Buying local — haven’t you heard it’s the newest and hottest thing if you want to be a “with it” environmentalist? When I first found out that it was the latest in being a conscientious shopper, I thought, Wow! Look at me. I don’t travel outside of 410 to shop. But how ignorant can the goddess be?
Buying local means buying products that are produced or grown regionally throughout Texas; therefore these local goods don’t tax our already fragile oxygen by creating more emissions from those fat-ass 18-wheelers. How hard could keeping to Texas products be? Don’t we have a bounty of farmland and cattle ranchers to keep us stocked in barbecue and veggies for the next 100 years?
To test this environmental trend I decided to put my money where my mouth is. The challenge was to shop for Texas products at my favorite grocer and see what dining ideas I could come up with. The payoff is menu ideas from the Goddess (a culinary genius in my past life), and hopefully some insight on buying local goods.
As I cruised the fruit and produce I felt as though I was driving down Pacific Coast Highway 1, because at least 60 percent of the goods come from California. The rest are shipped from the East Coast, Mexico, and South America. But those numbers didn’t surprise me really. I wasn’t worried because I knew that the butcher would have “GoTexas” signs everywhere and I do love barbecue — but to my dismay, according to the butcher, “Nebraska has the best beef.” Poultry was the only Texan meat available. The fishmonger had equally disappointing news; just 10 percent of his stock was fresh from the Gulf, including soft-shell crab, oysters, shrimp, and snapper.
Of course Texas produces some pretty terrific wines and beers, including Alamo Beer, which is one of several brewed in Blanco, Texas. But Texas cheese ain’t so popular, with a mere four local brands represented out of 100 or so other imports. The deli offered only one kind of GoTexas meat, but stocked plenty of Tom’s Hummus, dolmas, and tabouleh made right in Austin.
Since I rely heavily on caffeine, I was willing to buckle and buy my favorite Kenyan coffee. There were several “GoTexas” stickers on the bulk bins, but I wonder: are these just Texas roasting companies?
It might seem that yet again I am bitching about my favorite grocery store, but I appreciate that they have tight quality control on all of the local and imported food that goes into my kid’s stomachs. It’s my opinion that as consumers we should ask a lot of questions about where things come from, and if we are realistic and practical purchasers we should be able to GoTexas at least 50 percent of the time. More than that and it could become a full-time job running from grocer to grocer in search of GoTexas labels and this goddess just doesn’t have the time — and the gas it would take travel to and from in our SUVs? Forget about it.
Despite the obstacles, the goddess developed a menu made with 95-percent Texas products bought within the last week, and featuring Gulf shrimp, a micro-green salad, Texas pumpkin soup, and more.
Say yee haw and enjoy!
Send your environmental tips and questions to Greengoddess@sacurrent.com.
The Green Goddess’s GoTexan Feast :
Debecca deli ham and Lone Star goat cheese with basil wagon wheels
1/2 lb. of ham sliced medium
¼ c Lone Star goat cheese
Fresh basil leaves
Spread goat cheese over a piece of sliced ham and add two or three basil leaves. Roll and slice into ½-inch pieces. Secure with a toothpick if necessary and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Repeat.
Grilled Gulf Shrimp with Sass Lemon Song Salad Dressing
1lb peeled Gulf shrimp
1 bottle of Austin’s Sass Lemon Song Dressing
Coarse salt and pepper
Salt and pepper shrimp to taste. Put 2-3 shrimps on each skewer, brush with olive oil, and grill or broil. Drizzle with Sass and serve on skewers.
Soup and Salad
Bella Verdi Microgreen salad with pecans and orange slices drizzled with olive oil
One package of Bella Verdi Microgreens (a little pricey but can be mixed with arugula found in bulk)
2 peeled and sliced Texas Valencia oranges
1 T extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combined all of the produce, drizzle with the oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss well.
Texas pumpkin soup in bread bowls
2 lbs pumpkin peeled and seeded and cut into 1 to 2-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic
1 1015 Texas onion chopped roughly
4 c chicken broth
½ c cream
½ c of Becker Vineyards dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Minced parsley leaves for garnish
4 boule loaves
Combined the pumpkin, onion, and garlic in a large pot along with the broth and wine and heat over medium-high. Bring to a slow boil, then turn heat to low and simmer for 30 minute or until pumpkin is soft. Cool slightly and puree in a blender or processor. Return to pot and heat on medium-low; do not boil. Add in the cream, stirring until hot (about 1 minute). Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve in a carved-out boule bread and garnish.
Pan-fried Thai Curry Marinated Texas Chicken
One form of transportation
3 T. olive oil
Get in your car. Drive to Central Market. Walk to the butcher and purchase the pre-marinated Thai curry chicken. Take home and fry chicken pieces in oil over medium heat for about 6 minutes per side. Serve with Texmati brown rice.
Simple Baked Gulf Snapper with Basil Butter
4-6 Gulf red snapper fillets de-boned and skinned
1 stick of room temp salted butter
10 fresh basil leaves
4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
Coarse salt and ground pepper to taste
In a processor, combine garlic, basil and butter. Process until everything is distributed evenly and store in fridge. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Tear off pieces of foil that will envelope each fillet. Place the fillets in their own foil pieces and place a tsp of the basil butter on top of the fillets, sprinkle with salt and pepper and close the foil around the fish, making sure the envelopes are tightly closed to prevent leakage but at the same time leaving room around the fillets so air can circulate. Bake the fish for 12-15 minutes. Serve immediately with the lemon quarters. Serve with Texmati jasmine rice.
Texas Okra, Squash and Onion Medley
½ lb of Texas okra, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
2 good size Texas zucchinis, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
2 good size Texas yellow squashes, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
1 1015 onion, sliced in rings
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 T Butter
Chopped tarragon for garnish
Salt and pepper
In a pan over medium-low heat melt butter and garlic, being careful not to scorch the garlic. Add all of the vegetables and sauté until onions are translucent and veggies are still bright green. Remove from heat, toss with salt and pepper, garnish with tarragon and cover for an additional minute. Remove cover and serve.