Week four of the One Local Summer Challenge and somehow I'm still coming up with new meals. I'm so not normally this adventurous in the kitchen, but my stomach is happy. And if my stomach is happy, I'm happy.
Breakfast: Inspired by last week's pancakes with local whole wheat flour, I made another attempt at local flour pancakes. This week it was rice flour. Yeah. Rice flour. Let me just say that although I was curious, my expectations were pretty low. But there was a recipe right there on the back of the flour bag, and I love pancakes, so why not? Here goes...
Rice Flour Pancakes:
Of course I made a double batch of pancakes so I could freeze plenty of extras. And as for the official taste test? It turns out rice flour pancakes are really good! It has a nice flavor all on their own, but totally rock with a little of my grandma's homemade dewberry jam warmed up and poured on top. What a nice surprise! I'll definitely be making more of these! I enjoyed this week's flapjacks with a side of local blueberries and homemade yogurt, made from local raw milk. What a feast!
Lunch: As for the lunch meal, I still had a few jars of my all-local homemade soup from last week, but never fear, I got a little creative at lunch too. On my all OLS days, I've been missing the homemade rolls and jam that I normally enjoy at lunch, but the white flour I use isn't local. So I've been on the lookout for an all-local menu option to accompany my nice big bowl of soup. So this week, with my veggie-and-polish-sausage-totally-awesome soup, I had polenta.
Polenta? I was totally asking myself the same thing when I saw the link on-line. I had been looking for possible recipes for my local cornmeal, and polenta came up in the results. What in the world is polenta? I mean, I've heard of it, but I've never eaten it. I don't think I've ever seen it. So, thanks to Wikipedia, I now know that it's a European style porridge (similar to grits - eew!). It was once the food of peasants, but has recently made an appearance in upscale restaurants as high class food. No wonder I've never seen or tasted it. I'm more of a deli kind of girl. Even when I was in Italy (where it's considered a staple food), I never had polenta. I was too busy eating paninis and pizza (ok, I'm also more of a cheap kind of girl, but we won't talk about that).
So long story short, I decided to give it a go. Basically it's cornmeal, water, and salt. Uh huh. How tasty can cornmeal and water be? You boil the cornmeal in water on the stove for 20-30 minutes. It gets so thick that your arm starts threatening to detach from your body - this is how you know it's done. Personally, I liked it best when it was fresh off the stove, but if you don't serve it right away, you can pour it into a mold (I used a 9 x 13 cake pan) and allow it to cool for 15 minutes. After it's cool, you can slice it into squares and serve with tomato sauce, cheese, salsa, whatever sounds good. I was a little concerned (ok, I was pretty freaked out) when I found out polenta is a sibling of grits, but this stuff is pretty good!
All I did was toss it in the frying pan with a little oil to warm it up, while my soup was heating in the microwave, and lunch was ready. Buono appetito!
Dinner - Are you ready? Cause it gets better - stuffed tomatoes! I sauteed chopped onion, mushroom, green pepper, zucchini, and parsley in just a little olive oil, then mixed in some local white rice and gouda cheese. Off came the tops of the tomatoes, which were then cored, and in went all the cheesy-ricey-veggie goodness. I baked them in the toaster oven at 350 for 30 minutes and added a little extra cheese on top for the last ten minutes of baking. Do I really need to explain how good these were? Each bite completely fell apart in my mouth. It was so fabulously moist and all the flavors blended beautifully. This has to be the best baked stuffed tomatoes I've ever had. Excuse me while I...Mmmm. Just give me a minute...
Looking back over the day - So, when it was all said and done, the only things that were not locally sourced were salt, baking powder, vanilla, oil, and the sugar and pectin in the dewberry jam. The grocery supplied the Texas grown blueberries and mushrooms (both are grown within 100 miles). Everything else came from local suppliers like the local farmers market, Sand Creek Farm and Dairy, DiIoroio Farm and Market, or my dad's farm (dewberries). Bring on week #5. I have ideas up my sleeve yet!