I may have mentioned before that my husband and I love homemade pizza, but now there is good reason to love it even more – the grill. I’ve heard of grilling pizza many times before but never could figure out how the dough would stay nice and flat rather than slipping right through the racks of the grill. After reading this article in Eating Well magazine and this post, we finally had the courage to try it and it worked!
Needless to say, homemade pizzas on the grill have become a regular favorite in our house this summer. I usually make up a lot of whole wheat dough at one time, tear it into small sections (big enough for one small pizza), use what I need for that day, and store the rest in the freezer so it’s ready to go for a quick dinner. Right before we fire up the grill, I prep all the toppings and line them up on separate plates based on the different pizzas we are having, so it’s easy for the “grill-master” to keep everything going at once.
Pictured above are several different pizzas we made one night for a group of friends, some of the different toppings that night included a mix of several cheeses, caramelized onions, hot banana peppers, pepperoni, and seasonal veggies like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini. It’s fun to really get creative with your toppings, but just remember that with these pizzas, less is really more!
Too Many Tomatoes Casserole
Our good friend Krista is an excellent cook, and she submitted this great recipe as another alternative to the more popular tomato dishes. Bon appetit!
This summer I was not able to grow my own garden, but have many friends that keep donating me their tomatoes that are abundant right now. I wanted to do something different with them besides the stand by BLT and Caprese Salad, so I found a recipe on Food.com for a tomato casserole that my family loved.
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 lbs ripe tomatoes
Salt and Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Parsley
1 Tablespoon Chopped Marjoram
1 Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 Cup Day Old Bread Crumbs
1 Teaspoon Paprika
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brush casserole dish with olive oil. Slice tomatoes about 1/8 inch thick and place 1 layer in 1/2 quart Pyrex dish. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with 1/2 herbs and all feta. Do another layer of tomatoes and repeat with herbs and salt. Top with bread crumbs and paprika and cook for 40 minutes. Enjoy!
Going Local While Traveling
My husband and I had a pre-planned, quick trip to Colorado Springs this week which coincidentally started last Saturday, the last day of the Green-Lemonade “Going Local” challenge. It would have been nearly impossible to eat 100% local given our travel schedule and unfamiliarity with a new place, so it would be somewhat useless to give you a final run down on everything I ate on Day 7. We did, however, do our best to support the local economy throughout our trip. Here are a few examples:
Accommodations – First, my husband decided to pass on the usual hotel chain and opted for cute little locally owned boutique hotel called the Hotel San Ayre. The small, very affordable, hotel has been renovated in the last few years and now boasts about a dozen comfy, yet chic rooms, with a cottage next door and a luxury “mountain suite” upstairs complete with a couple bedrooms and a kitchen. It is located perfectly between Old Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs (Manitou Springs, incidentally was just named one of Budget Travel’s “10 Coolest Small Towns” in their September issue) and what I really enjoyed about this hotel is the personal service (which included lots of great recommendations on places to eat, see and run) and their philosphy on conserving our natural resources.
Food - I always think it’s fun to try the local spots while visiting somewhere new and Adam’s Mountain Cafe hit the spot. This place is a member of the “Slow Food” movement and reminds it’s customers that while the food may take longer it’s because it’s fresh, quality food, never pre-cooked, microwaved or warmed under a heat-lamp. We also came across The Matte Factor, a great little cafe which serves up specialty drink called a Yerbe Mate tea and a variety of wholesome breakfast and lunch items made from scratch daily with natural ingredients.
One of the hardest things for me about going local (beside missing my morning cup of joe) is the lack of local grains available. Wanting to find out why, I contacted Bill at Valentine Hill Farm, an organic artisan bakery here in Indianapolis. Their wheat flours, soy flour, and spelt flour are 100% whole grain, certified organic… but are they local? Unfortunately not.
Valentine Hill Farm tries to locate ingredients for their baked products as close to Indianapolis as possible. Unfortunately, wheat does not grow well in the state. Because of this, their major ingredient comes from several different states including Michigan, Kansas and Minnesota.
To go without grains is not something I could not do for a long time, so I am going to try to do the next best thing and get them from an local organic bakery, like Valentine Hill Farm. Needless to say, I was delighted to dive in to these whole wheat muffins from them this week!
Raising the Steaks
Last year, my husband was travelling during Going Local week and since I am a vegetarian, I didn’t get to support any farmers selling chicken, beef or pork. This year however, my husband happily volunteered to buy some local sirloin steak from Phelps Family Farm. Phelps Family Farm’s mission statement is to “raise livestock on green pasture for healthy human consumption.” They offer all of the familiar cuts of pork and beef, which are free-range and free of hormones and antibiotics.
After grilling it, my husband declared that it was by far one of the best quality steaks he has ever eaten outside a restaurant. As for price, it was less expensive per pound (and better tasting) than the New York Strip he purchased from a highly-regarded grocery butcher a few weeks before.
Going Local Again: Rhaya’s Day 7
I had a little yogurt from Traders Point Creamery before my morning workout and for brunch I met some friends at Three Sisters Cafe. I don’t think that Going Local means that you never eat out again, which is why I suggested this restaurant that is known for serving local foods. I ordered eggs and breakfast potatoes, and opted for sliced tomatoes as my side instead of toast. Was the tofu mixed in with my potatoes local? Of course not, but I didn’t feel guilty supporting a local business who supports local farmers.
Dinner for me was a surprisingly good Tomato Bisque with a side of green beans. Meanwhile, my husband thoroughly enjoyed his local steak. A nice bottle of local wine rounded out the meal and was a perfect ending to our week of Going Local Again.
Eating Out and Eating Local
Let’s face it. Everyone needs a break from the kitchen. Thankfully, that doesn’t mean you have to give up the idea of eating local. Look for restaurants in your area that support local farmers and serve local foods, and you can avoid kitchen clean up and still have a clean conscience.
Here are some restaurants in Indianapolis that proudly serve local foods.
I haven’t had the pleasure of eating here (yet) but I met Chef Regina at the Local Harvest Lunch last year, and she prides herself on using local foods at her restaurant, and regularly changing her menu to do so.
Cafe Patachou serves a wide variety of local and organic options, which they describe in detail on their menu. They also allow dogs to sit in their outdoor seating section, which is a big plus in my book.
Three Sisters Cafe
The “three sisters” refers to beans, corn and squash, and they too use foods from local farmers when possible. They are also known for a wide variety of vegetarian options, which is right up my alley.
Local guacamole? No chance. But Chipotle does make it known that in addition to using hormone-free meat, the also choose to get their chicken from right here in Indiana.
Local Tomato Bisque
Earlier this week, I tried a cool tomato soup and since I still have a steady amount of tomatoes growing in our garden, I decided to try making a warm one tonight.
The following amounts will serve two. For a larger batch, double the amounts below.
4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 of a small onion
3 fresh basil leaves
1 cup whole milk
3/4 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onions while you peel and seed the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes, basil, brown sugar, salt and pepper to the onions and simmer until tomatoes are thoroughly cooked (about 20 minutes).
Transfer everything to a blender and puree. Add in the milk and transfer it back to the stove. Heat (without boiling) and serve warm.
All week I have been snacking on this fabulous looking Ohio grown fruit pictured above that that came from a great little place on the side of the road in Shawnee Hills, Ohio called “The Village Market” not more than five miles from my house. They are open every day but Wednesday and have a wide variety of fruits, veggies, meats and dairy products. All of the produce is clearly marked to let the customer’s where it’s coming from and the owners tell me everything marked “Ohio” comes from one of the handful of local farmers that they work with.
I love to shop at places like these and farmer’s markets where I can often find the freshest local ingredients at great prices. When I stopped by yesterday, after telling the owners about the “Going Local” challenge, they pointed to perhaps the best “local” find this week – Humphrey’s Popcorn Kernals!
Going Local Again: Liz’s Day 6
For breakfast I was in a rush so I just grabbed some fruit on the way out the door. Lunch was a salad with lots of veggies and shredded raw cheddar over the top.
When I got home in the afternoon, I snacked on that big bowl of popcorn pictured above. There is really no need to buy those microwave bags, it’s such a waste and so much cheaper to buy the kernels by the bag or even in bulk. To pop without a fancy popper, just put some oil (I like to use coconut oil) in a big pot with a few kernels over medium heat and cover. When those kernels start to pop, toss in the rest (about 1 cup) and continue to pop, covered, until popping slows and then remove from the heat and let rest until the popping stops. Toss with salt and your favorite toppings.
Dinner was leftover Tamale Pie with a side salad. More popcorn for dessert!
A big thing that I have learned about going local is how to use ingredients for something one night, and then reusing those same ingredients for something entirely different the next. Instead of looking online for recipes and then going out an buying all the ingredients, I look at what I have and find a recipe that works with those ingredients.
Going Local Again: Rhaya’s Day 6
For dinner, we made Eggplant lasagna. To do this, I (very) loosely followed this recipe. I actually took the time to salt and rinse the eggplant (something I rarely do) and then in a baking dish layered the eggplant with local egg noodles from last night, pasta sauce and cottage cheese from Traders Point Creamery. We baked it for about an hour, and had a delicous lasagna type dish, all made from what we already had on hand!
Last by not least, I did break the rules a little by having some local wheat beer. It is only 80% local, but it IS the weekend after all.
Leaving It to the Experts
Sometimes, it’s best to just leave the cooking to the experts. So this week as I was customizing my Farm Fresh Delivery, I ordered some Pasta Sauce from LocalFolks Foods. (I already get their mushroom patties – which I have mentioned before here and here – with every order.)
Right there on the jar it says “Authentic Indiana: Locally Sourced Ingredients” and since I recognized the ingredients from the farmers market (tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, etc.) I knew that it fit within our challenge and would save me the time and trouble of making my own. And what a good decision it was. The sauce was flavorful, hearty and incredibly delicious.
Going Local Again: Rhaya’s Day 5
Breakfast consisted of eggs, local cheese and salsa from The Salsa Queen. I also made a run to Traders Point Creamery to get more yogurt, cheese and eggs. (My two trips there have totalled $43, with the cheese being the most expensive items.)
For lunch I sauteed the baby eggplant I bought yesterday at the farmers market and I have to agree that they do taste better (and are easier to eat) than the larger ones. That plus a blueberry yogurt smoothie that I could drink while I worked rounded out my afternoon.
Dinner was local egg pasta, topped with the LocalFolks Foods sauce, sauteed mushrooms and cheese. Possibly the best dinner yet this week!