Friday, September 7, 2012

Eat Local Milwaukee, Week 2

How did week one of the Eat Local Milwaukee Challenge go?  Did you find some new local food that you like?  Did you work one more local salad into your dinners?  Did you pick up some local tomatoes and realize they taste SO MUCH BETTER than those fake tomatoes you get at the grocery store?

Or did you visit a locally sourced restaurant and use the opportunity to let them do the cooking? Did you grab a local beverage?

I hope you were able to find something new.  I was excited to check out Lagniappe Brasserie and La Merenda, and enjoy some local food that I didn't have to cook.  As per usual, the food was far too good for me to have pictures.  I would, in fact, be the worst food writer ever, because the food is gone and then I'm like, "oh, crap, I should have taken a picture of that.  Boy it was good.  Wish I could show my readers how pretty it was..."

Are you ready for week two?

It's still summer, and it's still warm, but the air has that fall feel about it.  Today I even put on a sweatshirt because I was chilly.  Riding my scooter home from work on Thursday, I was even cold.

I love fall.  Fall, to me, is the food season.  Spring is great, because there's finally something fresh to eat, but your choices are limited.  Summer is full of food, but there's not that much to write about - throw some meat on the grill, slice up some raw veggies and you've got yourself a meal.  Winter... well winter is just about not starving to death.

But fall...

Fall has got plenty of food - It's harvest season after all - but it also allows real cooking.  Not that the grill isn't real, but it's not the same as a braise.  It's not the same as baking.  Fall is the season of tomatoes, and squash, and heavy greens like kale, and soup.  It's the time for meals that take hours of cooking, because you want your oven on for hours, and because you're not too warn down from the cold and dark of winter to even want to cook.

So, to usher in the unofficial first week of fall (I totally support the equinox here, it's extremely important to me.  Labor day does not = fall!), and the fact that I got to wear leg warmers yesterday, the second week of the Eat Local Milwaukee Challenge features some more fall-ish treats.

This week, my CSA box included:

  • The most beautiful head of lettuce I've ever seen
  • Leaf lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Beans
  • Beets and their greens
  • Leeks
  • Eggs
  • Peppers (hot and bell)
  • Tomatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Carrots
  • Dill
  • Parsley

Don't forget, we already figured out that this box cost me about $13.

I cooked up and froze the beets, beet greens, and their kale.  The carrots will be canned tomorrow, and I made a HUGE salad to go with my fritatta tonight.

The menu for the second week of the Eat Local Challenge, if you're playing along:

  • Saturday: Steak Salad
    • Pick up whatever stuff you want for a salad, and as fancy or cheap of a steak as you're feeling.  NY Strip is great on a salad.  So is a skirt steak.  Spend your money on what you think is important!  I personally will be using my #1 favorite steak: flat iron.
  • Sunday: Spaghetti Squash Carbonara
    • No, you didn't miss it.  There's no spaghetti squash in my CSA box this week.  But there is quite a good deal of it ready to be picked in my garden.  Along with about 6 giant blue pumpkins!
    • Split the spaghetti squash in half and scoop out the seeds (you can absolutely wash and bake up the seeds just like pumpkin seeds.  Anyone who has carved pumpkins with me knows that I'm only in it for the seeds, so this is an exciting proposition for me.)  Drizzle generously in olive oil and season with salt and pepper, and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until it is soft but still a little crunchy (don't let it get soggy).  Once it is done, run a fork gently through the spaghetti squash to pull it into the strings from whence it gets it's name (whence!). 
    • While the squash is cooking, cook about 1/2 lb of bacon over medium heat until it becomes a light brown but is not yet crispy. Pour off most of the fat and then add about 1 tbsp minced shallots and 2 tsp minced garlic. Saute for 1 minute until the garlic and shallots are fragrant. Add the 1/4 cup white wine and cook until the liquid has completely evaporated.
    •  In a medium bowl, whisk together two egg yolks and one whole egg, eggs together with 1 cup Parmesan cheese and two tablespoons chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the eggs with the bacon mixture, warming the eggs in the pan. (Do not let the eggs cook through.) Add the spaghetti squash and toss to thoroughly combine and until squash is heated through. Adjust seasoning, if necessary and serve immediately.
  • Monday:  Date night!  Head out for some local food!
  • Tuesday: Slow Cooked Rotisserie Chicken
    • Season it as you want, and have it waiting for you when you get home from work!  I do recommend the brine, because without it the chicken gets a little dry.  Throw some potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker and have a full blown meal waiting for you.
  • Wednesday: Stuffed Peppers
    • Save a chicken breast from Tuesday.  Combine with some cooked local Orzo pasta (pick it up at Outpost), whatever veggies you've got in your fridge, and some local feta cheese from the Clock Shadow Creamery.  Mix together, and stuff into some bell peppers.  Throw the whole thing on the grill for about 10 minutes on each side, or until the inside is hot and the outside is nicely charred.  If you've got especially big peppers, you might want to heat up the stuffing before putting it in the peppers.
  • Thursday: Turkey Soup
    • I've got some frozen turkey in my freezer that I think is actually from way back last Christmas.  Time to get that used up already!  So I'm going to make a turkey noodle soup with that, the Orzo I bought for Wednesday, and some yellow squash that's already in my fridge.  But, since I can't count on your having stockpiled almost year old turkey in your freezer, why not try the Turkey Cherry Chili that didn't make it into the cherry contest!  Make it a little end-of-summerier and add some corn.
  • Friday: Fish Boil
    • What is more local, Wisconsin, Fall food than a good old traditional Door County Fish Boil.  You can make it in your kitchen no problem - just don't use the gasoline/boil over trick!  When you're at Outpost on Wednesday, pick up some Rushing Waters Rainbow Trout, and why not try the fish boil seasonings available at The Spice House.

As always, let me know if there's anything I can do!  Enjoy your local eating!

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