Last night I was lucky enough to go to the local Sustainable Farming Association's annual fundraiser dinner in Duluth. For years as a caterer, I would always make a big pan of bread pudding for a donation so I knew the grub would be good because they still had local chefs prepare something for the dinner. Peace Church in Duluth is the preferred site for some local food community events. I always feel at home here because the pastor preformed our wedding so many years ago and I have always felt a kinship with the folks in the community.
The bitter cold and wind did not keep the hearty souls for showing up with the most delicious bounty. We started with the most lip smacking apple cider I have had in ages.
My companion who has an apple orchard was so inspired, after sipping she said " I have to make apple cider next year". I agreed, it was so sweet and smooth, not the least bit tart. While we were waiting for the buffet to be set up, we were entertained by the local farmers who could play a instrument. The children were playing along with their tiny instruments, and gleefully dancing to the tunes. The music was a relaxing backdrop for the evening's festivities. Along side the musicians was a silent auction that had items like cases of parsnips and carrots from the root cellar, vintage Small Farmer's Journals and home made jams and jellies.
Farmers cooked and baked, along with the local cooks of note. My favorite was the sourdough breads, crusty and flavorful. I also went first for Duluth Grill's donation of polenta with goat cheese over Ratatouille with olives. The local beef showed up as a toothsome meatloaf and herbed savory meatballs. A roasted stuffed pumpkin and an array of other squash dishes adorned the table with elegance. Cabbage also made a star appearance. The sweet table was groaning with raspberry and apple pies, carrot cake and a blueberry slump. The most interesting dessert was the rice crispy bars made with wild rice. I think they popped the rice and made them into traditional rice crispy bars. The nutty flavor was addictive!
I am so happy to see there are still creative cooks that can produce such a high quality, flavorful and healthy meal with local products in December where the bitter cold is just getting started. I was grateful to be able to enjoy all the food made with love.
Farmers take to the stage
Roast stuffed Pumpkin filled with pumpkin stew
Magenta slaw never disappoints!
Small Farmer's Journal from yesteryear is good winter reading for a farmer....
Harvest Ratatouille is my favorite harvest dish to make and freeze. Bringing out when the snow is abound reminds me of the taste of sweet fleeting summer. With produce available all year around one does not have to wait until August to have Ratatouille..
Great use of vegetables from the garden. Serve over pasta or chop vegetables smaller to make a chunky spread for sandwiches.
Serving size: 6
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon dry basil
1 teaspoon dry marjoram
1-2 teaspoons herbs De Provence
2/3 cup finely-chopped bell pepper
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 1/2 lbs globe eggplant, peeled, and cut in 1/2" cubes
1 pound green and yellow zucchini, unpeeled, and cut in 1/2" slices
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, quartered
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Over medium heat in a large dutch oven heat the oil and saute the onion, dry herbs and garlic for 3 to 4 minutes until soft.
Add bell pepper, garlic, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and salt and pepper
Cover, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Garnish with Parmsean cheese to serve.