Local Food Dinner in February

Last year my wife and I sold seats for a local food dinner as part of a fund raiser. I picked February for the event, intentionally to make it challenging — and to see what I would learn. The guest list required that the meal be vegetarian, but not vegan.

Lessons & Compromises. The biggest lesson was about storage and volume of our local producers. Ingredients that we know are are grown locally were not available commercially in February. I checked with a couple local farmers, they had already emptied their storehouses. Some ingredients we had stored in our cold cellar (apples, carrots, garlic), others (beets) not. Milk came from Spokane, WA (80 miles); I could not find butter or cream locally. The cow milk feta cheese could have been local, but I could only find Brush Creek’s marinated feta and wanted their fresh. Probably an issue of storage and low sales volume.  Oils — I used olive oil and butter  (as oil) and neither has a local source or a local work-alike.

It took some time and advance planning. The pumpkin puree in the rolls was made the week before– emptying out the last of our stored pie pumpkins. Hydrating and cooking the garbanzo beans took the whole morning the day of the dinner. The rolls are slow rising and they were started about 8am and were rising by the wood stove before 10am. I ended up using commercial vegetable broth for the soup– making broth ahead didn’t happen.

Best Discovery. Mushrooms from Rosalia.

Recipes

Appetizer: Chili-Lime Roasted Chickpeas  Fresh lime was a compromise, but I understand that citrus historically was shipped long distances and kept well (eg British Navy use of limes to prevent scurvy) so it may be possible to consider a limited amount of citrus if some amount of low-carbon transport is available.

Soup: Roasted Garlic & Potato with Homemade Croutons  I got day old bread from a local bakery. (It did not contain the most local of our whole wheat supplies, but was organic and regional.) Garlic was from our yard. Potatoes and beets could have been very local, but were only in-state. Carrots and onions were local commercial, but I had stored them.

Roll: Pumpkin Dinner Roll No local buttermilk, I made it up from powder. Commercial dry yeast. Same flours as the pie crust. I made the pumpkin puree. Butter was not local, because we lack the dairy processing.

Main Dish: Vegetable Frittata with Corn Bread Crust  The pleasant surprise was grey oyster mushrooms from Rosalia WA. I also used mixed varieties of baby potatoes, carrots, golden beets and previously blanched/frozen local asparagus. I had dried the tomatoes and made the garlic scape & olive oil. (No olives are not local)

Salad: Apple, Beet, Carrot

Dessert: Cherry – Rhubarb Pie with whole wheat crust. Half whole wheat flour from our most local mill, half durham flour from the USDA Wheat Lab at WSU (actual origin and milling unknown). 100% whole wheat makes a crust that my family does not appreciate. Filling from our freezer.

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3 Responses to “Local Food Dinner in February”

  1. Susan Dente Ross Says:

    This menu sounds wonderful, Nils. Given your willingness to include some citrus, you might have made your own buttermilk with local milk and lemon juice. Also, should you need more local, organic, home-grown pumpkin (either the whole plant or the puree), don’t hesitate to ask. I still have some of both and will need to empty my freezer this spring.

  2. Nils Peterson Says:

    I suspect I could also use vinegar to sour milk into buttermilk. It’s probably that I don’t use buttermilk enough to either be proficient at making it or for there to be a local market providing it.

  3. scspaeth Says:

    We use 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar per cup of milk and it works well in most baking recipes. Our local cider goes to vinegar quite readily.

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