I had the most amazing dinner on Monday night made all from fresh, local foods. Grass-fed sirloin steak, local morels, asparagus picked that morning, and a mixed greens salad with radish sprouts. Yummmm.
The sirloins came from Eagle Ridge Ranch, a local cattle ranch where I recently purchased a quarter share of grass-fed & finished, pasture-raised beef. This beef is as ethical and environmentally-conscious as it gets and I even met the rancher in person to make my purchase. My quarter share, which is filling my freezer to the brim, consists of a variety of different cuts, but mostly 1 lb packages of ground beef. I broiled the sirloins in the oven and they were amazing; they practically melted in my mouth.
The local morels I bought from the Co-Op, although I dream about gathering my own some day. I just need someone to share their secret picking spot with me! Mark sauteed them with garlic, onion, fresh herbs, and a little red wine. Oh. My. God. The morels were absolutely heavenly. Although all of the components of the dinner were amazing, the morels definitely stole the show. The complex earthy flavors lingered in my mouth and I enjoyed their meaty consistency. Just writing about the morels has me drooling.
The asparagus I picked Monday morning at the new CSA in town where I've been working in exchange for a share of vegetables. Picking fresh asparagus was a special experience- it was my first time. Not many people get to pick their own asparagus, let alone do they understand how it grows. Oh, the joy of fresh asparagus! The purplish-green stems emerging from the earth, reaching for the sky. I marinated the beauties in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and tamari, then broiled them until tender and sweet. Delightful!
The steak, asparagus, and morels were all abed a simple salad made from butter bibb lettuce and spinach from my garden, as well as swiss chard and mustard greens that I picked that morning from the farm. I also mixed in some homegrown radish sprouts for a bit of tang. I've been harvesting fresh greens from both my garden and the farm for a month now. After a long winter of eating flavorless, store-bought spinach and lettuce, it is a complete joy to be eating fresh, flavorful greens. I love the rich shades of green and the perky crispness. The greens from my Community Garden are from plants that survived the Winter after I planted them last Fall. The lettuce is now literally growing out of control. There is way more than I could ever eat, so I've been giving big bags of it away to friends and neighbors as well as bartering it for rhubarb and handmade pottery (topic of an upcoming blog post!).
I love Summer and Fall when the majority of the food I eat is local, organic, and super fresh. Beginning this time of year I remember how strikingly different real food is from the boring, bland, and rather unhealthy conventional food I buy from the supermarket during the winter. Fresh food is real food- it is an absolute joy to prepare and eat. In fact, Monday's dinner was the first meal in months that Mark and I prepared together. Preparing fresh foods usually brings us together in the kitchen. We are more creative with the recipes and we are more loving with our preparation methods. Rather than a being a nightly chore, preparing dinner from fresh foods becomes a fun experience to share with one another. The best, most enjoyable meals I've ever prepared and eaten have been made from fresh ingredients.
Other fresh foods have been finding their ways into our kitchen. Kale from my garden also survived the brutal Montana Winter and is now growing in leaps and bounds. I've been sneaking it into our fruit smoothies, which arises the question: "What are these green specs, Emily?" "Oh, those are just health specs, Mark." (Shh, its a secret). Our neighbor across the alley has most graciously been giving us fresh duck eggs. From my back window, I can watch the ducks waddling through the neighbor's yard and I sometimes hear them quacking. These duck eggs are beautiful and delicious. The yolk is a deep golden-yellow and the consistency is dense and meaty, plus they don't flow apart at all after I break them. What a treat!
What about you? Does fresh, local food bring you joy, too? Do you get giddy picking and eating fresh veggies? What fresh foods are you beginning to eat in your area?