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One Local Summer 2009 : Week 1

7 June 2009

If OLS started a few weeks ago, then I would have been able to rave about asparagus meals. The downtown farmers market opened the first weekend in May, and all the local farmers had lovely, thin, green stalks of asparagus for sale. We made asparagus risotto, asparagus tart (with local eggs), roasted asparagus — for four weeks, we made something different each time. Now, at the beginning of June, new things are starting to find their way to the market, but they’re still selling asparagus. Unfortunately, the girls have made it clear that they are sick (and tired!) of eating (and peeing) asparagus. No more asparagus for us this season!

So, for this first week of OLS, I admit that the only local dish I can talk about is a mixed vegetable salad.

Local vegetable salad

The small cucumbers and tiny red and yellow peppers were grown in a farmer’s greenhouse nearby, and the feta is from Northern Prairie Chevre, an operation located just north of Des Moines. Olive oil and vinegar not local.

The rest of the meal wasn’t local, but it was homemade — pupusas, stuffed cornflour cakes from El Salvador. The first thing I learned is that masa harina (corn flour) smells awful as you work it. Sorta like used kitty litter. But it sure is simple: just flour and water. I stuffed these with grated monterey jack cheese and some scallion I had in the fridge.

I think I rolled them too flat. No — I know I rolled them too flat; they were supposed to be 1/4-inch thick, and mine were more 1/16-inch.


But I was impressed at how easy it was to keep most of the filling covered by the dough; I had expected spillage and a big mess.

Pupusas are cooked in an ungreased griddle. The cakes did cook, but the outside was more of a toasty white than a toasty brown. I suppose that was because corn flour doesn’t cook like wheat flour (just like corn dough, as I learned earlier, doesn’t smell like wheat dough).

Pupusas on the heat

Pupusas are traditionally served with a cabbage and carrot slaw called curtido. This stuff is so easy to make, and so delicious! I think that because the vegetables are soaked in boiling water rather than dumped in a pot of boiling water, they stay more crunchy. And because this is a vinegar-based slaw, rather than a mayonnaise-based slaw, it is much lighter on the tongue (and the stomach!). Another traditional side dish is salsa roja. I didn’t feel like making a salsa, so instead I bought a jar of a local salsa (Juan O’Sullivan’s) at the farmers market. I’m not sure they use all local ingredients in their salsa, so although the final product is local, the intermediate ingredients may not be. Let’s consider that 50% local, then.

One Local Summer 2009 : Week 1

The pupusas were fun to make, I will definitely make them again.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Cateling permalink
    7 June 2009 4:55 pm

    Is Juan O’Sullivan related to Carlos O’Kelley?

    I may have to try that curtido recipe, thanks for posting it!

    I have OD’d on local BLTs (as I seem to do every spring when tomatoes come in from the local farmers’ hot houses). Our local meal this week was local tomato sauce on not-local pasta, plus local asparagus and local salad with not-local dressing. It was good. 🙂

    • Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
      9 June 2009 8:23 pm

      Yeah, I think O’Sullivan is as much Juan as Carlos is Kelley.

      Do try the curtido, it is really EASY. Your local meal sounds delish!

  2. 8 June 2009 7:23 pm

    It looks lovely! I love your inclusion of feta. We just found a local artisan cheesemaker and I can’t wait to get a hold of some his feta. I did make my own last summer and it turned out great, though. I’ll have to try it again.

    • Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
      9 June 2009 8:25 pm

      There isn’t much that this family wouldn’t want to add cheese to! The women who own Northern Prairie Chevre love their Nubian goats, it’s great to be able to support a small business like theirs. When the girls were younger, I took their GS troop up there to visit with the baby goats in the Spring. So fun!

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