Friday, February 3, 2012

Really Local Lasagna

The fact that we try to eat as locally as possible doesn’t come as news. Usually it’s not too tough – I get our meat, eggs and milk products from local farms, hit the farmers markets, Beaver’s Market carries lots of locally produced sauces, cheeses, etc, and I grow many of our vegetables which I “put up” for winter consumption.

Throwing a piece of meat on the grill, roasting a chicken, stewing up a mélange of this ‘n’ that based simply on what’s available in the fridge, pantry and freezer – all that’s pretty low-key. But last weekend I had a craving for lasagna. Gathering the ingredients I was surprised that I could make it with all local, and many handmade ingredients.

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There was grass-fed beef in the freezer. That, along with onion from the farmers market, celery from the freezer, garlic and dried basil from the garden, parsley from the pot in the window and two pints of my tomato sauce, made up an approximation of Bette Jane Sauce.

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Every two weeks or so I make up some kind of cheese from our dairy deliveries (we get half a gallon of whole milk a week, along with a quart of half-and-half – for coffees and cooking – and a quart of heavy cream that ends up as cultured butter and buttermilk). In the freezer I found a pint of homemade ricotta (in the strawberry container above) and two balls of mozzarella (in the plastic bag).

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The bonus was that last time I made pasta I was in a hurry and ended up just slicing big lasagna noodles and allowing them to dry. The eggs and flour in that pasta were both locally sourced.

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If I had tried to make all of that from scratch at once, it would have taken all day. Literally, ALL DAY. But because I made the ingredients ahead of time, over time, as part of my regular routines, the lasagna only took about half an hour of prep time once everything was thawed.

We ate it with a fresh farmers market salad. It was the kind of meal that isn’t possible all the time, but when it is, I find myself savoring each bite with unparalleled concentration and appreciation.

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