So you finally have your own apartment with a full kitchen and you’re more than ready to get cooking. But before you head to the grocery store to pick up some ingredients, take some time to think about where the food you’re buying came from.
The “fresh produce” at your local supermarket might not really be fresh at all. In fact, it could have traveled over 1000 miles before landing in your shopping cart. I don’t know about you, but the thought of my food being driven cross-country in the back of a truck isn’t so appetizing to me. So how do we fix this, without getting in over our heads?
For better quality, more nutritious foods, it’s a great idea to go local. Small local farms, farmers’ markets, and specialty stores carry some of the best-tasting products of all because they’re fresh and aren’t loaded with preservatives. Not to mention the fact that supporting local farmers is pretty awesome.
In my opinion, the best way to get into the “locavore” spirit is simply to see what’s out there. Do some research on farmers’ markets or food co-ops in your area. You’d be surprised at how many options are available to you.
My favorite way to make a local meal is to go into it without any plan at all. Head to the market or local foods store, see what looks good to you, and go from there. This week, I went to the Syracuse Real Food Co-op and strolled the aisles before I came up with this awesome Smoked Ham, Gouda, and Caramelized Onion Sandwich on Focaccia. The ingredients are all from producers in New York state within 150 miles of Syracuse, and together, they tasted incredible. Check out all of the local businesses that I supported just by making this sublime sandwich:
Byrne Dairy in Syracuse, NY. (sweet cream salted butter)
Lewiston’s in Dundee, N.Y. (Fall Flower Honey)
Patisserie in Skaneateles, N.Y. (Sundried Tomato Focaccia)
Sahlen’s in Buffalo, N.Y. (Smokehouse Ham)
Finger Lakes Farmstead Cheese in Mecklenburg, N.Y. (Bier Meck Gouda)
Hofmann Sausage in Syracuse, N.Y. (German Style Mustard)
Check out my recipe below for inspiration, then go out there and get creative! And most importantly, think local.
Smoked Ham, Gouda, and Caramelized Onion Sandwich on Focaccia
Add or subtract any ingredients you want to make your perfect local sandwich, this recipe is super flexible.
1 1/2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon honey
2 slices fresh bread
4 slices thin-sliced smoked ham
3 slices gouda cheese
1/4 gala apple, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon German-style mustard
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a medium pan on medium-low heat. Add sliced onions and honey to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, about 10 minutes.
Spread the remaining butter lightly on one side of each of the bread slices. Place ham and gouda on bread, then place open-faced on a baking sheet. Place baking sheet in heated oven until bread crisps and cheese melts slightly.
Remove baking sheet from oven and top bread slices with caramelized onion, apple slices, and mustard.
Serve warm with your favorite local snack. I munched on some of Terrell’s barbecue potato chips from Syracuse.
Hannah Doolin is a not-so-closeted local food nerd. She writes the CNY Signatures page at the Syracuse Post-Standard this semester, a piece that highlights unique dishes near Syracuse, N.Y..