Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shop Local + Summer Corn Salad & Basil Buttermilk Dressing

You can go directly to the corn salad recipe - just click here.

June started another month of budgeting here on the farm. We have very strict limits around here for food, date nights, pet expenses, etc. And I do my best to stick to them. 
We won't talk about May. 
And since May didn't go according to plan, we have been living the past week and a half on bare shelves. I mean, let's be realistic. We still ate until we were full, never went hungry and still had plenty to go around...but we weren't eating our usual three course meals with veggies, starches and protein. Frozen pizza, buttered noodles and turkey sandwiches dominated our menus. Again, I'm not complaining, we are blessed and well fed, all the time. But I digress, with a new month upon us there was a fresh start and lots of shopping on the horizon!

I made my grocery list last night after having decided on a few meals for the upcoming weeks. The usual, tacos, chicken, burgers, shrimp pasta. Based on my list of meals and necessary ingredients, I made my shopping list. It was long. I mean really long. We needed a lot of stuff. Like almost 2 whole pages long. Hashtag throw the budget out the window. JK, that's totally not allowed.

But the good news is the farmer has been slowly moving toward this new food paradigm. He's beginning to realize that all the processed foods we buy and eat on a regular basis are just garbage. He's genuinely appreciating the value in whole foods, fresh produce, naturally and organically fed animals and things made from scratch without artificial flavors and fillers. It's good, because I've been conscious of these things but without the farmer on board before it was just too hard to commit too. Don't get me wrong, we still eat Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Kraft Mac N Cheese. But those things are becoming fewer and father between the fresh vegetables, organic meats and free-range, cage-free eggs. 

While shopping today I did something that I've never really done before. I turned over every product I bought and checked where it was from. I'm now fascinated with how a products origin can affect it's price, quality and even it's placement in a store. I started my day getting gas at Kwik Trip - a Wisconsin based, family owned convenience store/gas station. Let me just start by saying Kwik Trip is awesome. Everyone who has one within 5-10 miles of their house should go there. For real. They have awesome customer service, their gas prices are competitive and their convenience store offers great, GREAT local products and affordable prices. For instance:

 Westby Creamery. 
My dad grew up in a small town near Westby called Newry. As a kid I went there often to visit family and knew all about the delicious products that come from this family owned, Wisconsin farm. Their cottage cheese is the best. We would stop on the way home from Grandma's house and buy fresh cheese curds...you just can't beat fresh Wisconsin cheese curds. Especially if they're from Westby Creamery. And you can get the fine Westby products at your local Kwik Trip. *End shameless plug*

After talking with a clerk once about how cheap Kwik Trip's milk prices are I learned that they also own their own dairy. Their milk is local, fresh and affordable. Same with all their bakery. Their white bread is on sale now 2/$1 - local and cheap. You just can't top that in my book. I also got a bag of russet potatoes, which the cashier told me are also locally grown, onions and chicken breast. I think the chicken breast were from Illinois - which as a Packer fan that's hard to digest, but it's still pretty local. 

I ended up spending about $40 at Kwik Trip, just in groceries. With my gas my bill topped out at $93. But I got 4 loaves of bread, a pack of hamburger buns, hot dog buns and sub rolls. 2lbs of onions, 5lbs of potatoes, a bunch of bananas, 3 pkg of chicken breast, 1 pkg of all natural all beef hot dogs, 2 containers of Westby sour cream, a container of Westby cottage cheese, 2 lbs butter. 
There was probably more but I can't remember.

It pains me to admit that I finished my grocery shopping at Walmart. I've been trying to be so locally minded but I'm also on a budget, so I have to be realistic. Grocery stores just can't compete - and besides Walmart price matches so any price I find at a grocery store that beats Walmart I can get them to match. But I made a few shocking discoveries...I mean not really SHOCKING, but interesting nevertheless. 

On my little shop local binge, I decided to check the origin of the products I was buying. Some things on the farm just are...like Hellmann's Mayo- doesn't matter where it comes from, it's the only kind we buy. Coke, don't care, that's all the farmer will drink. But other things that don't really matter, I have decided to buy as locally as possible. The one thing that shocked me the most was when I was buying cheese. The Great Value shredded cheese (packaged at Walmart in AZ - CHEESE FROM ARIZONA!? um, no thank you) - 8 cup size bag - sells for $8.98, but the Crystal Farms (packaged in Lake Mills, WI) - 8 cup bag - sells for $8.78. I mean I have bought the Great Value before because it's Great Value and I'm on a budget and naturally you just think that it's the better deal. WRONG. Today I learned that the local cheese is actually the better deal. Also, the Crystal Farms butter was priced exactly the same as the Great Value. If the shelves were not completely cleared out of all CF butter, I would have bought some...luckily I had gotten butter at Kwik Trip, so I knew mine was local and I didn't have to worry about it. 

So anyways...all that to say that I think it's important to know where your food comes from. If nothing else it's super interesting. I bought Planters peanut butter because it was made in IL. I needed Yellow Mustard and we DON'T EVER buy Heinz...mostly for political reasons, actually entirely for political reasons...and for some strange reason I feel like French's might also be in cahoots with Heinz, probably not, but it's just this weird feeling I have. So I was about to grab the Great Value - when I just started grabbing different kinds and checking their origin. Turns out Koops is made right here in WI, in Pleasant Prairie. And it was the least expensive one! Double win. Breakfast sausage? Johnsonville, duh. From Sheboygan Falls, WI.
I have this little sense of Wisconsin pride inside today - it feels good to be a cheese head. Now when I enjoy my hot dog I can know that from the bun to the mustard it's all helping support local farms and businesses here in Wisconsin. It'll taste even better!

And that brings me to our dinner tonight:
Grilled marinated chicken (italian dressing marinade), sauteed russet potatoes
& corn salad with basil buttermilk

I can't really take credit for this recipe - or any of my recipes for that matter. I mean I work in a restaurant...where do you think I get all my recipes? All the talented chef's I work for, of course.

This we featured as a special last summer with fresh basil and heirloom tomatoes right out of the farm at Parkside 23

And I really needed a side for my grilled chicken. I considered making a hash with the potatoes. Sauteed red onion, green pepper, basil, black beans and russet potatoes...but I wasn't convinced. And I had this basil from my herb garden that I wanted to do something fabulous with. It smelled SO good.
When *EUREKA* I remembered this salad from work, and I had all the ingredients.

Except I could not for the life of me remember the dressing...I tried messaging the chef, but didn't get a response so I was on my own. I vaguely remember it having something to do with buttermilk so I just went to Pinterest and started looking stuff up. 
Side note: What would we do without Pinterest? I mean is there any other way to look up recipes? Seriously.

Searched: Basil Buttermilk Dressing.
Bingo, that's what it was!
But buttermilk. Who just has buttermilk? Not this girl.
Searched: Buttermilk Substitute

I have done milk with vinegar before, but for some reason that didn't seem right for this dressing. I mean maybe it would have worked, but I found a better alternative: milk mixed with sour cream. 
So that's what I did:
1 cup Milk
1-2 Tablespoons sour cream
BOOM. Instant Buttermilk.

So now on to the recipe....

1 Roma Tomato
1/2 Medium Red Onion
1 Can Sweet Corn (drained)
Chopped Fresh Basil (10-15 leaves)
*I used Sweet Basil and Greek Basil from my herb garden*

Buttermilk Dressing:
1 cup buttermilk (or buttermilk substitute - see above)
1/3 cup mayonnaise 
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 heaping tsp of salt

Mince your onion, dice the tomato, finely chop the basil.
Fresh sweet corn would be ideal, cook it and cut it right off the cob 
But since it's not in season yet and I always have corn in the can in my pantry, I drained the corn in a colander and poured it on to some paper towel to get all the moisture out.

Combine your ingredients in a bowl

Now I know the dressing is technically called basil buttermilk dressing, but I just added the basil into the salad and made the dressing "plain". I think I had a little too much dressing on my salad, and I used about 3/4 of it, so you could easily cut the recipe in half for the dressing and I think it would be plenty.
Take your minced garlic and salt and mash it together to make a paste with a heavy knife on your cutting board. Add the paste to the buttermilk and whisk in the mayo. After whisking together I put in sealed container and gave it a good shake too. That's it. You're done.

Just pour your dressing over your salad and serve. You can serve immediately or chill before serving. This is such a fresh, yummy summer salad.I sincerely hope you try this recipe, because you will love it!

In conclusion, shop local, when you can. Check out where the stuff you buy is from. It's interesting. Start an herb garden. I haven't had it super long, but already am reaping the benefits of having fresh herbs on hand at all times. I'm looking forward to having fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce when our garden starts to produce! That I can't take credit for though, that's all the farmer. And that's all. Enjoy the sunshine!

Happy Summer from the Farm,
The Farmer's Wife

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