Through the Twitter grapevine but mostly from the mouth of @LolaLocal, I discovered the Cascade Harvest Coalition’s Eat Local Challenge for Thanksgiving. I unofficially took on the challenge, but there was just one small glitch. My grandma-in-law is the sanctioned Thanksgiving chef in the family and I couldn’t step in and dictate her ingredient choices.
In year’s past I have made bread rolls from scratch using my Mom’s Whole Wheat Bread recipe and I was asked to contribute the same this year. Knowing I could not source all of the ingredients from the state, I felt I had to make one more dish.
I wandered the West Seattle Farmer’s Market with my husband contemplating what to make. “Does your family like swiss chard? What if we do a fruit and cheese plate? How about glazed carrots?” The answers I got were, “Nope. Nah. Uh uh.”
We finally settled on a salmon spread served with locally made crackers. The ingredients – Fromage cheese from Mt. Townsend Creamery, rosemary from Stoney Plains Organic Farm, and salmon from the Loki Fish Company. After we made the purchases, my doubt began to take back over. The salmon wasn’t technically from Washington State; it was caught in Alaska. I was beginning to think I failed the challenge.
Discouraged, but determined to complete the dish that was decided, I moved on to the bread. Surprisingly, instead of dwelling on the fact that it was not a local dish, I saw this recipe as an opportunity to incorporate local ingredients. I added Bluebird Grains’ cracked emmer to the recipe and the liquid mixture contained milk from Twin Brook Creamery. I was feeling positive… until I killed the yeast.
I was working way too quickly and not measuring temperatures diligently. I poured the liquid into the bowl with the whole wheat flour and yeast when it was twice as warm as it should have been. Steam rose up from the mixture, but I was hopeful. I kneaded the dough and left it on the counter to rise.
But it didn’t. I formed the un-risen dough into small round balls and crossed my fingers they would miraculously rise up for the second round. They didn’t. The bread had failed.
We showed up at grandparents’ doorstep with unleavened bread and the salmon spread.
My mother-in-law thought they were both delicious, the brother-in-law went back for seconds, and our family friend raved over the round little bread balls. I wanted to share my accomplishments of incorporating local ingredients. I wanted to wave from my boat saying, “Look at me, look at me. I may have failed, but I certainly tried.” But I didn’t have time to take pride; there were turkey, mashed potatoes, and grandma’s dressing to be devoured.