Yesterday I attended the Portland Chef’s Collaborative Farmer-Chef Connection event. The event is held annually to help farmers and local chefs and retailers connect directly in an effort to get more local food on the tables in our community. Besides an amazing lunch made from local foods donated by farmers and food producers, the event brought people together who care about locally produced, sustainable food and encouraged people to work together collaboratively.
Most people who know me know how passionate I am about local food, which I buy whenever I can at farmer’s markets, locally owned grocery stores, and food co-ops. At the Farmer Chef Connection I attended a workshop with Sam Mogannam, owner of Bi-Rite market in San Francisco and author of “Eat Good Food”. In the workshop we discussed what is and is not working for the local food movement, and what each of us can do to help. We came up with four ways that everyone who is a local food advocate can help the cause:
1) Ask where your food comes from, when you are at the store or in a restaurant.
2) Help children gain a sense of pride and empowerment regarding eating good food.
3) Share your local food with others in your family and community
4) Waste less
In the spirit of these four small things that anyone can do, I plan to share a recipe a month for a meal that can be made with local, in-season ingredients. Last night I made a wonderful soup, inexpensive, and delicious – and here is how I made it.
Late Winter Albondigas (Meatball Soup)
1 large or 2 small organic parsnips – locally grown
1 organic onion, halved – locally grown
1/4 head of organic cabbage – locally grown
2 T organic EVOO
1 quart of organic beef stock – locally produced
1 lb. organic ground beef – locally raised & processed
8 cloves garlic – from our garden
1/2 c. homemade bread crumbs
1 local organic egg
Herbs and spices: Salt, black pepper, rosemary from our garden, oregano, cumin, and chile powder.
For the meatballs: Mince 1/2 onion, and 4 cloves of garlic. Combine with 1 t. oregano, 1/2 t. cumin, 1/2 t. rosemary, 1 t. salt, and 1/4 t. black pepper, fresh ground. Add the herb blend, bread crumbs, and egg to the ground beef and mix well. Form into balls and place on a broiler pan, and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
For the soup:
Slice the 2nd half of the onion, and chop the rest of the garlic, the parsnips (peeled, if you prefer), and saute in the olive oil in a soup pot. Add spices to taste: black pepper, chile powder, oregano, cumin. When the onion is clear and the bottom of the pan is needing deglazing, pour in the stock slowly while stirring. When all the stock has been added, add the cabbage, chopped, and about 1 cup of water. Let the soup simmer until the parsnips and cabbage are tender. When the meatballs are ready, add them to the soup. Serve with tortillas or crusty bread.