This blog is a place to share my passion for cooking and inspire people to cook more from scratch. With six people in the family, cooking is something that is always on my mind. I want to share some of my favorite foods and recipes and share more about traditional diets (like the kind of food our great, great, great grandmothers would have made). Right now I am fascinated with fermented vegetables, coconuts, seafood with a cerviche twist and organ meats... although maybe not all in the same meal!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Farm to Table Lunch

The fields at Infinity Farm where I picked the veggies for lunch
Today had a big impact on me... I worked all day from 9 am until 6:30 pm as the caterer making and serving food at the Biodynamic Farming Conference in Cedar Grove, NC with featured speakers Walter and Susan Davis Moora.  But instead of feeling tired, I feel incredibly energized because I was doing something that I truly love.  I got to create a menu of wonderful food grown in a biodynamic farm and take this nourishing food and make an aromatic and gustatorily pleasing lunch for people who appreciated the meal.

The process of making this lunch started just about a week before when my daughter and I drove up to the farm to talk to my good friend Joy Kwapien and brainstorm about the menu.  We went out to the fields and looked at the food of the moment and came up with a menu for the weekend.  I had the job of creating the Saturday lunch.  We picked baby carrots and potatoes directly out of the ground and I also snagged some zucchini and onions that had just been picked as well.  

So I had a big box of vegetables on my dining room table this week and I worked each day on parts of the menu for this weekend.  I had to make chicken stock for the soup and I used the chicken meat for my curried chicken salad.  I had fermented some vegetables from the harvest about a month ago and let them make their debut this weekend so I could serve a fermented vegetable salad as well.  I grated zucchini for what seemed like days for use in the soup and muffins.  The potatoes and the carrots had to be carefully scrubbed. 

When you start from the field, you have lots of dirt that needs to be cleaned off.  This is something that is lost when you buy food from a grocery store... most people have forgotten that food grows in dirt and that dirt is well... dirty!  When we connect to the dirt it brings us back to the land and somehow this allows us to go deeper into our true selves.  As odd as this sounds, I thoroughly enjoyed washing the potatoes and the carrots.  Even my daughter was mesmerized with this as well.  I let my five year old daughter help me with the washing job and there was such joy in her face to get to work with a big pot of water and vegetables to clean.  I don't know why children love bowls of water but they really do! 

Here's the meal I served today at lunch with great joy:

Fermented Salad of spring vegetables
I took radishes, beets, red and green cabbage, carrots, kale, onions, juniper berries and perhaps a few other veggies that I am leaving out and chopped them very thinly.  I added celtic sea salt and caressed the vegetables until they released their juices and relented into submission.  I placed them carefully in a crock where they fermented for about a month until they were ready to be served today.

Cream of Vegetable Soup
I made Sally Fallon's Potage Bonne Femme or Cream of Vegetable Soup with the bonus of having all the vegetables come directly from Infinity Farm.  The recipe has:

2 medium onions chopped (I used spring onions)
2 carrots peeled and chopped
4 tbs butter
6 red potatoes
2 quarts chicken stock (homemade)
fresh thyme (I used dried oregano because I had that on hand)
4 zucchini trimmed and sliced
sea salt and pepper to taste
served with a dollop of creme' freche

You melt the butter in a pot and add onions and carrots.  Cover and cook until soft.  Add potatoes and stock and bring to rapid boil.  After skimming, reduce heat and add herbs.  Add zucchini and cook until tender.  Puree soup.  Serve with a dollop of creme freche.

Zucchini Muffins
This is a recipe I adapted from a Betty Crocker cookbook tweaking the recipe to make it healthier.  
3 cups shredded zucchini put in food processor
1 and 2/3 cup brown sugar (you could also use rapadura or coconut sugar)
2/3 coconut oil (Betty Crocker uses ve-ve-vegetable oil... I can hardly even say it.... I just don't use vegetable oil because they go rancid so quickly so use a real fat such as butter or coconut oil.  I have had great luck with baking with coconut oil)
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs (I used Infinity Farm's pastured eggs fresh from the farm... I even got to pick them out from under the chicken!)
3 cups all purpose unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup chopped nuts if desired
1/2 cup chocolate chips if desired
1/2 cup raisins if desired
After heating the oven to 350 degrees, mix the zucchini, sugar, coconut oil and eggs in food processor.  Then add the remaining ingredients and pour into muffin tins.  Bake for 30 minutes or until knife comes out clean.
Curried Chicken Salad
 This is a slight variation on Sara Foster's Curried Chicken Salad which includes:

Lots of shredded cooked chicken (I used the meat from two organic chickens after I had made stock for the vegetable soup).
1 red bell pepper cut up
1 green bell pepper cut up
2 diced granny smith apples
1 bunch of cut up red and green grapes halved
1 cup or so of raisins
a few cut up green spring onions
toasted coconut flakes
parsley cut up if you have it (I didn't have it today)
mix in curried dressing to taste along with salt and pepper

For the dressing:
1 cup or so of mayonnaise (I prefer homemade mayonnaise)
1/4 cup chopped parsley (I didn't have it today so I left it out)
1/4 cup honey
juice of one lemon
sea salt (about 1 tsp or so to taste)
black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and adjust as needed to taste.

Mixed Greens Salad
 This is actually part of the salad for dinner but I made a similar salad for lunch that had freshly picked arugula directly from the field, some cut up green peppers from neighboring Whitted Bowers Farm, some walnuts and tossed with a homemade lemon and olive oil dressing.

The energy from the meal was amazing.  As a group gathered to learn about biodynamic farming, they appreciated the efforts of the cook and it was an honor to cook for such an audience.

After lunch I sat in on a session led by Susan Davis Moora about finding our true destiny and becoming our best self.  The wisdom and energy from this session are still with me and I know that this positive feeling that I have from the day is a sure sign that cooking is one of the paths that I need to follow.  Thank you everyone there today for inspiring me and for all your positive energy and thoughts!  
Also posted at:  Real Food Wednesday

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