30-Day Eat Local Challenge: June 21

Mushroom Soup
Big plans for Team Local!


A few minutes ago, at dinner, I was struck by the odd revelation that the healthiest base diet would be one with the least amount of “Nutritional Facts.” That is to say, I was scrutinizing our dinner this way and that, trying to figure out if I’m getting my daily required vitamins and minerals before supplemental assistance. Sad part is, they don’t put nutrition facts on things like, mushrooms, so it’s really hard to say—and I’m no nutritionist.

This isn’t a huge worry so much as it’s a mild curiosity. That said, I do feel like America’s eating habits are, by and large, horrible. Yes, that’s making a sweeping generalization, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that for every 10 people who shove fast food down their gullets on the regular, there’s at least one suburbanite who buys all superfood smoothies who’ll be just as shocked to find out they have digestive/health problems later in life.

I’m not saying we all need to get degrees in nutrition—but we do need to learn a little bit more about what our bodies need.

Part of the problem, I think, is that we just have way too much food available all at once.

It’s a bit overwhelming when the majority of the US can eat food that’s in between seasons from halfway across the globe whenever they want with just a (relatively) short drive. In most, if not all major cities, we have foods from several ethnicities at our beck and call, before we even consider the grocery stores stocked with every major staple produce year-round. So when we distill all of these health articles printed out on every social media platform from dawn to dusk, I know I personally at least think, “Man, how the hell am I ever going to eat that much?”

But anyways—let’s talk food.

Dinner tonight was a cream with mushroom soup, as I planned on doing last night, as well as orange-glazed carrots and local salad with an orange-cream dressing.

In case you haven’t figured it out, we found local oranges over at the farmer’s market we visited yesterday. It took a double, even a triple-check to make sure they were local, but we confirmed with the farm that, yes, they were theirs, and they were easily within our 200 mile radius.

The cream with mushroom soup was based on this recipe. It was easy enough, given my work with roux and Béchamel sauce as of late—basically you thin it out a little more and, poof, you have cream soup base. The idea came about when we saw that Hollygrove had Oyster and Chanterelle mushrooms. However, I would not recommend using anything more expensive than shitake in this kind of a soup. The oyster and chanterelle played second fiddle, and this dish absolutely does not do those mushrooms justice, given how hard they are to find, and how expensive they are once if do find them. Fortunately, we picked up plenty of the mushrooms, so we’ll figure out something else to do to hopefully let them shine a little more over the coming days.

Other than that, the only other modifications I made were that we didn’t have chicken stock, or even veggie stock—our stock bag just filled up, so we’ll be making stock tonight and tomorrow. So I cut the amount of water in half, roughly, and used warm milk for the rest and the cream, hoping the mushrooms would fill the broth with flavor. I don’t know how it’ll change things to use a stock, but hey, it can’t hurt.

The carrots were skinned and boiled, then basically boiled again in orange juice and cane sugar until the “sauce” reduced, and they were served as such. It was…kind of a pathetic attempt at a side dish, because the carrots we get this time of year are really small.

The salad was local lettuce and creole tomatoes acquired from the same farm as the oranges (it starts with a B, and I can’t remember it off the top of my head). As for the dressing, we’ve been talking about trying to use the pecan oil in a dressing for weeks now, and the grapefruit juice just didn’t seem like the acid we really wanted. So I mixed some equal parts with orange juice and a pinch or few of salt, but that didn’t really do much for me. But, I remembered we had this yogurt cheese from Country Girls Creamery, which really seems just like…yogurt. But anyways, so I stirred in some of that liberally, probably getting to about equal parts, and I threw in maybe a tablespoon of cane sugar and some more salt. After beating the snot out of it, it still wouldn’t bind (it won’t, without an emulsifying agent), but it stayed together long enough to serve as a really watery dressing. And it wasn’t half bad, honestly—sweet and citrusy, with just enough cream from the cheese. It’ll separate by the morning, because duh, but we can always shake it up again.

We’ve got big plans for the future!

The veggie stock is being made as I write this, and tomorrow I’ll soak the beans for red beans and rice. Kombucha #2 is well on its way to being ready, which is good because we’re almost out of the first batch. And, finally, we’re going to be hosting a little all-local dinner party with some dear friends of mine, to spread the joys of eating locally (and push my abilities to their limit).

Exciting times for Team Local!