Because of the heated shelter, shopping at the Bellingham Farmers Market on Saturdays continues to be a pleasant experience. I like to arrive a few minutes before the 10 a.m. opening so I can look around to see what's available. Some produce is beginning to be in short supply, so I like to have as much choice as possible. I know the opening bell is about to ring when I see vendors start covering their ears.
I quickly get the seasonal necessities - root vegetables, chard and kale, some herbs and Roslyn's special smoked cayenne peppers (Rabbit Fields Farm). I breathe in the soothing scent of lavender as I picked up my egg CSA from Marvin at Red Barn Lavender.
Then I start browsing, looking for things that are interesting. Hopewell Farm introduced my grandson to a giant prizewinning beet named Beatrice. Crafts vendors have some amazing pieces to make gift-giving easy this year.
The item I chose that inspired the recipe below was the Indecision Basket from Cascadia Mushrooms. Cascadia has many varieties of mushrooms available, but their Indecision Basket makes the choice easier. It typically includes three to four different varieties. This time it contained oyster mushrooms, shiitakes, lion's mane, and the aptly named cinnamon caps with their beautiful cinnamon color. The luscious cream of mushroom soup I cooked with them literally makes canned soup pale in comparison. I hope you'll give it a try.
WHATCOM LOCAVORE PUBLISHES FIRST KINDLE E-BOOK
Responsibility for cooking a big holiday dinner can be stressful for home cooks. To help you create a special dinner in a way that allows you to relax and enjoy it, Whatcom Locavore has prepared three Holiday Dinner Menu Plans - beef, salmon and vegetarian versions. We've been offering them for sale on our website in downloadable PDF versions: whatcomlocavore.com/2012-holiday-menus.
Last week I was excited to debut the menu plans as Kindle e-books, available through Amazon.com. If you search the Kindle Store for "holiday menus," we've been coming up at the top!
Most holiday books are collections of recipes. A small handful offer recipes organized into menus. However none that I've found go beyond menus and recipes.
That's what makes our books different. We include menus, recipes with photos of finished dishes, a complete shopping list, and a recommended schedule for preparing the food. In short, all you need to do is follow our checklists and you'll be able to relax and enjoy visiting with your guests while delivering a healthy meal with "wow"-factor flavor.
Our menus are not "turkey with all the fixings." Instead, dishes use locally grown seasonal ingredients readily available at the farmers market and other fall and winter farm sources. The PDF versions of the menu plans include Whatcom farm names and recommended local food sources. The Kindle versions are more geographically generic.
All of the recipes are fully tested in quantities to serve six people (or fewer, with leftovers). The recipes can easily be multiplied to serve more people, as needed. None of the recipes are difficult to prepare, and they can be used anytime for fall and winter family meals, too.
I hope you'll check them out, in whatever format appeals to you: whatcomlocavore.com/2012-holiday-menus.
Happy holidays, from our home to yours!
CREAM OF MUSHROOM SOUP
1 stalk celery (friend's greenhouse garden, Lummi Island)
1 small carrot (home garden, Lummi Island)
1/2 cup diced onion (home garden, Lummi Island)
1/2 pound mixed mushrooms (1 pint Indecision Basket) (Cascadia Mushrooms, Bellingham)
1/4 teaspoon dried basil (dehydrated from home garden, Lummi Island)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups water
Sliced mushrooms caps set aside from stock ingredients (see recipe instructions)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks (home garden, Lummi Island)
1/2 cup carrot, diced into quarter-inch cubes (home garden, Lummi Island)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (Fairhaven Organic Flour Mills, Burlington)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (BelleWood Acres, Lynden)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (home garden, Lummi Island)
1/8 teaspoon smoked cayenne pepper, minced (Rabbit Fields Farm, Everson)
1 cup heavy cream (Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Lynden)
To make the mushroom stock:
Dice celery and carrot into small pieces. Add onions and mix together. Set aside.
Clean mushrooms using a dry cloth or small brush. Trim stems from mushrooms and chop them into small pieces. Set aside. Slice tops of mushrooms into bite-size pieces and set aside separately.
Heat a 1-quart saucepan over medium-low heat and add the mushroom stem pieces. Heat, stirring often, until the mushroom pieces give off their moisture and have a nutty fragrance.
Add 1 tablespoon butter and raise heat to medium. When the butter has melted, add the celery, carrot and onion mixture. Stir in dried basil and salt. Cook until vegetables have softened.
Add 3 cups of water or chicken stock. Be sure to stir, to loosen browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has been reduced to about 2 cups. Remove from heat and strain liquid, discarding vegetables. Set stock aside.
To make the soup:
Meanwhile, in a larger saucepan over medium-low heat, sweat the sliced mushroom tops just as you did the stems for the stock.
Add 2 tablespoons butter, and increase heat to medium. When butter has melted, add the chopped leeks and carrots, and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are slightly softened and the leeks just begin to brown around the edges.
Stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two. Add the apple cider vinegar, and stir to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add the reserved mushroom stock, thyme and smoked pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the cream, stirring well. Return to low heat just until warmed through. Do not boil. Adjust seasonings to taste.
Makes 2-3 servings.
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
Reach NANCY GING at 360-758-2529 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To follow her day- to-day locavore activities, "like" Whatcom Locavore on Facebook (facebook.com/whatcomlocavore) and "follow" on Twitter, @WhatcomLocavore. For locavore menus, recipes, and more resources, read her blog at at whatcomlocavore.com.