Malcolm McDowell Woods
Pantry raid

So you wanna’ be a locavore?

By - Sep 1st, 2009 05:49 pm
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Diane Sieger and Carrie Rowe. Photo by Stephanie Bartz

We tend to cook from the hip rather than a fancy cookbook, we’re in love with our crock pots, and we equate fine dining with a pile of tater tots at Palomino Bar (washed down with Lakefront beer). For all of these reasons, we are not food snobs. We are, however, proud locavores. Before there was a name for it or a movement behind it, we reached for the local stuff because we root for the little guy and would feel bad about food traveling too far to reach our plates. Subsequently, the food on our pantry shelves and in our fridge is fresh, tasty and delicious enough to not need much culinary assistance.

Keeping a local pantry could entail little more than stocking it with Wisconsin-grown fruits and vegetables – but the goal is to support all the little guys so we don’t ignore that part of our shopping list. And frankly, there are some pantry items that super easy and natural to source locally or regionally. Take Eden for example, a family-owned company from Clinton, Michigan. Maybe they’re not exactly the little guy we’re talking about, but they source many of their beans, grains and vegetables from Midwest farmers. Since we don’t go too many days without Eden beans or pasta in our bowls, we feel lucky the co-op stocks these super affordable, local pantry staples.

Going back to the little guy in our pantries, there are some essential made-in-delicious-small-batches pantry items that support our goal of not giving dinner much culinary assistance: Wienke’s kraut, Tomato Mountain salsa and Wisconsin Natural Acres honey to name just a few (see our top ten local pantry list below). While we could very well reach for national brands, doctor them up to taste remotely close to homemade and save a few nickels, we don’t. Why? For starters, we don’t always want to work that hard to put a tasty dinner on the table, and — more importantly — we want to make sure those little guys stick around to keep making delicious food for us!

You might notice a little media behind this very principle lately, revolving around The Eat Local Challenge. Whether or not you participate (see Outpost’s web site for details) and become a full-fledged locavore, we’re thinking you might want to check out some of the local stuff we have made a habit of keeping in our pantry – if only because doing so will yield tastier dinners. In the spirit of the challenge, we’ve included how many miles some of the ingredients travel to get to your plate and provided a little factoid about the little guys who sent them. To us, they’re like rock stars, but better – because they stock our pantries and fill our bellies.

Beans & Barley’s Tempeh Rueben with Wienke’s kraut
We’ve managed to make a sandwich where 5 of the 6 ingredients are local! Special thanks to Todd at Beans & Barley who gave us permission to share this recipe – it is hands down one of the greatest sandwiches Milwaukee has to offer whether you make it yourself or have it there. You can use bottled 1,000 Island dressing or make your own from the recipe below.

Makes 3 sandwiches
1 lb Simple Soyman tempeh (made in Milwaukee!)
1/2 cup Eden tamari (or Kikkoman soy sauce)
6 slices Clasen’s rye bread
6 tablespoons 1,000 island dressing (bottled or recipe below)
3/4 cup Wienke’s sauerkraut
3 slices Wisconsin Swiss cheese
1. Slice 1 block of tempeh into thin strips. Dip each strip into a bowl of the tamari to lightly coat.
2. Lay tempeh flat on a sheet pan, bake at 350 for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and flip each piece over, bake for another 5 minutes. (This can be held in refrigerator for up to a week.)
3. Heat a small sauté pan on low. Group together 2 to 3 slices of tempeh on bottom of pan per sandwich, top each of the tempeh piles with kraut and a slice of Swiss cheese. Cover and cook until the cheese melts, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Meanwhile toast the rye and spread each slice with 1,000 Island. Top with your warm tempeh concoction and say “long live Beans & Barley” before biting into it.

Thousand Island Dressing
Makes 1 1/2 cups

1 cup mayonnaise or veganaise
1/4 cup ketchup
1 hardboiled egg, finely chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dill pickles, finely chopped
Combine all the ingredients and schmear it on your tempeh rueben or atop some local Growing Power greens!

Pantry Raid Weeknight Soup
Here’s a quick little soup that we typically serve with quesadillas for an easy dinner that tastes (almost) homemade. The roasted flavors of the green chile salsa give the illusion that we grilled tomatoes and chilies before adding them to the soup pot.
Serves 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup white onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3/4 cup Tomato Mountain Salsa (we like Fire Roasted Green Chile!)
1 1/2 cup local sweet corn, cut from the cob (or frozen)
1 1/2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
salt and pepper
cilantro leaves
lime wedges
1 avocado
1. In the olive oil, sauté onions, carrots and garlic over medium heat, about 6 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
2. Stir in the salsa and sauté 1 minute more. Add the corn and simmer over low heat for 8 minutes.
3. Just before serving, add the chicken to heat through (just a couple minutes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Garnish with avocado, cilantro and lime wedges.

OUR Top 10 local pantry picks
(and miles to market)
1. Tomato Mountain tomatillo salsa (106 miles)
2. Wienke’s pickles with garlic (151 miles)
3. Wienke’s saurkraut (151 miles)
4. Simple Soyman granola (4 miles)
5. Eden Garbanzo beans (337 miles, fewer if you take the ferry!)
6. Eden vegetable spirals pasta (337 miles)
7. Wisconsin Natural Acres honey (77 miles)
8. Sturdiwheat pancake mix (Minnesota – 295 miles)
9. Drewry Farms maple syrup (51 miles)
10. Madam J’s strawberry jam (9 miles)

If you think we like to cook, you should see us dance; it’s not just salt and pepper shakin’ in our kitchens! Our mad dance skills are perfectly complemented by all things local, too. Check out Local Live on WMSE every Tuesday night from 8-9 on the Midnight Radio show. You can listen live or stream any ol’ archive you wish. Click our link and tickle your ear taste buds too.

– Diana Sieger & Carrie Rowe

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0 thoughts on “Pantry raid: So you wanna’ be a locavore?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love the Wisconsin recipes. Chalet Cheese Cooperative makes a delicious Wisconsin Swiss.

    Posted to your article on

    – Wisconsin Cheese

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