Friday, May 3, 2013

Sucesses and Failures in Local Cooking w Spring Ingredients

We subscribe to a "Cabin Fever" CSA share this year. It gives us a box of goodies from a cooperative of local growers from the beginning of April until the middle of June, which is about the time when our garden will be exploding. It isn't actually enough to keep us fed all week, so supplements from the freezer and our garden are working really well.

It was a slow spring here, so there are very few greens so far, and more value-added products like corn meal, honey, maple syrup, and cheese. This week we got ramps, which I'd never had before. They get a huge thumbs up - filling the taste space between spring onions and garlic. In Appalachia, there are ramp festivals every year heralding the Spring. Ramps used to be poor people food, but now they are trendy, so farmers get 17$ a pound now as opposed to the 2$ they'd get 10 years ago.

I took the local wheat flour we got in the CSA box last week, combined it with salt, yeast, local honey, and water to make the pizza dough, and topped it with some of the last of our homemade tomato paste, local goat gouda cheese, and the sauteed ramps. Was it the best thing I ever tasted? No. But it was pretty doggone yummy!

Sauteed the ramps and their green tops in a little butter.

The local gouda got a rough grate and went onto the pizza

As usual, I never remember to take pics until we've begun eating.

Then yesterday, I decided to use the recipe for a cheesy grit souffle that my CSA posted to their weekly blog. The recipe called for hominy grits, but the CSA suggested I use some of the local cornmeal instead. I added spinach instead of the suggested ramps (all gone), and it looked like a really lovely polenta.

Until I cooked it. I don't have a souffle dish, but the recipe said it needed to bake in the oven in a water bath. I put it in a springform pan, and put that in my largest frying pan filled with water, which then went into the oven. I knew immediately that I'd made a mistake. Some of the water seeped into the springform.

An hour later, I took the thing out and it looked pretty good. It had a nice crust on the top and seemed springy and eggy. The second I unsnapped the Springform though, it all oozed out the sides. Nothing else had become spongey or souffle-like but the top layer. Two hours down the drain.

We did eat it. It was polenta, basically, and a tasty polenta at that. It was also one of the more filling meals I'd ever had. Peasant food gets the job done.

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