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December 2008








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Western region bloggers

Leslie AllenLeslie Allen
Reno, Nevada

I was born in California, and have fond memories of homegrown tomatoes and freshly caught crawdads. My family moved a lot when I was growing up. I even lived on the East coast for a while. More about Leslie

Laura SolorioLaura Solorio
Salinas, California

I am third in a line of strong Yaqui women. My grandmother was from Baja California, from the town of Santa Rosalia. She came to the United States as a young woman, with her first child, escaping an abusive husband. More about Laura

Scott SwendsenScott Swendsen
Boise, Idaho

I am in my late 40's and single and a bit selfish. Having no children and no spouse has allowed me to pretty much explore life in a much different way than most families would. More about Scott

Paulette ThompsonPaulette Thompson
Seattle, Washington

I, P. Thompson, also known as Paulette, love food. It should not surprise you that I love to cook and eat good food. I also love talking about it, thinking about it, and reading about it. More about Paulette



< December 26, 2008 | Main | January 5, 2009 >

Snowed in

Posted at 11:18 AM on December 29, 2008 by Paulette Thompson (2 Comments)

I have enjoyed being away from the internet for nearly two weeks. We've had winter weather! Over the last two weeks we've had much more snow than normal for this part of the country. Three storms. Thursday, December 18th was the first time I have ever experienced thunder snow.
Yes, we even had a snowy week for Hanukkah along with a White Christmas. I did not lose power, but some people did. People were not prepared for the first storm so they headed to the store in time for the second one.

I love taking pictures of snow. It's a way of documenting the time. I wish I had some to show you all. Unfortunately I have been without a camera this year. I'll have to rely on others' photos.

If there ever was time for a comfort food, it has been these last couple two weeks. I had a great excuse to use the oven every night. The time was right.

What did I have in the house to prepare the day before the second storm hit? I had flat - leaf parsley, dried whole wheat pasta from last year, pumpkin seeds, delicata squash, kale, spinach, cheese, garlic, a little milk and a few other items. I knew that I had slightly less than a pint of cream I placed in the freezer right after Thanksgiving as the due date was Nov. 28. I put it out to thaw.
I decided that I would bake a creamed greens dish. Earlier this fall when I went over to Rik K. and Jill C.'s house, I tasted Jill C.'s divine creamed spinach. I knew this was the time to try to make it. I combined Laurie Colwin's creamed spinach with jalepenos recipe with another recipe I found and then came up with my own.
I cooked the greens with garlic, a little butter, and oil. I then added a little frozed cream. I put a layer of greens in a buttered baking dish. I grated a small amount of pecorino cheese (not local) and added it to the dish. I sprinked some red pepper flakes over it. I added a layer of chopped salami to the layer with grated cheese.
What else do I need to put on the last layer of greens? Breadcrumbs! Now I am not in the habit of using breadcrumbs often, but it seemed like a good idea. I toasted some bread and tried to grate it. I ended up tearing it into tiny pieces. I grated a small amount of white cheddar and mixed it in with the breadcrumbs. Then I put that on top with a little more butter and little hit of milk and baked the whole thing for 40 minutes. Whatever it was I made, it was good.
The squash I baked that night was good, but not that interesting. I baked it with balsamic vinegar, a little oil, a little fresh - squeezed orange juice and orange zest. It served its purpose as foil for the rich creamed greens.
The squash I made for Christmas dinner was better. I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

On Thursday, the day the second storm hit I considered making a pesto with the parsley and pumpkin seeds and creating some sort of baked pasta. I decided that to boil the four potatoes I had. Two were local Yukon golds and I don't remember what the other two were. What should I do with them? I do like basil pesto on potatoes. How about parley pesto instead? No, my mind went elsewhere. How about scalloped potatoes? Potato gratin? Yes! I decided to use the recipe for potato dauphinoise from Nigel Slater's book Appetite even though he doesn't boil his potatoes first.

I buttered the baking dish and then spread the bottom with garlic. I then placed a layer of sliced potatoes and then sprinkled that layer with salt and freshly ground pepper. I added a little butter. Then I put the final layer of potatoes on top and poured the cream and a little 1% milk over the dish. It smelled so good as it was baking. It went well with the baked creamed greens from the day before.

The leftovers were wonderful. I had enough for a few days. I enjoyed the snow even more because I knew I had something good to eat at home!

Locavore? Say yeah!

Posted at 12:20 PM on December 29, 2008 by Paulette Thompson

One of the things I learned this year is that squash keeps well on the counter or table. They go from being ornaments for a few months to ingredients for dinner or dessert. The heirloom variety squash from our area I prepared for Christmas dinner was very nice (Mom prepared the rest of the meal. I just showed up with the squash and the almond butter cookies i made on Christmas Eve).

Here's how it played. After I hacked up the squash, I put it in a mixture which contained a little bit of maple syrup, a little cumin, a little sesame oil, a little hot sauce, plus a little balsamic vinegar and then some oil. Salt and pepper. No, I don't know the precise ingredients!
I baked it for forty minutes. I put a little bit of butter on the pieces as well. It was a winner.

I've enjoyed connecting with our locavore posse across the land. I was reminded of a friend I had not thought of in years. When I was in college I met Margo Morgan, a woman in her seventies. She was an elegant academically educated woman, the wife of a professor. Her children were grown and her grandchildren were on the West Coast. She still made the majority of her food from scratch. She kept a garden and preferred to eat foods in season. She exchanged grease with a friend who made incredible soap.
I asked her why she did what she did. In my mind, if you were academically educated and financially well-off, you didn't "have" to live that way. For Ms. Morgan it was a way of life with meaning.
I have seen a lot of changes over the years. Some changes are good. I still find it odd that I can now buy the same produce in a conventional grocery store when I visit my mother's family in Alabama as here in Washington State. What happened to seeing more of the local produce? They're in exile.

I was re-reading an article in Gourmet (August 2006) about Bryan Terry and Anna Lappe. In that article they were asked about their grub parties concerning sustainability and why it was that they getting together to talk with the choir, the converted. I really liked what the two of them had to say about it. Even if you are talking with the converted, you still need information. People have to understand why it is that they do what they do. In this case why it is that they are trying to eat as locally as possible. It's not about "I eat local foods and try to support local farmers because the cool people do it."
This is about real life and mindful choices. Seasonal eating whenever possible is good because......You have to be able to articulate this.

This project has been wonderful in that I was not alone in attempting to live this year. I made a lot of mistakes. I have learned a lot. I plan on rereading the blog throughout the year. Will I buy a banana or papaya from time to time? Yes. I probably won't buy them every week. I know what the costs are. Will I buy citrus? Of course. When they are in season, they arrive at the right time. Hopefully we can get our Locavore wiki project rolling so that we can continue the conversation.

I'll be making granola and gingerbread to start off the New Year.