Sunday, September 9, 2007

100-Mile Diet? Try 100-Metre Sauces!

There's been a lot of fuss lately about eating locally and the 100-Mile Diet. Personally I know that I wouldn't last a day on that diet, since most tofu, fish, soy products and grains that I can safely eat come from places at least in other provinces, if not other countries!

However, I can't let this phenomenon go past without at least an honest mention of two things I made today that would make even the stingiest locavores happy. Two sauces came out of the pot today- one sweet, one savoury- that were made using nothing but ingredients found no less than 100 METRES from my location. That's right... 100m, the same distance as the sprints in the Olympics! This is due to our well-stocked and (thankfully) bountiful garden, filled with beets, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and a myriad of herbs, and the great soil that appears in Prince Edward County. Though I don't live in the County, my dad owns a trailer there and when I went for a visit Andrew and I picked a bag of crabapples from the tree a few steps away from our door. I felt that it was a nice excuse for me to cook somethin' up, and save the best (and last, sadly) that Summer brought to our table this year.

So, what do you get when I make 100-metre sauces? Crabby County Sauce and Jars of Summer Sauce! Can you tell I love creative names? Andrew will be getting jars of each of these when he comes home on the 22nd, so he can tell me how they rate on his scale. I think they're both pretty darn tasty myself, and the perfect consistencies for my palate. As for the rest of you, keep on cooking, wherever your ingredients come from. What matters most is that you combine them with heart and love, and they will be the most local dishes ever created!
The recipes are all approximations, I don't usually cook with a recipe since the impromptu stuff is so much fun! Here is what I did, at any rate:
This sweet, yet slightly tangy sauce is awesome warm, whether straight from the pot or heated in the microwave. I actually like to mix this with some whole-fruit raspberry jam and warm it for a mid-morning snack.
Crabby County Sauce
20 crabapples, chopped
1 red delicious apple, chopped
1/4 c water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot on the stove or use a crockpot.
  2. Cook, covered, on low heat 3-4 hours or until saucy consistency.
  3. Stir every 1/2 hour to hour or so.
  4. Serve warm or jar for later use. Can be frozen successfully.
A note about this next recipe... note the absence of onions or garlic. I would have added them, but I don't grow them in my garden (next year for the garlic!) and I didn't have any on hand. I think it makes the full roasted flavours of the sauce stand out a little more.

Jars of Summer Sauce
2 zucchini, chopped
20 plum tomatoes, chopped
5 beets, chopped
1 hot banana pepper, seeded and cut into strips
3 Shepherd peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 hot Portugese pepper, seeded and cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into strips
2 cups stewed tomatoes (I used ones that the SF's mama jarred herself)
1 large sprig fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
1 large handful fresh basil, torn
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray 3-4 baking sheets with oil.
  2. Now, if you're like me, you wander outside and pick a bunch of vegetables to throw into the sauce. Basically anything roastable works!
  3. Toss all the vegetables onto the baking sheets, ensuring there is a little space between everything (ie. don't let the veggies overlap).
  4. Roast 45 minutes, rotating pans 1/2 way through.
  5. Scrape all the roasted vegetables into a large pot, add stewed tomatoes, water and herbs.
  6. Turn the heat to medium-low, stir and bring to a simmer.
  7. Turn the heat down to low, cover the pot and simmer 2 hours longer, stirring every 1/2 hour or so.
  8. Cool to room temperature if not using immediately.
  9. Put into jars or tight-lidded containers, store in fridge or freeze for future use.

This sauce smells ridiculously amazing while cooking out, and the roasted vegetables add a smoky carmelized flavour and aroma that you can only get when cooking from fresh. My mom has served this over white fish, and she's added it to her leftover lasagna when she did a leftover night. I tossed it over eggs once. It's really thick and chunky so if you go the pasta route, pick a rigatoni, fusilli or lumache over spaghetti. Enjoy!