When I tell people that we moved here from Kentucky I get the usual response. It’s the same response I received any time we traveled while living there.
It is something similar to, “I bet this is (that was) different,” or “This must be an adjustment.”
Now, I don’t get cranky or offended. It’s not like I’m out to defend the upper southern part of the U.S. There are a lot of things that are different here in a very good way, and there are a lot of things that are the same.
Regardless of whether you live in rural Kentucky or Northern California, if you rarely go anywhere else, well, there you are. There are as many people here that haven’t seen other parts of the US as there are people who haven’t in Kentucky. So I don’t blame people for having this perception, but as you know from my blog I had myself in a pretty good food situation back East.
California wins when it comes to variety of produce, growing seasons and ethnic cuisines, but it falls way behind in something else – meat.
Oh, it’s here. It’s grass-fed and finished, pastured, organic, whatever you want. But it’s one other thing.
I really dislike buying meat here. There are a few butchers, but when you add in the price of a quality product along with the fact that it’s being sold in California, ouch. The Farmers Markets have better prices for similar products, but it’s difficult to talk to people about the meat as a line 10 people deep waits behind you.
When people ask me what I miss most about Kentucky, that’s easy. The farms.
I’ve asked about buying farm direct, coming out for a visit, and so far the answer is that they only sell at the market. Although, some do have a dinner for customers one day a year.
I miss knowing the breeds, conditions and getting things like housemade prosciutto, sausage without the casing and blue/eggs that are mixed right in with the brown ones because they all come from the same group of chickens.
I get it. I’m not complaining. I realize I haven’t covered every base yet. I’m sure there are options out there. I guess my point is that I will, at least for a while, still have a reason to respond to all those who suggest Kentucky is different with – yes, yes it is.
With all that being said, the meat I have ventured to get here has been very good. I finally found bacon ends last weekend at the Farmers Market.
It called for a celebration of summer stuffed squash. Feel free to substitute any grain here. Cue ball or patty pan squash will work the best since this is a loose stuffing.
Bacon, Corn and Brown Rice Stuffed Squash
Makes: 6 stuffed squash
½ cup long grain brown rice
Extra virgin olive oil
6 cue ball or small patty pan (scalloped) squash
½ cup chopped pastured bacon ends
Kernels from 2 ears of corn
2 green onions, sliced, green and white portions divided
1 small bell pepper, diced
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup finely grated cheddar cheese.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat a casserole dish with olive oil.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil and add the rice. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a low boil. Cook for 15 minutes until just barely tender, drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, cut the tops off the squash and scoop out the insides with a spoon. Reserve the flesh. Lightly rub the squash with olive oil and arrange in the baking dish. Pre-bake the squash for about 10 minutes.
In a deep skillet, brown the bacon on medium-high for about 5 minutes. Cook until your desired crispness. I like mine super crispy.
Add the corn, whites of the onions (reserve greens for garnish), the bell pepper and the chopped flesh of the squash. Cook for about 5 more minutes on medium to medium-high, until most of the moisture has evaporated.
Stir in the brown rice. Add the rosemary, salt and black pepper. Stir in the cheddar cheese. Transfer the stuffing to each of the squash.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the squash is tender. Garnish with reserved onion greens. Makes 6 stuffed squash.