a meal without bar codes

(contributions from maria h.)

the goal of tonight's meal was to create a dinner using local foods. why local? if the environment is a concern - eating local is a great way for consumers to help protect the environment. local foods travel less distance and less energy is expended to get food to your table. if one is concerned about the local economy - buying local helps support local farmers and workers, giving them the opportunity to remain an independent farm and resisting industrialized agriculture companies who practice such methods as the use of pesticides and the use of genetically engineered foods. if taste is of concern - local foods is hands down going to be fresher and tastier too.

above: cream-top (unhomogenized) milk from golden glen creamery, sun-dried tomatoes preserved in oil from a lovely friend's garden - thank you francisca - along with some honey from the bees that she keeps in her yard (the honey, we decided, is being saved for a cooking project soon to come!)

the remainder of our ingredients were gathered from the farmers market, local bakeries, maria's herb pots, and foraged wild garlic. the delicious result...

a savory sun-dried tomato bread pudding:

1 loaf or 2 baguettes of stale bread, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 leeks, halved length wise, and sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
tons of roasted garlic, diced after roasting
2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained - dice half of them, leaving the other half whole
3 cups milk
4 eggs
fresh thyme, parsley or rosemary, chopped
grated cheese - parmesan or gruyere cheese work nicely
lots of salt and pepper
butter for greasing pans

heat oven to 350 degrees. if your bread is not crispy-stale, toast the bread cubes in the oven for 10 or 15 minutes. in the mean time, saute leeks and shallots with oil for about 5 minutes (we used the extra oil drained from the sun-dried tomatoes.) grease ramekins or casserole dish with butter (local, grass-fed-cow butter that is...)

whisk together eggs and milk in a separate bowl. add in your chopped herbs, salt and pepper.

in a super large bowl, mix together bread cubes, sauteed vegetables, the diced tomatoes, roasted garlic, and half of your grated cheese. pour half the egg and milk mixture over your bread cubes and mix everything together with your hands.

transfer this mixture into your baking dishes and drizzle the rest of your egg/milk mixture on top (you want this to be very moist!). top with whole sun-dried tomatoes and sprinkle with the other half of the grated cheese. salt and pepper as you wish.

bake at 350 for about 35-45 minutes until browned and crisp on top, but moist on the bottom (may be shorter for small ramekins). we served our bread pudding not with chives, but with wild garlic foraged from near the burke gillman trail!

the salad on the side was an amazing combination of pickled peppers - jarred and brought to us by melisa - along with arugula, parsley, apples and olive oil. note to self - next summer, i will have to pickle some peppers like these!