A Recipe for Spring
There is a date in everyone’s life that stands out to them—the birth of a child, their wedding anniversary, a favorite team winning the World Series. I will always remember a rainy August 4, 2011 as the day that forever changed my life. I was working at Hilo Farmers Market selling coffee, surrounded by local produce. It was the day I started a journey of eating 100% locally sourced foods.
Throughout the process I created a business, Big Island Farm Fresh Foods, which delivered organic local produce to clients’ homes. Having found access straight from farmers, ranchers, and fishermen, it meant so much to me to show that eating locally didn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. However, like many Hawai‘i Island residents, I moved to O‘ahu for a promotion from my day job. Sadly, I closed Big Island Farm Fresh Foods after three delicious years.
Moving to O‘ahu didn’t stop me from seeking local produce. My husband and I struck up conversations with vendors at farmer’s markets. “Where is your farm?” we’d always ask. In the process, we met a couple that raises ducks and chickens for eggs. They invited us over and before we knew it we were in the field surrounded by 35 beautifully loud ducks.
O‘ahu life was busy and expensive. We found local Hawai‘i Island produce at Whole Foods and frequented the Kailua farmer’s markets. Our friends with the ducks asked us to farm sit, which was both exhilarating and terrifying. Caring for 35 ducks and 20 chickens is no easy task. Yet at the end of the day, I’d pick chasing chickens out of the vegetable field and hunting for duck eggs over any job promotion. We left O‘ahu with the farming bug.
After five years of eating a diet of 95% locally sourced food, I can say that my life is enriched because of it. From meats to coconut oil and ingredients in between, locally grown produce is just more nutritious than the store bought equivalent.
Produce varieties sold by the farmer at market have spent less time in transit, are picked at peak ripeness, and are handled by fewer people, which all translates to healthier, more nutritious produce. Supporting the people in my community that are brave enough to farm, ranch, or bounce around on a little boat in a great big sea so we can eat is my favorite part of eating locally.
One of my first farmer friends at the Hilo Farmers Market was Steve Sayre from Lava Rocks Puna Goat Cheese. Their goats are so cute and they eat lots of fresh green Puna grass. I had a craving for his rosemary black pepper chevre and luckily, squash blossoms are in season and were bundled nearby, so I grabbed a few bouquets of golden blossoms and some of Steve’s cheese. They are a great appetizer, are easy to make, and they look stunning on a plate.
Stuffed and Fried Squash Blossoms
16 squash blossoms, stamens removed
4 oz goat cheese, any flavor
1 bunch spinach, washed and trimmed
1 tsp chopped holy basil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup white flour
1 egg yolk
3/4 cups cold water
pinch each salt and pepper
oil or ghee for frying
Sauté spinach until wilted. Remove from pan and once cooled, press between two paper towels to remove moisture, then coarsely chop. Preheat pan with oil or ghee. Place all filling ingredients into bowl. Season with salt and pepper; stir together. Place about 1 Tbsp. of filling into the cavity of each squash blossom and gently push together to close. Place all batter ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir together until no lumps remain. Dip each stuffed squash blossom into the batter and gently remove the excess. Place each blossom into the oil and fry until the batter puffs and begins to turn golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towel for 1 minute. Transfer blossoms onto a cooling rack, season with salt and pepper. Enjoy immediately.
Brittany P. Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org