Monday, October 10, 2011

Tasting Oklahoma

Whole wheat, pecan pancakes and PrimaCafe coffee start this morning off.  Some days it is Wagon Creek Creamery's non-fat Greek yogurt with honey and granola.  Or, I saute' some rosemary potatoes with onions and peppers and scrambled eggs.  I still haven't outgrown my peanut butter and honey lunches.  Dinner is often a colorful array of veggies - roasted or steamed - with pasta or chicken.  Peaches and apples (with peanut butter!) make a delicious snack this time of year.  Why am I making you hungry with all this discussion of food?  Because, these foods all have one thing in common - they are from Oklahoma.  Besides, if you know me, you know that I LOVE food!

An article in the paper the other day about the recent listeria deaths from cantaloupe stated that, "it's virtually impossible to sit down and eat a meal and eat food that hasn't come from all over the world."  Nonsense!  We just experienced the hottest summer in the history of Oklahoma (second hottest in the history of the nation), and our farmers persevered and continued to grow and harvest what they could.  While my garden seemed to burn (like many things I attempt to cook), the farmers' markets never failed me.

Let me explain what I mean by "farmers' market".   I don't mean the new Sunflower Farmers Market grocery store in Oklahoma City.  I don't mean the so-called "farmers' market" downtown that sells products from Texas, California, Florida, Mexico, Guatemala, and other foreign places.  When I say "farmers' market", I mean only those markets that sell only Oklahoma products.  Specifically, I mean the Friday Midtown Market (Urban Agrarian) by St. Anthony's, the Saturday market at OSU-OKC, and the Sunday Fresh Foods market (Urban Agrarian) in front of Cheever's (or the Urban Agrarian and Earth Elements new location at SW 2nd and Ellison when the weather is uncooperative).  There may be others, but you might have to do a little searching to be sure you are buying Oklahoma products.  A seller at OSU-OKC also tipped me off to the Bixby produce.  Bixby has a produce wholesaler that resells produce from Oklahoma as well as other states.  So, just a fair warning - if it says it's from Bixby, it may not have been grown in Bixby!  The Oklahoma Food Coop is another fantastic place to get your Oklahoma-local products (not just food - there are also various items like laundry detergent, artwork, wool yarn, etc.).

What about when items aren't in season?  My freezer is full of chopped onions, peppers, and zucchini as well as peeled and sliced peaches, steamed spinach and kale, and sliced patty pan squash.  I used to get overzealous at the farmers' market, only to end up feeding my compost bin more than I fed myself.  Since then, I've learned some valuable tricks to waste less and eat more.  One of my favorite people, Bob Waldrop, has got a fantastic blog with pure genius ideas on a plethora of subjects surrounding sustainability. 

I couldn't end this topic of discussion without promoting a garden of your own.  Nothing can beat the satisfaction of walking out to your garden in bare feet and snipping a few herbs or picking a few peppers to toss into whatever you're cooking at the moment.  Those rosemary potatoes I mentioned earlier? That rosemary, by some miracle, survived the summer drought in my neglected flowerbed (yes, I mix edibles with my flowers in the front yard) and continued to grow.  When the temperatures finally dropped back into the double-digits, I was amazed to discover that not only my rosemary, but also the oregano, sweet potatoes, basil, cilantro, and chives have all survived some serious heat, drought, and neglect.  I won't mention all of the other things that weren't so lucky.  I definitely have wholehearted respect for our Oklahomie farmers working long, hard days to give us food that is healthy and safe for us to eat.  It's a year-round effort, with no guarantees that Mother Nature won't spoil their bounty.

Is your mouth watering for some whole-wheat pecan pancakes now?  I'll share the recipe, right off the bag of GO Organic whole wheat flour from Fairview, OK, I bought at the OSU-OKC market, with the local options in parentheses:

John's Farm -- Favorite Family Recipe
Whole Wheat Pancakes

3/4 to 1 cup whole wheat flour (GO Organic, Fairview, OK)
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
2 T. honey (George's Apiary, Noble, OK)
1 T. oil (substitute applesauce from Earth Elements, OKC, OK)
1 cup buttermilk, or milk (Braum's!)
1 large egg (this week it is Bourlons Hilltop Farm, Sparks, OK)
Optional ingredients: blueberries, strawberries, 1 cup well-cooked rice, or 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I chose pecans from Peach Crest Farms, Stratford, OK)

For more recipes and local food ideas, check out one of my other favorite blogs by one of my other favorite people, Tricia Dameron.

Happy, healthy eating!