Monday, December 05, 2011

dark days of winter - meal 1: sunday brunch

this is the first official week of the dark days of winter local cooking challenge, so i decided to start with the first real meal of the week: sunday brunch.

dark days meal #1: on the plate

on the menu

  • blueberry buckwheat pancakes
  • spinach and cheese frittata
  • sausage patties

dark days meal #1: ingredients

local ingredients
* purchased at western wake farmers market

non-local ingredients
  • salt
  • pepper
  • baking powder
easy: meat, eggs, and produce are no problem for me to get, given the awesome nature of my farmers market. in addition, the market vets its vendors carefully, and while not every farm and food producer there is certified organic, all of them are local to us and follow extremely ethical farming practices, often going beyond the requirements of organic certification. the animals are all free range, and none are given any unnecessary antibiotics or growth hormones. most of the farms are very small operations and family farms, and we have gotten to know these vendors over the past couple of years. we are extremely fortunate to have this place, which is open all year, available to us.

challenging: what do you do about things like salt, baking powder/soda, vanilla, and other pantry-type things you use in your cooking without thinking about it? i am trying hard to keep these things to a minimum, but i admit, i forgot all about baking powder when i was thinking about making pancakes. i guess i am trying to look at this from the point of view of a pioneer person--in days of old, you would have traded for these items, right? this is stuff that has almost never been available locally, anywhere. some small carbon footprint is, i suppose, not avoidable in everyday cooking.


blueberry buckwheat pancakes (adapted from here):
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature
5-6 teaspoons of honey
2.5 tablespoons of butter, melted and cooled
1 cup blueberries, fresh, or thawed from frozen

in a small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, and salt. set aside. in a larger bowl, beat the two eggs until frothy, about 2 minutes. add honey, butter, and then buttermilk, mixing well after each addition. gradually stir in flour mixture until smooth. gently stir in blueberries. note: batter will be very thick. let sit for a few minutes. cook on a lightly buttered griddle or in a flat pan over medium-high heat, about 1/3 cup of batter at a time. after 2-4 minutes, when edges are set and blueberries are starting to crack, flip over and cook on other side, about 2-3 more minutes. makes 10-12 pancakes. serve with honey.

spinach and cheese frittata (made up on the fly)
1 1/2 tablespoon butter
2 cups spinach, cleaned, de-stemmed, and roughly chopped (packed tight!)
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 fresh ancho chile pepper, chopped fine
2/3 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
10 eggs
1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste

directions: preheat oven to 375 degrees (F). grease a 9x9-in pan with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. melt the other tablespoon in a skillet. saute the spinach just until wilted. immediately remove from heat and allow to cool. in pan, layer herbs, chopped peppers, and cheese. evenly distribute cooled spinach over this. in a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and milk until very well mixed. i usually add salt and pepper in this step. pour egg mixture over the other ingredients. taking care to distribute evenly. bake for about 25 - 30 minutes until the center is set. let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

sausage patties
no real recipe here. i bought a pound of local sausage, made it into small patties, and fried it up in a pan over medium heat until it was well browned and delicious!

dark days meal #1: ready to go

family ruling
absolutely delicious--i would make every bit of this again, and eat it happily. children and man agree.

further thoughts
i am very grateful that we thought to buy a lot of extra local blueberries this summer and freeze them. our children eat them straight out of the freezer, but they are also mightily awesome to have around for this sort of application and for the random pie craving. if you decide to do this, don't wash them--just throw them straight into freezer bags. wash them when you are ready to use. also, if you use them for pancakes, make sure you thaw them completely first. if you don't you will have nasty, gooey globs of uncooked pancake batter surrounding every blueberry--GROSS!

there's been a lot of discussion in the group about local flours on the east coast and how difficult they are to obtain. i've been discussing this a lot with local millers and bakers to see where people source their wheat. most people are sourcing from the midwest, which is no real surprise. however, i was delighted that sharon funderburke from singing turtle farm in dunn, nc is growing her own wheat. she's growing both hard and soft red winter wheat, and she has just in the last month started grinding her own flour. she sells wheat berries for both varieties as well as bread flour and pastry flour. she also sells chicken feed made from the wheat and from her oats, as well as a small amount of baked goods. her crops are 100% organic, and her practices are beyond sustainable. she is a second of third generation farmer, looking for ways to improve her family's farm. she's been a joy to learn/buy from the past couple of seasons.

first meal of this challenge went well, i think. i'm pretty proud of the fact that everything is local but the stuff i really can't get locally, plus i am happy that it was all delightful--i didn't feel like i was cutting corners anywhere. in fact, the local butter especially felt like an indulgence--talk about GOOD! now onto thinking about my next meal...


Makanani said...

I love this! So glad that you moved forward with after I finked out :)

Anonymous said...

What a HUGE local Sunday Brunch. Thanks for sharing all the links to your local sources. Sincerely, Emily

Jes said...

What a beautiful Sunday brunch! I can source some buckwheat up here, but your wheat source might be the closest to SW VA, and it's not all that close. Grains, for me, will be a non-SOLE ingredient. Can't wait to see what else you cook up for the challenge!