Only a locavore can understand the excitement I felt when I saw the beautiful long English cucumbers from Dominion Organics in Ferndale in the produce rack at Terra Organica. The first appearance of any variety of fresh produce in the spring is like running into an old friend you haven’t seen for awhile. It’s always cause for celebration. Dominion grows these early beauties in their greenhouse so they can be harvested while the soil is still far too cool for planting them outside in the garden.
When I talked with the produce person to confirm these were definitely grown locally, they also noted happily that the “plastic” wrap around each individual cucumber was completely biodegradable. That was good news, too. Continue Reading
I was delighted to find several fresh pasta flavors offered by Bellingham Pasta Company recently. I used to buy pasta made by Nettles Farm on Lummi Island, but that hasn’t been available for quite awhile.
Since no grain is grown commercially in Whatcom County (as far as I know), pasta is a transitional food here. Some grain farming is being developed in Skagit County, but not yet locally. I use the term transitional foods to mean foods locally produced using at least some ingredients from outside of Whatcom County. Continue Reading
I’m discovering that when I can’t find a locally produced version of a common ingredient, making it myself is sometimes easier than you’d think. For example, I’ve already posted a simple technique I learned for making butter. This week I wanted to make a dish that normally uses cream cheese. I couldn’t find a local brand in the grocery stores, but I saw several local dairy products that I suspected could be used to make it. I decided to come back after doing a little research.
When I got home, I googled “how to make cream cheese” and quickly found several alternatives. (I love Google. I tell everyone that we have to make sure it is never taken over by dark forces…) Below I describe the method I finally used. The process was incredibly easy, and the results tasted surprisingly good. The texture was rich and creamy, just as you want cream cheese to be. Continue Reading
The contract is signed and it’s official! The Bellingham Herald will be publishing a weekly Whatcom Locavore column starting Tuesday, May 4! Just as on this blog, I’ll be doing the writing and the articles will each include one of Joan’s photos.
Weekly columns will feature a seasonal ingredient, a farm or food producer, or other timely information about eating locally, along with one of the weekly recipes from this blog and a mouthwatering photo of the dish. The Herald will publish the column both in the newspaper and their online website. They asked for a one year commitment.
Hopefully this will help spread the word that local eating can be fun, easy, healthy and delicious. Please help spread the word, and let me know if there’s a topic you’d like to see featured.
Note: First column available at Bellingham Herald online:
My friend Meredith showed me a relatively new blog this evening written by a woman she knows. The theme is about local food and farms in the Pacific Northwest. It includes dining information, recipes, and ingredient information, but the most stunning feature of the NW Farms & Food website is its interactive farm map.
Select the kinds of foods you are looking for, click the search button, and poof! Little red dots on the map indicate farms that have what you want. Mouse over a dot to see the farm name. Click on a dot to get a page with contact information, a description of products available and farming practices used, links to driving directions, and more.
Check it out! It appears to be very comprehensive, easy to use, and useful.
I was delighted to see both local green garlic and fresh local bok choy on the produce rack at Terra Organica this week. I haven’t tried green garlic before, and I love farm fresh bok choy, so I decided to see if the two were compatible. I’m happy to report that they are indeed quite a tasty pairing.
Both bok choy and green garlic have thick stems as well as more tender leaves. This requires some special preparation since the stems need longer to cook. It’s important to separate the leaves and stems as directed in the recipe below so you can start cooking the stalks first, then add the leaves about two thirds of the way through the cooking time. Using that method, everything will be perfectly done at the same time. Continue Reading
When you have a busy week ahead of you, it’s nice to cook something in enough quantity to use for a few days as leftovers. Soup is a perfect make-ahead dish, since the flavors of soup continue to blend once the dish is complete. As a result, the leftovers may be even more flavorful than the original servings.
This soup is fairly quick and easy to make, with a stick-to-your-ribs heartiness that is as welcome in a thermos on a chilly spring day as it is on the table. It’s an easy recipe to customize, too, by adding chopped greens, carrots, fresh herbs, or whatever local veggies you have in the fridge. Continue Reading
Yukon Gold potatoes have a lovely yellow glow that brightens any potato recipe. With a creamy yet sturdy texture they work well for everything from mashed potatoes to potato salad.
I have to confess–I made a mistake today. As Charlie Brown in the comic strip Peanuts would say, “Aaugh!” I forgot to add the shallots when I cooked this dish for the photos, so you won’t see them in the picture. The flavor of the dish was still good, but I really missed the savory taste contributed by the shallots. You’ll be happier, I think, if you don’t make my mistake. You could add some garlic, too, if you like. I usually do.
You can dress up this dish a bit by using a spatula to shape the top into swirls or stripes. The surface puffs up as it bakes, and peaks or patterns will be enhanced as it browns. Continue Reading
One difference between regular American eating and locavore eating is the seasonality of ingredients. Some ingredients are only available fresh during a couple of months of the year.
For example, I love asparagus! It’s the best part about spring cuisine, in my opinion, usually available in late April and May. I like it in green salads, pasta salads, steamed with various sauces, in souffles, and many other ways. However, my ultimate favorite way of fixing asparagus is also probably the easiest.
When fresh asparagus is pan seared correctly, it will be delightfully crunchy on the outside and creamy soft on the inside. Searing also brings out a nutty flavor in the asparagus spears that makes my mouth water even as I write this. Continue Reading
A cheese soufflé is a classic dish, and I wanted to see if it could be adapted easily to locally available ingredients. This recipe is a variation based on Alton Brown’s Cheese Soufflé.
There were two main challenges. The bechamel sauce that flavors the eggs and cheese usually has a little flour in it as a thickener, and cream of tartar is usually mixed into the egg whites to strengthen them and keep them fluffy. Continue Reading