A very good friend recently had her first child, and we wanted to do something special for her and her husband. She’s a very serious cook and foodie, but we knew she wouldn’t have a lot of time and energy to cook for a while, not to mention needing to recover from hospital food. So we dedicated our day off last week to cooking up a big care package of easy-to-use and -preserve food for them, so their minds and time can focus on the little one. Here’s what we put together:
Roughly clockwise from upper left, farm-sourced ingredients in italics:
2 quarts farm-recipe granola (oats, maple syrup, oil, coconut, sesame seeds, nuts)
2 quarts kale-potato soup (kale, potatoes, venison sausage, broth, leeks, garlic)
1 quart cooked beans (mixed heirloom beans)
2 quarts fresh applesauce (local apples, local honey, cinnamon, nutmeg)
2 quarts tomato sauce (winter tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried basil & parsley, hot pepper, dried green peppers, honey, paprika)
1.5 lb mixed salad greens (various lettuces, mizuna, plus two carrots)
2 quarts lentil dal (red lentils, garam masala & other spices, hot pepper, beet greens, onions)
1 quart fresh salsa (winter tomatoes, garlic, hot pepper, cumin, paprika, fenugreek)
1/2 pint tomato-apricot chutney (tomatoes, onion, apricot, more)
Large bowl sweet potato fries (sweet potatoes, olive oil)
1 batch fresh cornbread (cornmeal, egg, yogurt, leavener, local honey)
1/4 pound aged cheddar (farm-made from our milk)
1 dish baked polenta (polenta from our corn, layered with leeks, our cheese & Goatsbeard cheese)
Stack fresh wheat tortillas (Missouri wheat flour, white flour, leavener)
We also brought some desserts:
Caramel popcorn (popcorn, with scratch-made caramel)
Deep-dish apple pie (local apples, cinnamon, nutmeg, bourbon, crust of butter & local flour)
Cashew sugar cookies (butter, sugar, flour, cashews)
A few of these we used for fresh dinner the evening we stopped by: tortillas topped with fresh beans, salsa, lettuce, and shredded cheddar, with a side of roasted sweet potato fries. Everything else went into their fridge/freezer/cabinets for a few days of cooking-free enjoyment.
Putting this all together was fun, and reminded me of years past when Joanna’s job would take her to remote areas for a week or more at a time, and I’d spend a day cooking up a week’s worth of food to fill a cooler so she wouldn’t have to eat fast food. This wasn’t any harder, and was the best gift we could think of. It also serves as a good example of the potential inherent in local foods; a large percentage of this very diverse menu was sourced from our farm alone in mid-December; imagine what could be done with many such farms and the will to use, preserve, and enjoy such ingredients. If anyone tells you local foods are boring, send them these photos.
We’re looking forward to many more good meals with our friends and their son, especially to the fun of him visiting regularly and learning about the farm and sources of food.