It seems like the closer we get to the end of the challenge, the more local food we eat around here. I guess that’s the point, isn’t it? To teach yourself a new way of eating by establishing better habits? Cooking habits, shopping habits, thinking habits. How many times do you have to do something a new way before you have unlearned the old way? I know that it’s more than 18, but over the last eighteen weeks I’ve made more than just “Challenge” dinners that were local so I have to be getting close.
Cooking locally has become a habit for me. It takes longer than popping a red box of frozen lasagna or Salisbury steak out of the freezer and baking it. It takes way longer than running through the drive through of a burger joint. It isn’t always easy to cook dinner with a local ingredients, especially when you’ve been working all day or the kids have soccer practice or ballet or whatever other thing your kids may have scheduled. It takes planning because you can’t just run to the Farmers’ Market at 6:00 Tuesday night when you realize you’re out of veggies and pick up whatever you want. And I’ll admit, we eat take out pizza sometimes, but not as much as we used to. I’ll also confess to some not homemade frozen things in my freezer and “instant” things in the pantry but those are the exception around here, not the rule. As time goes on those things go into the cart less and less.
So, what did I come up with this week?
One of my favorite spring pastimes is morel mushroom hunting. It’s far too early to start searching for these elusive fungi but we’ve had unseasonably warm weather here in Michigan. It’s been so nice that one could almost imagine it really was spring and that if you looked around you could find a few morels. I didn’t, but I do have these dried morels from last spring’s find:
I pulled out some of the dried mushrooms, put them in a heat safe bowl and covered them with boiling water from the tea kettle. After they were rehydrated, they looked like this:
In a pan I made a spelt flour roux and then added three cloves of Providence Farms garlic, the mushroom rehydrating water, the mushrooms and a pint of Shetler’s half and half. This makes a delicious morel cream sauce. I didn’t add any other herbs because I didn’t want to overpower the mushrooms, but I did add salt and pepper.
I boiled a half pound of locally made egg noodles to serve as a base for the morel cream sauce. I had talked myself into grilling the Olds’ Farm Cornish hens in true spring fashion and then talked myself out of it in the sake of time and baked them instead.
When I started contemplating morels I started craving asparagus. However, asparagus hasn’t been fooled by the false spring we’re having so there isn’t any unless you’re willing to buy it from South America or Mexico. Maybe it’s coming from a little closer now, but I don’t care; I can wait until local asparagus arrives so that I can gorge myself on it until it disappears again. Instead I had to settle for the pound of locally grown spinach I found at Oryana.
As a treat, dinner was served with a loaf of potato-rosemary bread from Stonehouse bakery.
Oh, and remember when I said, “It takes planning because you can’t just run to the Farmers’ Market at 6:00 Tuesday night when you realize you’re out of veggies and pick up whatever you want.” I had planned to serve salad with this dinner. I even made my old standby garlic-feta-yogurt dressing before I realized I had already eaten the head of romaine lettuce that I thought was in the refrigerator. So, guess what? No salad. It didn’t matter. There was too much food anyway; we ate this dinner twice this week.