Eating Local

IMG_1877Sunday was our second Breakfast Club get together, and what a morning! It was warm, slightly breezy, bright and sunny. The “club” meeting was held at Sue & Ashley’s home. They have a stunning traditional home with a brick façade and two rocking chairs on a generous porch. Their kitchen is the size of a small home with a custom wood island imported from Denmark. They have at least 3 refrigerators in there, but I can’t find them because they’re hidden by the ample white cabinetry. Who knows how many ovens they have… it must be several… (#Jealous) On this day those ovens were busy making Julia Child’s clafoutis with ripe spring berries from Ashley’s well-loved book filled with all kinds of sticky notes and tabs.

As Ashley wrapped up her clafoutis, we took a tour of Sue’s generous garden, and enjoyed the sunny morning. Squash, parsnips, celery, herbs, cabbage, cauliflower, beans, peas, and so much more. My contributions included an egg soufflé with swiss chard and zucchini she had picked and brought to the garden exchange just last week, so it made sense to pay a visit to the source. My other contribution was also locally sourced. I was feeling adventurous, so I decided this would be the perfect time to test out a new recipe with the most unusual offering from last week’s garden exchange… grape leaves. Little did we know we had so many vineyards and vintners in this neighborhood.

How to be Neighborly: Eat locally.

What does one make with grape leaves? Dolmas. Dolmas. And more Dolmas. Seriously, Google it. That’s all there is. OK, there is a tart looking thing, but Dolmas are the most popular, so that’s what I went with. I had no idea how many steps were involved. That said, I found the simplest recipe I could, and went with it. They turned out great. Even better, all the ingredients were grown (except the rice) within one block of my house. Now, that’s eating local.

Neighborly Dolmas

  • 25 fresh grape leaves, stems removed
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 ½ c wild rice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 c chicken broth
  • 1/2 c minced fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh dill
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh oregano
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh chives

IMG_1870Put 2 tbsp oil in a pot with onions, garlic, salt and pepper and cook on medium-low heat until the onions are tender, but not brown. Add rice and cumin and cook for about 1 minute. Add 3 cups of broth, bring to a simmer then cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes until rice is cooked. Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and mix in mint, dill, oregano and chives.

To assemble the dolmas, begin by lining a large pan with about 3 grape leaves to prevent the dolmas from sticking. Next, roll the dolmas by laying the leaves vein side up, filling with 1 heaping tablespoon of rice, and rolling like a mini burrito, pulling the sides inward to keep the rice contained. Place in rows in the pan. To cook the dolmas, pour the remaining 1 cup broth over the dolmas along with 2 tablespoons oil, cover and cook on low heat for about 20 minutes until the broth is absorbed. Remove cover and let cool for about 1 hour.

Thanks to Toni for the grape leaves and Julie for the herbs!

Neighborly Garden Egg SouffléIMG_1874

This is a play on my Mom’s famous “Teacher Appreciation Eggs.” This is perfect for any brunch and serves TONS. I’ll give you the base, you add your favorite mix ins. This day, it was zucchini and chard from Sue’s gardens. Next time, it will be whatever is in season. Be creative. Stay fresh.

Soufflé Base

In a VERY LARGE bowl, combine:

  • 12 eggs, beaten
  • 1 quart cottage cheese
  • 1 lb shredded cheese (Monterrey jack or cheddar work well)
  • 4 oz can mild diced green chiles, drained
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 c milk
  • 1 c bisquick
  • 2-3 drops of tobacco

Mix Ins (take your pick, or mix & mingle)

  • 1 zucchini & 2 c chard, chopped
  • 1 c ham & 2 c mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 c cooked pork sausage
  • Choose your own adventure

Put the mixture in a greased 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. The top should be brown and crusty.

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5 thoughts on “Eating Local

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