This is the story of a friend named Sam, and how she inspired me to try something new. See, back in September, Sam pulled off an all-out (and ultimately v. successful) blitz of fundraising for Race for the Cure, setting herself what sounded like an impossible goal and then going after it with every resource at her disposal.
One of her donor gifts was a pound of her home-milled whole wheat flour, made from Eatwell Farm wheatberries. I’d been reading about this flour on her blog and on Twitter, and was fascinated. Honestly? It had no more occurred to me that anyone I knew could actually make flour! from scratch! than that they might sprout gills and go spend an hour underwater in San Francisco Bay.
I ponied up a donation and, at the beginning of October, received a package at work. “What is it?” asked my co-worker Julie.
Julie backed carefully and slowly out of my office.
I had a plan to use the flour for bread, since one of the things I had planned to do during the Eat Local Challenge month was to teach myself how to bake bread that was actually edible. But here’s the thing…I practiced so much with the flour I already had on hand (that was not from Sam, and very not local), that I now have more bread in my freezer than I’m going to be able to finish before Thanksgiving. I realize I’m totally hyper-compulsive, but if I was going to make something inedible, I wanted it to be with the lesser flour, not the good stuff.
There’s another thread of this story, and it also has to do with Sam. She’s also participating in the challenge, and I’ve been avidly reading her daily accounting of what she’s been eating. I was kind of doing such an accounting myself, but that accounting fell by the wayside, and, well, that was the end of that. But Sam has been faithfully updating her blog each day, and, in the process, tipping me off to new sources of local deliciousness.
Earlier in the month, Sam made a batch of crepes with her flour. The post hit me like a revelation. Crepes? Of course! I have never tried to make them, mostly because my Mom was the crepemaker of the house when I was growing up, and it always seemed complicated, all that swirling of the pan and the thinning of the batter and the exactitude of the flipping. So, as much as I love a good crepe, I’d relegated them to the list of things to order out rather than to do at home.
Thanks to Sam’s inspiration, I dug out my copy of Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything, and, after leaving the Crepes recipe (p. 750) open on the counter for about a week, got up the nerve to fix a batch of crepes. They were amazing, and I stuffed them with locally smoked wild salmon and locally-grown cremini mushrooms and baked them with a cream sauce made from Straus Family Creamery whipping cream and Straus Family Creamery European-style butter and my mouth could not have been happier.
But again, I used the in-house flour, because I was scared to ruin Sam’s lovely product.
And so, that’s how it came to be two days from the end of the Eat Local Challenge month, and I still hadn’t dipped into the flour.
Finally, the flour, put to excellent use
Thusly and therefore, I came home last night, and made a batch of crepes using Sam’s batch of flour. I managed to tear the first two in the flipping (And, indeed, the words, “F(&% you, crepe,” may have exited my mouth, but if you cuss at your crepe and no one is around to hear it, did it really happen?), but I took the delicious wreckage of those two and rolled them, awkwardly, around a dollop of Blue Chair Fruit aprium jam for an amazing treat.
Then I filled the rest of the batch with sliced Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausage, tucked some Springhill Farms organic Dry Jack cheese, and baked them up. From the eggs and milk and butter and flour that went into the crepes to the filling ingredients, these were all local, all delicious, and completely inspired by Sam. And I have to say, the crepes themselves were so much lighter and more delicious than the first batch I made, so I credit the flour with that. It provides that little extra bit of locally-sourced magic.
1 c. flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 c. milk (I used nonfat)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted and cooled
- Whisk the flour, salt and milk together until the mixture is bubbly. Whisk in the eggs, and then the cooled butter. At this point, Mark and many of the crepeologists in the world would say to refrigerate the batter. I never plan ahead, and my crepes turned out just fine. No refrigeration needed.
- To be fair, I should also admit that I barely even cooled the butter.
- Heat a nonstick skillet (I used an 8-inch skillet) until drops of water tossed in the pan skitter across the surface. You’ll probably want to adjust the heat as you go, because you want to keep the pan very hot, but not so hot as to burn the crepes.
- Using a small ladle, add somewhere between 1/8 and 1/4 of a cup of batter to the pan. Swirl it so it covers the bottom. You’ll need to work quickly, because the batter should start to cook immediately, and if you don’t swirl fast, you won’t get it to cover the whole bottom of the pan. Let it cook about a minute, until the top of the crepe is starting to dry but hasn’t yet bubbled, then flip the crepe over.
- Cook the second side for about 20 to 30 seconds, then remove the finished crepe to a plate. You don’t want them to be as brown as pancakes would be – just slightly golden.
- Fill with whatever you would like: Something sweet, something savory, etc. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and bake the filled crepes (topped with sauce, if you are so inclined), for about 10 minutes, until the filling is warmed. Serve immediately. (Note: If you’re making crepes for a party, you can do them ahead, then fill them and heat them when you’re ready to serve them.)
- And through it all, keep your cool. I remember my Mom telling me that it takes the first crepe or two to get the pan to the right temperature. Have patience, drop a few cuss words along the way if you are so inclined, and stay relaxed. As Sam said the other night, “They’re so EASY!” Indeed.