This month’s cooking class focused on why we should all try to eat locally grown foods whenever possible – for reasons that I will elaborate on shortly. Preparing for the class began when our farmer friend Jonathan, arrived at Wendy’s house with boxes of fresh vegetables that he picked earlier that morning. His backseat was full of bright and beautiful vegetable varieties that I had never seen before! Eggplants that were long and skinny with thorns (I pricked myself several times that day) and peppers that came in all shapes, sizes and colors, including purple! It was really amazing!
On the menu: local Sunburst trout, southern style okra and tomatoes, baked eggplant parmesan and to top it off – a vegan blueberry cobbler. Yum yum!
Local Sunburst Trout
1 – 1 1/2 lbs Trout fillets
salt and pepper, to taste
Rinse trout and pat dry. Place in single layer on lightly greased baking sheet. Salt and pepper, to taste. Bake for 15 minutes at 400°F.
Southern Style Okra and Tomatoes
3 tablespoon butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
4 cups diced tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 cup water
1 tablespoon chicken base
4 cups sliced fresh or frozen okra
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, green pepper and garlic. Saute until the vegetables are soft and the onions are translucent. Add seasoned salt, garlic powder, tomatoes, water, chicken base and okra. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
1 med. eggplant
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. flavored bread crumbs
Dried Italian Seasoning
Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Black Pepper, to taste
Pare and cut eggplant into 1/4 inch slices crosswise. Pat eggplant with paper towels to reduce wetness. Place in single layer on lightly greased baking sheet. Drizzle slices with olive oil. Then top with dried italian seasoning, bread crumbs, and Parmesan cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes until tender.
Vegan Blueberry Cobbler
10-inch deep dish pie plate, greased
1/2 cup Earth Balance, melted
5 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup soymilk, or other non-dairy milk
Ground cinnamon, optional
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). In a medium bowl, toss the berries with 1/4 cup of sugar.In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and remaining sugar. Add the milk and melted butter, whisking to combine. Scrape the batter into prepared baking dish. Place berries on top (don’t stir, as the batter will rise to the top as it bakes). If desired, sprinkle top of cobbler lightly with ground cinnamon. Bake cobbler in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top of crust is golden brown and firm to the touch. Let cobbler cool on a rack before serving.
So why should we eat locally grown foods? What difference does it really make? The short answer – it makes a HUGE difference! From the way the food tastes to the carbon footprints we leave behind , eating locally grown foods is a small thing we can do to better ourselves and the environment. Think about it – wouldn’t a fruit or vegetables taste better if it was picked when it was ripe instead of ripening in a truck?
For more information about eating local check out my August newsletter.