Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 31

Wow - in so many ways I can hardly believe it's been a month of chronicling my Eat Local Challenge. It's been a lot of fun to focus on, yet I realize that pretty much every day I do very well on the Eat Local front, be it in the locally grown or raised groceries I am fortunate to have available at multiple markets and at my co-op, or be it in the form of the many wonderful local businesses who also work with other local businesses in creating and preparing delicious menus for those times I don't want to cook myself.

While the chronicle will end today, and we'll move on to other subjects (and maybe let some other folks have more to say), my co-op continues the Eat Local Challenge through September, so I'll keep getting my "local" card punched every time I shop. I'm happy to report that shining the light on local this month has confirmed that I have developed many habits that are based around seeking out and supporting my local farmers and small businesses, and I think that's better for my health and better for the economic health of my town. And that's downright sexy. Today was a day of running about, dashing into the studio for bouts of work interrupted by meetings and checking on the drooly dog still recovering from dental surgery. I munched on much in the way of local fare: figs from the tree, more leftovers and veggies from last weekend's markets, etc., but as I worked my way into the evening, I realized I had no signature "day 31" fare. 

braised beef & potato tamale with peach/jalapeno salsa from
Bandido's Burritos, accompanied by a cool Payne's Pale Ale from The Wedge.
Luckily, my sweet friend Melissa helped me solve that problem!  She works at one of our many acclaimed local brewery/pubs, The Wedge, and she put a call out for (of all things) a cup of coffee.  I was headed back to the studio to wrap things up for the night and The Wedge is along the way, so I grabbed a cup and took it to her.  In return, she treated me to one of my favorites, our locally brewed Payne's Pale Ale.  While I was catching up with her at the bar and realizing that I was hungry for dinner, I learned one of my favorite local eateries, Bandito's Burritos, was vending from a food cart in the parking lot.  Moments later I was back at the bar with a braised beef and potato tamale, moist, hot, and spicy, still wrapped in the banana leaf in which it was cooked. Add a little local peach/jalapeno salsa to that and I had just the right amount of spice to compliment my cool Pale Ale. So good I got another one for lunch at the studio tomorrow.

What better way to cap off the month?!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 30

This chronicle of my Eat Local Challenge was going to go out with a bang, as I was planning to attend the Endless Summer Market Supper that followed the closing of the West Asheville Tailgate today. Instead, it's something of a whimper as sweet pup who usually sits at my chair trying to levitate food off the plate and onto the floor had to go in for some dental work today. He is not enjoying the post-op experience, so I'm home with him. I'm sure there will be pictures posted of the incredible Mediterranean meal being put together by some incredible chefs, so I'll cover that in a later blog. Maybe my last minute facebook plea will see a plate of leftovers at my door later...

At home and between bouts of very sad whimpers from the pup who just can't seem to let himself fall asleep, I came up with dinner:

I had leftover stuffing from last night's empanada's, plus an extra roasted butternut squash, so I re-heated/roasted them together and added a simple salad of avocado (from Florida, closest I could get) and tomato (second one from my plant - woohoo!) with sea salt.  I made a nice little cocktail by blending the last of a market watermelon with some garden basil and tequila (the dog gets tramadol, I get tequila!), and it was all quite good!

Check out the Tailgate's facebook page for pictures from the Supper

Monday, August 29, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 29

The fig tree is really pumping out figs now, and I've been having a great time playing with a variety of uses. I may test my way right out of the batch of preserves or chutney I planned to make, but it will be fun and tasty along the way!

Tonight's fun was with mini 'empanada/ravioli' treats (empanoli?). Empanada in theory, ravioli in design. The dough was made using organic Carolina grown whole wheat flour, which is now happily available at the co-op. The filling is a base layer of leeks, shallots, fennel, prosciutto, butternut squash, tart apples and rosemary, with fig slivers placed on top.  

The leeks, shallots, and fennel were sweated down slowly, the squash was roasted till just tender before adding to the mix, the prosciutto was finely chopped, and the apples were added after the mix was cooked to maintain texture. The figs were placed on top of the mix as each empanada was filled and formed. The individually treated elements meld nicely for good flavor and texture, with just the rosemary, some salt and a slight drizzle of aged balsamic for seasoning. 

What started out as looking for another way to use the figs has given me something I'll continue to play with into the fall and winter. With cooler weather on the way, I'm already thinking about other combinations and variations for fillings - this one's a keeper!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 28

Enjoying lovely pre-fall breezes and cooler morning temps this Sunday morning, listening to the news of the storm moving up the East Coast and hoping all in the path and in the wake are faring well.

I stopped by the tailgate to pick up my favorite baguette from Simple Bread yesterday, and they had a special offering of English Muffins - perfect for this cooler morning with a little Oakmoon honeyed chevre, some freshly picked figs and market peaches. Dynamite Roasting Company cuppa rounds it out nicely.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 27

I had great plans and dreams for a home garden this year, but a variety of distractions and delays resulted in me getting only a small but lovely spiral garden established. The plot I tilled for the raised bed has already grown over, but I still have plans for getting some greens planted for the cooler season.

a look at the spiral garden in late spring, when I just added the tomato plant
to my basils, sage, thyme, parsley, chives, lavender, and strawberries.

The spiral garden was intended mainly for herbs, but one day I was at a tailgate, and looking at all the beautiful vegetable starters I knew I wouldn't be planting I decided that at LEAST I had to have one tomato plant. And so the garden has herbs going very well, and my one tomato plant. I was so proud when it grew past the rings on the support, and even happier when it started blossoming. And then, a tomato. For the longest time, it was just the one, but by the time I picked #1 (this morning), I was able to pick it's sibling #2 and have two, maybe three, in the wings. I have farmed.

picked this morning from the back 40 (inches, that is) -
tastes like summer!
I've been enjoying some beautiful and delicious heirloom tomatoes from friends and from the tailgates, but today's lunch of just the tomato, sliced thickly and sprinkled with sea salt, accompanied by my favorite Simple Bread baguette, was one of the best things I've ever eaten.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 26

The end of the week and a busy day between errands and work, so it was mainly munching on green beans, various tidbits of leftovers tossed together and a nice jar of juiced fruit and veg. All of which has already been seen here in some form or another during this month, so for today's Local Food highlight, I bring you something from one of my very favorite local spots.

The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the love child of Dan and Jael Rattigan, and it's more than just another local small business. It (they) embody the true spirit of local, be it with their support of local farmers (and, in full disclosure, artists, like me) or be it with their support of the local economy further by paying their employees a living wage. And there's so much more to them, but if you want to get the full picture and you can't go to the Lounge directly, start by reading their manifesto. And then get yourself to the Lounge as soon as possible.

And to the delight of this dairy-intolerant chocoholic, there are endless selections of dairy-free delights. Their vegan truffle collection (the buddha) is crazy good, featuring locally sourced ingredients when ever possible. And then there's the Theros Chocolate Cake (using the olive oil I love), macaroons, liquid truffle emulsions with coconut milk or maybe their house-made almond milk. And that's just the chocolate - there's so much more, but if I go into too much more detail, I'll have to get in my car and go there, then I would never finish this post.

All that being said, because everything they make is done so with extreme care, talent, creativity, quality ingredients, and most of all love, the foodie in me can't resist the occasional taste of something I wouldn't normally eat because of dairy. As in many things in life, sometimes it's just worth it.

salted honey caramel - dark
The salted honey caramel in dark chocolate with sea salt has a permanent spot on the "worth it" list. They're the perfect size for the occasional decadence, and every single bite, chew and savor of the melting chocolate and caramel mingling with salty goodness is a moment of bliss.  

I've spent time in their kitchen (a/k/a 'the happiest place on earth'), and in another post down the road, I'll take you there to see some of the magic behind the scenes. Until then...
realized too late that this was out of focus, and would have
taken another shot, but the truffle was lost in a
sudden bout of consumption.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 25

We've had some cooler, breezy days of late, and it's been a great reminder that in spite of some warmer temps to come, Fall is indeed on the way!  

Today was another lovely bison steak from Carolina Bison, along with some steamed purple beans from the tailgate and atop some leftover rice and beans.

I also want to share the latest development with the figs. The tree seems to be ready to start popping more out, and it can happen fast!  I noticed a bit of plumping, so I was checking the tree almost every time I went out the front door, and I still lost several to over-ripening and ended up sharing more with the birds. Happy to share, we are, but the tree gets checked more often now! A few did come free, however, and it was perfect timing for a quick little after-work nosh:

The figs are split in half, topped with some honeyed chevre from OakMoon Creamery, drizzled with aged balsamic from The Tree & Vine, then wrapped in Hickory Nut Gap Farms prosciutto. They had a few minutes under the broiler and were divine.  With help from our lovely tree, these will be a menu item at a small reception I'm hosting after a workshop next month - what a great way to show off some local fare!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 24

It's really wonderful to have the bounty of markets this time of year. I won't make it over to the co-op Market today, but I'll hit it next week for some pictures to close out the month. Yesterday I picked up a few more veggies at the West Asheville Tailgate, which made popping home for a quick lunch easy today!

I was in the mood for some texture, so I started with a corn/black bean mix I had ready for a later meal and added a tomato that was ready for eating along with nice crunchy carrots and a delicious baby cucumber.  With a simple balsamic vinaigrette, it went well with some toasted baguette and Roots spinach and chipotle hummus (good sopping juices!). Even the nettle/mint tea brew is local, with some blueberries and peaches floating in it for an extra treat.

As mentioned, I did hit the West Asheville Tailgate yesterday, but I forgot to take the camera.  Many of the same folks from Saturday were there - I did get the quick shot below as I drove off for a little shout out.  Next week I'll be attending the farm to table community dinner after the market closes, and you bet I'll have my camera with me then!

a quick glimpse at the West Asheville Tailgate

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 23

"Never work before breakfast; if you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first." ~ Josh Billings

I love eggs, and I really love the eggs I get from Mudluscious Gardens - even more because they are delivered to me! 

My favorite is probably the sunny side up - soppy, yolky goodness to mix in with veggies or for the toast.  Some days, however, there's only time for a one-pot meal.  Eggs alone are great, but even on a fast-moving day, there's time for a good scramble!

good, good, good
Today's scramble all derived from local farmers and my garden (the thyme):  scramble with leeks, garlic, fennel, shiitakes, squash, kale, and tomatoes:

between the counter light and the sunlight, it seems a very ethereal scramble!

home made tastes better on hand made

As I've been monopolizing much of the post space here during the Eat Local Challenge, you've seen a lot of what I eat as well as the dishes, etc. I use every day. I've had a few messages and questions about them from folks who don't already know me, and thanks very much for the kind words. Yes, I make pottery, and while most of what you see is on my work, I also collect the work of friends, colleagues and other potters I admire, so you'll see a wide range.
day 13 lunch was on one of my plates
my day 1 and 2 entry, also on one of my plates
But shameless self promotion isn't what this post is about (but how can it be helped!?). I think my love of food, in everything from learning about it to preparing it to sharing it, is one of the things that added to my instant love of making pottery. I saw in immediate connection in what I could make in the studio to what I can make in the kitchen, and that inspiration and motivation continues today.

day 15 dinner in a bowl by Massachusetts-based Mark Shapiro

One of the first things I noticed when I started using my first finished pieces: I cared more about how I used them. Not that they were so precious they had to be put in a special case and carted out only for special occasions, not at all. These were (and still are) the pieces I want to use every day, and I swear the food just looked and tasted better on and in them. And it made me start thinking about what I was putting on and in them - why would I waste all the effort, care, and love I put into making this bowl by filling it with processed crap that comes from who knows where? 

day 9 juice in a sweet little espresso cup by Chloe Rothwell
I started to care even more about the food I make when I started to make the dishes I use. And I see that connection happen with people who start to collect hand made. When I entertain I bring out the full compliment of plates, bowls, cups, etc. from potters all over. It's great to watch as friends carefully select "who" they want to use for wine or dinner, and that appreciation and respect carries over to what I prepare and serve, and it leaves with each guest.

day 4 breakfast on one of my favorites by
NC potter Shawn Ireland (mug by me)

I'm very happy that I get to experience this with every meal I prepare at home, be it with my own work or in my much-used and much-cherished pieces by other artists. And with the Eat Local Challenge, it gets even better because my carefully prepared meals, served in my lovingly made dishes, come from passionate farmers and creative neighbors who pour their own spirit into their work. 

day 10 goodness in a bowl by Atlanta potter Luba Sharapan.
Every bite is community, and a reason to be grateful.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 22

Today was a good day to toss together the last bits of this and that for a lovely leftover lunch.  And who says pasta salads can't be made with linguini?  I certainly never did!

Last of the pasta with the last of the chevre with a little squash and tomatoes, with some garden herbs with a splash of my favorite aged balsamic vinaigrette.  And some Roots hummus (chipotle & spinach) with black olive crackers from Roots & Branches.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: day 21

On the way home from work tonight, I realized I was in the mood to cook up some protein, but I hadn't taken anything out of the freezer. A quick stop at the co-op would help me decide just what would compliment the market bounty I already had in the kitchen.

I consider myself an omnivore, although I can't eat cow dairy, but that's an easy thing to work around. I do end up cooking vegetarian a good bit just out of convenience and sometimes to save some pennies on what I would be spending on non-veg proteins. I think I eat meat/chicken/fish out more than I prepare it, so it's always a pretty big consideration when I am selecting a protein to cook. I think this month has been the exception because I've been focused on the Eat Local Challenge, and because we have so many incredible farmers offering proteins as well as produce. I'm also trying to stick to a budget, so I decided to let price guide me, within what was available that was local.  

The co-op offered a range of goodies, from fresh trout to chicken to stew meat, but what won the price game was a lovely pork chop from Hickory Nut Gap Farms for just a few bucks. I can't even remember the last time I cooked a pork chop, so that made it more of an adventure.

Stuffing: leeks, shiitakes, prosciutto, garlic, kale, figs, thyme, and olive oil
Home with my chop, I pondered what I'd do. An image of my Italian grandmother serving up a chop with a side of pasta came to mind (in part because I had some leftover pasta with herbs, garlic & olive oil). The thickness of the chop suggested stuffing it, so I took a tour through a few of my cookbooks for some ideas. Deciding to keep the 'Italian' theme, and of course using my market finds from the weekend, I finally settled on a stuffing of leeks, kale, shiitakes, prosciutto, garlic, thyme, and a few of the figs that came off the tree today. Because I hadn't cooked a chop in so long, I went to Jacques Pepin for counsel on technique (I'd have kept it all Italian, but the Marcella book I grabbed had no chop).

The result was quite, quite good - I let the chop rest in a warm oven while I saute-ed up some some sweet onions, market tomatoes and garden herbs in the pan drippings. Deglazed with a little Pale Ale, because it needed something and it was handy. That made not only a nice sauce on the chop, but it helped dress up my leftover pasta. Lovely Sunday dinner.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Eat Local Challenge: at the Market (Saturday)

I've mentioned already that I'm grateful we have tailgate markets throughout the week, so I can shop for a couple of days at a time without worrying about things going bad or just over-buying. Today's stop was at the City Market. It was so crowded, I didn't even get to stop in at a couple of stalls I normally hit, and since I go here before work, I kind of have to fly through, so if a tent is too crowded on the first pass, I may have to wait till next time.  Luckily, many of these fine folk are at other markets I may visit during the week!

Here's a look at who I visited this week:

the lovely Trish sells me my Market tokens - what a great convenience, to be able to
buy tokens with credit or debit and food stamps too! Today, because I parked in the
far-away lot, I also won $10 in Market bucks!

Spinning Spider Creamery - I usually pick up some lovely goat milk cheeses,
but today I found goat stew meat and now it's in the freezer.

I believe I picked up leeks & shallots here today...

had to get my baguette fix...

source of studio-production-saving granola and health bars!

summer squash and tomatoes from here today...

baby melons from here...

my market cuppa - mmmmm!

today's bounty - some will last well into the week, or at least until the Tuesday market!

Eat Local Challenge, day 20

Today's theme may be re-visited before the month is out, as it's a work in progress. Since late spring, I've been watching the fig tree in the yard pop up figs. After a couple of months of straight out teasing, we started picking 5-6 a day. What with it being the first of the season, most were eaten straight off the tree or shared with interested friends. I've been thinking of things I want to make with them since the first leaf showed up!

And then the figs stopped. They were all still there on the tree, but the growing and the ripening stopped. Taking a rest?  Not enough water?  I waited a bit ... still nothing. So I watered, which of course brought the rains, and now the figs are growing once more.  

The harvest is still in the 2-3 per day range, not quite enough to make full batches of any of the figgy delights dancing in my head, but good for testing, so I shall test.

One of the first things I thought about when I saw the first figs was a nice little tart with local chevre. Over the course of the season, and with this Eat Local Challenge, the 'recipe' as it is, has been evolving even before the first test. Once I get a few more out, I'll share the final recipe to save you extraneous narratives on which versions might result in this, that, or the other.

This is 'take 2' of the fig tart:

The crust is an olive oil/rosemary tart (Theros unrefined olive oil* and fresh rosemary from the garden). It's topped with some OakMoon chevre and the garden figs, with a drizzle of aged balsamic from The Tree & Vine (*also where Theros unrefined olive oil is available). I just found out I can get the organic Carolina grown whole wheat at my co-op, so I'll try a version with that, although it may make it even more rustic, I can't resist trying for as local a recipe list as possible.

I still have another crust variation I want to try that may produce a lighter result, but I rather like this one for all its very basic charms.

Now if the tree will start popping more figs at once, I may make a full-size version. Then again, I'm really enjoying my mini's (and it's a lot easier to share!).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 19

Today I was woefully without camera when I put my meals together, but as it's been a day of leftovers, you've seen it already this week!

Local eggs this morning, local chevre on the local baguette later for 2nd breakfast, last of the leftover hash as a mini lunch and the second half of a Roots & Branches granola bar this afternoon.  Scroll on down through previous posts and you'll see representations of them all.

I'm keeping it short as I'm working on a little something with some figs coming off the tree.  

Stay tuned ...

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 18

The fig tree in the front yard had taken a bit of a break while we had less rain.  I started watering it, and it's started raining more frequently again and the figs are starting to pop again!  I only found one ready to eat on the tree this morning, but it was the perfect addition to my local breakfast!  It's raining this morning, and if I get to them before the birds, I should have some fig-inspired meals coming up!

Home Free Bagels, topped with a Honeyed Chevre from OakMoon Creamery, some peaches from this week's tailgate, and my just picked fig.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 17

It's been a busy week, and while I did manage to run by the Tailgates that are on either side of my neighborhood, I've been eating on the run the past couple of days.  Tonight I got to play a bit in the kitchen and with some of the local goodness I've accumulated.

You can't see it much, but there's a bed of kale braised with fennel & shallots (French Broad Food Co-op Tailgate) under the grilled Tuna (same Market), steamed green beans, heirloom tomatoes (West Asheville Tailgate), and hard boiled eggs (Mudluscious Gardens).  And I stopped by The Tree & Vine to pick up another bottle of Theros unrefined olive oil - I am totally addicted to cooking with this oil!  

Starting Saturday, for the next week I'll take my camera with me to introduce the various farmers and bakers and other makers I get to visit each week.  It's nice having Markets spread throughout the week - I can keep fresher things in the kitchen without having to stock up a week ahead and worry about what's going bad first.  Plus, I'm doing a terrible job of remembering who and where I get everything from, so this will be some overdue kudos.

And I'm very excited to be closing out this month-long Eat Local Challenge by attending the Endless Summer Market Supper at the West Asheville Tailgate.  What better way to celebrate the local bounty then by joining friends and neighbors and some kick-ass local chefs in creating a family style meal almost completely sourced from that Market?  

Take the $5 Challenge

Slow Food USA is challenging us to "take back the 'value meal' by getting together with family, friends and neighbors for a slow food meal that costs no more than $5 per person."

WHY: Because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food.  If you know how to cook, then teach others.  If you want to learn, this is your chance.  Together, we're sending a message to our nation's leaders that too many people live in communities where it's harder to buy fruit than Fruit Loops.  Everybody should be able to eat fresh, healthy food every day.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED: Sign up for the challenge!  You can cook a meal with friends and family, find a local event, or host your own event.  When you sign up, they'll even send you $5 cooking tips.

I looked through the site and found a few links to some great inspiration:

Colonel of Truth: How I Beat KFC's "family meal" Challenge (
The Farmer's Market Myth (
Winning recipes from "Your Best Dirt Cheap Dinner" contest (

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 16

Errands, appointments and general to-and-fro-ing, and I have yet to actually get to the studio.  Luckily, one of my favorite local foods will go with me to give sustenance into the night!

Roots & Branches makes a line of granola and health bars that are all good and good for me!  Wheat free, full of good nuts, grains and lightly sweetened.  And they make them right here in Asheville, so I can get them at several local shops as well as direct from their stall at one of several tailgates.  Which is good, because I'm addicted!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 15

It all started with the tomatillos. I had a pound or so from Mudluscious Farms, and I was determined to find something other than (or at least in addition to) roasted salsa for their use. I perused a variety of recipes and came across one for tomatillo and lamb sausage hash. It was the most interesting and savory of the selection I found, even if it did sound more like a dish for later in the fall. And I did have some lamb sausage that I picked up from East Fork Farm at the market, but I had put it in the freezer for use when things cooled down a bit. So while some tomatillos were slated for roasting, I was still looking for that special something to do with the rest.

Divine intervention, in the form of a freezer that has decided it no longer wants to freeze. I came home to a nearly thawed pound of spicy lamb sausage, so some sort of hash was about to ensue. 

Tomatillo and Lamb Sausage Hash
Looking through the fridge and pantry and trying to recall what I could of the recipes I saw that would keep me on my Eat Local quest, I found I had one NC sweet potato, some onions, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, garlic, and banana peppers. And a summer squash. Oh, and the tomatillos! It would be just like me to make the entire recipe forgetting all about the original inspiration, but not this time!  A bit of a cool down in the weather further motivated my pre-fall inspired cooking.

I browned up some of the sausage in small balls, then browned and softened the onion, carrot, peppers, and garlic in that oil/fat. Then the phone rang, and at some point during the conversation, I added in the mushrooms, tomatillos and sweet potatoes. Tossed in a little salt. After what was probably just a few minutes, but long enough to shock me out of the conversation, I gave everything a stir and added back in the sausage balls and about half the pale ale I was drinking (it needed something, and it was handy). It simmered some more while I finished my call, then I added in the squash.  

Because of the phone call (which was delightful in catching up with a friend and preventing me from futzing too much over the pot), I forgot I had intended to put some brown rice on to serve under the hash and to use during the week. Since it already seemed fairly hearty, I knew it would be just fine without it, but I had a little piece of my baguette left, although it was pretty hard. No worries - I let it steam on top of the simmering hash, cut up the small end into chunks that I put in the bottom of my bowl as 'automatic sauce soppers' and spread some of the just-out-of-the-oven roasted garlic on the two slices I got out of the other end, along with a drizzle of the sauce out of the pan.

Yes, it's hearty. What I plated for the picture would serve two happily, with a LIGHT salad. It's got a nicely carmelized flavor from saute-ing the veggies in the sausage fat, the tomatillos sweetened up in cooking, and the beer added a very nice element. The hash will be great under a couple of over easy eggs tomorrow morning, and I'm sure I'll find other ways to use the rest of the leftovers. This is definitely something I'll play with more over the fall, but it's well suited for today's noticeably cooler weather too!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 14

Ah, Sunday!  I remember a time when I had a more conventional job, and Sunday had the potential to be the lazy morning of the week: big pot of coffee, Sunday NYTimes Crossword, CBS Sunday Morning on the tv,  and something more than the usual quick eggs/cereal/juice kind of breakfast with the dog waiting faithfully by to clean up any droppings or what's left on the plate.

So here we are today, no tv and no subscription to the NYT, although I do still get the puzzle from generous friends or careless diners (seriously, who keeps the financials and leaves the magazine?!).  I still get my fair share of coffee and even if I'm running out the door to work of some kind, it's still fun to put together a "Sunday" breakfast.  And there's still a dog waiting eagerly to do the floor/leftover duty.

I have this or some variation at times during the week, yet I still consider it a "Sunday" breakfast.  Today's includes a Home Free Bagel, goat cheese from Spinning Spider, tomato from a friend's garden, eggs from Mudluscious Gardens and basil from my own.  

"drop it, oh, please drop it!!"

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 13

It was a little foggy and cooler this morning - perfect weather to hit the market! I didn't have too many things on my list since I'd been to the co-op and markets earlier in the week, but you never really know what you need until you see what's coming out of the trucks, so I decided to plan my lunch by what I found among the stalls.

I picked up the elements for a nice 'market lunch' to take to work with me today:

My favorite baguette from Simple Bread makes a great sandwich with some Hickory Nut Gap Meats proscuitto and a lovely young goat cheese from Spinning Spider.  I was able to scrape the last, spicy bits of goodness from a jar of Lusty Monk mustard - packing this for later without taking a bite was not easy!  A couple of crunchy, garlicky dills from Cultured Foods are the perfect compliment.  Man, all the kids on the playground are gonna be lusting after my lunch!

I'm also packing a little of the slaw using earlier co-op & farm purchases -  savoy cabbage with carrots & apple in an aged balsamic vinaigrette.  

Is it lunchtime yet?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 12

Yet another day of furious running around before going to work, resulting in no time to cook up any of the lovely meals I dreamed up last night.  Luckily, I work next to Roux restaurant in Biltmore Park.  Chef Randy Dunn shops the same markets I do, and his dishes are inspired both by his grandmother's kitchen and what's in season.  Not only that, Roux recycles cooking oils into bio fuel, recycles all mixed use items (glass, plastic, paper, etc.), uses solar hot water and environmentally friendly chemicals for cleaning.  In addition to what Chef Randy finds at the markets, Roux has partnerships with many fine local vendors. 
The 30 Mile Burger from Roux 

So it's easy to eat local off this menu, but even better, one of the featured lunch items right now is the '30 Mile Burger'.  All ingredients are sourced within 30 miles or less from the restaurant, and it's really, really good too!

Tonight I start playing with some of the great veggies I picked up at the co-op, and tomorrow morning I'll make a quick trip to the Tailgate Market so I can pack my lunch and dinner for the rest of the weekend.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Eat Local Challenge, day 11

Today was filled with a lot of running around between appointments and time in studio, and I can barely remember what I ate during the day, but I did enjoy a wonderful dinner with friends at Nine Mile, a local restaurant that features Caribbean inspired cuisine and uses fresh, local, seasonal produce whenever possible. My entree, Marley's Magic, featured grilled Jerk Carolina trout and a delicious coconut ginger curry sauce. The food was excellent, and I know it was even better because of the company shared as we three friends hadn't been together for a meal in quite a while.  

Is it strange at all that the first thing that comes to mind when you want to reconnect with someone is to do so over a nice meal?  I don't think so.

As for the home front, I picked up a few things from the co-op and had my delivery from Mudluscious Gardens, so I'm well stocked and already mulling ideas for what I'll cook this weekend that will serve as my core for the coming week's menus.

Incredible eggs, savoy cabbage and tomatillos from Mudluscious, and taking part in my co-op's Eat Local Challenge today I picked up local apples, green beans, shiitake mushrooms and a watermelon.  I'm already thinking about a slaw with the cabbage and apples, a nice roasted salsa with the tomatillos, a nice stir-fry perhaps or when I get more tomatoes, a pasta sauce with the mushrooms.  This'll give me sweet dreams tonight!

Love Letter to a Summer Tomato

Reprinted with permission from Big Fat Art Cloth:

Oh big honkin' red juicy Kentucky tomato, how I love thee. Your shape and size are no matter.  I care only about your true color, what is inside.

I wait all year for you, shunning the pale pink comparisons.  I pick off the imitation tomato slices served to me the rest of the year - those posers - with stubborn, silent contempt.

My love for you is true.  Small town gossip and petty grandstanding over this melon or that eggplant will not distract me or tear us apart.

K. Crane
Part of love letter found on Ravenswood Ave. #3, Oct. 2006
Textile ink on cloth

No matter where I travel, I carry on my love for you.

K. Crane
Romas from the Brussels Market August 2005
Oil bar and wax on paper

This is our time.  These are the dog days of summer.  If these are my last, then let them be spent with you.

K. Crane
Venetian Night on Lake Michigan - Work In Progress
Custom screen print on hand-dyed cloth

I'm in love with your sweet juicy flesh and I don't care who knows it.

Summer 2008:  a bumper crop