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Slow Food Omaha Offers Real "Value Meal"

Slow Food Omaha members enjoy a harvest dinner at Rhizosphere Farm
Published on October 4, 2009 : 4 comments

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Ever wonder how we’ve gotten to this point? A point where you can drive up behind a brick building; order a breaded “meat” patty on a bun, some greasy fries, and an artificially-colored corn-syrupy drink (which you can only dream would actually fit into your car’s inept cup holders); pay your $4 and some change; accept your order through a tiny window; banish the paper bag to the passenger side floor because it’s so sopping with grease that you don’t dare set it on your seat; and then refer to this whole experience as “getting a value meal”?!?!

Is it me, or does something just not add up here?!?!

Honestly, I’m not sure how the preceding scenario qualifies as a meal, let alone a meal of any value! And while I’ve assumed for quite some time that there must be others out there who share my sentiment regarding the direction we’re heading with our food endeavors in this country, it wasn’t until recently that I had the chance to join forces with such folks.

You can’t imagine how thrilled I was to discover that an organization now exists aimed at combating the deeply engrained “give-it-to-me-fast-and-cheap” mentality of this fast-food nation of ours. Nationwide, local chapters of Slow Food USA are working tirelessly to spread the word about what truly brings value to a meal. And, I’m pleased to report that I’ve been fortunate to make contact with a sizable enough group of local folks who are interested in these issues that we have been able to start a chapter of Slow Food USA right here in Omaha!

Although our Omaha chapter is in its infancy, we did host our first event on September 27th. It was a Harvest Dinner graciously hosted by Rhizoshpere Farm at their place in Waterloo, which is certified “naturally grown.”  Dinner was comprised of many local foods, including chicken from Kvam Family Farm, apples from Small’s Fruit Farm, cheese from Branched Oak Farm, cucumbers and garlic from Blooms Organics, tons of fresh produce donated by Rhizoshpere Farm, and a home-brewed Porter and Pale Ale provided by local brewers, Justin and Elizabeth Chalen!

Rhizosphere FarmRhizosphere FarmWe feasted on Grilled Veggies with Quark Tzatziki, Garden-Fresh Salad (literally picked that afternoon) with Homemade Sun-Dried Tomato Dressing, homemade breads, Gazpacho, Chicken Gumbo and Squash-and-Apple Cobbler!! The entire meal was gluten- and dairy-free (except for the quark), which allowed folks with those food sensitivities to relax and enjoy fellowship and a quality meal without the stress of worrying about ingredients!

As I dined at that table with 40 fellow ”food lovers turned activists,” with the table cloth blowing in the fresh September breeze (okay, “September gusts,” is more like it….as it was just about the windiest day of the year!), and a lovely view of the garden from which most of my meal had just been harvested, I couldn’t help but think….“now, this is a meal that you just can’t get from a drive-thru window!”

It was a meal that doesn’t require you to perform contortionist-like maneuvers, keeping one foot firmly planted on your car’s brake pedal while somehow twisting your upper body 180 degrees to hand out French fries or ice cream cones to kids in your back seat without getting a kink in your neck or somehow spilling them all over the car! But instead, a meal that incorporates nature, fellowship, and an appreciation for the work and love that are inescapably part of creating a healthful, happy meal. And, alas….if it’s true that “we are what we eat,” then I guess that makes my Slow Food comrades and me…..slow, but fabulous!

If you are interested in ensuring that your food comes from healthy plants and animals and is produced in a manner that has a positive impact on the environment, food producers and your biological chemistry, then Slow Food Omaha might be just the place for you. If you would like more information about becoming a member, please send an email to: SlowFoodOmaha [at] gmail [dot] com. If you’d like to join our email list and receive updates about Slow Food Omaha’s future events, please indicate that in your message, as well.

Want a taste of what I’m talking about, here? Give these recipes a try!

Veggie Kabobs with Herb and Garlic MarinadeVeggie Kabobs with Herb and Garlic Marinade

Veggie Kabobs with Herb and Garlic Marinade

(Serves 4-6)

Marinade:

  • 1/2 C olive oil
  • 1/2 C lemon juice
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1/4 C Dijon mustard
  • 2 T maple syrup
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • tsp. fresh ground black pepper

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  The marinade can be prepared in advance and held covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

Veggies:

  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 1 C red onion
  • 1 C red pepper
  • 1 C beet
  • 1 C zucchini
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes
  • 1 C apple

Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 min.

Cut veggies into bite-sized chunks; cook potatoes and beets in salted water until tender (do not overcook!); let cool; place all veggies in a shallow dish or container.  Pour marinade over veggies.  Cover & refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat grill to medium heat.

Remove veggies from marinade, reserving marinade.  Thread onto skewers, alternating colors.  Cook skewers on grill until veggies are lightly charred all over, about 10 min, basting with reserved marinade and turning occasionally.

 

Quark Tzatziki

  • 1 large cucumber
  • small bunch of parsley or cilantro
  • 1 tsp fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes or 1 fresh hot pepper any variety
  • 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice
  • pinch of cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 oz Quark

Blend all ingredients, except Quark, together in a food processor. Add mixture to the Quark until a dip consistency is reached.  Serve with veggie kabobs!

cpooschkeChristy authors the "What's Fresh?" column on Omaha.net. She is a local "foodie" and owner/operator of GroceryGeek.com - Check out her natural cookbook, grocery shopping guide, diet make-over services, and personal chef services on her site! She also oper

Comments

morgan says:

October 15, 2009 : 6 years 49 weeks ago

morgan's picture

Yum - this looks sooo good!

Does anyone make quark locally around Omaha?

cpooschke says:

October 15, 2009 : 6 years 49 weeks ago

cpooschke's picture

Morgan -
Not to rub it in, but it IS sooooooooooo good! Branched Oak Farm makes quark. They are just outside of Lincoln, within an hour of Omaha. I’m not really familiar, but I know their products are also available for delivery to Omaha through the Nebraska Food Co-op (http://www.nebraskafood.org/shop/), which I plan to do an article on this winter :)

Nona Enocanai (not verified) says:

February 7, 2011 : 5 years 32 weeks ago

Nona Enocanai's picture

Hey Christy’
Very good article; I hope people read it and take it to heart. AND, this recipe looks so yummy that I can’t wait to try it. Wow, you are just everywhere on line, aren’t you!! Your are a real go getter and a pioneer. Meant to email earlier but didn’t have the time. And now, I must go again because I’ve been called in to work. I can’t wait to try this recipe; I’m sure my hubby will love it. Nona (alias, you know who)

morgan says:

February 7, 2011 : 5 years 32 weeks ago

morgan's picture

yes - more recipes please!!!