Thursday, August 9, 2012

Plenty report

Last night we had a terrific meeting! Our numbers were back up, and everyone is really enjoying our new space. Our book for discussion was Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith & J.B. MacKinnon.  While very few of us achieved true "100 mile" dishes, a good effort was made and we had a wonderful showcase of local produce and meat.

Our icebreaker was discussing our favorite local food, and berries definitely topped the list for most everyone, closely followed by cherries, cheeses, and local wines.  We didn't talk much about seafood, but I think mussels and clams should definitely be added to the list.  Carol talked about her family ritual of harvesting geoduck, which sounds just wonderful (I want to try!)  We all feel fortunate to be able to get so much wonderful fresh food nearby, and love our farmers markets and you-pick-it farms.

Overall, we had somewhat mixed feelings about the book.  Sometimes it was challenging to figure out which of the narrators was taking a turn.  He tended to drift off into seemingly unrelated topics a lot.  She was much more emotionally reflective, though some found this a positive, as it drew them in more.  While we applauded their initiative in taking on this challenging project and felt enlightened by what the facts and background they shared, they were shockingly naive at times and it seemed like their research was more for giving background on the experiences they went through rather than preparing themselves in advance.  But overall we admired that they stuck with it.  While the recipes were very inventive, very few of them seemed like ones anyone wanted to try out (except the not-so-local casserole).  His reckless adventuresome attitude about cooking was impressive, but we wondered if it wasn't intimidating to his poor partner.  We were so proud of her when she broke out of their patterns and cooked that yummy sounding soup!

The book made us gush about our own gardens, and reflect on world gardening trends.  We discussed how half of the counties in the United States are in drought right now, and what that would mean for farmers.  We agreed that more small farms with diverse produce is very likely what will save American agriculture and could improve unemployment, our diets, and our environmental footprint as a people.

The food was wonderful and so fresh!   Heather McN brought a great fresh salad, and wonderful apples baked in honey, plus a lovely centerpiece for the table.  Her daughter Brenna made her first casserole...Grandma's Tuesday Night-Noodle Casserole (p. 27) with salmon.  Very yummy!

Katie S. made a very tasty dish made with local chicken cooked in local yogurt with herbs from her garden.

Laura made a lovely fresh ratatouille with ingredients from our very own Mountlake Terrace farmers market.

Katie W. roasted beets from her garden on the bbq (in a tin foil pouch) with just a little butter and salt, that came out magically sweet.

Carol made two dishes:  chard with basil and Walla Walla sweet onions, and a sweet nectarine and blueberry crostata.

I'm still unable to drive and didn't want to negotiate the bus with a cooked dish, so instead brought some of my local favories...the last organic cherries of the season and three "local" cheeses:  Beecher's No Woman and Flagship, plus Rouge Creamery's Oregon Blue.

Next month's book is another kids book that fits in nice with the season: Charlotte's Web by E.B. White.  I don't have any copies set aside of this one, so order it through the library, or find it used...this should be easy to track down.  There are plenty of delicious healthy things to make with local fall farmers market goods...but I know there is some real excitement building around cooking homemade versions of greasy sugary fair food too!

Next meeting:  Wednesday September 12, 2012 - 6:30pm in the basement hall of Bethesda Lutheran Church.

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