Category Archives: seafood

The epitome of locavore- 1 mile dinner

It’s no secret that I fell in love with the concept of eating locally grown food after reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. In it she details her family’s journey eating like locavores for a year by shopping at farmer’s markets, growing their own produce, preserving summer produce, raising chickens for eggs and meat, raising turkeys, finding local grainery mills, local wine…etc. The book was eye opening, and I’ve enjoyed re-reading it nearly every year for renewed inspiration. I try to cook seasonally and locally as much as possible and get excited when a meal I prepare is nearly 100% local.
I didn’t expect to do much cooking on Orcas island, much less enjoy a very local meal there. When we arrived at the guest house we were renting, though, I realized that this was really truly a guest house complete with kitchen, dining table and even a table and chairs on the patio (incredible view included). Trevor and I decided we needed to take advantage. The woman we rented the guest house from was incredibly sweet. She pointed out some places nearby that we might like to check out- like the seafood farm less than 500 meters up the road (basically through her backyard). She told us that they had clams, crab, oysters, salmon…oh my! She also said we were free to pick fruit from her plum trees and told us about blackberry bushes just down the road from her house. I was thrilled! Our dinner ingredients would come from less than a 1 mile radius from where we were staying.
After getting settled in, we decided to take the quick walk to the farm to check things out. Note the beautiful views along the walk.
See those bushes to the left of the barn? Those are blackberry bushes.
Getting close!
Nose of the boat, pointing us in the right direction.


When we arrived at Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, we asked some questions, found out that they farmed the shellfish and had fresh caught salmon. They also had some zucchini, berries and fresh eggs for sale, because this isn’t just a shellfish farm. There’s actually quite a large area for growing produce plus a big coop with about 30 chickens. They were so friendly and we asked if we could go visit their chickens. We’re a little obsessed right now with less than 2 months until we acquire feathered friends of our own. Little man enjoyed looking at the chickens, and then we left, telling them that we’d surely be back before the weekend was over. 
 
We confirmed with our friends, who were also attending the wedding, that they were available to come for dinner on Sunday night. So Sunday morning, we went blackberry picking to get enough fruit for a crumble. Little man absolutely loved it and probably ate half the berries we picked. We could barely keep up with all of his requests for “more” (signing, not asking with words quite yet), as soon as he had shoved a blackberry in his mouth. 
 
Later that afternoon, we headed back to Buck Bay Shellfish Farm to buy some salmon and zucchini.  When we got there, though, I realized that I was going to be short about $6 in the cash I needed to pay for the food. Here is the ridiculous interaction that ensued:
 
Me: Oh I only have X amount of money. Can I get 2 lbs of salmon instead of 3?
BBSF employee: Oh it’s okay, I’ll just write you an IOU. 
Me: (kind of in shock) Wow, umm, that’s really nice but we’re leaving really early tomorrow morning and wont have time to get to an ATM and bring you the cash before we go. 
BBSF employee: You can just send us a check when you get home. 
Me: (more shock) Are you sure? I mean, that’s so kind, but really?
BBSF employee: Yea, we do it all the time. We’ve never had a problem. 
Me: Okay then. Thank you! Here is the money I do have.
BBSF employee: You can just keep the cash and I’ll write you an IOU for the full amount.
Me: (flabbergasted) You’re really sure about this? 
BBSF employee: Yup, everyone has always sent the money they owe us. It’s really no problem. 
 
Wow…can you believe such a thing? We had heard rumors that Orcas Island was a very friendly place, but now it was confirmed. It was later confirmed a third time, when our host offered up anything in her kitchen we might need to make dinner (while she was not going to be home). I’m telling you- friendly friendly people on Orcas!
 
Now onto the food:
Exhibit 1: Zucchini from Buck Bay Shellfish farm. Less than a mile away.
Exhibit 2: Blackberries picked on the way to BBSF (i.e. even closer).
I went with a simple preparation. Cubed up the zucchini, cooked it in butter with salt and pepper. Fresh ingredients don’t need much to be delicious. 
The beginnings of a crumble. I added some plums, also picked on the way to BBSF. A little sugar to counter the tartness of the fruit. I probably could have added a bit more, but oh well.
A very local meal with a not so local beer. But at least it’s local to us, so we’re supporting our local economy. The salmon, I put on a sheet of foil brushed with butter, removed bones, brushed the salmon with butter, added salt, pepper, chives (from host’s garden) and the juice of a lemon. Then a broiled it for about 12 minutes. Again, fresh ingredients speak for themselves. It was delicious if I do say so myself.
Blackberry and plum crumble. Even the flour was local. We found it (along with the sugar) in the bulk bin of a natural food store on the island, which was perfect since we didn’t need much. The butter, I’m not sure about, but it did say “homemade” and the sugar is almost surely not local. So 6 ingredients out of 9 were local – 5 of which came from less than a mile away. In case you’re curious how I make my crumble topping, it’s approximately equal parts butter, sugar and flour. Mix with your hands until you get a crumble texture. Top fruit with crumble and bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. 

So that’s my epic tale of locavoring it up on Orcas Island. Thank you to all the friendly people on the island who made it such a memorable trip. We will definitely be back! And if you go, be sure to visit Buck Bay Shellfish Farm. The salmon was AMAZING and next time we’ll surely be trying some crab, clams and oysters.

Quick Valentine’s Day Recap

I have a feeling the little one will be waking up from his nap any minute now, but I’ve been wanting to do a recap of our lovely Valentine’s Day, courtesy of Trevor, and I’m already 4 days late. In the interest of time, I’ll do a picture recap.

First, Quentin and I had a little fun with finger paints. We needed to make daddy a Valentine, so we got to work.

Here is the before picture
Aaaand after. It was a mess (obviously, 7 month old + fingerpaints=big mess), but it was fun!

Happy boy!

It’s all fun and games until you decide to suck your thumb with paint on your hand. That ended the project. Good thing we were done with daddy’s Valentine.

Trevor said he would make a Valentine’s Day dinner. A few years ago, he made this delicious Crab Salad with Pears and Hazelnuts from Simply Recipes. We loved it and decided we wanted to have it again. Maybe it will be a Valentine’s day tradition.

Butter leaf lettuce cups for the salad

Delicious crab and pear salad. Unfortunately, Whole Foods was out of hazelnuts. Instead, we added a little hazelnut oil. It wasn’t the same, but at least there was some nuttiness.

Serving it up.

Add a drizzle of olive oil.

Ready!

For dessert, I made some chocolate-covered strawberries.

As a bonus, we had some macarons from Cocola that a friend gave me as a thank you for the onesie I made for her daughter. Sweet!

I’d say it was a success! What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Or am I already too late to still be thinking about this at all?

Paella!

Ahh Barcelona…we spent some time there last summer and had a marvelous time. If you remember from a previous blog post of mine, we were not lucky in the food department while we were there, but I would give Barcelona another chance in a heartbeat. This time, I would be armed with recommendations from friends who have both visited and lived there. I’m sure we would not be disappointed. One of the mainstays of Catalan cuisine is paella, and I’m fairly certain that paella is to Barcelona what quiche is to France. Each family has their own recipe that differentiates it from others.

A few years ago, my good friend Anton spent a summer in Barcelona. He has many good memories from those few months and often reminisces about his time there, including the delicious paella he ate there! We’ve talked for months about getting together to make paella someday, and finally found the time to do it! He asked his friend from Barcelona for his paella recipe, and he was kind enough to share it with us. It turned out delicious, so I’m sure there will be more paella-making in our future.

Paella:

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups paella rice
  • 1lb canned tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 chicken drumsticks (or whichever part of the chicken you prefer)
  • 1/2 lb calamari
  • 1/2 lb cuttlefish (or octopus, or if you can’t find this, add an extra 1/2 lb calamari)
  • 1 lb mussels
  • 1/2 lb clams
  • 8 prawns, deveined
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • a few pinches of saffron
  • 1.5 L water

Directions:
1. Boil a small amount of water in a medium-sized pot. Clean the muscles and the clams, then put them in boiling water until they open. Drain the water and set them aside for later.

Cleaned mussels & clams

2. In a large dutch oven boil the 1.5 L of water.
3. Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil and fry the chicken drumsticks until they are golden on all sides.

4. Add the chicken to the boiling water.

5. In the same olive oil you used to cook the chicken, fry the cleaned cuttlefish and calamari. When cooked add them to the boiling water with the chicken.

6. Add a little more olive oil to the frying pan and cook the bell pepper until softened. Once bell pepper is cooked, transfer it to a bowl and set aside.

7. Use the same frying pan to cook the prawns. Cook for one minute on each side and add them to the bowl with the bell pepper.

8. In the same pan, cook the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the bell peppers and prawns to the onions and pour in the tomato puree. Cook until the tomato puree thickens.

9. Add the tomato mixture to the boiling water. If you have a paella pan (which I didn’t when making this), add everything from the dutch oven to the paella pan. When it starts boiling add the rice and the saffron. Mix in shellfish. Stir and allow to cook for at least 15 minutes (or until rice is done). Remove from heat and cover with foil for 5 minutes before serving.


Que aproveche!! Enjoy!