Eating local for joy

Eating local. It’s not “fad diet” lingo. It’s not a hipster phenomenon. It is something that is nutritionally, politically, and economically valuable for a number of reasons. All of that can be discussed at length at some point. But for today, I want to focus on the JOY of the experience.

Saturday morning, my girlfriend and I went to the local farmers market.
It was hot and dry.
Local musicians played and sang as we walked around the market. We saw friends and old neighbors, waved, hugged, chatted.

I ran into Kimi and her husband at their market stand and asked her to make some “magic juice,” which she did with beets only hours out of the ground, apples, and ginger. Anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting power in a cup. It was delicious, too. Taste buds were all happy and bodies were fueled.

Among all the goods and services we could have purchased, we stuck to edibles. Salad onions, Swiss Chard, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and berries. A mixed flat of raspberries and strawberries, and another couple pints of blueberries disappeared quickly as they were tossed in smoothies, baked into buttermilk cakes, or just eaten by hand, the epitome of summer snacking.

And we bought cheese. Don’t forget the cheese. It was such a treat to buy from Monteillet Fromagerie, the fantastic local cheese maker. We also picked up some herbed goat cheese from Little Dipper to be used in the recipe for dinner.

Dinner was a modified version of eggplant parmesan, suggested and directed by the culinary adventurer, health conscious, garden-loving girlfriend.

We sliced two medium eggplants into ½ inch thick rounds, dredged them in a beaten egg (slightly watered down) followed by gluten-free bread crumbs (basically cornmeal) that was blended with oregano, salt, and pepper. The covered slices were placed on a greased baking sheet and put in the oven at 450 F for 20 minutes to start. (They’ll go back in for a bit, but let’s take this step by step.)

Next was a simple and quick marinara sauce. A drizzle of olive oil, a couple finely chopped small onions from the garden and about 4 cloves of garlic were sauteed over medium heat for a few minutes. Then chopped small heirloom tomatoes were tossed in (about 3 pint containers from Welcome Table Farm) along with a handful of herbs from the garden. We used basil, but any herbs that you want are fine. We tossed them in whole, stems and all, and let the sauce simmer and reduce until it thickened up nicely.

When we took the eggplant out of the oven after 20 minutes, we spread a bit of chevre (with thyme — from Little Dipper) on each of the eggplant slices and then put it back in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish baking. Remove from the oven when the chèvre is hot and the bread crumbs start to turn a nice golden brown.

We sauteed Swiss Chard with a drizzle of olive oil, and a few tablespoons of vegetable stock.

The eggplant and sauteed greens were arranged on the plate, marinara was spooned over top, and we feasted like royalty on food that we could trace back to the source. I felt so nourished, body and soul, knowing that the meal was a product of this land I love so dearly, that we hadn’t shipped food halfway around the world for this meal, that I knew personally almost every person who’d handled the food that was now on our plates.

For dessert, we had… berries. Raspberries. Strawberries. Blueberries.
I licked my fingers.
It was a good day.