Today I was quoted in a column in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette food section in an article by Marlene Parrish about her month of eating locally. Since my name is now in print in about 100,000 newspapers, the secret is out. No more hiding. I confess. I've stopped going to Giant Eagle. I am trying to eat as much of a local diet as I can. And it's been an interesting journey. I've never written a blog before, and I've barely even read them, so forgive my ineptness. I am just hoping if I share some of my (mis)adventures, I may provide some help for others in this area that are also trying to eat locally.
Despite the fact that it makes no sense and tainted my fresh produce with gasoline, I drove 30 minutes outside the city today to Shenot's Farm Market. http://shenotfarm.com/index.html My 2 year old and I had a couple of hours to kill before his second 1/2 day at preschool. Bringing him along solo to a store that takes credit cards seemed superior to me to wrestling all three kids (others aged 4.5 and 6) to the Bloomfield Farmer's Market (to which I have never been). If only one could get really good local produce in the city in the morning. On any day of the week.
Anyway, it was a nice little market. They had many peaches (I should have bought more and froze them, if only I knew how!) tomatoes, corn, watermelon, beans, apples, pears, plums, etc., etc. They seem to be more about the food they are selling and less about the atmosphere or "gimmicks" as they mention on their website. It had much less of a circus/ movie set atmosphere than the other market down the road. I feel bad about wasting so much gas to get there, but I am always curious about the farms in our area and this one has been around for about 150 years. Of course they are right across the street from about a hundred subdivisions. So sad.
I used the plenty available to make a lovely casserole during my sons hour and 45 minutes of preschool. Bought cheese from Ruggeri's market. Does that count? Not really. The store is small and locally owned, but that doesn't change the cheese. At least I had all local veggies and herbs from the garden and local eggs (for $3.79 a dozen, yikes) from East End Coop. Must not let perfect interfere with good as my husband says. So, here's the recipe. It's from the Moosewood Collective and is mighty tasty (though did not hold its shape).
Tortino Di Verdure (Italian Vegetable Casserole)
1 medium eggplant
1 large potato
1 medium zucchini
4 fresh tomatoes
1 cup breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (2 teaspoons dried)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
half cup olive oil
one and one-half cups grated mozzarella cheese (6 oz)
one cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (2.5 oz)
Slice eggplant crosswise into half-inch rounds. Place eggplant rounds on lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake covered with foil at 400 degrees until they are tender, about 45 min. Slice potato and boil until just tender, then drain and set aside. Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch rounds. Slice tomatoes about 1/2 inch thick and set aside.
Mix bread crumbs, basil and parsley. In separate bowl lightly beat eggs with salt and pepper.
Oil a 9 x 13 inch baking pan and coat the bottom and sides of pan with about 1/4 of the bread crumb mixture.
To layer the casserole, begin with all the eggplant slices. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over them and sprinkle on 1/4 of breadcrumbs and 1/4 of mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Pour 1/4 of beaten eggs on top of cheeses. Next layer all the potato slices. Repeat layer of oil, crumbs, cheeses, and eggs. Finally, layer the tomato slices topped with the remaining oil, crumbs, cheeses, and eggs.
Bake covered at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Allow the casserole to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.