06 July 2015

StL Food Challenge #MakeItHappenBlogHop

Welcome to the inaugural event of Make it Happen Blog Hop!  Six bloggers, including myself , have formed an alliance to challenge ourselves in different capacities over the next 12 months.  Our first challenge required us to do something with food.

I love to cook and eat, I don't have much trouble trying new things, and I love going to new and unusual places, so I was having a bit of an issue trying to think of a challenge involving food.  Then I heard about the St. Louis Food Challenge.  The food challenge is about getting in the habit of making smart, sustainable food choices.  The challenge is to seek out locally sourced foods to cook at home and while dining out.  There are many events associated with the challenge so help you be successful.

My first step was to sign up for the challenge.  I did so by following the link above. The rules are simple.  You decide how strict you want to be – you can decide to be a locavore for every meal of the month, or you can go as low as a few meals a week. (Locavore is defined here as sourcing ingredients from within 150 miles of St Louis.)  See how many meals you can eat using only foods grown or raised within 150 miles. Visit a new restaurant that incorporates local food into their offerings. If you want to eat or drink something that we can’t grow in our region, use someone local. For instance, if you know you need coffee, support a local roaster or coffee shop. We have almost as many coffee roasters and shops as we do local microbreweries!!   I thought the rules sounded fairly easy to do!

Once I signed up, I found a class at the Kitchen Conservatory that focused on using fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from a nearby CSA farm, Chef Josh Galliano from the Libertine led the class through a variety of vegetables and special techniques such as roasting carrots on coffee beans. 

We learned about various farmer's markets that sell within the 150 mile radius and made plans to begin with Sunday, June 7 as our start date.  As I was out of town for the first shopping date, my husband took on the charge of buying our first round of veggies.  We decided to start with vegetables since we knew where to go and to add in meat later.  He purchased turnips, kolrabi and snap peas from Oakway Farms, radishes from Farrar Out Farms, squash, zucchini and sweet potatoes from Summit Produce and cantaloupe and eggs from GlenMark Farms.

Our first week's veggies and fruits.  The turnip tops will be used in our morning smoothies along with greens from our own garden.  We will have to supplement our finds with produce from Steve's Produce.  Bob replicated Chef Josh's carrot recipe by roasting them on coffee beans.  So delicious.

Turnips and greens, sugar snap peas (all local) with salmon.

 We found a farmer named Farmer Girl where we can buy Missouri grown beef and chicken.  We ordered our first meats through her.  We'll be using them in week 2.  

Review of week 1:  The veggies were delicious and I really had to work to eat what we purchased.  I found myself making a veggie hash for breakfast topped with an egg.  Delicious.  It takes a little time, though, to prepare the veggies and to poach an egg. Still, the results were well worth the time.

Week 2:  Farmer's Market today.  We visited the Kirkwood Farmer's market and were able to meet up with the same farmers.  This week we purchased beets, radishes, and patty pan squash.  We still have a summer squash and a zucchini left from last week.  I got blueberries, melon, peaches and grapes from the produce stand, all said to be from Missouri.  I am looking forward to this week's meals.  Remember, we'll be using Missouri meats, too.

Review of week 2:  We had to cut our week a little short in order to prepare for our vacation.  We loved having such fresh fruit and veggies around.  The key, as we see it, is to prepare the veggies right away.  I made pesto from the radish tops, blanched and refrigerated the beet greens for a side dish.  I processed the melon right away as it was ripe NOW and cubed it up for easy eating.  The grapes went to the movies with us and the peaches were quick snacks.  The blueberries were fabulous in a breakfast smooth or on our oatmeal.  The pesto was a topping for hamburgers and was amazing! This week I used the leafy greens from the radishes to make pesto.  The beet greens were served alongside grilled chicken breasts along with the patty pan squash.  It was a wonderful week of food!

Chicken from Missouri, as is the beet greens and brussels sprouts.

Missouri chicken breast, asparagus and patty pan squash.
Missouri ground beef, carrots, beets, salad greens and radishes.
Pesto made from the radish tops.  Nothing wasted!
We will definitely continue to do this all summer, with the fabulous access to fresh fruit and veggies that we have.  It will be interesting to see what we can do in the winter.  Maybe I'll be doing some canning?  That remains to be seen.  It was an interesting and healthy challenge. 

This post is part of the "Make It Happen" blog series. Every month, myself and some other bloggers challenge ourselves to try something we have never done before and Make It Happen! We are excited to be on this journey together so please check out their posts below!

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