Saturday, October 21, 2006

Eating Within 100 Miles

I'm making a couple of dishes for the Harvest Dinner going on in my town today. This is the all day event I mentioned last week or so. I decided to change my menu from butternut squash gratin to pumpkin custard.

Pumpkin custard, instead of pumpkin pie, because we don't grow grains here for the making of flour which would have made the crust. Of course there is no cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or ginger in my custard either, because we don't grow those things in N. CA. I thought long and hard about spices, wondering what, if anything I could use. We have great abundance of savory herbs, but no sweet spices. Except one: Coriander. Coriander, the seeds that were my early summer cilantro. So I ground up 1tsp very fine in my herb grinder and added it to the custard. I also topped it with some of the blackberry syrup I made about a month ago.

Winter squash is a powerhouse of Vitamin A. Here is a nutritional chart from the The World's Healthiest Foods site.

The other thing I realized is that it would be very, very challenging to be a vegan if all your food came from within 100 miles: No beans, no nut butters, very little fat and the only source I can even think of besides walnuts for vegan fat is olive oil which is a baby industry here. It was very odd to make the custard, as I don't usually cook with whole eggs, whole milk, butter and honey. I'm an egg whites, soy milk, Earth Balance and agave grrl. I'm not vegan but I like eating and cooking with soy substitutes, as I pretty much don't eat dairy products.

The recipe:
I wedged up, deseeded and depulped a sugar baby pumpkin from my garden that was just slightly smaller than a kid's soccer ball. I boiled it until it was very tender, removed the wedges from the water, let them cool, then peeled them, put it all in the food processor and zipped it up until it was very smooth. I got 5 cups of pumpkin.
To the 5 cups of pumpkin, I added 7 local large eggs that were well beaten, 1 qt of local milk, a whole pound jar of local honey and the 1 tsp of finely ground coriander.
This was poured into a buttered 9"x13" baking dish and convection baked for just under an hour in a 350 degree oven. After the custard was completely cooled, I drizzled home made blackberry syrup over the top.
In the name of using all the pureed pumpkin, I had extra custard, so I threw together a crust, added cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg to the remaining custard and baked a small pie as well. This was just for us. I had a slice when it was still hot out of the oven. It was delicious. Making pumpkin pie with a fresh pumpkin instead of canned holds no comparison. Canned is easy and adequate, but now that it is pumpkin season in many parts of the country, I highly recommend buying a couple, preparing them as illustrated above and using the pureed fresh pumkin instead of canned for the things you might use the canned for like pie, soup, curry, etc.

So some illumination came in the doing of this task. I've downloaded a NI label I made from the Nutrition Data site. So as you can see, baking local was both nutritious as well as cholosterol and sugar heavy. But this is a dessert to be indulged in, to celebrate the incredible bounty of my area. So for this one time, I'm not going to worry about calories and Weight Watcher points!

Now I'm off to make the corn, zucchini, tomato pie. I was given a cup of local whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup of local olive oil for this dish. Both flour and oil were horrendously expensive which illustrates the dearth of availability of these products locally.

I will be back, probably tomorrow with pictures and my story of the whole experience.


Blogger Beo said...

Looks delicious!

7:34 AM  
Blogger Mia said...

Yes, it sounds heavenly! Let us know how the festival is!

8:04 AM  

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