...Growing, Building, Cooking, Preserving, Crafting...

2006 began our urban homestead when I broke ground on a garden, which now includes perennial fruits, flowers, & many vegetable varieties. We dream of solar panels, keeping bees and hens. Until then we'll continue growing and preserving our own fruits and vegetables, building what we can for our home, cooking from scratch, and crafting most days.


Eat Local Challenge

Monarch butterfly on thistle
Overlooking the prairie behind our campsite at dusk
The 2010 Eat Local Challenge began last Wednesday, the first of September.  I spent part of the day talking to people and handing out information on the ELC at the Westown Farmers' Market.  In the past two years, the challenge has expanded to celebrate two wonderful weeks of local food in early September.  What a perfect time to eat as locally as one can.  We usually go camping over Labor Day weekend so we took the challenge on the road.  We spent two days and three nights at Harrington Beach State Park, just a quick jaunt north along the lakeshore, where we were experienced a beautiful campsite overlooking a prairie, well-kept outbuildings and other facilities, and a gorgeous beach along Lake Michigan.  This was all a huge treat after the abomination we encountered at the Indiana Dunes State Park where we camped over Memorial Day weekend.
Wild apples

Local "lumberjack" breakfast
Our trove of windfall apples
The three of us woke early the first morning and lazied around in our sleeping bags in the tent--me reminiscing about the Holly Hobby sleeping bag I had as a kid, which Ben thinks is ironic because she was the prairie homesteader--then rose slowly and made breakfast--pancakes made with local sorghum flour, pastured pork bacon, the first edible watermelon from our garden, and some Milwaukee-roasted coffee.  It was brisk, yet gorgeous with blue skies and light winds so we grabbed our binoculars and took a birdwalk guided by the experts from the Milwaukee Audubon Society.  I'd been birding only once--on a winter trip to Kohler, WI--so this was great fun.  Of course, I was more interested in the wild edibles we passed along the trail--highbush cranberryelderberries, and wild apples--than the birds, which were so quick to flit here and there, I was barely able to catch the slightest glimpse by the time I got my oculars adjusted.  We learned from the birders that the site of this state park is "old fields," meaning old agricultural fields, which explains the sprinkling of apple trees throughout the landscape.  By the next afternoon I was dying to get out and climb one of these trees if necessary.  Instead, we managed to collect about 18 pounds of windfall apples of all shapes, sizes, colors, and quality from a few trees near Puckett's Pond.  For windfalls they weren't in bad shape.  Cooked them down when we got home today; I plan to make apple butter this week.  Besides our lumberjack breakfasts and eating off the trail we also enjoyed our standard foil dinner--whose ingredients were much easier to find locally now than in the spring when we last prepared it--and S'mores with Milwaukee-based Omanhene Chocolate.

Foil dinner before cooking
Foil Dinner

Aluminum foil
Green Cabbage, torn into leaves
Carrots, washed and chopped
Potatoes, washed and chopped
Onions, peeled and sliced
Ground Meat
Salt and Pepper

Spread out a large piece of aluminum foil and build your dinner: a layer of cabbage, carrots, potatoes, onions, raw ground meat in the middle, pat of butter, salt and pepper then keep building it in reverse.  Keep in mind that it builds up quickly so don't add too much to start.  Wrap it tightly in foil making sure there are no holes where the butter can seep out.  Toss it onto a campfire that has burned down to coals and let it cook for about 30 minutes.  Unwrap (be careful of the steam) and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Mmmm...apple butter! I just made some last weekend (with apples from the South Shore Farmer's Market). Yum!

    With the windfall apples...do they get bruised from falling off the trees? I assume you just cut that part off then? I used an apple peeler/slicer/corer, and it made the job so easy. I plan on making more apple butter as the weeks go on. :)