Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Counting Down - TOAD IN THE HOLE

There is green in my garden! The snow is slowly melting, exposing a small patch of damp, dark earth where, last October, I planted two short rows of seeds. Today, I can distinctly see two rows of tiny green shoots. I can’t remember exactly what’s there, but I think it’s a mixture of radish, lettuce and arugula.

This is exciting, because it means I'm one step closer to starting a new culinary adventure I'm calling "Home for Dinner." For one year, I'm going to cook almost exclusively with the foods of Saskatchewan, eating what’s in season and preserving the bounty for winter months. I plan to start the first day I eat something green out of my garden.

"Home for Dinner" is not just about Saskatchewan. It’s a philosophy and a lifestyle that can be embraced no matter where you live. If I can do it in Saskatchewan, you can do it anywhere! Here are some good reasons to be "Home for Dinner" no matter where you call home:

Tastier food – Local produce is usually picked just before it’s sold, so it’s fresher and more flavourful. Local farmers who aren’t mass producing for a distant market are more likely to care about the quality and flavour of their food.

Healthier food – Local produce is less likely to have been treated with preservation and ripening agents. If you shop for food produced with organic principles, you will be exposed to fewer chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Environmentally friendly food – Think of all the fuel that is used to truck lettuce from Mexico and bananas from Costa Rica. That's a lot of greenhouse gases.

Food for the local economy – Farming is a tough business, especially if you’re small and trying to do something unique on your land. Reward the farmers who are producing good healthy food and keep your food dollars in the local economy.

Tonight we had Toad-in-the-Hole with onion gravy, a dish from England made with Saskatchewan ingredients (adapted from a recipe in Martha Stewart Living). My version includes eggs and sausages from a local farm, rosemary and onions from the farmers’ market, locally-made mustard and a rich chicken stock I made myself.

2 large eggs
2/3 cups milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp butter
6 pork breakfast sausages
1 tbsp fresh rosemary

Whisk everything together but the sausages and rosemary, season with salt & pepper and let sit for 20 minutes. Butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Pour the batter into the dish, sprinkle with rosemary and arrange the sausages on top. Bake at 400F for 25-30 minutes, until the egg is set. Serve with onion gravy or tomato chutney.

Onion Gravy
3 tbsp butter
2 onions halved and sliced
1 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock
dash of Worcestershire sauce

Melt the butter in a large skillet and stir in the onions. Cook on medium heat until the onions are golden. Stir in the flour until completely absorbed by the butter. Add the stock and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer a few minutes until thick. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on Toad-in-the-Hole.

Sources: Bennett farm eggs, sausages from the Saskatoon Farmers' Market; rosemary from a pot in my windowsill.

1 comment:

Gwen said...

Okay, I've just pledged to myself not to read your blog until I've had my lunch. Toad in the Hole sounds awesome, Amy. I think you're going to turn me into a local foodie!