Even though I had helped organized this local foods cooking class, I proved the most difficult (or daft if you must) participant. I couldn't quite wrap my head around the mind bending idea of starting from food rather than a recipe. I had invited Minneapolis cook and food writer Beth Dooley to participate in a literary event called Around the Table, where for two nights writers read stories about food and what happens around the food. I invited Beth because she's a friend of several friends and she has a house on Madeline Island. She said yes and then offered to cook while she was here.
I told this to my good-to-go friend Mary who offered her well-used and welcoming kitchen, filled with dogs, children and a husband, named Ted. I told the same to Landis Spickerman. She operates Hermit Creek Farm and offered a winter CSA box along with pork chops and bacon.
Beth proposed that we look at the items from the CSA box and start to think about developing the food into our own original recipes. We had red and yellow onions, squash, celeriac, kohltrabi, green cabbage, carrots, beets, green kale, garlic, parsnips, potatoes and maple syrup. Huh? I asked. Daft, remember.
So, she spoke slowly and told us to get into groups and define ourselves — a pork group, a squash group and so on — and to think about flavors, color and textures. And so we did.
Raiding Mary's cupboards for things like coconut milk — what doesn't go great with coconut milk?
|Beets, parsnips and carrots.|
Roasting root vegetables.
And then we gathered to discuss our dishes, share recipes, drink wine and have a taste.
Stuffed pork chops
Sweet Onion Asian Squash
Late Winter Salad
Farro with Roasted Vegetables
This is why food matters.
We sent Beth off with gifts from our own kitchens including this To Die For honey from Jill who's husband nearly did die from a honey bee bite. It's good to laugh about these things.
The laughter even awoke George.
Here's the squash dish that Jill and I made. We originally envisioned a dip but after tasting it think it would work just as well as a side dish.
Sweet Onion Asian Squash
2 red curry squash, roasted
2 onions, one red and one white, carmelized in bacon fat and 3 T. maple syrup
1 head garlic, roasted in olive oil
2/3 c. coconut milk
1/2-3/4 lime, squeezed
white pepper and salt, to taste
1/4 tsp. cayenne, to taste
Stir together. Serve with chips, vegetables, or crostini or serve as side dish.