Saturday, June 23, 2012

Guest Post from Lauren -- Local Food from Vermont

The timing of this post couldn't be any more perfect.  Lauren put together this wonderful post about local food in Vermont with some delicious looking recipes for me to share with you today...and guess what I'm doing today?  Exploring local food in Vermont.  I didn't even plan this.  Lauren is a girl after my own heart with her love for the local food movement and serious passion for good food.  I hope you enjoy this post as much as I did and hopefully I'll get to do a follow up to tell you about my local food adventures in Vermont today!  (And until can check out this post about some time I spent in Vermont last year!)

If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I am a self-professed foodie.  I am a Food Network junkie and have the channel on continuously when hanging around the house. I love to try local food stops in any city I’m in and I am a collector of cookbooks. You get it, right? I love food.
But when Emilie asked me to do a guest post for her blog, I was a bit freaked out….okay A LOT freaked out. What on earth could I contribute to her already amazing and adorable food blog?!  Scouring my piles of cookbooks and Food Network magazines, I realized that an upcoming trip to Vermont would be the perfect post! Turns out, I was right…
My first trip to Vermont happened to be a very successful one. Our plan was to hike and eat all of the cheese and maple syrup available and boy, did we have a blast doing so! Turns out, Vermont is home to two of my interests  - Food and Sustainability! I’ve always been a fan of eating locally and organic but Vermont took the Locavore movement to the next level! If you’ve never heard of the Local Food Movement, it is a “collaborative effort to build food economies based on local and sustainable food production, processing, distribution, and consumption”. Besides the obvious maple syrup and cheese, the Vermont food movement is centered on just this - providing local, organic, and sustainably grown food! I love eating fresh, local food; there’s just something about knowing where your food came from and that it’s free of horrible, toxic pesticides. Sometimes I even imagine I can taste the sunshine and earth where the fresh food was grown. Now that is what I call food love.
Check out some pictures from our trip below and a couple recipes inspired by my amazing Vermont weekend!

One of my favorite stops was at the Stowe Farmer’s Market! Nestled at the bottom of Mt. Mansfield, it was hard not to be overwhelmed with the beautiful view and the amazing vendors at this small town market. Some of the things I picked up during my visit were a bag of leafy greens, small loaf of country bread from Elmore Mountain Bread, and some amazing Chevre goat cheese from Sage Farm Goat Dairy.  We also got to try our very  first maple soda! We were hooked after the first sip, it’s so refreshing!

Maple Soda
1. Fill glass with Ice
2. Fill glass about ¾ full with soda water
3. Add pure maple syrup, to taste (I added about 1 shot glass full)
4. Stir and enjoy!
*The key is to use a good quality, pure maple syrup.

For a fun twist, add fresh ginger for a Maple Ginger Soda!

I immediately knew I wanted to make a Maple-Dijon vinaigrette with the Habanero Maple Syrup I picked up from Moosewood Hollow. Anyone that knows me, knows I die for spicy everything and this hot maple syrup was just weird and delicious enough for us to buy TWO bottles of it!  If you get a chance, try some spicy maple syrup for a new twist on the breakfast staple!  

Maple-Dijon Vinaigrette
·       1 small shallot (or half of a large) finely chopped
·       1 garlic clove, finely chopped
·       1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
·       2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (or Red Wine Vinegar)
·       1 tablespoon olive oil
·       ¼ cup maple syrup

Combine first five ingredients and mix to incorporate. Whisk in olive oil until emulsified.  Enjoy on some leafy greens!

I topped my salad with some walnuts and chunks of the fresh goat cheese I acquired at the farmer’s market. Every ingredient (except the walnuts) on my salad was from Vermont! I’ve had this salad for almost every meal since I got back from Vermont, I’m obsessed!
Another favorite stop of ours was in Burlington, Vermont. We stopped by the Magic Hat Brewery for a tour and taste of the local craft beer. After, we had dinner at the highly recommended American Flatbread Co. for more local beer and the most delicious flatbreads I have ever tasted! We couldn’t decide on which flatbread to get so we ordered two – the New Vermont Sausage (Farm fresh, nitrate-free, maple fennel pork sausage; sundried tomatoes; caramelized onions; mushrooms; cheeses and herbs) and the Punctuated Equilibrium (kalamata olives; oven roasted sweet red peppers; handmade Vermont goat cheese; fresh rosemary; red onions; cheese and herbs). Sound amazing, don’t they?!

Inspired by our delectable flatbread experience in Vermont, we were eager to make our own homemade flatbreads at home! Flatbreads are easy to make and can be customized to anyone’s tastes! While I made my own flatbread dough, you can buy pizza dough from the store – but believe me, flatbread tastes so much better with fresh, handmade dough! I threw ours on the charcoal grill for a smokey, charred taste but this recipe can also be done inside!
Homemade Flatbreads
Recipe adapted from The Food Network
·       1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)
·       Ingredients
·       1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
·       4 cups all-purpose flour
·       1 teaspoon salt
·       2 tablespoons olive or canola oil, plus more for bowl

1. Mix water and yeast in a large bowl and let stand 5 minutes to proof. Gradually pour in 2 cups of the flour and stir to incorporate. Mix for about 1 minute to form a sponge. Let stand, covered, for at least 1 hour.
2. Put sponge in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, add the salt and oil, then add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, to form a dough. Remove from bowl and knead. Place in a clean oiled bowl and let rise, slowly, about 2 1/2 hours. Divide dough into 4 balls, let rise again for 1/2 hour, and then roll out as desired.
3. If cooking outside: Oil one side of the flatbread and place on hot grill until golden brown. Turn the flatbread over and add whatever toppings you want!
4. If cooking inside: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle a pizza stone with cornmeal and prick flatbread dough with a fork. Cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. Add toppings and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until cheeses have melted.

We made two flatbreads, based on our tastes and what ingredients we already had at home, and enjoyed them with an ice cold Magic Hat beer! YUM!

We are definitely already missing Vermont but will continue trying to embrace the local food movement here in Boston! I urge you to look up farmer’s markets in your area and cook as much seasonal, local, and organic food as you can! What are some of your favorite local food recipes?

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