Monthly Archives: February 2015

Pork Leg Roast with 4 Herbs

By |February 10th, 2015|

Make the house smell good!

I have been in a rut.  I love cooking pork roasts and for the last year and a half have braised every one.  They are always fantastic and always different since I throw in whatever is around.  But even a good rut is a rut.  We had our friends Nikyta and Kenny over for dinner and conversation came round to food and specifically pork.  They raved about a roast they had recently eaten over at Julienne and Jacamo’s house. I asked some questions and am now passing on the second hand (but tested!) recipe.  We had it with potatoes and fresh broccoli from the hoophouse and it was a hit!

Ingredients

Leg of Pork Roast

Equal parts fresh rosemary and oregano, fennel seed and garlic

Salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil

Herbs

Take the rosemary, oregano, fennel seed and garlic and grind together into a paste. You can use a blender, food processor or mortar and pestle.  Add a splash of olive oil, salt and pepper and blend a tad more.

GroundHerbs

Take the roast and score both sides with a diamond pattern about half an inch deep and an inch square.

LegRoast

Now take your paste and smear it all over the roast.  Work it into the scored lines.

HerbedRoast

Broil the roast for 10-15 minutes. Until it starts to brown.  Take it out and turn it over and broil the second side for 10-15 minutes until it starts to brown.

Now turn your oven down to 240 and cook the roast 4 hours.

Finished Roast

Bounty Food Experiment Post #4

By |February 2nd, 2015|

Easter potluck on the Bluff.

Easter potluck on the Bluff.

What are the flavors of our Lopez culture? What is our regional cuisine? These questions have been woven through this experience of eating only from our island. When I travel I seek out the tastes of those places; the dishes and flavors that spring from a people’s relationship to their land.

Our contemporary Lopez culture is so young; waves of immigrants from Europe, Scandinavia, the Midwest, California, Mexico. Although the Salish and Lummi nations have thousands of years of eating from these shores other than crab, clams, salmon in the smokehouse or venison on the fire little of their food ways have been maintained by current islanders. This new culture has had a little over a hundred years to form. The early settlers brought their milk cows, their lamb, planted the orchards and introduced new seeds. Betty Hastin, who was born and lived her life on the South end once told me the story of bringing zucchini seeds to the island. She lived in Seattle during World War Two and her neighbor was an old Italian man who gave her the seeds. After the war when she moved back to Lopez she brought them with her. Now it is hard to imagine summer without the abundance of zukes. How they suddenly get huge and by August everyone is giving them away.

David with a zuchini which got out of hand.

David with a zuchini which got out of hand.

I find myself doing experiments in my mind. If we were all eating from Lopez for generations (because I image that is what it takes for a regional cuisine to mature) what would our food look like? What would our staples be? What would we serve at celebratory feasts in the winter or in the summer? When a visitor arrived and sat down at our tables what would they notice? What would surprise them?

As I ask these questions I begin to question the questions themselves. The isolated self sufficient world that grew so many regional food cultures is not the world we live in. We live in a time of rapid change, of access to the foods and seeds of the world, season extending infrastructure and plant breeders who are shifting genetics of crops to work in our area. And as a community we are creating our identity. This creative question of how to have a local identity and be global citizens is being worked out by communities all over the USA. I think it is one of the underlaying appeals of the local food movement. It is a movement about belonging and caring for the land of one’s home. Each farm that grows a favored crop, each gardener saving seed over the years and sharing it, each recipe passed on, each request for that favorite dish again, each potluck on the beach is creating our food culture. I have become excited about what we can create together.

Nathan and David carving the pig head for a farm dinner.

Nathan and David carving the pig head for a farm dinner.

In this month in the middle of winter I have had an abundance of flavor. The base is meat. Seared or roasted so the rich brown of caramelization informs the dish. Stock from chicken, duck and pork that imparts a soft on the tongue comfort of marrow and collagen cooked down. Tomatoes roasted in the wood fired oven until their sugars balance perfectly the acidic base . Onions or shallots start so many dishes. Softening into their sweetness in hot lard. Apple cider syrup whose sugar opens to a mellow tang reminiscent of a balsamic reduction. And salt. We are surrounded by it.

Herbs began to fascinate me since I couldn’t just open up the spice drawer. I already used the rosemary, thyme, oregano, parsley, etc. that grow so faithfully here but was excited to find myself reaching of others. Dill seed. I love fresh dill in summer but in winter the little seeds sprinkled on grated carrot or sauted cabbage liven things up. Fennel seeds became another favorite. A pinch of whole seeds in a pork braise. Yum.

I worried about not having sugar at the start of this month but have found that there is so much sweetness. All the warmth of summer stored in the flesh of fruit, of squash, of tubers and grain. My tongue seemed to recognize and celebrate the complexity of flavors without the exclamation point of refined sugar taking over.

Ip Ssan Hong Chinese cabbage in the hoophouse.

Ip Ssan Hong Chinese cabbage in the hoophouse.

Many people have asked- what about vegetables? With our mild climate and season extending infrastructure we have the capacity to have greens all year round. It has been fantastic to have the hoophouse and that has allowed me to have lettuce (which I actually didn’t utilize as much as I thought because I couldn’t work out a dressing I liked due to no oil source that was liquid at room temperature), spinach, broccoli, Ip Ssam Hong Chinese cabbage (love this variety!), and corn salad. Kale and brussel sprouts survive out in the garden. Fruit is plentiful in the freezer and canned in the pantry. Apples are a little soft but one gets less picky when there is less to choose from.

There is an intimacy with decay one gets from eating from the land in January. The last hard freeze is visible in the brussel sprout cut in half. A line of brown where leaves succumbed to the cold. The delicata squash in the basket that suddenly softens and sports a white furry coat. In the onion bin I rustle through, squeezing for softening under paper skins. I cut out the dark spots out of my imperfect potatoes and the wireworm holes in the carrots. There are little slugs nestles in the base of the cabbage. I don’t really mind. We are all trying to eat. The slug, the mold, the vole, the human. There is plenty for me. I give what I don’t want to the wormbin, the chickens or pigs. Life is hungry.

My Swedish grandmother grew up on the south end of Lopez in the teens and twenties. She was raised on what they could grow and the abundance of a milk cow. Before it was an experiment, when it was just life. As a young woman she cooked at Norton’s Inn on Orcas and told me stories of starting the morning butchering the chickens for the evening meals. Later she was Mr. Moran’s personal chef at Rosario. When she died she left a freezer full of pies and we would take them out on Christmas or Thanksgiving. She stayed with us for years through the food she left. I still have a couple of jars of cherries canned back in the 80s. During this month of eating local I have thought of her. Of custards and cream. Of a well stocked “fruit room” and the taste of canned plums for breakfast. My earliest memories of garden are with her on Orcas in her Crow Valley garden (she moved there in her 20s, married and raised my Dad there on a 20 acre farm).

Sausage, Eggs, Potatoes with all Lopez made BBQ sauce, greens and Barn Owl Bakery's Lopez Loaf with plum jam.

Sausage, Eggs, Potatoes with all Lopez made BBQ sauce, greens and Barn Owl Bakery’s Lopez Loaf with plum jam.

What have I missed? That is the question that people are asking me this week. The first on the list (and this was a surprise!), oatmeal. I have been eating fabulous breakfasts of sausage or bacon and eggs, French toast or pancakes and I have yearned for the simplicity of oats. Ironically, they grow well here and were historically one of the island crops. And yes, I have missed my black tea in the morning and did cheat and get a single shot of espresso after I had rushed to the early ferry, forgotten all of my carefully packed food. David saved the day by speeding it down to me in the ferry line (I hadn’t even noticed I didn’t have it). As he passed in my cooler he said “just get a cup of coffee when you get to the mainland.” I figured it was good advice! The hardest part of the month was going to potlucks or parties and not being able to eat. I did not like the being the guest who was saying no. Who was not able to graciously eat the gifts that were offered. There a magic that happens when we all break bread together. When we eat the same things we share the same ground. Our bodies store bits of the same earth. And when the food we eat together comes from the land on which we live then we create a trilogy of belonging: earth, nourishment, community.

I welcome back the foods and flavors that I have not had for this month. In part out of recognition that I/we are citizens of this whole planet and those plants: olive, cacoa, coffee, tea, tumeric, cumin, ginger can hold the thread of our connection. What is the fabric that I am weaving with my food. I want the warp and weft to tie me to this place, this community but I also want threads of color and different texture. Threads from the jungle, the sugar maples, vineyards and other food communities.

Thank you to the Lopez Community Land Trust and the Lopez Locavores for putting the Bounty Food Experiment together. I look forward to reading further adventures in local eating!

Ribs