Eating locavore for the holidays in the Bay Area

The husband and I had Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner by ourselves. We’re hibernating, like big antisocial bears — he’s hanging drywall and I’m organizing my files. But don’t pity us: we couldn’t be happier. I hadn’t really planned out what we were going to eat, simply going to the farmers market Saturday and loading up on whatever looked good, but I ended up cooking a lot — so much so that we’ll be having leftovers ’til New Year’s. I don’t often post what I cook here, because it’s relatively simple and thus to me boring. However, I’m worried y’all are getting the sense that we live on extreme-eating dishes like boiled tongue and head cheese, so I thought I’d show some of the more or less everyday cooking that happens here at the Ethicurean’s Oakland/Berkeley location. Plus, the husband has a new camera that he was eager to try out.

Christmas Eve dinner was 95% local and while delicious, also tragically un-photogenic and thus unrecorded: Clark Summit piglet shoulder braised in Bernie’s Best apple cider (farmers market) with garlic, thyme, carmelized onions (all FM) plus rosemary (foraged from the neighborhood on an earlier walk); steamed kale (FM) with rice vinegar (not local) and tangerines (foraged, an exciting find!); and yellow Finn potatoes (FM) sliced thin and fried ’til crispy in butter (FM).

For Christmas dinner, we had crab cakes for the first course. I cleaned the boiled Dungeness crab (FM) and, since it had cost me a whole $20, made stock from the shell bits. More or less following a recipe from Mark Bittman’s indispensable "How to Cook Everything," I chopped and tossed the crab with a Soul Food Farm egg, red onion (FM), red peppers (frozen from the summer, which apparently does not work too well as they were watery), parsley (foraged), a few TB of panko, some mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper (all nonlocal). I breaded the cakes in panko and fried them in a mixture of butter (FM) and safflower oil (organic, nonlocal). They turned out splendiferously crunchy and oh so crabby.

Salad was Happy Boy Farms assorted beets, roasted and tossed with shaved fennel (FM) and parsley (foraged), on a bed of arugula (FM) dressed with California olive oil, lemon juice and zest (foraged), and shallots (FM).

For the main course, I tried to recreate a Jewish friend’s Hannukah brisket that had tempted my downfall into carnivorism several years ago. As advised by this this recipe (which I highly recommend; it’s apparently adapted from a Williams-Sonoma one), I slow-cooked our Marin Sun Farms brisket on Christmas Eve and then reheated it and reduced the sauce the next day. I used a can of nonlocal San Marzano tomatoes from Italy because I had them in the cupboard from ages ago and I’m hoarding the tomatoes we canned this summer, along with onions (FM), Smit Ranch dried cherries, and wine (a leftover California pinot). It was incredibly tasty: rich, fatty, and not overly sweet. For our mandatory vegetable, I steamed broccoli (FM) and then sauteed it in olive oil with garlic slivers (FM), lemon zest (foraged), and white wine (not local). I also roasted some of the Finn yellow potatoes in olive oil with rosemary, thyme, and garlic.

I had planned to make tarte tatin for dessert, and got as far as making a tart crust (Full Belly flour, butter, and home-rendered Clark Summit lard) and refrigerating it, but fortunately I ran out of time and we ran out of appetite. Maybe tonight … or tomorrow.

I shall leave you with a gratuitous cat photo. I let them have the gills from the crab, and they were in heaven.

P.S. Before you tell me that my cat is obese, he’s under 10 pounds — just very fluffy.


13 Responsesto “Eating locavore for the holidays in the Bay Area”

  1. I love reading posts about meals prepared with local and organic ingredients. They always sound so much more savory than descriptions of other meals. Thanks for the read.

  2. That is a beautiful post Bonnie! I love all the detail about what exactly went into the meal. And as a BFM shopper, I really appreciate where you purchased everything. In fact, for those out there reading this who don’t shop this market, let me tell you: OMG what she was eating here is frickin’ delicious!

    Anyway, I look forward to seeing you soon. Tomorrow I will try naan experiment #2 and report back to you this weekend…….

  3. Ed Bruske says:

    Finally, the truth comes out. When you aren’t “digesting,” you are eating…

  4. Charlotte says:

    Sounds wonderful, Bonnie.

    My Christmas dinner featured a pile of local Dungeness crab as well, picked and mixed with butter and lemon. I could have stopped right there, but we had Niman Ranch ham as well for the next course.

    I also made bread pudding with Cheese Board stollen (and local milk, eggnog, and Uncle Eddie’s eggs).

    *scritches the kitty*

  5. Barry Foy says:

    Dammit, Bonnie, do you have any idea how much time I put into that headcheese I sent you guys for Christmas? Forget it–next year it’s back to Starbucks gift cards.

  6. Jess says:

    I am so jealous of your bounty! Our producer’s only market closed in early November. We can get some produce grown w/in 200 miles here in the DC area. Spring cannot come soon enough!

    Oh, and if you want to see a truly fat cat, visit Mosby’s Blog (linked above).

  7. Piglet shoulder… Interesting. I have had several people buy suckling pigs from us for holiday meals but I’ve never prepared one. How big was it? I’m curious.

  8. tasterspoon says:

    It all sounds scrumptious. And wholesome. Personal question, when you ‘forage’ for your citrus, are you talking about picking off of your neighbors’ trees? One person in my neighborhood was good enough to put a sign out by their persimmon tree a few months ago, selling them on the honor system, but nobody’s done that for all the lemons around here. Oh, I hope you won’t tell me to bake brownies and actually make a friend!

  9. Bonnie P. says:

    Adam: You’re welcome, thank you!

    MonkeyBoy: Can’t wait to try your naan!

    Ed: That about covers my life, yep.

    Charlotte: Sounds yummy. Consider looking for alternatives to the Uncle Eddie’s, though; they’re faux-farm eggs.

    Barry: can you please do a Devils Food Dictionary definition for head cheese? ;-)

    Walter: There’s a post to be written on the whole piglet experience. It was large, 32 pounds — way too big for both my oven and a Thanksgiving with just six carnivores. So I carved it up instead of roasting it whole; the shoulders went into the freezer along with the bones and head (more on that later).

    Jess: Really? What about the one in Dupont Circle and this one in Arlington that Ed aka Slow Cook visited?

    Tasterspoon: I wondered when that would get asked. Well, while I have stolen from my neighbors in the past (see this post, and the useful comments on it), I now stick to fruit trees on the public sidewalk. That’s until I get my act together on a neighborhood backyard gleaning project. There is a live/work-type warehouse building in my neighborhood that is lined with lemon, lime, tangerine, kumquat, and Buddha’s hand trees, and when they get so laden down that I see ripe fruit on the ground, I figure that means whoever works there can’t keep up and they won’t mind sharing.

  10. Steph says:

    The Dupont Circle farmers’ market in DC is awesome, and goes all year from 10-1pm on Sundays.

    Bonnie – I’ve had great luck freezing red peppers, but if you’re having problems, you might try freezing them flat on a tray and bag them after they’re frozen.

  11. aunt biddy says:

    Do you recall that actual onions played no role in your Hebraic amiga’s benchmark brisket? I was there that fabled night, recall, and am authorized to remind you that it contained only meat, canned beef stock, red wine, and dehydrated onion-dip mix. Your linked recipe looks superior in numerous ways, but the source must still be honored…

  12. Bonnie P. says:

    Aunt Biddy: Yes of course I do recall your presence, but no, I did not recall the actual contents of the Proustian brisket, only that when I was provided the recipe later, I was surprised to find it comprised mostly, shall we say, 1950s-style ingredients, which I resolved to substitute the actual food items for. And yeah, mine didn’t taste as good as Candy’s.

  13. Charlotte says:

    Eeep. Thanks for the tip. (I feel so used.)

    I usually get TJ’s cage free – how’s their truth in advertising?