Monday, November 29, 2010

Been busy...and refocused menu

So much has happened in the past month and I'm putting in long hours refining my menu and philosophy. Since we started dinners I have always featured local ingredients with a smattering of foraged foods. Heading into winter my local growers are diminishing and I continue adjusting the menu to match the foods that they're bringing me. The challenge of less grown foods is only pushing me to find an even more sustainable process.

Enter indigenous.

I live in the lower 48s largest wilderness area. That means boundless possibilities, right? If we look at the history of the area we see Mimbreano and Apache people living year round in this area and surviving. Its possible that it was more meat base, but I suspect through my readings that it has to do with preservation and planning. So I've been spending my free time gathering a team of foragers, preparing a code of ethics for my foragers, and exploring the historic Apache diet (which is very different from the modern Apache diet). That's a big part of why I haven't been able to post in a month...that and I dropped my camera in a pot of oil!

But, new camera in hand (although I'm still learning how to use it) and a few weeks of my new menu behind me, I'm gearing up for even greater dishes on the menu and better pictures. Here's a start (pics taken while I was reading the manual).

We've been working with La Buena Vida Farms just south of us to raise chicken and turkeys. There are no other poultry options in our region, and our co-op sells factory raised "free range" birds...we all know that means very little when considering health and ethics. The difference can be three or four times the cost, but when we eat poultry at least we'll know how it was raised. On our recent visit to pick up the Thanksgiving turkeys we also bought some of their heirloom squash. The first one they gave us was a Douglas Squash.

Let me tell you, this was one tough cookie that did not want to give up its fruit! I have never had to hack at a vegetable before, but I took my sharpest cooks knife and gave a few good machete swipes before I could split it open.

Beautiful webaline structure inside with plenty of seeds.

Gutted and cleaned and tossed in the pan with a cup of New Mexico Riesling and a bit of chile and salt. 45 minutes later I had a succulent flesh held by still rigid skin.

For Thanksgiving I wrapped some in whole wheat fillo with feta and made cigars, and topped the rest with nuts and cheese for a quick casserole. Wonderful flavor and texture and worth planting. The farm said that they only watered twice at the beginning of the seed process and never again. The plants grew to nearly six feet tall and they're in the dry part of the dessert!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dia de Muertos Chocolate Sculpture

I've been wanting to practice my chocolate sculpture skills so here is a Day of the Dead sculpture I made for an offrenda to my dear RuthAnn - best dog ever.