What is it about a summertime Sunday brunch that feels so spectacularly indulgent? Is it the relaxed morning, waking slowly in a sun-warmed bed, knowing there is nothing pressing you to start your day quickly?
Is it the collection of loved ones, squeezing into a seat at your table, expressing delight over the smells and the good company? Or is it the food itself, rich and flavorful, savory and sweet, featuring the ripeness of the season? Of course, we know it is all these things.
As many are now aware, there is a movement spreading around the world to bring back the caring and healthy treatment of food, to counterbalance the fast food chains and processed foods that clog the well-being of our communities. This movement is known as the Slow Food movement, and it is progressing arm in arm with the locavore movement as it strives to bring back the idea of savoring our food, and sharing fresh, healthy ingredients with the people we care about - our family, friends and neighbors.
By eating local meals, you are an immediate and strong supporter of the Slow Food movement. You are getting to know your food at the most intimate level, as it unfolds into the sunlight or spreads out into the Earth or roams the beautiful Pacific Northwest countryside.
You experience peak nutrition. You can choose to support farmers whose ethics are aligned with yours, and you can shake their hand in thanks as you receive the bounty of their livelihood. You are passing on true food knowledge to your children and your children's children, to ensure their own health and longevity.
Movements need participation in numbers, and what better way to attract new followers to the Slow Food and locavore movements than to share a delicious local meal with friends or family members who may not yet be aware of the incredible benefits and superb taste of eating healthy, local foods?
Our family has found that you don't have to preach the "local food" gospel - the food says it all. "What is in here? It's so delicious!" "Where can I get these eggs? They look so beautiful." "This is parsnip?!" "Why do these Brussels sprouts taste so much better than the ones I make at home?"
Our response to all of these questions? "It's local!"
This summer, I encourage you to open your doors to those who may not always get the chance, or know how, to shop for local foods. Perhaps it is your aging parents or grandparents who are not able to get to the farmers market or to cook for themselves. Perhaps it's someone who feeds their children via food stamps and doesn't know how to get local ingredients within their budget.
Perhaps it is someone without a vehicle who has trouble getting to local food. Or perhaps it is just someone skeptical that local foods are any different than hothouse broccoli from a foreign country.
Whoever it is, treat them to a welcoming Sunday brunch, locavore-style, and let the food speak for itself, while you simply offer them good company and a meal that shows you care about their health and happiness.
SMOKEY DROP BISCUIT WITH POACHED EGG AND SAGE
For the biscuits:
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour (Acme Farms + Kitchen, Bellingham)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup butter, chilled (homemade with cream from Twin Brooks Creamery, Lynden)
1/4 cup milk (Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Lynden)
1 teaspoon honey (Red Barn Lavender, Ferndale)
1/2 cup herbed cheese, grated (optional; Pleasant Valley Dairy in Ferndale has a
1/2 teaspoon smoked cayenne pepper (Rabbit Fields Farms, Everson)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder in bowl. Cut butter into dry ingredients until the mix looks crumbly, with lumps about pea-size, or slightly smaller.
Pour in milk and add honey. Mix well, but quickly. Add grated cheese.
The dough should be almost paste-like, wetter than a roll-out biscuit dough, but not runny or sticky.
Drop large spoonfuls onto greased or parchment-covered pan. They will puff up a bit, but don't skimp on your spoonfuls, you want them big enough to hold your poached egg.
Sprinkle the top of each biscuit with smoked cayenne. Bake about 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.
For a perfect poached egg
Never poached an egg before? It's easier than you think. Fill a medium saucepan with at least three inches of water. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar (Apple Cider Vinegar from Bellewood Acres). Bring water to a rapid boil, then turn the burner to low and let it sit to allow the water temperature to cool. If you have a candy or other cooking thermometer, the goal temperature is 160 to 180 degrees. I've found, though, that pretty much means your lowest burner setting.
Now for the "fancy" bit. Crack your egg into a small bowl, ideally no more than 4 inches in diameter. Hold the bowl in one hand, and with the other use a spoon to stir the water in the pot very quickly in a circle, creating a sort of vortex in the center. Remove the spoon, and in the same instant tip the bowl into the center of the vortex, slipping the egg gently into the water.
The vortex will pull the egg whites together beautifully. Cook the egg for about 4 minutes, or until the top is opaque but the yolk has not hardened. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve the egg, and set it gently on a paper or cotton towel to drain.
You can use the same water to poach multiple eggs.
To assemble and serve
Split a biscuit in half and set the bottom half on a plate. Gently pick up the poached egg from the towel and slide it off onto the biscuit. If the edges of the poached egg look messy, you can trim the egg white to clean it up. Top with freshly chopped sage, and use the top half of the biscuit as a topper for the egg, or spread honey or homemade jam for a sweet companion.
You'll find Whatcom County foods at these stores and farms. Many outlets have seasonal hours. We recommend you call or check websites for current hours.
Acme Farms Kitchen
Appel Farms Cheese Shoppe, 6605 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-384-4996; appel-farms.com
Artisan Wine Gallery, 2072 Granger Way, Lummi Island; 360-758-2959; artisanwineclub.com
Bellingham Farmers Market, Railroad at Chestnut; 360-647-2060; bellinghamfarmers.org
Boxx Berry Farm Store and u-pick, 6211 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-380-2699; boxxberryfarm.com
Cloud Mountain Farm Nursery, 6906 Goodwin Road, Everson; 360-966-5859; cloudmountainfarm.com
Community Food Cooperative, 1220 N. Forest St. and 315 Westerly Road, Bellingham; 360-734-8158; communityfood.coop
Everybody's Store, 5465 Potter Road, Deming; 360-592-2297; everybodys.com
Ferndale Public Market, Centennial Riverwalk, Ferndale; 360-410-7747; ferndalepublicmarket.org
Grace Harbor Farms, 2347 Birch Bay Lynden Road, Custer; 360-366-4151; graceharborfarms.com
Green Barn, 8858 Guide Meridian, Lynden; 360-354-1008
Hopewell Farm, 3072 Massey Road, Everson; 360-927-8433
Lynden Farmers Market, 514 Liberty St., Lynden, fiveloavesfarm.blogspot.com
Pleasant Valley Dairy, 6804 Kickerville Road, Ferndale; 360-366-5398; facebook.com/pages/Pleasant-Valley-Dairy/161872142667
Red Barn Lavender Farm (egg CSA), 3106 Thornton Road, Ferndale; 360-393-7057
Small's Gardens, 6451 Northwest Road, Ferndale; 360-384-4637
The Islander, 2106 S. Nugent Road, Lummi Island; 360-758-2190; islandergrocery.com
The Markets LLC, 3125 Old Fairhaven Parkway and 1030 Lakeway, Bellingham; 8135 Birch Bay Square St., Blaine; 360-714-9797; themarketsllc.com
Terra Organica, 1530 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham; 360-715-8020; terra-organica.com