Showing posts with label eat local. Show all posts
Showing posts with label eat local. Show all posts

19 September 2012

Stuffing Big Red

This pepper was nearly the size of a football.

For an entire weekend, this red pepper of rather behemoth proportions lurked in my crisper.

In deference to my Wisconsin education, I dubbed him Big Red, even though his origins are just over the Michigan border, about 25 miles from Wisconsin in the gardens of Immerfrost Farm.

Big and proud, I figured he was a Badger at heart: Like me, born and raised in Michigan but residing in Wisconsin.

Big Red demanded the royal treatment. I thought I should stuff him with something very exotic. I toyed with a lot of ideas.

But since it is still Clean Out the Fridge Month, I wanted to use food I had on hand. Here's what I ended up with:

Vegetable Stuffed "Big Red" Pepper with Cheddar Cheese and Walnuts
  • 1 very large red pepper (or three medium peppers)
  • dash sea salt
  • 2 cups wild-and-brown rice blend, cooked and seasoned
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced and chopped
  • 2/3 cup green beans, sliced
  • 1/3 cup peas, cooked
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
Cut the pepper in half, remove seeds, and season the interior with sea salt. If it is a normal-sized pepper, just clean it out, discarding seeds. Arrange in a shallow, greased baking dish.

Sauté the onion and green pepper in olive oil until lightly browned. Place the rice mix in a bowl, and add the onion and pepper. Next, blanch the carrot and green beans. Plunge into cold water before chopping; add this to the rice and vegetable mix, along with the peas. Add the walnuts for crunch, and about a 1/2 cup of cheese.

Stuff this mixture into the peppers. You will have about a third of the mix left over for another use, such as a side dish.

Bake in a preheated, 400-degree oven for about 40 minutes. Top with remaining half of grated cheese. That's all - really simple.

The pepper was sweet, tender and true - that is, it tasted like a fresh pepper.  Never mind that it was larger than a small squash. The walnuts add crunch, while the cheese adds tang.

Most of the ingredients were local, in fact, most came from Immerfrost Farm. The cheddar cheese was from a Wisconsin source, Laack Brothers. Only the rice, olive oil, peas, sea salt and walnuts were purchased at the super market.

Go Bucky!

14 September 2012

Frugal French Friday: Tomato-Onion Tart with Gruyere Cheese

Tomatoes from the super market are a poor substitute for tomatoes from the farm market. But I have some and I must use them up. This post, from 2012 has inspired me: 

Today's recipe for Onion-Tomato Tarte with Gruyere was easy to make after work, taking only about 40 minutes prep time and about an hour in the oven; mine took only 45 minutes.

The tomatoes came from a variety of local sources, including my own back yard, and the onions were from Immerfrost Farm. The herbs came from my own garden. The cheese was in my cheese compartment and was part of my ongoing Clean Out the Fridge Month effort.

I cheated and used store-bought puff pastry.

I used two types of tomatoes, one large robust-looking burgundy heirloom tomato, and about a dozen cherry tomatoes. I used plain black olives, leftovers from another meal. I also tossed in about two tablespoons of chopped thyme, and added a dash of herbes de Provence before popping it in the oven.

To keep the bottom crust from getting soggy, I let the tomato slices dry for about 30 minutes on paper towels before using layering them in the tart.

The tart was delicious: Juicy and tangy with a slight herb-y undertaste, and not soggy when reheated. I paired it with a green salad and whatever leftover I had on hand, including my Sautéed Turkish Orange Eggplant.

Cost: This meal was pricier than most of my frugal efforts. The total came to about $15, but the recipe gave me five generous servings for a cost of $3 each.

Wine Pairing: A Sauvingon Blanc is recommended; I think I'd go with a simple white table wine. These wines may get a bad rap from wine snobs, but they are often very versatile.

30 July 2012

Why I am Still Enthusiastic About Blogging, BlogHer and So Much More

I've always been rather coy about my location and my identity. But after six years of blogging and after a gradual loosening of my self-imposed identity rules, I am ready to break free and participate more fully in the world of blogging. (I'm even hanging out at BlogHer again and entering a competition for a conference swag bag, which you can do right here.)

My name is Mary Johns, but nieces and nephews have always called me Mimi. I guess it's easier for a two-year old to say. Since my mother once suggested this would be a better nickname for me than the one given to me by my father, which was BooBoo, I've always felt an affinity for the name. We have a thing for double syllable nicknames in my family: BooBoo/Mimi, Bobo, Gigi, and PeeWee are my siblings.

All my life I've worked in publications and public relations, taught journalism and wrote for a newspaper (where I did a weekly food column for about three years). About five years ago I took a job leading a non-profit organizations, and in two months I will be happily retired. Rewired, I'm calling it, as I have lots of personal and community projects on my docket, including working with one of our local farm markers markets and helping preserve an historical building. I may even get paid for doing some writing again.

I'm coming out of the kitchen, so to speak, because earlier this summer, I created two new blogs that I hope will enable me to continue to promote my community, which is located about 50 miles north of Green Bay, Wis., (and we all know what Green Bay is famous for, don't we?) on the Wisconsin-Michigan border, and its food sources.

Our two-city, two-state community is in transition. We suffered greatly in late 2008 and early 2009: Unemployment was as high as 13-14 percent on either side of the state line. But thanks in part to expansion at the local shipyard and at other local industries, our economy is holding its own and has begun a slow and steady upward trajectory. We have many newcomers and much potential for many more newcomers. That's why I want to promote my community online.

In recent years, I've looked at my two home towns through new eyes. We are located on the bay of Green Bay, as well as the Menominee River. We have instant access to water, parks, waterfalls, legendary fishing and sailing. Yet we have remained authentic. There's not a lot of terribly cutesy for pretentious stuff here. But we are pretty cool sometimes.

I've seen an increase in young entrepreneurs who operate restaurants, a winery, photography studios, shops and service businesses. On any given summer night, you'll find a free concert, skateboarders, kayakers, sailboaters, bicyclists and others out and about, enjoying our location and the sense of community that I think has increased in recent years.

Frankly, it's easy to promote this community. Please take some time to read more about it on Marinette Menominee Daily Photo and Marinette Menominee Eat Local. The first blog is intended to give outsiders a taste of life here while the second is aims to build awareness for local farm markets and farm stands. Both are works in progress.

Currently, I am taking photos with a Nikon Cool Pix S4, which has traveled in my purse for more than six years now. Once I've got more time on my hands, I'll experiment with our Canon Digital Rebel, which should improve the quality of my photos. My husband, himself a former photographer and filmmaker, is retiring too, and I'll get him to make a photographer out of me yet!

12 March 2012

Weighing In, Paring Down

The kerfuffle over the Grand Forks, N.D., reporter who reviewed Olive Garden and then went viral got me thinking that it's been a while since I posted something here.

It reminded me of the time I held Biscuit Mix Baking Day after a snarky locovore made a snide comment about Rachael Ray using Bisquick. A whole lot of bloggers jumped on the bandwagon and we had a lot of fun with it. The recipes they contributed were great. I should point out that this experiment is marking an anniversary of sorts: It was five years ago this week.

Since that time, I have only used Bisquick or its clones once or twice, not because I've suddenly become a food snob, but because a whole lot of carbs have a way of wreaking havoc with my stomach (same with no-carb diets - obviously my digestive system likes balance as much as I do). I look and feel better when I limit carbs.

But I won't hesitate to use it if a recipe I want to try calls for it. Tonight, assembling some book bags to give to the Newspaper in Education book sale here, I (sadly) got rid of a few of those slender cookbooks you find at grocery store checkouts. These were recipes for muffins and items made with Bisquick. It's bittersweet, but I'm getting older and can't eat the way I could 25 years ago.

I've become a bit of a locovore myself in the past five years, joining CSA two years in a row and most summers, not missing a whole lot of farm markets. But I'll never be a snob, and I'll probably to continue to explore some new packaged food in stores. I'm addicted to certain things, like flavored cream cheeses and honey-dijon almonds and some of the interesting things they've been doing to Triscuits (a use for wheat I seem to tolerate well).

Time and space are at a premium these days. So I'm downsizing, looking for changes to make that take the stress from my life.

I've culled other cookbooks from my collection, jettisoning those that are too fancy-schmany or two focused on carbs or sugar. It's a good feeling, paring down. It's going to be an on-going chore for me over the next 2-3 years.

The photo above is from my local farm market CSA box. It's fun not knowing what your box will hold.

A little bit like taking a step towards a new life. You aren't sure what your future will hold.

Stay tuned.