cook for dinner, except that chili might be a possibility. Child #2 and I were the only ones at home so something with beans was in the works, seeing as how we’re the only ones that like beans.
I did make a strange chili concoction. I ended up dumping stuff together and it worked. I sauteed some onions and garlic then added some pulled pork from the fridge. After that had warmed up I dumped in a can of Ro-tel that I found in the cupboard along with a half pound of fresh tomatoes. Then I poured in some homemade chicken broth that I found in back of the fridge. (It still smelled OK) I then liberally sprinkled this mixture with chili powder, some smoked paprika, cumin, oregano and salt.
After this had cooked for a while I put in a sweet red pepper and half a Georgia flame pepper for some heat. I left the lid off to cook the sauce down and then I added a can of chili beans. The end result was a wonderful, sweet, smoky dish that was super good. It was perhaps a little hot (the child proclaimed his tongue was “hot”, but he finished a whole bowl of it) so maybe I’ll leave out the hot pepper next time. And it seemed more like a Mexican dish to stuff a burrito with (which is what I had for breakfast today 🙂 ) but there was enough sauce to enjoy it with some saltines and a nice slice of whole wheat bread with butter.
It’s funny how almost local it was without working that hard, just because the supplies are handy. If I had used a can of tomato sauce (which I debated but decided to save it for the winter) it would have been as local as I could get seeing as how I don’t have access to local chili beans.
This meal also represents a big step for me because I rarely ever make something without a recipe. I’m not typically the type of person who can make up a recipe/dish, but this one worked. Perhaps because you can’t really mess up this type of dish. But either way, that’s a step for me.
After I got that cleaned up I made laundry soap.
Saturday when I hit the market I could smell in the air what I would be doing this weekend. Basil was plentiful and cheap. It was time to make pesto. I’ve never made pesto before, so being a pesto virgin I called up my friend who has made it plenty of times. I asked for advice. She provided the advice that it was simple and gave me a recipe. Most important she let me borrow her food processor.
I’ve never had a reason to use a food processor before. When I need something mixed up I use my blender, or a spoon. But after using it all weekend I’m reluctant to give it back to her. I’m planning on putting my mother in law on the task of finding me a used one to add to the household. I’m really not sure how I lived without this thing for so long. I’ve decided I really, really heart food processors.
By the time I was done this weekend I made up 10 batches of pesto, 3 batches of salsa and 2 large batches of tomatillo-mexican sauce. We use one batch of pesto right off for lunch yesterday and we found we had to adjust the recipe a large bit. It needed a fair amount of salt and about twice the garlic the recipe called for. I froze the rest of the pesto to enjoy this winter. I’m thinking now about reducing some cream into a cream sauce and adding a bit of pesto to make a pesto cream sauce and ladle it over some chicken. Yum-O!
I used the mexican sauce tonight with some chicken, corn, black beans and red peppers to make some fantabulous burritos. And we covered the tops with some of the salsa. This is our first time with tomatillos and we absolutely loved them. I’ll be planting some of them next year, and I’ll be making up more sauce this summer yet. I was apprehensive of the sauce, but it was most excellent!
It was my oldest son’s first day of school on Tuesday. I’m just throwing up some pictures for the family who are scattered around the country.
Surprisingly, Rachael and I took it OK and no one cried.
Yes, if you are so inclined to know, that is a West Coast Choppers t-shirt. He’s a bad ass 5 year old.
This week’s local meal was Cottage Pie. I followed this recipe here, only I added some Worcestershire sauce and some green beans from the fridge.
I’m trying to remember all the details now, but I know the peas and carrots weren’t local. They WERE organic, but I was in a little bit of a hurry so I used some from the freezer. I left out the celery because I didn’t have any.
Ironic that I cooked this meal this week. I cooked this before going through all the updates from last week and there were quite a few people who also cooked cottage pie last week. I guess we were all feeling the need for something like this.
This recipe was also one that the boys absolutely LOVED. They asked for the next night too.
I used this tool today to map my 100 mile radius around CR and found out some really great things.
The cheese place in WI that I usually buy my cheese from is within my circle! Awesome. I had never taken the time to find out where their city was at. But this is great. Cheese was one of my biggest hurdles still.
The grain place is also within 100 miles. And so is my milk and all of my meat products (which I already knew).
That just leaves veggies. Veggies are both the easiest thing to get locally, and the hardest. The bigger problem is learning how to cook with them when they are available, and having enough on hand for side things you want to do. I’ve been preserving things like mad, but I’m fairly certain that we won’t have enough of these. We might, I might surprise myself, but we’re still really short on carrots and peas and celery. I bought a bunch of garlic here recently, but at the rate we go through it it won’t make it through the winter. I’ll have to get more this fall, if I can. I have a ton of onions so I think I’ll be OK in that regard. I have plenty of beans and tomato products I think. Corn is OK, but I’ll do more soon.
The farmer I got my potatoes from last fall isn’t sure if he will have enough to sell them for storage so that’s a problem. Hopefully I can find someone else. But I should be able to get plenty of squash, sweet potatoes and pumpkins. Also apples. And we’ll probably eat more meat and grains in the winter to make up for calorie shortfalls from the lesser amounts of vegetables available.
As far as condiments/prepared items I have quite a few pinto beans and soup beans. There aren’t a lot of beans sold around here so local beans are a little bit of an issue. My biggest problem with dried beans is that when I want to cook with them I don’t have the necessary 5 hours or whatever to prepare them. This is more a time managment problem than a problem with the food, but it’s still a problem. Over at the pile they make up their own canned beans to use when time is of the essence, and I think I’ll do that as well. While I can prepare them the slow way on the weekends, during the week I just don’t have that kind of time.
We canned a lot of tomato sauce/puree this week, but I don’t know if it will be enough to off set our pizza/pasta sauce consumption. We’ll see. I’m slightly freaked about using this stuff because I’m not sure how it will taste. We puree’d the maters in the blender (the victorio thing I got sucked. Off brand. I should know better) and then warmed them up and canned them. All sauce recipes I’ve seen said I should reduce it, but I figure why do that now when it’s 100 degrees out? I’ll reduce it this winter when the heat is welcome in the kitchen. But that meant I deviated from a recipe, which always makes me nervous until I know how things will taste and act.
Anyway, that’s the update on how things are going to prepare for this coming winter.
As faithful readers of the dribble that comes out of my head onto this keyboard I thought I should mention that Hurricane Dean is heading towards Mexico. Most people breathe a sigh of relief at this news, but this Hurricane is heading straight towards Mexico’s oil fields.
That’s not good. Mexico currently supplies around 16% of America’s oil imports. If their fields go off line for a while you’ll be dreaming of Katrina level gas prices.
Here’s a little math: We import around 550Million barrels of oil from Mexico each year. That means that if this hurricane hits them hard (and I would think a Cat 4 or 5 might do that) we can expect to see their oil production slip. Do you think a 5% drop due to the hurricane might be reasonable? That works out to about 23Million barrels a year, roughly 500K per week.
It’s just me, but you might want to think about perhaps being prepared for prices to rise, or maybe buy a few gas cans to store a little in the garage just in case there are supply disruptions. Supply is so tight right now it won’t take much to really cause a stumble for people who need to use the fuel.
Read more here and here.