It’s hard to believe we’re already 9 days into August and the Eat Local, America! Challenge. Here’s what I think so far:
1. The hardest part of locavore eating continues to be the advanced planning. Visiting the farmers’ market makes me smile. The garden and I are good friends. But when all you have is a bag of veggies and a grumbling stomach, local eating is tough. I’m still teaching myself the patience to plan ahead, the discipline to cook now so the refrigerator doesn’t look so dismal later. It’s not as easy as it sounds when there’s a supermarket full of things I could cook in 3 minutes or less.
2. Things go well when I’m eating good food. Call it correlation, call it unscientific anecdotal hogwash, call it whatever. For someone who struggles with heartburn, food-aggravated headaches, and the roller coaster related to caffeine and highly-processed foods, eating locally regulates my system. No refined grains and sugars and no added preservatives means my days are more level, even, and less dramatic. Well, the drama is still there. I’m just better able to cope!
3. I’m focused on food, not “nutrition”. For those that have read Micheal Pollen’s In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifestoyou understand what I mean. Eating locally means meals focus more on creating great tastes and food experiences–the Minnesota food culture of sorts. In contrast, they are less focused on the fear of saturated-fat, calories, or carbs. If broccoli is what’s ready in the garden. Broccoli it is. And it’s not necessarily broccoli because it’s my daily serving of antioxidants, leafy green cancer-fighting superfoods, scientific mumble jumble stuff. It’s broccoli people. Eat it because tastes good and you grew it.
4. A perk of spending more time in the kitchen is that I’ve also spent more time with my camera. This week I learned how the white balance meter functions on my DSLR. More seasoned photo-folks are cringing at the thought of cruising along this far on an AUTO setting. Meh. It happens. White balance helps the true color of what we’re eating not be skewed by the less-than-perfect lighting in our kitchen. Hopefully today’s photos vs. some of my April shots show the massive difference it makes.
5. And last of course, the kitchen partner grills meals like this one, inspired by Bon AppÃ©tit. Amazingly good.
Lamb and Eggplant Kebabs
1 pound lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes Hill and Vale Farms, Wykoff, MN
2 tablespoons sunflower oil Driftless Organics, Soldier’s Grove, WI
2 tablespoons red wine St. Croix Vineyards, Stillwater, MN
3 large garlic cloves, sliced St. Paul Farmers’ Market
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary Homegrown
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme Homegrown
1 Tbsp. fresh basil Homegrown
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 small zucchini, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices Homegrown
2 small Japanese eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slices St. Paul Farmers’ Market
1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces Homegrown
1 medium onion, cut into 1-inch pieces St. Paul Farmers’ Market
8 cherry tomatoes Homegrown
1. Place lamb meat in a shallow baking dish with a cover. Combine oil, red wine, garlic and herbs in a small bowl. Drizzle over meat and toss until well-coated. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours, turning dish once per hour to re-coat meat with the marinade.
2. After slicing all vegetables, pre-heat a grill to 400Â°F. Remove meat from refrigerator and skewer with the vegetables, ensuring that none touch. Reserve marinade. If you want the best “ooh’s and ah’s” when you bring them to the table, skewer the meat and vegetables alternately. If you want things more evenly cooked, skewer each item individually. (Zucchini go on the grill first, tomatoes on last, etc.)
3. Brush the meat and vegetables lightly with marinade. Place on the grill and cook until meat is cooked and vegetables are tender, turning to ensure browning on all sides. Total grilling time about 10 minutes. Remove and serve warm.