Growing up in Louisiana, if you got your hands on straight-from-the-farm food, it likely came to you by way of a roadside stop. Probably something like a pickup truck parked with its tailgate down, the bed filled haphazardly with offerings and a handmade sandwich board sign hailing its availability. Even fresh shrimp, which might seem like an oxymoron when you think of it being sold in the sultry Southern summers, could be found in a small white cooler-filled van. It probably shouldn’t fly in today’s USDA-driven world, but I remember strawberries being some of best things I have ever eaten. They were fresh. Picked in the last two days. From down the road. Local.
Ask any foodie—cook, chef, or eater—what “eating local” means to them and certain words pop out. Fresh. Green. Quality. Variety. Community. The bonuses to finding food in your area are abundant: infusing money into the community, acquiring fresher food in more varieties, creating fewer emissions from trucks hauling food cross-country, knowing your neighbors and lowering your chances of food contaminations. And, local fresh food just plain tastes better.
Luckily, the Wood River Valley and surrounding areas are extremely rich in the resources to eat local—farmers’ markets pop up weekly in summer, the cooperative Idaho’s Bounty allows you to order from local vendors and then delivers it here for pick-up. And as many Valley residents know: with any knowledge of mycology (mushroom study), you can look out your back door and find a veritable forest of food, with tasty morels in late spring.
Residents often refer to the Valley as “their own private Idaho.” It’s a diamond that we know people know about, but still like to think is our little secret—our oasis. Eden. In that sense, one of the main reasons to become a locavore (Fresh from the Farm) is that supporting local providers supports responsible land development (Topics of Conservation). And the open spaces that are pastures, kept for livestock or vegetables and farmed, have an economic reason to stay just that. Open, undeveloped, local land.
Glazed Chiogga Beets
This recipe, by Carol Rast of Prairie Sun Farms, works well with the chiogga beet—which is an Italian heirloom beet. They are milder and smooth, with a sweet peppery flavor.
1 bunch of beets
1 tablespoon of butter
1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar (or both)
1/4 cup apple juice
1/4 teaspoon ginger and ground cloves
Cut off greens about 1/2 inch from beets. Steam one bunch beets in lightly-salted water, for about 10-15 minutes until just fork tender. Remove skins by running under cold water. Skins will come off easily by slicing top off with a knife. Slice beets thinly. Add rest of ingredients to sauté pan with beets. Cook uncovered until the liquid thickens. Serve warm.
Lemon Ice Cream
Fresh dairy, fresh ice cream. For this cold treat I use Cloverleaf Dairy products to keep my ice cream delicious. Change it up by using key limes. Recipe by Jennifer Gilfoil.
Special Equipment: ice cream maker
Juice 4 lemons (5-6 if small)
½ tablespoon of lemon rind (more is better)
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 pint half & half
1 pint whipping cream
Mix together first 6 ingredients. Put mixture in ice cream maker and if there is room, fill to the top with milk. Turn on your machine and when the ice cream is ready, enjoy! >>>
Blue Corn-Crusted Rainbow Trout with Papaya-Tomatillo Relish
You can’t get more Idaho than trout. Go out fishing or pick some up from a local trout provider. Recipe courtesy Clear Springs Foods, Inc.
1/8 cup milk
6 Clear Springs Clear•Cuts® Rainbow Trout natural fillets, 8 oz each
coarse salt, seasoned rice flour, blue corn meal and vegetable oil as needed
papaya relish (recipe follows)
papaya sauce (recipe follows)
chives – 6 for garnish
cilantro sprigs – 6 for garnish
1 cup papaya, diced
3/8 cup tomatillo, diced
1/8 cup red onion, diced
1 tablespoon jalapeño, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons each clover honey, olive oil, and fresh chopped cilantro
salt to taste
1 generous cup chopped onion
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups papaya, chopped
1-1 1/2 tablespoons clover honey
Make Papaya Relish by folding together all ingredients. Salt to taste and set aside. For the fish, whisk together egg and milk; reserve. Lightly season fillets with salt. Dip into seasoned flour, then egg mixture, and finally corn meal. Fry over medium heat, flesh-side down, about 2 minutes. Turn. Cook until trout is just firm, about 1 minute. Ladle 3 tablespoons warm papaya sauce in the center of the plate, then swirl to distribute. Put trout on sauce; top with ¼ cup papaya relish. Garnish with chives and cilantro.
For the Papaya Sauce: Cook onion in oil until soft; stir garlic. Deglaze with red wine vinegar and reduce by half. Stir in chopped papaya; cook until soft, adding a teaspoon or so of water, if mixture gets too dry. Puree. Stir in honey; thin, as necessary, with water. Season to taste with salt. Reserve.
Lamb Ribs with Wet BBQ Sauce
This recipe, from CK’s in Hailey, is a great way to entertain guests this summer with a local favorite: Lava Lake Lamb.
5 lb lamb ribs, trimmed of excess fat
spices (Cajun rub or a Chinese 10 spice-see recipe online at www.sunvalleymag.com)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the ribs generously on both sides. Using a shallow casserole pan, lay the ribs partially overlapping in one layer, add a little water to barely cover the bottom of the dish, cover tightly with a double layer of aluminum foil and roast/steam the ribs for 2 hours 15 minutes. The rib meat should be tender, but still just barely hanging on to the bones. Much more cooking and you could have boneless ribs, which is fine for other options but we want to keep the bones intact. This steaming part of the process can be done a couple of days ahead.
To make it easy on your guests, cut the ribs into individual single-bone sections. Fire up the oven to 400 degrees and line a sheet pan with foil to make cleanup easy. Dip or brush the ribs with the wet sauce, lay them on the sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, just to heat through. If your ribs are shedding the sauce give, them a little brush touch-up of sauce, and a few more oven minutes. You want the ribs to caramelize a little and the sauce to be sticky and finger-licking yummy. Arrange the ribs on a serving platter and sprinkle with sesame seeds and thin sliced scallions or garlic chives.
1 quart sweet chili sauce (available at most Asian markets)
1 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup Sriracha (an Asian condiment not unlike our ketchup, but with more spice)
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
salt and pepper
Combine everything in a bowl and mix. Taste it, adjust the sweetness to your liking with lime juice. It will be too sweet for some so tweek it a little to the acidic side of your taste buds and make it work for you. It will keep for a couple of weeks in a jar in the fridge. >>>
I did not cook a lot of potatoes before moving to Idaho and was excited to experiment with spuds—here is one of my favorite creations that came about when I was trying some of the locally-available tubers from M&M Health Farms. Potatoes are a fat-free healthy food that provide useful amounts of vitamin C, potassium and fiber.
5 pounds of potatoes, all different varieties, chopped
(try 2 russets, 2 purples, 1 yukon, 1 big sweet potato, and some red ladies)
1 granny smith apple, chopped
1 red delicious apple, chopped
1 butternut squash, about 3 pounds, skinned, seeded, and chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
spices (I use cajun spices)
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine potatoes, apple and squash. Coat with olive oil. Sprinkle rosemary and spices and mix. Transfer to a roasting dish and place in center rack of the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, until the potatoes are fully cooked. Remove from oven, sprinkle with goat cheese, stir and serve.
The “Ultimate” Tenderloin
This recipe by Snake River Farms works with any kind of meat—beef, elk, or pork.
8 oz tenderloin steak (filet)
cracked black pepper and sea salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. On the stove top, heat an oven-proof dry skillet until very hot. Dry-rub both sides of the steak with pepper. Immediately place the steaks in the pre-heated pan. Sear each steak for 2 minutes on each side, until it has a dark crust. Place skillet in preheated oven and cook for approx. 5-6 minutes for rare, 7-8 minutes for medium-rare and 8-10 minutes for medium to well. Remove the skillet from the oven with a hot pad. Place steak on warm plate and top with 1 teaspoon of butter. Lightly dust with sea salt, to taste. Let steaks stand for 3 minutes and serve.
Roasted Pheasant Pitas
Gail Ansley, of CA Bull Elk Ranch, shares her recipe for roasted pheasant pitas. The ranch is a great supplier of pheasants and elk meat, as well as antler art and furniture.
2 whole pheasants
1 small onion
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 red pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
6 slices bacon
4 cups greens
1 cup sliced black olives
1 cup ranch dressing
1 cup feta cheese
2 cups diced tomatoes
4 whole-wheat pitas cut in half
Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Wash pheasants well. Slice onion and red pepper. Cut orange into small wedges. Mix with thyme and black pepper. Place orange, onion and spices into bowl and mix. Stuff pheasants with mixture. Place 3 strips of bacon over the top of each bird. Place into a baking bag. Bake for 3 hours or until internal temperature in the thickest part of the breast is 180 degrees. At this temperature, the juices should run clear and the legs should separate from the body. After roasting pheasant, let cool. Remove all meat from birds and dice. Save pepper/onion mixture from birds, and dice. Discard orange wedges. Save bacon, dice and fry until crispy. Add diced pheasant and pepper and onions to bacon. Add salt to taste. Heat mixture. Place remaining ingredients into large bowl. Top with pheasant mixture. Toss well. Stuff pitas and serve.
Lillie Lancaster is the resident foodie at Sun Valley Magazine—always dreaming up a new recipe and finding a way to incorporate food into every possible conversation. She loves her new food blog, yum! because it provides a way to share recipes with readers on a weekly basis.