One of the biggest skills I have to develop as an art historian is the power to describe what I see. Countless teachers have instilled in me the importance of being able to 'draw a picture' for someone, to make them see what I'm seeing, and how I'm seeing it. Well, those skills are going to come in handy for tonight's blog entry, because I'm going to try to describe an awesome dinner that Daiku and I went to last night, without any photos! Yes, the dreaded photo-less blog post!
As I'm sure many of you would agree, meeting new and interesting people is one of the coolest fringe benefits of blogging. One fellow Syracuse food blogger that I have had the pleasure of running into a few times over the last couple of times is Jennifer of Cookin' in the 'Cuse. Long before I even started blogging, Daiku and I were familiar with her blog, which we found when trying to answer the question "can you eat locally and seasonally in Syracuse, even in the Winter?" (the answer is yes, by the way)
Last night, we attended our first "local pot-luck" - an monthly event that we finally got to go to for the first time. It was unbelievable to see how much local food can be had, even though we are approaching the dead of winter. We got to meet so many people in addition to Jennifer and her husband- members of the community, both newcomers and old-timers, farmers, bakers, teachers, people involved with the food co-op. And we got to have a long conversation, where I mostly just listened, learning new things and getting new perspectives along the way. As is usually the case when the conversation turns to issues of food and health, food and justice, local, sustainable, organic food, food and community, etc., there were a lot more questions than answers. So I figure I want to keep the conversation going on this blog, especially because so many of us have been thinking of food because of VeganMoFo. What do you, dear awesome readers, think of the following issues?
- how can we shed local, sustainable food (and the wider issues of environmentalism and social justice) of their "elitist" associations? Why do so many people think that this type of food is rarefied, and the sole occupation of wealthy, liberal people? ("NPR listener issues" in the words of one guest)
- along those lines, how do we bring this kind of food to a wider audience? Is it possible, for example, to re-train palates trained to love the artificial, salty/sweet/fatty tastes of fast food and junk food?
- how do we get people to try new ingredients? to connect with where their food comes from?
- how can we really address the issue of farm subsidies, when so much of our nation's economy is built on them, even if they represent a very skewed view and practice of farming? For example, if all farm subsidies were taken away tomorrow, how many people would be out of jobs? how many communities would suffer? where would our food supply come from?
- are major supermarkets (Wegmans for us upstate New Yorkers, Whole Foods, Wild Oats, etc. for other places) good, evil, or somewhere in-between? Is there anything to be gained by local foods (or organics, gourmet, specialty foods) becoming "trendy"?
P.S. What local food did we take for the pot-luck? Why, an apple-raspberry crisp made with Jonagold, Empire, and Macintosh apples from Beak and Skiff orchards, and raspberries from Henkel's berry patch (picked in August and frozen).
The dish wass based on this Whole Foods Market recipe for apple-cherry crisp, we replaced the cherries with raspberries (in the past we've also made this with blueberries, with wonderful results) which colored the apples a gorgeous pink color. This recipe has never failed for us, so if you want to make a fruit crisp, using the best local ingredients at your fingertips, give it a try:
- 6 cups peeled, sliced tart apples such as Granny Smith (2 pounds total or about 5 to 6 apples) we used a variety of tart apples
- 2 cups pitted cherries (either fresh or 1 bag (10 ounce) frozen) we used frozen raspberries
- 1 cup frozen apple juice concentrate, thawed apple cider would also work wonderfully here
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon orange zest, chopped we used 1/2 fresh orange zest, 1/2 dried
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
- 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour we usually increase the whole wheat flour a bit and decrease the white flour a bit, with perfectly fine results
- 1/2 cup unbleached white flour
- 1/3–1/2 cup natural sugar such as maple sugar, Sucanat, or evaporated cane juice we used a mixture of local maple sugar and brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) organic butter, softened good old Earth Balace vegan non-hydrogenated margarine came to the rescue here!
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place apples and cherries in a 7x11-inch baking dish or other pretty dessert dish of similar size. In a small bowl, stir together apple juice concentrate, lemon juice, cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger; pour over the fruit and toss gently to mix. Set aside.
To make topping and bake cobbler: Stir together the oats, pastry and white flour, sugar, nutmeg and salt. Using a pastry blender cut the butter into the flour and oat mixture until completely blended. Evenly spread the topping over the fruit, pressing down slightly with fingers.
Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until top is golden brown and the fruit is tender and bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes and serve warm.