I am, first of all, by no means, going to be making all of these desserts. Maybe not even any at all. I may relinquish my baking duties to Shane’s brother (the chef of the family) and my own father (the self proclaimed chef). But I thought I would throw some recipes at you that I commonly use at the bakery and fit into my locavore Thanksgiving:
Basic Pie Dough (makes 2 pie crusts. You will never make another pie dough again, this stuff is the easiest to work with ever and is near impossible to make it fall apart when putting it in the dish)
The most important part of making this pie dough is Keep Everything Cold. So what we do at the bakery is: put the flour and salt in a bowl and put in the fridge. Take butter and cut into small cubes, put back in the fridge. Measure out all other ingredients. Finally, mix flour, salt, and butter until crumbly, add egg yolks and oil, then add cold water. You may not need all the water, just pour enough in so that all ingredients stick together but the mixture is not sticky. Form into 2 balls and place in fridge until ready to use.
Sweet Potato Pie (makes 2 pies. Some of the seasonings are not local, but that is one luxury you should allow)
This is the most simple pie recipe ever! Preheat the oven to 350. Mash the potatoes or whip them in a mixer until no lumps. Add honey mix. Add eggs mix well. Then add all the other ingredients and poor into pie shells. I find this recipe takes about 45 minutes to an hour to bake, but check it around 30 to make sure your dough edges aren’t getting to dark.
Pumpkin Walnut Loaf (makes 2 9x5x3, this recipe is adapted from the Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Loaf in “Baked The New Frontier” by Lewis and Poliafito)
Preheat oven to 350. Butter and flour two baking pans. Whisk together all dry ingredients. Beat together all wet ingredients. Fold in dry ingredients, do not over mix. Fold in walnuts. Divide batter and gently knock down batter. Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes to an hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Preheat oven to 325. Combine first two ingredients and press into 9 inch spring form pan. Combine cream cheese, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract and beat until fluffy. Add eggs and beat. Stir in nuts. Pour filling over crust and bake for about 1 hours. Cool for about 4 hours before adding the whipped cream.
Here are just a few for your holiday enjoyment. Thanksgiving feast photos to come soon. Have a wonderful holiday everyone!
Yes, I admit it, I am “one of those.” One of those hosts who loves to cook, obsesses about making everyone happy, searches recipes for weeks, and hardly leaves the kitchen the entire day. This will be my third Thanksgiving I have cooked, and this year not only is it going to be the biggest (I might have anywhere from 7 to 11 people over!) but it will definitely be the most flavorful. Most other Thanksgivings my father typically wins a turkey or spends enough money at the grocery store to get the turkey for free. Not really the highest quality. This year I will be purchasing mine from the local butcher, Long’s Meat Market. But unfortunately, I believe my turkey will have traveled the farthest of all my food items. I was hopeful to have a local turkey, but there are no more available for butchering, and the already butchered local turkeys run around 100 dollars. I wish I could support my local farmers, but the turkey I am buying is free range, organic, and from Northern California, and is about 50 dollars.
Seeking recipes for side dishes that include seasonal ingredients was actually surprisingly difficult. Yes, there are many recipes for potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and squash, but how many people have had green bean casserole, cranberries, and corn (which may be somewhat seasonal, but not here). There were lots of great root vegetables, but I was trying to get a little more diversity in my menu…. So here is what I found! Hopefully you find them as tasty as I think it will be.
Southwestern Black Bean Dip
Homemade Cheese Wafers:
Popcorn! I found some great heirloom black kernel popcorn at the Fill Your Pantry event. I will probably have a bowl of this out with some herbs.
(Ok so I did not say these were going to be exactly “healthy,” I did notice a cheese trend above… I will have some crudites out too like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, hazelnuts, and walnuts)
Dinner Side Dishes
Cranberry Persimmon Sauce (I know I said cranberries aren’t local, but this will be my luxury item, and my family would be disappointed without it)
Sausage and Chantrelle Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes (I can’t get away without making these, thought I would spice them up a bit though..)
Sweet Potato Biscuits
Wild Rice Pilaf
Grilled Carrots in garlic and herbs (needed some simple things)
Baked Squash with honey and cinnamon left in skin.
Well, I feel stuffed just from writing this post. So I think I will stop here and there will be a Thanksgiving Crazy Part 2 coming soon with dessert ideas!
Recently, I was asked a very important question about beginning life as a locavore and being a more conscious eater…
What tools would you suggest are vital to this process? Christmas is coming and I want to ask for things that can help improve my life and the life/health of my family.
I thought it might be important to consolidate all the little blurbs I have given in my blogs into a nice Christmas shopping list and just personal locavore manual. So, in eating locally, I believe that there are three basic “components:” obtaining the food, eating the food, and preserving the food.
Tools for obtaining the food: Decide whether growing a garden or supporting local farmers (or a combination of both) is appropriate for your life. If you would like to grow a garden, check out local community garden plots (simply google-ing community gardens provides many resources), begin a compost bin or a worm bin (my next project), and look for local sources of fertilizer instead of synthetic (chicken manure, fish meal, etc.). If you would like to support your local farmer, find local CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture which can be cheaper and more diverse, there are also CSAs now for meat and grains not just produce), if you live in the Willamette Valley pick up a copy of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition pamphlet (this contains all the information you could ever want about local farms), go to your local farmers market and by mass quantities of what is in season (savor those flavors and preserve) and also check out U-Pick farms nearby which are often much more affordable. There are also more options for obtaining food like gleaning, which is contacting farmers and taking the left over produce after the harvest that they do not want (check out the Eugene facebook site), and foraging for things like mushrooms, blackberries, etc.
Tools for eating the food: This is a very diverse and varied part of the food cycle; vegetarian vs omnivore vs vegan, lactose intolerant, gluten intolerant. One very crucial tool, no matter your diet, is a slow cooker. The life of a locavore is slow and patient, even though life around you may be going at the fast pace technology age speed. Besides the normal pots, pans, and trays, I find it crucial to have a slow cooker/crock pot to start meals when you know you will not have time after school or work. On the same note, having a pressure cooker might entice you. Though I do not currently have one, I know you can make pulled pork in about an hour, while normally it would be a four or five hour slow cook. Another really great appliance to have is a juicer. It is nearly impossible to find local juice (Columbia Gorge juice is made in Washington, but do you think they grow the bananas and soy there?) and nothing is better with a cocktail than fresh squeezed blueberries, or better on a cold fall day than hot apple cider. Living without orange juice (if you are anywhere in the US besides Florida and California) will be much easier if you can experiment and have fresh local juice on hand. Other nice little gadgets: cherry pitters, nut crackers, loaf pans, and an immersion (wand) blender.
Tools for preserving the food:
Preserving food is an extremely critical part of being able to eat locally, unless you like potatoes and kale for every meal. So for this, there are a few tools I found to be extremely useful: a pressure canner, a giant stock pot (like 2 to 3 gallons), and a dehydrator. A pressure canner is useful for a person like me who has extremely limited freezer space but wants to keep vegetables around in the winter. And for things like jam and pickles all you need is a giant stock pot; this is also useful for sterlizing jars (especially if you do not have a dish washer like me). Another great option is dehydrating, which I find to be a much more appetizing and easy way to preserve fruit. The biggest expense I had this summer was jars (though I think I could have found them at a better price at a thrift store) and Pamona’s Pectin. Other optional things I found helpful were: old tights/nylons for storing onions outside, rubber tubs and saw dust for storing root vegetables, extra jars and containers for extra things like grain, flour, nuts, and dried produce.
Almost all of the items I mentioned I found at either at a thrift store or was passed down through my family. Remember eating locally is about community, friends, and family, as much as it is about economics and diet. So, get involved with those around you and combine tools and resources to help each other live happier healthier lives.
Today was another one of those days in the beautiful Willamette Valley that made me appreciate what this fertile earth has to give. This winter will be a little bit easier because of the “Fill Your Pantry” event put on by the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and hosted by Hummingbird Wholesale (two incredible businesses). Fill Your Pantry is an event that brings together local farmers (this year there were six-ish), mainly consisting of those involved in the Southern Willamette Bean and Grain Project and those with root cellar crops.
The Bean and Grain Project is a subgroup of the WFFC and focuses on bringing back staple foods to the Willamette Valley and trying to bring its residents’ diets closer to home. According to the Mud City Press blog, the Bean and Grain project is “a step by step strategy to rebuild the local food system by increasing the quantity and diversity of the food crops that are grown in the Willamette Valley. The Bean and Grain Project also seeks to evaluate deficiencies in the food system infrastructure, build buyer/seller relationships for locally grown food, and compile information on organic and sustainable agricultural practices specific to this region. As the name of the project implies, central to the task is stimulating the cultivation and local marketing of organically grown staple crops like beans and grains to provide a foundation for year-round food resources in the Willamette Valley.”
Fill Your Pantry supplied me with 10lbs of Flax seeds, 10lbs of Oat Groats, 10lbs Crimson Lentils from Camas Country Mill, 3lbs of heirloom beans, 1lb of heirloom black popcorn kernels, and 5lbs of Purple Viking Potatoes from Lonesome Whistle, also (very exciting) 3lbs of Red Sweet corn meal (that actually looks more purple/blue in the bag). This event went really well, was super easy and laid back, and was the perfect start to a long cold winter.
Speaking of Lonesome Whistle Farm… I am loving these people and this farm. The husband and wife duo have cultivated an organic farm of grains, beans, garlic, and potatoes, seemingly by themselves. They also have the bombest popcorn I have ever tried. But the coolest thing they have done is start an Heirloom Dry Bean and Grain CSA. This CSA consists of 4lbs of dried beans and 9lbs of grains a month for six months for $333. They are also willing to accept FoodStamps and payments. This is an amazing step in the right direction for the Willamette Valley folks.
I think I have completed my season of canning and finished my preservation list. Already I am seeing that there are areas I am lacking in. But, I still think with a little creativity I will make it through this season without having to supplement much from the grocery store.
Coming soon… my local thanksgiving day menu!
Oh how my heart aches these past few weeks and even more these past few hours. It has been a month since I have last posted, finding the time only by the default of the pain of another. My chest has grown more and more tight over the past few weeks. My only sanctuary being that of a warm cup of tea or my head resting on the warm chest of my love, only soon to be taken away by a slumber full of dreams of dreaded anticipations. Exams, readings, hectic schedules, work, all are greatly diminish ideas of hopes and dreams and a good nights rest. Then, my once-thought weekend of rest, began with my fathers agonized body coiled tightly against the bed, waiting for the pain to pass.
All of these things again remind me of the importance of relieving stress and educating one’s self of things worth being educated about. School could never do this for me, but seeing my father shake from the difficulty of passing a kidney stone, now that could do it. These past 48 hours have really reminded me of how sick our dependence on money is. I cannot sit around watching him in so much pain just because neither of us have insurance, or much money. Any amount of money to relieve his pain, I would pay.
I also am reminded that I need to take care of my own body in times like these, so that I may be strong for him and for myself. It is so crucial to be in control of the body, but even more importantly, the mind. I find myself eating well, proper amounts of fruits, vegetables, proteins, but still my body aches. I realize it is difficult to take deep breathes and then I go to yoga. Though I am not particularly found of the Kundalini style yoga, it truly forces me to focus on the mind and to relax the neurons. I need to reevaluate my life once again: find a way to get insurance, find a way to be more stress-free, find time to spend with loved ones, etc.
So, now comes that time of year again. Time to refocus, push through until I reach the holidays. Take walks, meditate, give love, receive love, make love, watch movies, laugh, put gardens to bed, and worries to bed. Writing this, I am already excited for future posts of new Thanksgiving dishes and Christmas treats. I will be back soon my friends with news of joy!