Archive for September, 2010

September 30, 2010

Eat Local Challenge : Proteins

Since steel cut oats aren’t local to Hawai’i, I’ve had a really tough time making breakfast (if you know me, you know that I eat steel cut oats at least once a day–and am currently having serious withdrawals).

I really want to challenge myself this week, so I’ve been sticking with the Eat Local Challenge!  Mostly I’ve been having fresh fruit from the farmer’s market/my dad (he’s the best pineapple-picker I know).

I’d typically have some type of protein substitute, but apparently protein powder doesn’t come from Hawai’i, either. Lucky for us, my high school classmate is a farmer and sells her free-range eggs at the farmer’s market!

I cooked up the eggs with some of Chef Kevin’s Maui-made “Terragon Tropical Blend” Seasoning and (my new favorite!) Habanero Coconut Pepper Sauce…

put it on a piece of Mana’s 100% Sourdough Rye bread with a bit of Surfing Goat Dairy chevre… and voila!

My delicious–and nutritious–100% local breakfast!

As explained in a previous blog, Ben and I are “selective omnivores” and we’ll eat most meat/dairy/eggs if we know exactly how it’s been raised and where it comes from.  I went almost 100% vegan right after reading “Eating Animals” and wound up having to go on iron supplements (lame).  Since then I’ve re-incorporated eggs, goat dairy and sustainably raised meat back into my diet and keep a close watch on my iron intake.  I consider myself a pescatarian (veggie + seafood) for labeling purposes ;) .  In any case, eggs are super healthy for you in moderation. I usually have about 5 per week to keep my protein and nutrient levels up.  I’m so glad to know that my eggs come from chickens on my friend’s farm and that I can ask her how they live (they come home to a coop but roam around their huge farm all day) and whether they’re injected with hormones (they’re not).

Speaking of local protein sources, Ben and I decided that we’d make fish tacos tonight because it’s pretty much the only local protein source we’ll buy (Maui Cattle Company sells locally grown, grass-fed beef, but we just can’t get ourselves to eat red meat anymore).  So imagine my frustration when my favorite Maui seafood shop Valley Isle Seafood was closed early (to their defense, it was during the Maui County Fair Parade and the whole town shuts down early).  So I went to Foodland, the local market to get some poke (raw fish mixed with seasoning) because they’ve got a great selection of affordable, delicious seafood.

…Or not.  Can you believe that–in the state of Hawai’i–we get our ahi (tuna) from the PHILIPPINES?!? Are you kidding me?  Ugh.  I totally didn’t know what to do because I had everything ready to go for the tacos.  I was so frustrated (and was less than polite with the poor fish-packer lady) as I got the Filipino fish (we share the same ocean… that’s gotta count for something).

[awesome semi-local fish tacos -- excuse the lighting, it was dark already.]

In the end, the poke did it’s job and I had an awesome fish taco with cilantro-lime sauce, but it’s the principle.  We are the most isolated island chain in the world.  We need to be self-sustaining, especially with fish!  Come on now.  I’ll be writing a letter to Mr. Foodland and Mrs. SackNSave very soon.

How important is eating locally to you? How far away is too far?

September 29, 2010

Okinawan Sweet Potato Gnocci!

A family friend (and fellow blogger) Alli had a gnocci party a few weeks ago and posted a delicious-looking recipe for potato gnocci.  I decided that, since I am a self-proclaimed sweet potato addict and Ben loves pasta, it would be a total win-win to create this dish.  In order to make it bind together a bit more I added some flaxseed+water mixture (a great egg substitute) and I used half whole-wheat flour and half all-purpose.  It is DELICIOUS!  And surprisingly quick and simple!

Okinawan Sweet Potato Gnocci

[adapted from Alli's recipe]

[Ingredients]
  • 2 pounds local Okinawan sweet potatoes, washed
  • 1 1/4 cup flour: I used 1/2 whole wheat + 1/2 unbleached all-purpose
  • 1 tsp salt
  • thickening mixture: 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed + 3 Tbsp water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake dry potatoes until fully cooked (I’m not gonna lie, I cut mine into smaller pieces and put them in foil to speed up the process – I’m not the most patient chef).

Mix ground flaxseed and water and set aside to conglomerate.

Carefully unwrap and peel the potatoes (using a paring knife worked best for me).

Mash potatoes into a large bowl (I did mine by hand with a fork, but a ricer would have been a super handy tool if you have one.) Be sure not to turn them into mashed potatoes!

Add flour and salt to the potatoes and mix into a dough with your (clean) hands. This is where you’ll need to judge whether you need to add more flour to make it less sticky or if you need to add some of the flaxseed mixture to make it less dry (I would just add a little bit at a time).

Start a large pot of water bowling at this point so that as you complete a set of gnocchi, you can start the cooking process as soon as possible.

Divide dough into quarters.

Roll each quarter into a long rope  onto a cutting board or large surface.

Cut off small 1/2-1″ pieces and form them as you like [Alli's blog has some great photos people getting creative with their gnocci designs!]. Keep them separated on a plate/cutting board as you finish

*Note: you may want to take 1-2 formed gnocchi, and boil them first to test that your flour/potato mixture is going to stay together as a dough.  If it falls apart in the boiling water, you need to add more flour/flaxseed to your dough!

Add the first set (the first 1/4 of dough) to boiling water.  They will immediately sink.  They rise to the top when done (about 3-5 minutes).  Take out with slotted spoon, or small mesh strainer if you don’t have one.

Repeat with remaining gnocchi [it gets to be pretty fun because the water turns color with the sweet potato... see:]

Enjoy! You can eat these as is or do as we did and saute them with olive oil, salt and pepper to cook in an added flavor.  Top with your favorite red sauce or pesto.

We also spaced uncooked gnocchi on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer for an hour.

Remove from sheet and put in plastic bag or container in the freezer for a quick meal in the future.

Delicious, nutritious and localicious!

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