Going local in P’cola


Apparently it’s squash-appreciation week here at the Ethicurean. (See the Butter Bitch’s and Omniwhore’s posts below.)

The above picture is more about the view from Granny Sweet-n-Sour’s deck than it is about the organic butternut squash, but still, ain’t it purdy?

I bought the squash from Ever’man’s co-op in Pensacola. There are several conventional farms around the region that sell their wares at Bailey’s Farmers Markets, a year-round permanent stand open seven days a week. However, I didn’t manage to get over there on this trip — Granny SnS lives out in the boonies, toward Perdido Key — so I was trying to “buy local” from Everman’s in town.

Alas, I learned later that Archer, FL — where the squash were grown by Bellevue Gardens — is about 10 hours away. Oh well. The squash were a funny, squat shape for butternut, and I was worried I might cut them open to find mostly seeds. As I was planning a curried squash soup for Christmas Eve dinner that needed to feed seven people, I decided to pick up a supplemental butternut squash from the produce section at the nearby Wal-Mart. (More about that fascinating shopping foray in a subsequent post.)

casaperdidiovinegar.jpgThe organic Bellevue squash turned out to be plenty meaty and deep orange, while the conventionally grown Wal-Mart squash was pale and wooden. After I roasted all six halves face down on a cookie sheet, it was clear that Bellevue’s were far superior; the Wal-Mart squash had almost no flavor. I put it in anyway.

I made the soup on the fly — it was basically just two onions, a leek, and several garlic cloves sauteed in olive oil, then a big helping of not very exciting curry powder and powdered ginger (forgot to buy fresh) from Granny’s ancient spice collection, then stirring the cubed roasted squash into the mix, adding chicken stock (homemade from the carcass of our roasted pastured chicken earlier in the week) to cover, lots of salt, simmering for a while, then blending in a food processor, then stirring in a cup of cream and serving, each portion topped with a dollop of sour cream and parsley. Everyone liked it, but I thought it was on the boring side; I missed the fresh ginger I usually use.

pitzmannbread.jpgTwo locally produced items the Dairy Queen Mother and I picked up at Ever’mans were a hit: Casa Perdido apple wine vinegar, with a Pensacola address for bottling but no website to be found for further information. It was a nice, tart but not sweet, full-bodied vinegar that went into several nights’ worth of tarragon-and-lemon salad dressings. I meant to bring it home and forgot.

The organic whole wheat bread from Pitzmann’s European Bakery in downtown Pensacola had nothing but simple organic ingredients — I have no idea where they get the flour from, probably the co-op too — and no sugar. It was really tasty, even the skeptical Granny Sweet-n-Sour said so.

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