Eating Like a Local at The Local

Both Adam and I work for small businesses, so we don’t have traditional 401K’s, matching or life insurance programs that larger corporations offer. We know these things are important so we have made a connection with an investment company out of Indianapolis and have started making plans for retirement.

We meet with the investor reps about once every six months in Indianapolis. These meetings are typically over two hours long and full of, what seems like, really big decisions.

By the end, we are both pretty brain fried and really ready for an adult beverage.

After our last meeting in early May we decided to have dinner at The Local Eatery and Pub on the north side in Westfield.

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We first went to The Local a couple months ago with Adam’s sisters and their friends and spouses. I was coming from a catering event so I was running late. That night the rest of the group waited for me to order entrees but did order a few of the many appetizers and drinks.

I was rushed and a bit frazzled as I arrived because I felt bad that everyone was waiting for me, but I was able to see The Local’s laid back, rustic and simple vibe as soon as I got the table.

Beers, sodas, and some cocktails were served in mason jars. And, the cheese board, complete with seasonal fruit, brie, prosciutto and crostini, was served on a large butcher block.

That night, Adam ordered the chicken on a wire, which was free range local chicken with a fried egg. Adam has become a huge fan of any thing topped with a fried egg. We have done them on burgers, salads and I would love to try it on pizza.

I had the pulled turkey sandwich. It was slightly spicy thanks to the chimichurri sauce, but well balanced with melted smoked Gouda cheese.

I loved the feel of the place and we all had a great time.

The fun crew!  And then a silly chick in the bottom corner...

The fun crew! And then a silly chick in the bottom corner…

This most recent visit, when it was just the two of us, I had more time to take it all in.

That is, after I ordered a glass of chardonnay… my mind was still thinking numbers, the dollars we need to save if we were to live until 95 and about what would happen if one of us were to become disabled, handicapped or worse.

… Chardonnay clears those things from the mind and makes it everything better.

I was able to notice and appreciate the large chalkboard displaying the local farms featured on the constantly changing specialties section of the menu.

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I was also able to learn more about the story of The Local. The restaurant opened in 2011 and is located near many of the popular suburbs of Indianapolis like Carmel, Westfield and Noblesville. The Local’s goal is to support and feature local farmers and artisans in order to build a strong local economy. They also love to be a part of the Farm to Table genre because it helps to reduce their environmental footprint.

Their website lists their farm and artisan partnerships and the menu explains their relationships and passion for Farm to Table.

In addition to my wine and Adam’s local Sunking beer, we ordered the baked goat cheese.

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(If you are new here… Hi! Welcome and thanks for reading! And, just so you know, I like cheese… a lot.)

It was great. The cheese was baked with roasted garlic cloves and olive oil and served with toasted bread to put the slightly melty cheese spread on.

Adam ordered the same sandwich. He loves it. It looked great and is always on The Local’s menu. He also loves their homemade buns.

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I ordered the seasonal specialty which was a white fish with beans, oyster mushrooms and a ramps sauce. I was sold on the entrée thanks to the ramps.

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My parents are part of a tiny CSA near their home in Michigan. I say “tiny CSA” because it’s just one farmer, but my mom has always loved natural food and local farmers. It’s only natural that she has developed connections with this grower. At Easter, Adam and I were up at my parent’s home on the coast of the lake and she had received her first CSA from him of the season.

Ramps were in this first CSA. I had never seen or tasted ramps, but they are really interesting.

Ramps are sort of a leek, onion, and garlic combo and can be found in the spring. They are technically a wild onion but they look similar to a green onion and have a garlic odor. In cooking, they are pretty versatile. They can be cooked in any recipe that calls for green onions or leeks. My mom even just tore some up and put it in a spring green salad at Easter.

The dish was wonderful so I asked the waitress where the ramps were from. She didn’t know, but said she would find out. However, the girl didn’t come back to our table with any answers.

And, that’s my only minor complaint about this very unique and influential restaurant. They list which farms they partner with, but don’t say what is local and what comes from one particular farm or another. If it was my place, I would make sure the staff was prepared for questions and knew about the food they were serving. Or, at least had points of reference in the back of the house if a question was asked so they could easily find the answer.

But, everything else was excellent on both our visits. The staff was friendly and accommodating. The atmosphere is a perfect combination of rustic and approachable for the everyday. The food was great.

The Local is a great place in Indy that is making a great effort to support the community and local farmers. I am proud and eager to support a restaurant that makes this kind of effort.

Be sure to do the same if you are in the area!

The Local Eatery and Pub
14655 N. Gray Road
Westfield, IN 46062

http://localeateryandpub.com/

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Say “Kim-chi!”

This weekend Adam and I went to the Indiana Artisans Marketplace in Indianapolis.

We got tickets through one of Adam’s best friends, Andy. Andy designs and makes beautiful custom furniture. Andy is in business with his dad and they have been a part of Indiana Artisan for a couple years. Their work is often used by designers at show home events and he even has been featured in some log cabin magazines.

You can learn more about their company, Cole and Sons, Inc, and see their work at their website. Like their Facebook page, too!

Adam and I had fun checking out his featured pieces and seeing Andy drumming up new business.

We also had fun seeing all the other artisans creations. There was jewelry, paintings, pottery, wood working and more. Everyone was incredibly talented.

However, one group of artisans really stuck out to Adam and me… the Foodists!

There were wine makers and craft beer brew masters. Lots of honey and candy makers. BBQ sauces and rubs.

And…

And it gets even better…!

THERE WERE SAMPLES.

We had a ball.

And ended up buying quite a bit. I blame the wine samples…

Adam took this picture of our artisan damage.

Ignore the Lowe's receipts in the background.  We are testing back splash ideas...

Ignore the Lowe’s receipts in the background. We are testing back splash ideas…

I am pretty sure that we now have enough barbecue sauce to get us through the summer.

One thing I was particularly excited about was the jar of Kim-chi from Fermenti Artisan. Kim-chi is traditionally a Korean side dish that is made up of different vegetables and seasonings that ferment together in a jar for some time.

I read a lot about Kim-chi last summer when I read Michael Pollen’s Cooked. In Cooked, Michael studies cooking through the four classis elements of the world: Fire, water, air and earth. In the “Earth” chapter he dives into fermentation with sauerkraut and Kim-chi.

Much of it was super scientific and well over my head. And, in the spirit of being honest, to me, that chapter dragged. However, it did make me realize that I needed to try Kim-chi.

My opportunity arrived a few weeks ago when out to eat with girl friends and I spotted it on a menu. It was served with tuna and I was surprised how spicy and tasty it was.

I knew Adam would love it as he is a big fan of all things spicy. I had been looking up recipes to try to make my own, but then I saw it at the artisan marketplace. I knew we had to get some.

We also got some curtido, which the reps at the marketplace said works great in Mexican dishes.

We also got some curtido, which the reps at the marketplace said works great in Mexican dishes.

We used it on Monday night for a take on fried rice using quinoa and shrimp.

Adam and I both had big bites of the Kim-chi right out of the jar before we began cooking. It was spicy just like the Kim-chi I had a few weeks ago, but it didn’t have the typical “pepper” spiciness. It was a fresher spicy… which is ironic considering it is literally rotting vegetables.

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What might be even more ironic is that these rotting vegetables are actually good for you.

Really good for you.

In fact, Kim-chi is considered a “Super Food.” It’s full of vitamins like many other super foods such as kale, but what makes it different is it has a healthy bacteria culture that helps with digestion and, some studies show, prevents the growth of cancer.

And, as if Kim-chi could get any cooler, Korean’s actually say “Kim-chi!” like American’s say “Cheese!” for a picture!

Kim-chi and Shrimp Fried Quinoa

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1 cup quinoa, uncooked
2 tablespoons oil (I used Olive… vegetable works.)
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (We had large ones in the freezer. I should have cut them into pieces; it was a big bite!)
1 cup heaping Kim-chi
1 tablespoon Chili Garlic Sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
½ lime, squeezed
Salt and Pepper
Minced green onions and lime wedge for garnish

Cook cup of quinoa according to package. Set aside.

Add oil to a large skillet or wok pan. Add shrimp to skillet once oil is hot. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until pink, about three minutes. Remove to a plate and set aside.

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Add Kim-chi and chili garlic paste to skillet. Stir-fry until they are combined and fragrant. Add in cooked quinoa, fish sauce, and soy sauce. Stir constantly about three minutes.

Push the quinoa mixture to one side of the skillet. Add the eggs and cook, stirring occasionally with a spatula about two minutes.

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Remove from heat and fold eggs into quinoa mixture. Add the shrimp, lime juice and rice vinegar. Stir to combine.
Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish and serve right away.

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A Corny Post.

I first visited the home Adam grew up in about five years ago. We were about to go on a canoe trip and he needed to pick up some of his camping supplies. While there, he also decided to change the oil in his truck.

(… I have said it before and I will say it again: The guy is handy.)

It was pre smart phones so I got bored rather quickly. While he was elbow deep in his truck, I decided to walk around. His childhood home was surrounded by fields that are farmed each year rotating between soybeans and corn. That year it was corn. We were there in late August and the corn was as tall as Adam.

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As I walked towards the edge of the driveway and up to the start of the corn field, I remember being so surprised. Each stalk only had one ear, maybe two, of corn.

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Really? That’s it?

As a Midwestern girl, born and raised, I have driven on highways surrounded by corn fields all my life. I could have sworn there were at least six ears to a stalk.

I walked back into the garage and squatted down to Adam’s level.

“Hey Bud. Random question… Are there really only one or two ears of corn on a corn stalk?” I asked.

Adam slid out from under his truck with a confused look on his face.

“Well, I thought there would be, like, six or seven ears. The corn out there only has one.” I tried to explain, what apparently was, a weird question.

“Yep. Just one. Sometimes two. Depends.”

Hmm, I thought looking back at the field.

Field corn surrounding our new home.  (And the chickens.  Arn't they cute?!)

Field corn surrounding our new home. (And the chickens. Arn’t they cute?!)

Now I was the confused one. “It seems kind of inefficient. It’s just, a stalk takes up a lot of space. And you only get one ear?”

“Yep,” Adam said, sliding back under the truck.

Still looking out at the corn, still perplexed, I asked another question: “So, when can we eat it?”

Adam laughed.

“Babe. We won’t eat that. That’s not sweet corn. It’s field corn. Sweet corn is a different kind of plant. It’s mainly grown in the south.”

Umm. What?

All these years of driving around Illinois, Indiana and Ohio I thought I was looking at what would wind up at a picnic and here I am, at twenty-one years old, learning all this?

Later, I shared my newfound knowledge with my east coast raised father. In his mid fifties, he had the same reaction to the news that corn stalks only have one or two ears: “Really? Never knew that. That seems inefficient.”

That’s what I am saying..!

However, he was in on the sweet corn versus field corn thing…

And while Indiana is home to acres of field corn that will eventually become oils or ethanol, many farmers and home gardeners in Indiana do grow sweet corn.

However, this year, Adam and I were not one of them.

Sweet corn is a little challenging to grow. Its success relies on the amount of rain during the growing season and the amount of attention the grower is able to give it. Two things we couldn’t guarantee at the beginning of the summer.

But, it was okay. We also knew we wouldn’t be without corn. Everyone around us grows sweet corn. It pops up on every other corner within ten miles of our home at temporary farm stands throughout the late summer.

Fortunaly, rain was not an issue this summer. Everyone who grew sweet corn had success. Many of Adam’s clients grew sweet corn and he would receive ears of it by the bushel every day. Free of charge.

We couldn’t eat it fast enough so we decided to freeze it. Freezing any vegetable, especially corn, is a great way to lock in fresh, natural flavor.

Here is how we did it:

Note: You want to either eat or process corn as soon as possible. The longer ears of corn sit untouched the more nutrients and flavor are lost.

Step One: Shuck all the corn. Pull all greens and silks from the ears.

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Step Two: Get set up. Bring a pot to a boil and get a bowl of ice and water ready. We actually used a clean cooler filled with ice water because we were working with so much corn.

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Step Three: Boil corn for about five minutes.

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Step Four: Remove corn from boiling water and immediately place into ice water. This will stop the cooking process and ensure all the sweet corn flavor that you know and love will remain with the corn.

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Step Five: Remove corn from ice water after about five minutes. Remove kernels from corn cob.

There are a lot of neat gadgets out there to make the removal of corn kernels easy, but a knife works just fine. What we did here was turn a small bowl upside down and place in the center a large skillet. Running the knife along the cob as it’s held on top of the small bowl, the kernels will fall into the skillet making collecting the kernels (and clean up) easy.

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Step Six: Place corn onto baking sheets and freeze. Once frozen, use a spatula to remove corn from baking sheet and fill into freezer bags, squeezing out as much air as possible. Keep in the freezer for up to a year.

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The flavor of sweet corn frozen at home is so much sweeter and authentic than corn from major frozen vegetable companies. This is because those companies remove so much of the corn’s natural sugars in their processing as it can make their continually used equipment very sticky. Not to mention, they would have to get the corn frozen much more quickly than they do. Otherwise, they are going to go into whiskey making business fast.

But there are some businesses trying to break the traditional manufactured sweet corn mold.

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet two incredibly inspiring Indiana entrepreneurs who are trying to bring the “Home-Preserved” fresh flavor of sweet corn to the commercial market. I even got to tour their brand new processing facility.

Working the big hair net on the tour... Looking good, right?!

Working the big hair net on the tour… Looking good, right?!

Through their new business, Husk, they are purchasing sweet corn straight from farmers just around the corner from their processing plant. With a little creativity (Example of this? French friers full of boiling water versus oil to cook the many corn cobs received every day.) and a ton of motivation they are changing the frozen corn market in Indiana.

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Since their inception at the start of this year’s sweet corn season, they have cut and frozen 60,000 pounds of sweet corn. Check them out: http://huskfoods.com/

And, Hoosiers, If you can’t find their product at your favorite grocery store, request it!

Indiana’s Wine Country

With the craziness of summer, especially this summer, weekends with just Adam have been nonexistent. We have either been running in two different directions or in fast forward with groups of people for some sort of celebration.

While this summer has been a great time, it is sometimes nice to just be a couple.

Last March I reserved a tour of Oliver Winery’s Creekbend Estate Vineyard. It was hard to book something so far in advance but, it was nice to know through all the jam-packed, full throttle weekends this summer, there was this day to look forward to.

Oliver Winery is a very successful Indiana Winery just north of Bloomington, which is home to Indiana University and, is at the forefront of the local food movements across the state. At Oliver, there are a handful of wines made from grapes shipped from California and others that are grown locally at their Creekbend Vineyard, a few miles away from the main tasting room.

Oliver's Bloomington Tasting Room.

Oliver’s Bloomington Tasting Room.

Adam and I have been to the tasting room at the winery many times and fall even more in love with it every time. One of our first road trips together was to Oliver after a long, stressful few weeks in the first year of our careers. Adam even proposed to me over a bottle of Oliver’s Merlot.

Thanks to this special place in our hearts for Oliver, I was excited to have the opportunity to tour the private vineyard.

On Sunday, Adam and I headed out on the two hour drive to Bloomington, looking forward to the afternoon. The drive from the tasting room to the vineyard was windy, hilly and amazingly scenic.

We were welcomed into the vineyard by vast grape vines as far as we could see in either direction. Adam pulled up to an old farm house where two men were sitting on the porch. The older man introduced himself as Bernie, the vineyard manager. The younger man, about our age, was a farm hand named Jay. Bernie told us that we were the first to arrive and that as we wait for everyone else we could explore the farmhouse or the table grape vines planted in the back.

After the long drive, we both needed to use the restroom so we headed into the house to visit the facilities. While I was waiting for Adam, I read a plaque in the kitchen stating that the home dated back to the 1830’s and the original owners were buried on the land. Much of the house is still intact, including the unique chestnut floors in the kitchen.

Adam and I headed out to the back to check out the table grape vines. These grapes are sold in the cheese and fruit platters in the tasting room. I excitedly tested out my birthday present, a new Nikon camera, while Adam was looking around to try and figure out what bird was making this weird call he kept hearing.

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The tour was kept to twelve people and once everyone arrived Jay brought out some champagne to kick off the tour.

Bernie told us the basics about the vineyard, including that the vineyard is located in a microclimate making the growing days and temperature during those growing days very similar to Napa Valley. The soils are great and thanks to the limestone and hills that are predominate in the area, rain runs off easily. There are about 69 acres of vines in the vineyard which re-opened in 1994 after Professor Bill Oliver began making wines in the sixties.

We began our walk around the vineyard with a fresh glass of Chardonel, which was a delicious hybrid grape that is similar to chardonnay.

One of the first questions asked was about the foil ribbons on the end of all the rows of the vines.

Red foil designed to keep birds away.

Red foil designed to keep birds away.

“Bird Control,” Bernie explained.

He mentioned that when the sun hits the flapping foil it reflects light keeping the birds away. They also use recordings of bird distress or attack calls.

I looked at Adam and laughed. That was the crazy bird he was looking for!

The next wines we tried were the Catawba and Traminette. Both of these we had tried before. The Catawba is one of Adam’s sister’s (many) favorites. Bernie snipped a few bunches of grapes and let us try the Catawba grapes. They were approaching harvest and were juicy and sweet.

Tasting some Catawba.

Tasting some Catawba.

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Next we headed up a large hill which actually serves as a landing strip for pilots that can land on grass. Along the landing strip were new grape vines which were planted this spring. We learned that grapes cannot be harvested until they reach three years of maturity, but, if taken care of, can last thirty years.

Adam in the landing strip, with vines as far as the eye can see!

Adam in the landing strip, with vines as far as the eye can see!

While walking up the hill, I asked Bernie how he got the job as the vineyard manager.

He laughed.

“Yeah. What did you study? Did you come from farming?,” Adam asked.

Two farmers, chatting it up.

Two farmers, chatting it up.

“Nope. Definitely did not come from farming,” Bernie smiled. “That’s a good one for the whole group to hear. I will answer that in a bit.”

Bernie, the vineyard manager, teaching the group about the grapes.

Bernie, the vineyard manager, teaching the group about the grapes.

We continued on the last leg of the walking tour. We passed some Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon rows. Here, Bernie grabbed a handful of the Cab grapes and handed them out for us to try. These weren’t as sweet as the other grapes and he asked if we tasted green pepper.

The whole group lit up. Yes!

He explained these grapes were not ripe yet and if you ever have a bottle of Cabernet that tastes similar to a green pepper, it means the grapes were not ready for harvest.

As we walked back to the Farmhouse, Adam and I brought up the rear of the group taking a few more pictures and checking out the last few rows of grapes.

I looked at Adam. “You having fun?”

“A blast,” he beamed. “This is a perfect day.”

Perfect Day.

Perfect Day.

A gourmet cheese platter was waiting for us in the farmhouse complete with Indiana cheeses, including one from Fair Oaks Dairy, as well as a glass of Chamboursin, a dry red wine. Adam and I both declared it our favorite of the day.

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The final bottle uncorked of the tour was an ice wine. This incredibly sweet wine was paired with Lindt chocolates and reminded me of honey. It was good enough for me to appreciate but was much too sweet for any more than a couple sips. I looked at Adam, who seemed to be feeling the same way, and wished we had split a glass, so not to waste the wine.

Bernie thanked everyone for joining him and asked if anyone had any other questions.

I reminded him that he had not answered mine about how he got his start.

“Oh, that’s right! Thanks for reminding me.”

He told us his career actually began in the military and he took a government job that brought him back to Indiana in 1997. Prior to this he worked as a bomb specialist. During the grape harvest, he volunteered at the vineyard with his wife and became good friends with Bill and Kathleen Oliver.

Over a bottle of wine at the end of a festival in Indianapolis, Bill asked Bernie to be the vineyard manager. Bernie said three jaws dropped that afternoon. His, his wife’s, and Kathleen’s.

Bernie replied, “Thank you for the offer but, I don’t know anything about growing grapes.”

Bill responded “You are a bomb specialist with all ten fingers, I can teach you to grow grapes.” Three weeks later, Bernie accepted the job and has been there ever since.

And, he hasn’t looked back.

“My grandfather was a farmer,” Bernie winked, “And I know he’s sending me a big, old high five from heaven.”

Creekbend Vineyard Quick Facts

http://www.oliverwinery.com/vineyardevents
7508 North Woodall Street
Ellettsville, IN 46429

Tours are only offered a handful of weekends in late summer and book up fast. As mentioned, I made this reservation in March. It’s because I tried last summer and spots were not available.

It’s a walking tour (about one mile total) so dress accordingly. Wear good shoes. Prepare for the weather as it could be chilly or hot. They provide umbrellas if it’s drizzly.

Prices are $40 for an individual or $70 for a couple. Heck of a deal. We tried nearly ten wines, some of which are not offered in the tasting room, were fed a beautiful cheese and chocolate platter, and the tour was given by the incredibly knowledgeable vineyard manager.

It’s a hilly, twisty drive on back roads to the vineyard. Use the map on the website versus trying to use a GPS. According to the vineyard manager over 85% of the time the GPS will get you lost.

Creekbend also offers picnic’s in the vineyard throughout the summer where you can bring your own meal, take a stroll through the vineyard on your own, and purchase estate wines by the bottle or glass for the evening. Sounds amazing!

Even if you can’t make it out to the vineyard, check out the tasting room on 37 just north of Bloomington. It’s beautiful, and a lot of fun.

… We made a stop by the tasting room to purchase a case of the estate wine. We already can’t wait to bring some of these bottles out during special occasions in the year to come!

Checking out the Creekbend brand back at the tasting room.

Checking out the Creekbend brand back at the tasting room.

Creekbend wines back at home.

Creekbend wines back at home.

... 'til next time.

… ’til next time.

Got Shrooms?

Written on May 30, 2013.

The following are a few things I had never heard of until I moved to Indiana for college.  (Mind you, I lived in OHIO.  Not exactly an exotic, foreign land…)

–        Home-style meals like Chicken and Noodles, Fried Tenderloin and biscuits and gravy.  This may have been more because of my health conscious mother.  But, my friends weren’t eating these things either.  Either way, I still had no clue these stick to your ribs, country favorite’s existed.

–        The Colts.  Not even kidding.  Every Sunday, everyone in my dorm wrote “COLTS” on their dry erase boards on their room doors.  I remember wondering if it was a weird acronym for club or something.  I had to ask my RA.  Again, I came from Ohio.  Central Ohio.  College Football was all that mattered.

–        A Hoosier.  Still not really sure what that one is.  Clearly, I went to the school in northern Indiana.  Not the one in the sourthern part of the state.  Perhaps you know of that school…?!

–        U-Turns. These I had heard of, but never had done one.  My freshman year roommate, an Indiana native, did one the first time I was in the car with her.  As we were whipping around I was frantically looking for cops and thinking she was the most reckless driver ever.  But, they are legal here.  And so convenient.

–        Morels and mushroom hunting.  Mushroom hunting for one, just sounds ridiculous.  But it’s a thing.  A super competitive, intense thing.  Morels are a  wild growing mushroom that are actually considered a delicacy.

Between the notoriety morels and mushroom hunting receives each spring throughout the state (radio stations actually have contests to see who can find the largest mushroom) to Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle account of this spring vegetable, I knew I had to try them.

Morels grow naturally in the woods very well throughout Indiana in the spring.  (Morels actually grow in most regions of the country, outside the deserts and very warm areas in the south.  The Great Lake region of the Midwest is known to be a highly popular area of morel growth from April to mid-June.)

Adam has friends who enjoy mushroom hunting.  He even would show me pictures that came across his Facebook Newsfeed when people posted the finds from their hunt.  I really wanted to try them.

But, spring was crazy.  There were weddings, a lot going on at work, both my siblings had college and high school graduations and we were putting our own garden together, so mushroom hunting never happened.

Not that I was that disappointed.  Woods and me?  We don’t mix that well.  Plus, there was a sign outside an Amish farm stand not too far from work said that they had morels.  I figured I would just swing by there.

That was until a peer mentioned how she spent $48 on a pound of morels there.

Fifty bucks? Seriously?  I was going to HAVE to find time to hunt next year.

A few days later I was driving on the west side of Indianapolis and passed a farm stand with a sign saying that they have had morels for $18 a half pound.  A deal in comparison to the morels closer to home, so I stopped.

I went back to the fridge full of little cartons full of cap shaped mushrooms of all sizes.  The looked like coral or honeycomb.  I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, but I figured I should make sure they were free of any mold of decay just like any other produce.

I checked out and got back in my car.  As I drove away I glanced down at the little clear carton and kicked myself for not asking where they came from.

Once home I looked up the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website to find the morel recipe that the book recommends.  (I rented the book from the library around Christmastime.  Highly recommend.  Very eye opening and a great thing to read if you want to get started in growing your own food or just want to try to be a little more self-sufficient.)  The recipe was for Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding.

Another thing I had never been exposed to: Bread Pudding.

And I really had no interest.  Bread pudding is one of those two-word foods that doesn’t sound like they should go together thus, as a child, I was pretty sure these were items that should not been eaten.  See also: sour cream, sweet potato, or blue cheese.  (I am getting better at this.  In fact, thanks to “Cheese Day” in Home Ec during the sixth grade, I found a LOVE for strong cheeses, including blue cheese.  Everyone else thought I was nuts.  “She likes that moldy cheese?!”  I am sure it did wonders for my popularity.)

So, that was a big “no” for the bread pudding.  Plus, I really wanted to experience what the morels really taste like.  Not have them masked by a lot of other ingredients.  So, with Google as my guide, I looked up morel recipes.

There were a ton.  Recipes that included chicken or adding the morels to pasta.  Recipes for soup and different ways to deep fry them.  I opted for a super simple recipe of just sautéing the morels with some butter and salt and pepper.

The first order of business was to clean the morels.  You don’t want to wash them, but you do want to brush them off and then soak them in salted water for about fifteen minutes.  It was at this step I read that one should not be alarmed if bugs or other debris, like dirt, comes out of the mushroom and is floating in the water.

Umm? Greeeat.

Because of this, I changed the water about ten minutes in.  Didn’t want to take any chances!

Next I cut the morels in half, lengthwise, and laid them on paper towels until they were dry and didn’t leave any wet marks on the towels.

Then I added the mushrooms to four tablespoons of melted butter in a skillet over medium heat.

The morels cooked quickly as I pushed them gently around with a spatula.

Adam came in with chicken off the grill and we plated the food, after he commented on how great the kitchen smelled.

The sautéed morels received rave review that night.  They were rich and meaty.  Adam said that he was going to have to go hunting next year.  (… Especially after I told him how much they sold for.)

I am looking forward to it because I would gladly do this recipe again.

…. Or maybe I will get adventurous, fight my childhood food-fear and make bread pudding.