Sunday, August 10, 2008

OLS Week 10

The nice thing about being in California is that there is a tremendous amount of food produced locally. Being the birthplace of the slow/local food movement you will find many restaurants in that style. Our friend's wedding was in fact, catered in that style. So for the first half of the week, we ate locally in San Francisco and Calistoga. We certainly drank locally! While I appreciate New York wine, the Napa Valley just blows it away and we enjoyed it probably more than we should have.

While we had bits and pieces of local meals, our main OLS meal was tequilla lime pork chops, a peach/tomato, pistacio, and goat cheese salad, and a pear, blueberry and cinnemon margarita. Almost all of the ingredients (except the tequila, lime, pistacios, oil, salt, and pepper) are local and everything fresh came from the farmers market at Grand Army Plaza.

I hardly cook pork because it is so easy to turn it into hockey pucks. I found some nice bone-in chops though and wanted to do something "summery" with them. The tequilla and limes are obviously not local. I know a very similar red wine reduction that could easily take its place.

Tequila Lime Pork Chops
Original Recipe Adapted from
Serves 2
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Pork Chops
2 bone-in pork chops about 1.5 inches thick, patted dry
Ground cumin seed
Coarse salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tbs butter
1 tbs olive oil

1 cup tequila
The Juice of a lime
1/2 cup chicken broth

Trim off any fat from the pork and pat the chops dry. Sprinkle a layer of the cumin, salt, and pepper and rub it into the chops. Combine the ingredients of the sauce in a bowl. Heat a large (large enough to fit both your chops) skillet and add some butter and olive oil. I always add a bit of olive oil to butter when I am trying to get a nice sear on something. Since the pan is hot it will help to prevent the butter from burning. Sear both sides of the pork for about 3 minutes a side.

Turn the heat off. Add the sauce ingredients. Turn the heat back on to medium hight. Anytime you are cooking with alcohol you want to turn the flames off. Alcohol burns with a clear/bluish flame and it is much better to be safe than sorry (this is how I lost some hair on my arms a few weeks ago). Simmer the sauce and the chops until the meat in the center of the chop is slightly pink. I use a thermometer and cook it to 160F.

Remove the chops, add the remaining butter, and continue to reduce the sauce to the consistancy you desire, I made it pretty creamy like turkey gravy.

I have found supermarket pork to be a grey color and white when cooked. Fresh, locally grown pork is a medium pink color that should be slightly light pink in the center. Even over cooked (I don't think I've even done it exactly right) it should be juicy and pink.

The salad is a riff of what I had at the All Seasons Bistro in Calistoga. The flavors go really well together so I think peach goat cheese ice cream topped with pistacios is on its way from the ice cream machine. Peter is allergic to peaches so I made his with beautiful cherokee purple tomatoes I found at the market. Both the tomato and peach look beautiful on the plate. I also made this salad for my step-mom the other day and we both remarked that it would be great for breakfast!

Peach/Tomato, Pistacio, Goat Cheese Salad
Serves 2
Prep Time: 10 minutes

3 cups romaine lettuce
1 peach (or 1/2 large tomato), sliced for each salad
2 tbs goat cheese
1 tbs salted, crushed pistacios (last night they were unsalted, whole and not very good)

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbs freshly chopped cilantro
Dash of salt, pepper, cumin, tabasco
1/8 tsp honey

I made the dressing and dressed the salad separately from the rest of the ingredients and then nicely arranged the peaches, goat cheese, and pistacios on top of the leaves. Salted and roasted pistacios act like bacon in the salad, adding a nice salty, savory taste to the creamy goat cheese and sweet peaches.

I wanted a nice tequila drink to go with my dinner and wanted to play around with the fresh fruit that I had in the house. The cinemon idea came from the cinnemon margarita we had at Lobo on Sackett and 5th a few weeks ago. The tequila, sugar, limes, and ginger are not local but the fresh fruit is. I also figured out how to "juice" the fruit but putting it through my garlic press. It was messy but fun.

Peach Blue Berry Cinnemon Margarita
Serves 1

Juice of one lime
1 shot good tequila
1 tsp sugar
Juice of 1 peach (squeeze through garlic press)
Juice of 1/2 cup blueberries (squeeze through garlic press)
1 tsp cinnemon
1 dash dried, powered ginger

Add the cinnmon first and then add the liquid to it. Mix well in a cocktail shaker, strain through a fine strainer, and pour over ice.

Finally, last week I was very excited that I grew one pound of food out of my window boxes. That seemed a bit silly, just one pound. This week I wanted to figure out exactly what my acreage is and list how much food I pulled out of my "garden". These unit conversion activities are usually a really tedius lesson in any science class but by giving students difficult real life ones they might not find it fun but will probably find it less tedius.

So, doing the math, I have .00028 acres in my window boxes and pots that grow food. This week I pulled out three tomatoes and 12 (12!) cups of basil. I turned those 12 cups of basil into 5 servings of pesto. This is to go along with the 4 servings I already have in my freezer. I've grown enough basil that I'm going to have to start giving it away!

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