Day Eleven- Meatloaf and Wild Yeast

I feel like many of our eat local challenge dinners look alike - meat, potatoes, and a vegetable. They may look the same, but the flavors are always unique, and I can honestly say that I haven't had a meal that I did not enjoy since the challenge began. Tonight we had meatloaf made with basil and cherry tomatoes, perfect mashed potatoes, and steamed garden broccoli and cauliflower. The meatloaf was awesome! I'll add the recipe at the end of this post.

Breakfast was the same old thing - Wisconsin Pride melon with raspberries, yogurt, and maple syrup. For lunch I enjoyed one of the Co-op's 100% local salads - Wisconsin Caprese - a wonderful blend of ripe tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil, and sunflower oil.

Since I now poses local flour, I'm re-trying an experiment that I did years ago during my first eat local challenge - catching wild yeast out of the air. There is no locally grown yeast that I know of (Fleischman's has the market cornered), so if I'm going to eat bread before September 15, I'll need to grow my own. Here's how it's done:
Day 1: In a quart plastic container, combine 1/2 cup water (filtered or spring) with 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour. Stir it up well and let it sit open outside for about an hour. Cover, bring inside, and let it sit in a warm-is place for 24 hours.

Day 2: Add another 1/2 cup water and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour. Mix well to add air. The mixture should start to smell a little like vinegar.

Day 3: The mixture should be doubled in size.Add another 1/2 cup water and 3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons flour. Mix well. Let sit for 24 hours.

After that, you can use the "chef' as a starter for bread. The thing about wild yeast is that it's unpredictable. So far, the yeast in Madison seems more active than the yeast I caught in California. It's bubbling and rising really well, and it has a strong vinegar smell. The picture above is day three after I added the flour and water. I should be all set to make bread tomorrow or Friday! Even if it turns out to be a heavy dense loaf, it's still bread!

Here's that meatloaf recipe. As with all of my recipes, the proportions are inexact. Feel free to mix it up as your taste and availability dictates.

Cherry Tomato and Basil Meatloaf

1 lb Ground Beef
12 large cherry tomatoes
Fresh basil, chopped
1 cup Cracked wheat (I used wheat from Washington Island)
1 onion, chopped
1 hot (or sweet) pepper, chopped
2 eggs

Combine everything except cherry tomatoes. Oil a loaf pan (with local sunflower oil of course!). Press meat mixture into pan. With your finger, press 6 of the tomatoes into the center of the loaf, and cover them up so they're embedded in the meatloaf. Slice the remaining cherry tomatoes in half and press them face up into the top of the loaf. Bake at 375 for about 1 hour, or until the internal temp is at least 155.

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