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Apple Cider Stew

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Category : Main Dishes, Recipes

Apple Cider StewThere’s nothing like the taste of the first fresh apples of the season! We have an opportunity to taste a remarkable array of literally hundreds of apple varieties every year at the Cloud Mountain Farm Center’s Fall Fruit Festival.

Apples can be eaten and enjoyed in dozens of ways ranging from raw as a snack to cooked into delicious apples pies or tarts. A quick and easy way to add intense apple flavor to cooked dishes is to use fresh apple cider. Continue Reading

Crockpot Sausage, Sauerkraut, and Apples

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, September

Crockpot Sausage, Sauerkraut, and ApplesSauerkraut and sausage are a long-time favorite flavor combination. Apples and sauerkraut* are an equally familiar and frequent combination. What if they were all combined, I wondered. Continue Reading

Chanterelle Cheese Sauce

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Sauces and Dips, Vegetarian

Chanterelle Cheese SauceSome sauce recipes have become “classics” known to everyone. For example, experienced cooks learn how to make an Alfredo sauce, a buttery bechamel, and an herbed tomato sauce.

One reason these sauces are classics is their versatility. They can be used in many ways with many different ingredients. For example, bechamel sauce can be used as is over potatoes, or as the basis of a mustard sauce for chicken or a creamy herb sauce for steamed vegetables. Herbed tomato sauce can be served over pasta, grilled meats, or spread on toasted bread as a crostini appetizer. Continue Reading

Rainy Day Soup Menu

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Category : August, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Rainy Day Soup MenuFixing a meal that takes awhile to cook just doesn’t sound inviting on hot summer days. A nice aspect of our Northwest climate is the occasional cool rainy days which give us a break from warmer weather.

A rainy day is a good time to take a look in the produce drawer of your refrigerator (and in your garden, if you have one). What needs to be used before it spoils or gets too ripe? Continue Reading

Early Summer Stir-fry

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

Early Summer Stir-fryCooking a perfect stir-fry dish requires careful planning as the ingredients are being chopped and prepared. Especially important is to group the ingredients by cooking time. Continue Reading

Herbed Meatballs

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes

Herbed MeatballsStart with a simple recipe, add a few pungent local herbs, and you have a whole new gustatory experience. Let me show you what we can do with pasta and meatballs.

I started with some Lummi Island grown, grassfed beef. I grated some dried homemade bread (made with bread flour from Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, and other local ingredients) to make some bread crumbs. Then I walked out into the garden and snipped some fresh thyme and rosemary leaves. I had some aged gouda cheese from a recent visit to Appel Farms Cheese Shoppe, and some green garlic grown at Broadleaf Farm that I had purchased earlier from Terra Organica. Add a little salt and the meatball ingredients are complete. Continue Reading

Cooking With Local Herbs

Category : May, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Herbed Meatballs MenuYou may already be cooking with “fresh” herbs from the grocery store, but if you haven’t tried locally grown fresh herbs you’re in for a delightful experience. The difference in flavor between dried herbs and fresh herbs, even fresh herbs shipped for long distances, is huge, but local freshness boosts the flavor by yet another quantum leap.

When you work with local farm fresh herbs, the first difference you’ll notice is the fragrance. Chopping herbs for a recipe is one of my favorite cooking activities. The scent is exquisite, and you can easily judge the freshness of your herbs by the smell alone. Continue Reading

Beef and Napa Cabbage Stirfry

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes

Photo of Beef Cabbage StirfryStirfry is always a good option when you need something quick to prepare, or when you want to use up small amounts of ingredients left in the refrigerator. You can combine almost any kind of meat and/or vegetables, add simple seasonings and a little liquid, fry it quickly in a hot pan, and dinner is ready! Continue Reading

Where’s the Beef?

Category : May, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Photo of Where's the Beef MenuRaising high quality grassfed beef commercially has been a challenge in Whatcom County. First, it takes a lot of land to raise enough cattle for year-round meat availability. Second, they have to be slaughtered at a USDA-approved facility, and none was available here.

Several farms have overcome these obstacles and local beef is now available for those locavores among us trying to be healthier and reduce our carbon footprint by “eating local.” It’s very difficult and expensive for farms to get their grassfed beef certified organic, but most locally produced beef is raised as organically and humanely as possible. If you have any doubts, you can always ask the farmer (another benefit of eating locally), or ask the market where you buy the meat. Continue Reading

Grilled Hamburgers with Salsa

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Category : Grilling, Main Dishes, Recipes

Photo of Grilled Hamburger with SalsaThere’s nothing like the crispy crust of a well-grilled hamburger! Commercially available local grassfed beef is a little hard to find in this area, but it’s well worth the effort in terms of flavor and quality.

I went to the online Farm Finder and searched for beef. Only one farm, Third Thyme Farm in Sumas (360) 988-5805, reports specializing in grassfed meats, including beef. There are also farms who produce meat only for friends and family.

The difficulty is the absence of a USDA inspected meat-packing facility in the County. The Lopez Island Community Land Trust came up with a novel idea to solve the problem for farmers who are members of their Island Grown Farmers Cooperative (IGFC). They built a Mobile Processing Unit (MPU) which operates under a USDA Grant of Inspection and travels to the farms to do the butchering on site. While most of their members are outside Whatcom County, there are some local members, too. They have an outlet grocery on Lopez Island, but many of their member sell directly from their farms. Continue Reading

Early Grilling Menu

Category : May, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Photo of Early Grilling MenuAs the weather warms (at least when we stand in direct sunlight out of the wind), fantasies of grilled food begins to appear in my mind. Fortunately we just purchased a new countertop grill, so there’s no need to wait until July. Now we can have grilled food at any time, so I decided to try a locavore hamburger.

Hamburger buns present a challenge to Whatcom locavores, though. The nearest commercially produced grain is grown in Skagit County, and they don’t produce very much.  So what can we do? See my article on Food Purchasing Priorities. Continue Reading

Rainy Day Crockpot Beef Stew

Category : Main Dishes, Recipes

Photo of Rainy Day Crockpot Beef Stew One of the special delights of eating local food is trying new ingredients or using familiar foods in new combinations.  I haven’t cooked much with sunchokes, also called Jerusalem artichokes. I tried using them in a cottage pie recently, and was delighted with the flavor. This time I tried using them in a hearty beef stew.

The flavor of sunchokes is distinctive, slightly sweet, and fairly strong. It blends better with other flavors if the sunchokes are cut into small pieces. For this stew I recommend a quarter-inch dice.

This is a variation of a traditional beef stew that uses a lot of mushrooms and a thick wine sauce. Locally raised stew beef cooks up tender and tasty. Continue Reading

Early Spring Après Gardening Menu

Category : March, Seasonal Menu Ideas

Photo of Early Spring Apres Gardening MenuEarly spring in Whatcom County is when gardening begins in earnest. Soil needs to be fed and loosened, beds are spruced up, seeds are started indoors, and plant and seed trading picks up momentum. The first sunny days when you can actually feel the warmth draw us outside to get our hands dirty, but the weather can be a bit dicey. A garden project that starts on a warm morning can end in a cool–even rainy–late afternoon. When I’m tired and muddy, cooking dinner is the last thing I want to do.

Today I headed for the garden with a smug feeling knowing that dinner would be ready and waiting for me at the end of the day. When I entered the house a few hours later, it was filled with the smells of a hearty warm entrée. I roasted some potato wedges, mixed a dressing I’d made earlier in the day with some tasty salad greens and beautiful Easter Egg radishes, and voilà! A warm, tasty dinner after a chilly day of gardening. Continue Reading