Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eat Local Challenge Day 5: Finding locavores online

Posted By on Thu, Jun 6, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Beef short ribs slow roasted in homemade sauce with a side of leftover veggies and mashed potatoes
  • ALEJANDRO DE LOS RIOS
  • Beef short ribs slow roasted in homemade sauce with a side of leftover veggies and mashed potatoes

For the month of June, I will be chronicling my participation in the Third Annual New Orleans Eat Local Challenge. Every day, I will post about all the meals I had the day before and the ups and downs of trying to eat only locally-sourced or grown food. Because this is my first foray into being a "locavore", I will be doing the second-strictest level of the challenge.

STATS

Day: 5
Total meals eaten today: 3
Non-local items eaten: 1
Vices: Beer, coffee, bread

Well this certainly comes as a surprise: Five days into the challenge and I've already gone two full days without breaking any rules of the rules. Once again the only non-local food item I consumed was a cup of locally roasted coffee. Suddenly this whole concept of eating in has become routine. Basically, the only worry now is if I get lazy or fall back into bad habits and screw it up for myself.

But once settled into a routine it's hard to break it and there's also the support knowing that within this challenge is a community of people who are all doing the same thing. Since my fridge is now stock with only local items and I've become more familiar with the nearby markets and what will be available to me in the future, I can now begin experimenting with food.

It was time to go online.

Now, there is a certain irony in the fact that the call for eating local hearkens to our agrarian roots but the movement has flourished thanks in large part to modern technology and globalization. As I mentioned yesterday, much of the produce we take for granted even at farmer's markets was not available on this continent 500 years ago and it's thanks to global trade that even our locally grown and bred foods can provide for a rich and complex diet.

Technology has spurred not only the community of local eaters but businesses to make it easier for people to eat local. Can't make it to or don't like sweating out the heat at the farmer's market? The website GoodEggs.com has launched in conjunction with the Eat Local Challenge to allow people to build and buy baskets within the comfort of their own home and then pick up their items at a pre-determined location. Can't make out how to cook that goat cheese you just bought? Find another ELC participant who already cooked goat cheese using the same ingredients available to you.

ELC does a great job of providing three daily recipes but the real gems are within the Challange's message boards which contain links to other people's online diaries, Pinterest boards and recipes. It was comforting to see many people's breakfast of choice mimicked my combination of fruits and local greek yogurt and it inspires you to challenge your culinary prowess.

With that in mind, I set off to make slow-roasted beef short ribs in homemade barbecue sauce. I blended three small creole tomatoes with a whole white onion with a cup of Ponchartrain Vineyards red wine, pecan oil, garlic, a good helping of Crystal's hot sauce, brown sugar and a bottle-cap of vinegar. After a quick taste test, where I was content with the balance of sweet, sour and kick, I poured most of the sauce over the short ribs and realized I had enough left over to put in a jar.

There was enough leftover creole tomato red wine sauce to fill an empty jelly jar
  • ALEJANDRO DE LOS RIOS
  • There was enough leftover creole tomato red wine sauce to use on several more future dishes.

Now if you're wondering what the exact recipe is, then I'll have to apologize for jumping into making creative dishes without actually document what I was doing or even use a measuring cup. At home, I cook by taste (as you can probably guess, I don't do much baking) and I'm not in the habit of measuring or documenting my cooking. Feeling a little guilty about taking so much inspiration from the online community of New Orleans locavores and not giving any back, I've pledged to do better.

For now I'll be content in the fact that the short ribs, which I cooked starting on Tuesday and had for lunch yesterday, were delicious (even considering that the oven shut off for a few hours without me knowing). Today, I plan on using my homemade barbecue sauce on the leaks I bought at the Crescent City Farmer's Market. As the week goes on, I want to try my hand at some of the recipes I've found, including Moroccan meatballs, homemade ketchup and a spinach omelet.

Wouldn't you know it? This is turning out to be fun.

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