local food week continues!

This is a big week for agriculture in the Pittsburgh area, so apologies for all the local food talk if you’re not from the ‘burgh. Starting next week, regular CookingScraps programming will return (whatever that is). Hopefully there will be a post on a spring-time mushroom lasagna speckled with green peas, a twist on traditional cornbread, and perhaps more… or not more, the weather has been so beautiful here, most of my time has been spent enjoying the great outdoors! So perhaps there will be a post on trail mix… and who doesn’t love trail mix?

But back to Pittsburgh and local food week, it started of with Penn State’s Local Food Showcase on Tuesday. The goal of the event was to connect local buyers and producers of all sorts. Western Pennsylvania produces a spectrum of quality produce and unique products, many of which were on display. There were samples from a vegan cook-off sponsored by the East End Food Coop, jellies, sauces, lamb from Jamison Farms, breads and meat from Friendship Farms… I could keep going on, but then we’d both be hungry. One of my favorite tables was Frankferd Farms– an organic food distributor and flour mill based in Saxonburg. Their whole wheat pancake mix was the one used for the pancake breakfast mentioned here. It was nice to meet the ladies from Frankferd Farms, and I told them how much of a hit the pancakes were (and always are!). They offered me a bag of their organic cornbread mix, “Betty’s Basic Cornbread Mix,” to be exact. Being that I’m immersed in local food this week, it felt only appropriate to dedicate this post to a wholesome, local product, which I really believe in. I had been thinking about pancakes, but after whipping-up this cornbread it was obvious that this was a clear winner.It’s nice to know that you have a few go-to-items that can easily make dinner special, and this is one of those items. Uh, truth- this was actually for tonight’s dinner; however, after some snacking last night there was less than half of the 8×8 pan left. You might be thinking, “that’s no big deal,” Well… it is made more remarkable when I tell you that I made two batches of cornbread- once per instructions, as well as with their suggestion to add 2 grated carrots to the mix. “Grated carrots?” I thought. I like carrots, I like cornbread, but I had never thought to combine them together. Then I thought about it, and realized that this could be good, this could be really, really, good… and, it was, really, really, really good! There isn’t very much of carrot cornbread left either…

The reason for the two cornbreads, despite a scientific analysis of the differences between them, was that I knew my official foodstuffs taster likes his cornbread sans add-ins. While he did like the carrot cornbread, it was the basic one that he liked the best, which is fine by me- more carrot cornbread for me! Both versions were excellent. They were what I want my perfect cornbread to be; subtly sweet, moist, light yet with a bit of chew… oh dear, the last few pieces of cornbread don’t stand a chance to make it until morning. The only cornbread left is a third batch (we’re a bit corny around here) for a recipe I’m trying out (hopefully to come soon!), needless to say, it was not as good as this:

To wrap-up the week is the Farm to Table conference, this Friday and Saturday (congratulations to Maureen, who won the giveaway!). There will be great talks and demonstrations about local agriculture, as well as a large expo where you can meet local producers (and in some cases, sample what they have to offer!). On Friday night, for a separate fee, is a local food tasting with a more robust selection. You can sample local beers, cheeses, and more- all while taking in a gorgeous view of the city from the wide windows of the convention center. Tickets are still available for the conference, and the local food tasting, as well as a networking breakfast on Saturday morning. For more information, visit http://www.farmtotablepa.com. Hope to see you there!