The Tassievore Week 3 challenge was to support a business that uses local produce. I didn’t explore this as much as I’d have liked to over the week, mainly because I was focused on walking as much as I could for the Walk In Her Shoes challenge. Even so, since last year’s Tassievore challenge I’ve been more focused on supporting Tasmanian businesses and buying local produce. The Locavore box from Hill Street Grocer is a great way to get hold of in-season veggies from Tasmanian suppliers. I also spent some time at Two Metre Tall Farm Bar – a business that is 100% committed to real food, real ale and that is completely committed to ethical and sustainable production. I wrote a post about Two Metre Tall in last year’s Tassievore challenge, and that sums up everything I love about them. Moving on to Week 4, and the challenge was similar to last year: Feast with your family and friends on great Tassie produce. I cooked my own feast last year. It was a 5 course extravaganza that started at about 7.30 am and took all day. I loved doing it, but this time an all day cook-fest wasn’t possible.
I decided to do a soup, a salad and a beef main course. Dessert would happen if it happened (it didn’t). The main was slow cooked osso bucco from Two Metre Tall. The vegetables I used were all Tasmanian-grown, mostly from the local market. I had a minor panic on Friday night when I hadn’t been able to find any locally sourced tomatoes for the beef dish, but the fabulous veggie growers at the market were there with heaps of tomatoes on Saturday morning, so everything was good. I’d never cooked osso bucco before, and the advice from my friends was the slower and lower temperature it’s cooked at, the better it turns out. According to the recipe, I seasoned it with salt and pepper, dusted with flour and seared it before putting it into the slow cooker with the tomatoes and other vegetables. In hindsight, I would have started it a bit earlier in the day – maybe 7 or 8 am – to allow a full 12 hours cooking, but it still turned out OK. A bit softer would have been better, but that’s a lesson to learn for next time. It still tasted great.
My other (entree) course was soup, inspired by the menu board at the pub when Juniordwarf and I went out for dinner during the week. Chicken and leek soup. One of the things in last week’s locavore box was a leek, but I had no idea what to do with it. Chicken and leek soup. Perfect! It wasn’t proper Cock a Leekie soup, because that has prunes and rice in it, and I’m not aware of any Tasmanian prune supplier or any rice that’s grown here. So I omitted the prunes and substituted Tasmanian quinoa (from Kindred Organics) for the rice. The recipes I looked at involved using a whole chicken, so you basically make the stock with a whole chicken and, therefore, cook the chicken meat that you use in the soup at the same time. Then you take the stock and add the cooked chicken meat, plus some extra chopped leeks and chopped prunes, to make the soup. I don’t think I’d do it this way again, as I have a lot of bones and meat left over and frozen from chicken roasts that I use to make stock.
When I make roast chicken I usually cut the back bone out of the chicken before I cook it and spread it out on the baking tray (which reduces the cooking time significantly), then I freeze the back bone and all the other bones, and when I run out of stock I throw all the frozen bones into a pot with vegetables and make my own stock. If we have left over meat from a roast that we don’t use in a couple of days, I freeze that too, so I can use that in a chicken soup. I think I’d have had enough frozen roast chicken and bones to make this soup without using an entire chicken.
Never mind, I now have lots of stock and lots of chicken meat in the freezer. Even without the prunes, the chicken and leek soup with quinoa was a nice basic entree.
I made a similar roast pumpkin and beetroot salad with spinach and goats cheese as I did last year to go with the main course, together with one of my favourite Two Metre Tall ales that I’d been saving for this night. And while I was waiting I made a tzatziki dip and some carrot sticks because I was feeling a bit peckish. Juniordwarf made a sign for the night. I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out. I learned a lot about what to do differently next time, but for my first attempt at two dishes, I think it was a good effort. And everything (except the salt, pepper and olive oil) was Tasmanian.
Thank you to the organisers of the Tassievore Eat Local Challenge. The challenge is a great way to get people thinking about supporting local businesses and eating local seasonal food. Even though I haven’t participated as fully as I’d have liked to this year, it’s been great just to take the time to think about where my food is coming from and to try and source as much as I can from local suppliers. It’s something I hope to continue to do into the future.