After circling campus not once, but twice, before finding a parking spot, I jumped out of the car and half walked, half ran to the ATLAS building--one of my favorite buildings on campus when I was a student. It was probably just my favorite because it hosted a tea shop, but today I didn't have time to wait in line for a cuppa.
The building was exactly the same but I still felt a bit lost, my years away from campus quickly piling up. When I finally found the basement, rows and rows of stackable chairs were already filled with students. A projector blasted light to a screen in the front, which said, "Kimbal Musk: Real Food For Everyone."
I found a seat in the back--the only place there was room- and pulled Evernote up on my phone. Is this what it feels like to be a journalist? I wondered.
When Kimbal emerged on stage there was applause, and he started into his presentation quickly. First, a quick background on his life, then a slide for each of his new ventures, all aiming towards to same goal: make the production of real food (i.e., not industrial food) scalable, so that everyone can be healthier, farmers are supported, and our food is good.
I jotted down just about everything I heard, as is my note-writing style. Over the last year I have started writing a monthly food trend report at work, which is sent to our clients or whoever else signs up (if you're interested, you could sign up here).
An hour later I was back on the street. My mind circled on what Kimbal said, the questions students asked, and questions I wished I had time to ask. I thought to myself, If I were a journalist, what would be the lead story here? As a marketer, just pretending to be a journalist for the morning, I was coming up short. I dove head-first into other work hoping an answer would just come to me.
Of Kimbal's three projects, the one I am most familiar with is The Kitchen restaurants. When I was a kid, and my dad didn't feel like cooking dinner, we went out. The Kitchen was one of our hot spots, at least until it became impossible to get a table after 5pm. One of the first menus had the best butternut squash soup I've ever had, now glorified in my memory with impossible flavors.
However, it was his third project that inspired me the most: Square Roots is a plan for urban farming. (I know, I know, I skipped his second... but I was just trying to get to the recipe already! His second project is called Learning Gardens). While I have no background in farming, I have a romantic vision of what it means to grow your own food. That vision is squashed each time the seasons change--here in Colorado I can't expect to grow much past October. (This very morning, I went to water the few plants that survived our recent snow storm, only to find our hose was frozen through. So much for that plan). However, with a blog name like Foraged Dish, you can imagine that eating real food, that can be picked with your very own hands, lies near and dear to my heart. There's something spectacular about nurturing growth. Home grown, or locally grown food always tastes better to me. If nothing else, it's an emotional connection to the food, that triggers something in my brain, fooling me into thinking it's better tasting.
While I'm still not sure what "lead story" a seasoned journalist would've found, I left inspired to do even more of my own urban homesteading. Something possessed me to download four books about building chicken coops yesterday, and two about backyard farming. The minute I planted the garden this spring, there was a sense it wasn't big enough. Next year, I told myself. Next year.
This tagine is everything you want in a stew on a cold winter day. It is sweet from the squash, and spicy from the blend of spices. Both flavors pair perfectly with lamb. And it's easy to find local lamb, at least in these parts! Head to your farmers market, or ask your grocer if their lamb is local. You can use almost any type of winter squash (I would skip spaghetti squash, but butternut, kabocha, and pumpkin would all work well), so use something from a fall farm stand or better yet, something you grew this summer. The chickpeas are optional (obviously including them would make this dish not Paleo compliant), but I find they add something that would be missing otherwise. Then again, I'm just a sucker for chickpeas.
Serves: 6 | Total Time: 50 minutes
- 1 pound cubed lamb shoulder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 inches fresh ginger
- 1/2 pound or medium-sized winter squash (I used Red Kuri, but kabocha, or butternut would all work well)
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout (buy it, or make your own - I used half of this recipe)
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2-3 cups beef stock
- 3/4 cup dried apricots
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- Optional: 1 14-ounce can chickpeas (For Paleo, skip these)
- For serving: A few leaves of cilantro
- For serving: Cooked cauliflower rice, rice, quinoa or couscous
- Heat coconut oil in the bottom of your Instant Pot on the sauté setting. Dice onion, and add to the pot. Sauté until transparent.
- Add cubed lamb to pot, browning on all sides. Mince garlic and ginger, and add to pot. Stir.
- Cube the squash: first, cube the squash in half, and remove the seeds. (you can choose if you would like to remove the skin. I leave it on for kabocha and red kuri squash, as it gets quite soft). Dice into 1-inch cubes. Add to the pot, along with the ras el hanout, black pepper, salt, stock, dried apricots, canned tomatoes, and chickpeas, if using. Stir everything until incorporated. Then, secure the lid on the Instant Pot and set to “Stew” setting for 20 minutes.
- Once 20 minutes is up, release pressure. Serve over cauliflower rice/rice/quinoa/couscous, and top with a few cilantro leaves. Serve hot.