Category Archives: Planning the menu

Wedding dinner recipes

Here are the recipes we used for our local food wedding dinner. We grew or raised most of the ingredients.

Appetizers

Hummus

Ingredients (for 10 cups): 

  • 4 cups dry chick peas
  • 16 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbs. salt
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 2 cups water (saved from cooking chick peas)

Directions:

  • Cook chick peas until soft and tender, making sure they are well covered with water.
  • Drain chick peas, saving 2 cups water, rinse with fresh water and let drip.
  • Food process all ingredients until a smooth paste is formed, more water may be necessary to achieve desired consistency. 

Vegetable sticks, cheese, crackers, fruit

Caprese salad

  • Tomatoes
  • Mozzarella
  • Basil
  • Olive oil

Chips & homemade salsa

Homemade half sour kosher dill pickles

Dinner

Autumn gold squash soup

Ingredients (for 100):

  • 35 lb squash
  • 7 lb onions
  • 1.75 cups vegetable oil
  • 5.25 lb carrots
  • 21 cloves garlic
  • 28 bay leaves
  • 7 tsp thyme
  • 7 tsp cumin
  • 7 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 tsp coriander
  • 7 quarts vegetable stock
  • 3.5 quarts tomato juice
  • 3.5 quarts orange juice
  • ~7 tsp salt
  • ~7 tsp pepper

 Directions:

  • Halve, seed and bake squash, cut side down, on baking trays at 400 degrees for 1 hour or more (until soft).
  • Saute onions in oil for a few minutes.
  • Add the bay leaves, garlic and spices and continue sautéing until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the carrots and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves.
  • In a blender, puree the squash, vegetables and juices in batches until smooth.
  • Mix back together and add salt and pepper to taste.

Swedish coleslaw

Ingredients (for 100): 

  • 12 lbs cabbage
  • 3 lbs onions
  • 18 carrots
  • 12 sweet peppers
  • 6 cups cider or red wine vinegar
  • 4.5 cups canola oil
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 4 T dry mustard

Directions:

  • Use slicer attachment to cut up cabbage, onions and sweet peppers. Use the grater attachment to cut up carrots. Mix in a large bowl.
  • Mix all sauce ingredients in a saucepan an bring to a boil. Immediately pour over vegetables. Do not stir. Cover and let stand in the refrigerator several hours before mixing.

 Maple kale salad

Ingredients (for 100): 

  • 12.5 lbs kale
  • 25 large hakurei turnips
  • 3 gallons water
  • 3 1/8 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 1/8 cup Braggs
  • 1.5 cups maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 50 cloves garlic, pressed

 Directions:

  • Cut up and cook kale in water for 7 minutes.
  • Immerse kale in cold water to cool. Add sliced hakurei turnips.
  • Toast sesame seeds in the oven on a baking sheet until light brown.
  • Mix sauce ingredients.
  • Add to kale just before serving.

 Garden salad

Rosemary roasted chicken and potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 21 chickens
  • Brine at a ratio of 1/4 cup salt:1 quart water:1 T dried rosemary ratio
  • 40 pounds potatoes (including up to 5 lb for vegan potatoes)
  • Salt, pepper, rosemary, olive oil for vegan potatoes

Directions:

  • At least 12 hours before cooking, immerse chicken in brine.
  • Wash potatoes. Cube potatoes, cutting out rotten spots but leaving the skins on.
  • Rinse chicken.
  • Arrange chicken parts and cubed potatoes on baking pans. Roast at 450 degrees until a thermometer stuck inside the breast reads 160 degrees.

Rosemary roasted vegan potatoes

Directions:

For one pan of potatoes (no more than 5 pounds), soak 10 minutes in hot tap water. Dry with a clean dishtowel. Mix in a bowl with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper and cook them at 450 degrees without chicken. Flip the potatoes periodically until they are nicely browned on several sides.

Homemade salad dressing

Homemade bread

 Dessert

John’s ice cream from Liberty, Maine

Pies made by our moms and Andy

  • Pumpkin pie
  • Walnut pie
  • Apple fig pie
  • Shoo-fly pie
  • Blueberry pie
  • German cheese pie
  • Apple pie
  • Apple raisin pie
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Our local food dinner

We did it! We cooked and served a meal made mostly from ingredients we grew, raised or made from scratch ourselves. We made way too much food, but no one seemed to mind taking leftovers home the next day. It was such an incredible weekend! The weather was perfect, the people wonderful and fun, my husband amazing…

Andy & I during our wedding ceremony

It’s weird to be on the other side of a weekend that we have spent many months preparing for. We’re back home and back to work for a week before heading out on our honeymoon in southern Utah. Then we’ll have to find a new project to take on – maybe getting our new land ready to build and farm on!

Andy asked me several times throughout the weekend, “Was it worth it?” Were all the hours of preparation worth it for one meal? I always said yes, absolutely.

We cooked our wedding dinner with friends and family in a summer camp kitchen

The meal provided more than just pleasure and sustenance for our guests, it was a learning experience for us as well. We gained confidence in our growing skills, since this was by far the biggest garden either of us had tended on our own. It gave us hope that anything is possible.

It was also a test of our relationship. There was stress and there were decisions to make together. We realized that the way we approach projects is quite different. I like to think things through before starting and have a plan for exactly what will happen. When we have to stray from the plan, it stresses me out. Andy, however, likes to figure things out as he goes along, and he is more flexible when something doesn’t go as planned.

Butternut squash destined for soup

“We’ll figure it out,” he said numerous times this summer. “But I want to figure it out now,” I would reply. We struggled at times and got grumpy with each other, but we’ve developed some new techniques for dealing with stress and for combining our different styles of approaching tasks. Once we let go of needing to be right, we realized that it’s better for us to be different. When you combine us, we think ahead and we’re flexible.

Kim roasted endless trays of chicken and potatoes

It’s hard to describe the weekend because for me it all went by so quickly. On Friday we gathered in the kitchen of the summer camp we rented out for the weekend. Friends and family washed, chopped, mixed, baked and boiled. We filled the walk-in cooler with trays of roast chicken and potatoes, salads, squash soup, veggie sticks, hummus, chopped watermelon and cantaloupe and more.

I can’t do Saturday justice by explaining the sequence of events. It was an emotional and incredibly wonderful day. And the food was delicious and abundant.

Max designed the image we had printed on aprons we gave away to our cooks as gifts

To be honest, I find it remarkable that we pulled this off. Neither of us have ever done any catering before, but we decided to make a meal for 90, and it worked out. I’ve been thinking lately about how neither of us are scared to take on projects, even if we don’t know how we’re going to accomplish them. I’m so grateful for this trait, which I can probably thank my parents for. Through their words and actions, they have infused me with a feeling that anything is possible with hard work and determination.

I guess this blog is done, now that our local food wedding is finished. However, I plan to start a new blog that Andy has named, Living From Scratch. We do so much from scratch – cut our own firewood, make tomato sauce and pickles and ketchup, boil maple sap into syrup, bake bread, smoke bacon, make cheese, brew beer…. We enjoy providing for ourselves, and we’re able to live a lifestyle less tied to our income. We still need money, of course, but since we have a low consumer footprint, we are able to put away money even on very modest salaries. Check back for a link to the new blog.

If you want all the recipes we used for our wedding dinner, I plan to post them sometime soon.

Squash soup

Digging yukon gold potatoes

Harvesting is so much fun, and it is so gratifying to see the results of all our work. I love having a refrigerator full of melons and pickles and a living room full of squash, pumpkins and potatoes. Now it’s time to start obsessively checking the forecast for frost warnings and hurricanes (ironically, Hurricane Julia is off the coast of Africa heading for United States). We’re still testing recipes and making last minute arrangements, but we’re feeling ready and excited for the wedding.

A trunk full of butternut squash

We’re so excited to create this meal, to spend time with people we love, and most of all to get married!

Here’s one of my favorite recipes we’ve tested recently. Since you are probably not cooking for 100, you can always shrink the amounts. Dividing by seven gives you around 15 servings and nice even amounts.

Autumn Gold Squash Soup

Ingredients (for 100):

  • 35 lb squash
  • 7 lb onions
  • 1.75 cups vegetable oil
  • 5.25 lb carrots
  • 21 cloves garlic
  • 28 bay leaves
  • 7 tsp thyme
  • 7 tsp cumin
  • 7 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 tsp coriander
  • 7 quarts vegetable stock
  • 3.5 quarts tomato juice
  • 3.5 quarts orange juice
  • ~7 tsp salt
  • ~7 tsp pepper

Directions:

Halve, seed and bake squash, cut side down, on baking trays at 400 degrees for 1 hour or more (until soft).

Saute onions in oil for a few minutes.

Add the bay leaves, garlic and spices and continue sautéing until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots and stock. Bring to a boil then simmer, covered, until the vegetables are tender. Remove the bay leaves.

In a blender, puree the squash, vegetables and juices in batches until smooth.

Mix back together and add salt and pepper to taste. Warm slowly.

The cabbages are coming along nicely

My parents came to help in the garden

Testing recipes

Much of our cooking these days is focused on testing recipes for the wedding. On Saturday we made broiled chicken, coleslaw and potatoes — all three are dishes we plan to serve at the wedding.

We cooked the chicken, which my parents raised this summer, loosely based on suggestions in The New Best Recipe cookbook.

A rooster, just over seven weeks old and big enough for the slaughterhouse

On Friday we started brining the bird, which was pre-cut into legs, breasts, wings and back, in a solution of 1/2 cup salt to 2 quarts water to 1 tsp. dried rosemary. Almost 24 hours later we broiled the chicken until a thermometer stuck inside the breast read 160 degrees (around 30 minutes). The end result was a little too salty, but otherwise juicy and delicious.

We simply cubed the potatoes and cooked them in the bottom of the broiler pan under the chicken. The drippings from the cooking bird made them greasy and delicious. We haven’t decided whether we’ll cook the potatoes this way, make mashed potatoes, or both.

We’ve been trying out different cole slaw recipes trying to find one we like, preferably without mayonnaise. Last weekend we tried Asian cabbage slaw from the Moosewood Cooks for a Crowd cookbook, but we found it somewhat dull. This weekend we tried a recipe I got from my mom for a Swedish slaw. We mixed shredded cabbage with onions, green peppers and carrots then marinated the vegetables in a very simple sauce of 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 3/4 cup canola oil, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp dry mustard and 1 T salt. We like this recipe quite a bit, and it’s very easy to make.

Lots of tomatoes!

We also made some mozzarella this weekend. We plan to have fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil as one of our appetizers. We’ll make more mozzarella and other cheeses gradually from now until the wedding. Read more in a guest post Andy plans to write about cheese making.

Andy making salsa

In other exciting news, we picked a delicious yellow watermelon this weekend. The soybeans are forming small furry pods. We picked our first green beans, and we have tons of tomatoes, which we’ve been drying and using to make canned salsa. We finally pulled out the first cucumber crop, but we have a second crop that will be ready soon. The carrots, corn and squash are all looking great.

We still have lots of pickles in the fridge. If you want to give them a try, let us know. We’re selling them for $20/gallon, plus a $2 deposit on the jar. For those in the Portland area, you can pick them up at the farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but you have to order them first. Since we don’t have a certified kitchen, we can only sell our pickles under the table.

Slow down melons! Speed up cabbage!

We’ve switched from trying to figure out what’s eating our crops to trying to determine when we can eat them. This is not as easy as it might seem.

It’s easy to know when to pick and eat tomatoes and cucumbers and kale, but melons and potatoes are a challenge. Andy has been researching how to tell when melons are ripe. He found a whole list of signs to look for, including raised ridges running from end to end, dead tendrils opposite the fruit, yellow coloring underneath and a tough rind. I simply knock on them, but they all sound hollow to me. We picked and ate one watermelon, but it was definitely not ready. This is good news. We’d rather everything waits until the end of September to ripen.

The potatoes are a challenge because our Yukon Gold plants have completely died off and the Russets aren’t far behind. Right now we’re leaving the potatoes in the ground because we don’t have a dark, 40-degree space where we can store them (we so look forward to having a root cellar some day). We’ll keep checking on the potatoes to see if they are doing okay in the ground.

We planted our short season crops recently – lettuce, peas and hakurei salad turnips – which we hope will be ready just in time for the wedding. Since it’s been dry, we’ve been watering these new seedlings every few days.

Our wedding website has a countdown on it. Every time I look at it, I’m surprised by how soon we’re getting married. I am so incredibly thrilled to marry Andy. We’re writing our own vows, and I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’m going to say. I often sit back and realize that I’m more in love with him than ever before, and each time I don’t think it possible to fall even deeper in love.

With the excitement, though, comes stress. It’s a lot of work to plan a wedding. We’ve spread out the planning over time, and we’ve delegated some tasks, but I still feel overwhelmed sometimes. Andy’s good at convincing me that everything will work out fine in the end. Also, I’m very aware of the fact that the point is to enjoy the wedding, including the planning (as much as possible). I try not to stress out too much.

Planning the wedding has been a process of discarding preconceptions of what a wedding “should” be like. In the beginning I thought we needed to hire a caterer. I thought we needed to rent nice dishes. I thought we should send out paper invitations and give everyone a wedding favor.

As we’ve planned the wedding, though, we’ve discarded traditions that we don’t see a purpose for. We decided that, with our friends and family, we can cook the wedding dinner. We don’t have to follow fancy recipes that take hours to complete. Fresh ingredients speak for themselves.

Each step of the way we’ve assessed what’s really important. Making a budget helped us prioritize and throw away the idea of renting dishes and sending invitations. Instead, we’ll use the plastic summer camp dishes and we emailed an invitation I made in Publisher.

We’ve focused in on what’s really important to us, which is spending time with people we care about and being intimately involved in our wedding dinner, from seed to plate.

P.S. Sorry I haven’t posted photos lately. My camera died after falling in the Saco River during my bachelorette party. But Sarah Moore is being kind enough to take photos of us and the garden a couple of times this summer, so maybe I’ll post some of her photos.

Family, community and dill pickles

I really do love pickles, but that’s not the only reason I make them. I also make pickles to feel connected to my heritage.

My recipe for half sour kosher dill pickles comes from my great grandmother, Rebecca Eisner, and maybe it’s been passed down for generations before that. I love to imagine my ancestors eating the same pickles before they left Europe for America, before their last name was changed from Dosgozsky (I’m not sure about the spelling) to Davis at Ellis Island, before a quarter of the family tree was decimated by the Holocaust.

Rebecca Eisner's daughter (my nana) and me

I’ve always been interested in my family’s history, and I believe that where my ancestors have been and what they’ve lived through has shaped who I am today. Typical of our mobile society, I grew up a several hour drive away from any family except my parents and brother. It was far enough that I didn’t see them all the time. None of my grandparents are alive now, and my extended family consists of one aunt, one uncle and two cousins. Really, that’s it, except for a great aunt in Pennsylvania I’ve met once. It’s remarkable the difference between my family and Andy’s. I think his family takes up a third of our wedding guest list.

When I was living in Costa Rica, I was struck by the large size and closeness of families in my small town. Extended families lived next door to or across town from each other. There was no option of forgetting where one came from. Everyone in town knew everyone else since birth. No one was anonymous.

In Costa Rica I thought a lot about family and community. Sometimes I felt sad that I didn’t have the kind of close extended family that I saw around me. But then I realized that I did have an extended family. They aren’t related to me by blood, but they’ve watched me grow up.

They’re called the garden group. It started at least 16 years ago when my parents and several other families decided to get  together to help each other out in their gardens. Ever since, the garden group has gathered at a different house each month on a Sunday to work outdoors and then share a potluck lunch.

The garden group has been gathering for work, fun and food for at least 16 years

The garden group has weathered challenging times and experienced joy. Children have grown up. Hair has grayed. Some families have left and others have joined. But it’s always the same – mutual support then energetic conversation over delicious food.

It’s a simple model I think many others could follow. One of my greatest hopes is that when Andy and I settle down we can find a group of friends like my family has found in the garden group.

Pickles for sale!

We planted a few too many cucumbers, and now we are swimming in pickles. Does anyone want to buy a gallon of half sour kosher dill pickles? We’re selling them for $20, with a $2 deposit on the glass jar. They need to be refrigerated. I’ll be in Portland August 6-8 and could deliver them to folks there. If you’re anywhere near Washington, Maine, you could pick them up from us here. They’re delicious! Read more in my next post.

Pickles