BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘local

Corn, Tomatoes and Melons from a Sacramento Valley Roadside Stand

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Ripe tomatoes for 49-cents a pound. Local, yes, but obviously not organic.

The tedious drive down I-5 from Corvallis to the Bay Area is not one we hope to make again anytime soon, at least not there and back as we did in one weekend. But we had a wedding in Napa, and since our budget and patience have been drained by summer travel, driving seemed preferable to flying.

There were bright spots along the way: a satisfying outdoor lunch at The Cottage in Cottage Grove, spectacular views of Mount Shasta and gourmet tacos and agua fresca in Ashland. But the most memorable stop? A nondescript roadside stand on Highway 20 near Sacramento, just before we exited for I-5 N to Redding, and finally, Oregon. We passed it by, but I made Dan turn back. Summer corn, which isn’t quite yet ripe in cooler Corvallis. Melons. Giant Beefsteak tomatoes. I didn’t care if they weren’t organic. At least they were local, grown (perhaps with copious amounts of synthetic fertilizer and fungicides) in the fields that backed up to the stand. In the hot California sun.

The Charter Family Fruit Stand, on Highway 20 and King Road, just before you exit for I-5 towards Redding.

It was Sunday afternoon and packed with customers. They husked ears of sweet corn, sitting in heaps on ice, five for $1. Green bell peppers were five for $1, too. Tomatoes were 49-cents (marked down from 65-cents) a pound. At the farmer’s market, I think I’ve paid up to $3.50 a pound for organic tomatoes. Here, generic orange-fleshed melons were 2 for $1, as were fragrant cantaloupes; large honeydews and mini watermelons were just $1 each. The produce was local, fresh and cheap, and people couldn’t get enough of it. We grew giddy ourselves, coming home with such bounty for less than $10. I’m still committed to organic agriculture, but I choose local over pesticide-free produce shipped in from China or Latin America. And this farm stand makes affordable, healthy produce available to the masses.

Sweet corn on ice. I'd never seen that before.

As we drove home, I planned to make gazpacho and Mexican-style roasted corn with these treasures. I remembered seeing this melon gazpacho recipe, but tonight, didn’t allow enough time to macerate the ingredients in lemon juice. Instead, I turned to Mark Bittman’s far simpler tomato-melon gazpacho. The quick sautee in olive oil really brought out of the flavor of the still unripe orange-fleshed (with a honeydew-like rind) melon we used. I also finally peeled and seeded tomatoes using the proper technique, though I’m still not sure it’s worth the time.

Unfortunately, the soup lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. Dan declared it heresy to make gazpacho without garlic, but wouldn’t that overpower the sweet, delicate melon flavor? Maybe it just needed salt. I added a splash of balsamic vinegar to brighten things up. The bright orange soup presented well, at least, garnished with a dollop of yogurt and basil leaves. Anyone have better melon gazpacho recipes to recommend instead?

The corn, which we oven-roasted in the husk, was delicious. I still prefer my corn roasted on a proper grill, but we’ve never been big grillers. I’m still dreaming of that magical Mexican corn recipe from last summer. But my mother thinks it’s a crime to slather fattening butter and sour cream onto sweet corn. When it’s really good, she prefers hers without condiments.

Oven-roasted corn and tomato-melon gazpacho.

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Written by baltimoregon

August 10, 2010 at 1:39 am

Chicken Bog with Risotto

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Just the kind of meal my boy likes: fall-off-the-bone meat and smokey sausage, stewed in a tomatoey, peppery, oniony broth and plated on top of creamy risotto. You too should make this down-home “Chicken Bog with Middlins Risotto.” Sure, this slow-roasted dish heats up the kitchen and its stick-to-your-ribs consistency feels more wintery. But if you make it with local ingredients, it will feel springy and seasonal. I used a small local chicken purchased from Julia’s My Pharm stand at the Corvallis Farmers Market. For the fresh tomatoes, I substituted ones recently canned in my master food preserver class. But I had no luck finding rice grits at my food co-op, so arborio, heaven forbid, had to do. This is a lazy Sunday, read a book while you stand and stir the pot kind of recipe. But the resulting smokey, tangy stew will enchant you. Here’s a video on how to cook the risotto for the recipe. And read the accompanying article about career changer farmers near Atlanta forging a path blazed by Virginia’s own Joel Salatin.

Canned tomatoes, salsas and jam (left to right) from food preservation class.

Canned tomatoes, salsas and jam (left to right) from food preservation class.

Written by baltimoregon

June 15, 2009 at 1:20 am

Third KBOO Radio Show: Local Foods Special

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FarmToTableCoverI’m just loving my adventures in Radio-land. I’m still in awe that such distinguished food folks have agreed to come on the show. Today I had the pleasure of interviewing Portland-based chef and food writer Ivy Manning, whose Farm to Table cookbook is one of my new favorites. Click here to listen to the archived show.

Our local foods special also featured an interview with the Portland Farmers Market director on expanding access through the new Sunday King neighborhood market. We also talked to local chain Burgerville about their campaign to highlight local (but not organic) foods on their menu. After the show, I got a chance to taste firsthand the Yakima, Wash.,-grown asparagus Burgerville is promoting this month. It was delicately fried, tempera-style, and served with a garlic mayonnaise dipping sauce. But the Burgerville promotion also includes an asparagus and tomato melt sandwich on the menu. Doesn’t that less than local tomato cancel the asparagus out? The Burgerville COO said their tomatoes are from California but could some be produced under sub-slavery conditions in Immokalee, Fla.? Could enough Burgerville customers say no to out-of-season tomatoes to make the company change their policies?

Burgerville Fried Asparagus/Flickr Creative Commons/By kthread

Burgerville Fried Asparagus/Flickr Creative Commons/By kthread

Written by baltimoregon

May 20, 2009 at 11:59 pm

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