Oooh, can you feel the hypocrisy reverberate through you when you read that. Cuz I did. While the better half of my brain is telling me to let it go. Just let it go. I don’t have to say anything. I’m clearly incapable of doing that. And while I’m going to proclaim right here and now that one of the greatest joys I’ve had in the past however many months of working on this blog is that it has made me really take an interest in the people who are producing my ingredients locally, I’m afraid that I also have to say that one of my other favorite things is – dare I even say it – trying different foods from around the world. (I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry!) (No, I’m really not. Good food is good food. I even like durian, and they sure ain’t local.)
(But this is all local! And very, very yum.)
When I go to a new country or even a new state, I can’t wait to check out the local markets or grocery stores. I love wandering up and down the aisles seeing what the people eat. Oh, seeing what the people eat! Sometimes those things are a little scary other times they’re pretty awesome. (And do not even get me started on the loveliness of produce in Texas. It is so beautiful.) In Minneapolis, I love, love, love going to Latin, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean and international markets. I feel like it enriches my life so much to learn about other cultures through their food. If you know what people eat, then you know what they value and invariably they value sitting down and sharing a meal with the people they love. Really, isn’t that all where we live?
So, while I have to admit that the eat local movement sounds vaguely racist to me, (I just keep thinking about the large number of immigrants that live by me and how they would be cut off from the foods of their culture) – there is a large part of it that is completely pragmatic and that I totally support. The product tastes better. Produce and many meats don’t age well and cutting down on the amount of time spent in transport is always good for the end result. Anyone who has eaten a tomato fresh from the vine can tell you that. Also I really like that I’ve gotten to know several producers in Minnesota. I love what they have to say about producing their products and absolutely I support their efforts.
Therefore, I am celebrating by making foods that highlight Minnesota products. For them that don’t know; damn near everything is grown in Minnesota. I’ve made soup to go with a couple of Minnesota made beers that are near and dear to my heart. The soup is a corn chowder with wild rice, wild mushrooms, Marv made bacon and a single red pepper (sorry red pepper producers.)
I gotta say, I love the results. The beers are Brau Brother’s Scotch Ale and Summit’s Oktoberfest. They’re both so warm and deep and lovely. Really, when paired with a pre-fall feast of bright veggies mixed with earthy wild rice swimming in a nice creamy base – what’s not to love? (Oh, and by the way, dessert is highly questionable; apple pie with wasabi ice cream.)
Minnesota Corn Chowder
4 ears corn, smoked or roasted
1 red pepper, smoked or roasted
2 oz wild mushrooms
1 c wild rice, cooked in water & broth
3 – 4 oz bacon
4 c milk (if you use skim milk – smoke another ear corn & blend more of the corn into it)
1 – 2 T brandy
(up to) 2 T butter or olive oil
2 T flour
1 lg clove garlic, thinly sliced
salt to taste
Cook bacon in a cold pan. When bacon shrivels on one side flip them over and cook until totally shrivelled. Take bacon out of the pan and drain on paper towel. Add butter to the bacon fat if necessary – you need about 2 T of fat total. Sprinkle flour onto fat and add in garlic slices. Add in pepper. Cook until deep brown. Add in milk, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add in 1/4 of the corn. Blend with a stick blender or transfer some of the milk mixture to a blender and blend the corn in. Transfer back to the soup pan. Add in the rest of the corn. Add in the red pepper and bacon sliced into smallish pieces. Add in wild rice.
Heat 1 t of olive oil, add in quartered mushrooms. Saute until softened. Add in brandy and saute until brandy is cooked in. Add mushrooms into soup pan. Cover pan and simmer over low heat for 10 – 20 minutes. Serve with the finest in Minnesota beer. (Oh frickin’ yum!)