I am a bit confused: it appears the Challenge ends on 31 March. I thought it was a by-the-week thing, therefore ending at week 20. I had big plans (BIG!) for the last week’s meal…the last of the Dark Days Challenge of eating sustainably, organically, locally and/or ethically for one meal per week all winter long. Maybe I will post the meal next week anyway: it has a lot of wacky goodness in it.
So I thought for this week’s Week 19 I would simply feature a meal sourced from home ingredients grown JUST this year (2010) but…inspiration hit me. Literally! My bag of saved corn husks from our home-grown popcorn dropped on my head from the top shelf when I was adjusting things in the pantry. Luckily, corn husks aren’t heavy.
When I was in college, one of my best friends was a first-generation Mexican American whose people hailed from Oaxaca. Homesickness for his mother’s Phoenix kitchen had us trolling for chow in the local Mexican restaurants…but he assured me the comida plated up in our Midwestern college town was but a simulacrum of honest food. Well, I visited him, often, and he was so right! And once, just once, I was fortunate enough to sample the tamales lovingly (painstakingly) made by his Mama and Abuelita. “Labor of love” barely describes the ordeal undertaken by these women, both tiny things, in Mama Maria’s small un-airconditioned kitchen. They would make 250 in a day, some for family, but most for their church…and they did this twice a month!
I can’t begin to scale up to that level, but with home-grown and local ingredients I can make an attempt at making at least a few. I did have some cinnamon-laced Mexican chocolate brought back from a friend; why not make mole as well?
- Tamales (our homegrown, home-milled Calico popcorn, with Creswick Farms lard, homegrown chicken stock, meat fillings, and wrapped up in homegrown corn husk wrappers) with either
- Chicken (our chicken breast, poached and dressed with a garlic/Mexican oregano mash) and served with our canned Tomatillo Salsa (tomatoes, tomatillos, green bell and jalapeno peppers, vinegar, garlic, onions) with greenhouse cilantro and green onions or
- Pork (shoulder roast from Providence Farm, braised in a bit of the above salsa and tomatoes; pulled, chopped) with Mole Sauce (mine didn’t have the usual 25 ingredients, more like 10: the cinnamon/chocolate, ground/roasted local walnuts, bread crumbs from Wednesday’s bread, onion, garlic, more of our tomatillo salsa, dried homegrown paprika and jalapeno peppers, greenhouse thyme, oregano, and nonlocal cloves, salt, and pepper)
- Greenhouse salad (of course)
- Vanilla souffle (our eggs, someone else’s milk 😦 with Michigan sugar and nonlocal vanilla…no pics because my camera battery ran out
Okay. That WAS a bit of a labor of love. But: I made the mole last weekend, the pork was leftovers from Wednesday night, and the chicken is terribly easy to cook. With able small hands to help stuff and wrap, this was a fun meal to make and eat.