Salt and Sugar and Pepper, oh my!

On Wednesday, we made some corn and green chile chowder that had potatoes, corn and bacon from the family farm, and onions, roasted peppers, and milk from other farms in Olathe. The only non-local ingredients were salt and pepper. (Now you’re thinking I’m just bringing this up to be smug, but stay with me…)

On Thursday, we went fishing and I caught a fat medium-sized trout.

Oh, I'm smug about the fish catching, all right.

Oh, I'm smug about the fish catching, all right.

Today’s Friday, and the trout has now come out of a salt/sugar brine and is waiting with its brethren to be smoked for dinner. We’ll have it with the last of the fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and summer squash from the garden. Neither the sugar nor the salt in the brine are locally produced.

I bring up the salt/pepper/sugar bit because my folks have nearly no interest in producing sugar (even though the local high school mascot used to be the BeetDiggers in recognition of the area’s sugar beet production,) or salt (even though Salt Lake City is relatively close) or pepper (even though the trees are pretty.) My friend Jim calls himself a ‘completist’, and I think that he wouldn’t be able to relax being this close to 100% local – he would have to go the rest of the way: break out the sugar beet distillery (of dourse it’s not a distillery, is it, but I don’t know the name of the thing that makes ‘evaporated cane juice crystals’ from sugar cane,) or start looking up how to extract NaCl from the local high-salinity adobe. Surely ground chile seeds could substitute for black pepper, and then he could eat his all-local chowder and be right chuffed.

Rather, earlier in the week, when the family was talking about how much fun it would be to make hard cider, guess what got broken out? The apple tree catalogue! Varieties were researched, preferences were determined, hardiness was established as a critical factor, and the location and irrigation of the future orchard were planned.

I would totally make fun of them for beginning the race so far behind the start line, but I just ate a ton of the bacon that they made from the pigs that they raised. Call them goals or plans or dreams, they are both satisfying and delicious when they come true.

Last bit – my folks are not braggarts, and they may not be completists, but they can gild the ‘local’ lily. Last week, we made some calzones. I will list their ingredients in the ‘Ingedient – location of production (cartoony sound effect to show degree of difficulty or awesomeness)’ format:
Tomato Sauce – produce from garden, canned at home (zzzzzz)
Sausage – pork from the farm, venison from the neighbor, cooked and smoked at home (zzzzzap)
Ricotta Cheese – milk from local dairy, made into cheese at home (whappaaap)
Pizza/Calzone Dough – wheat grown in Olathe, ground at home (BOOM.)

I will now retreat to my onion-cellar laboratory to perfect my baking powder recipe using only local sagebrush and hand-plucked chicken feathers. Or was it baking soda? Damn…

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