Sunday, September 28, 2008

Local Foods Potluck

Petols: Local Mattole Currency

Beets Extraordinaire: Beets with Lemon Zest, Peppermint, and Roasted Sunflower Seeds

Blueberry Puree with Filbert Milk

Native Grass Seed and Home Grown Corn Crackers with Dipping Sauces

Ahhh, just my kind of public event. Today was the Mattole Foods Potluck, a friendly competition to make the most complex and delicious dish of food possible with exclusively locally grown or gathered foods. Folks congregated at the Mattole Grange at noon, and paid their fee for voting rights in "Petols", our local currency created by resident Ken Y. (Petols are minted in silver, and therefore their value fluctuates depending on the current value of silver.)

I made a black bean stew for the potluck. Here is the list of ingredients:
Home grown:
Black beans, Amish paste tomatoes, mixed peppers, summer squash, sweet corn, home ground coriander (cilantro seeds), oregano, and basil.

Gathered: Local seaweed, collected at summer solstice low tide south of the Mattole River mouth.

Collected from other local sources:
Ground Beef from my neighbor Dick S.
2005 Pinot Gris from neighbor Bob B.
A white onion from the Little Dipper Farm (our CSA farm)
Apple Cider vinegar from neighbor Seth Z.

I thought it would be a rather impressive list of ingredients, and it truly is, considering how much stuff we normally buy at the store, but it turned out my chili was one of several bean soups. Local food advocates Merlin and Ken have been growing their own beans, and made black bean soup, white bean soup, spicy mixed bean soup, etc. So my dish wasn't so out of the ordinary. Not to mention that there were two other meat stews that were simply delicious, even more so than my own, oh well.

But the most delectable, difficult, and fascinating dish was made by Jen H., who concocted homemade crackers, made with ground native grass seeds and home grown grinding corn, and she also provided three delicious toppings to go with them. Wow. They were nutty and impressive. There was also an interesting invention involving "filbert milk" mixed with pureed blueberries, which won for best dessert. My friend Seth had created a brilliant sweetener by reducing home pressed apple juice into syrup, which I had the pleasure of trying before the event, and found it quite tasty. He used this to sweeten an apple tart, whose crust was made with homegrown and ground corn and home-rendered duck fat (Seth raises ducks). And alas, even my idea of growing wheat this fall is not so original, as one contestant used their own home grown wheat to make pasta noodles, and topped it with a very delicious mixture of summer vegetables.

What a fun experience, playing with what we have, and leaving out what we don't have. With the exception of the noodles, grains and dairy were conspicuously missing, and I think all of us, if my guts are any indication, are probably suffering from a stinky bed tonight after all the leguminous offerings. Definitely, we're gonna have to tackle the grain and dairy issue to be eating locally and nutritionally correct, while avoiding digestive disturbance.

I'll post some photos another day, when my camera is living inside the house again (I left it in the car!)

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