Boulder Locavore is a collection of food adventures and simple, approachable, seasonal recipes created by Toni Dash. Over the years, she has created countless unique and fun creations, and is always helping people in the Boulder community, and elsewhere, eat seasonal and locally sourced dishes. In the interview below, she shares a little bit of history and details about Boulder Locavore.
Tell us about the general concept behind Boulder Locavore.
Boulder Locavore is a celebration of seasonal food recipes, cocktails and travel, most often with a food focus local to the travel location. All the recipes are also gluten-free; for those recipes with gluten-free specific ingredients I usually include a gluten ingredient option, too. I think food should be inclusive so want to be sure everyone can eat it comfortably even if they are not gluten-free.
What’s the story behind the blog? What made you want to do something like this, and how has it evolved?
In 2010 I started Boulder Locavore after endeavoring a Michael Pollan-esque experiment of sourcing all of my protein and produce from a 100-mile radius over a Colorado winter. It was the start of the public locavore movement though I noted most people claiming to live year round as a locavore were in California where it is much easier to do so. During my experiment I discovered many local resources; farms that grow in greenhouses over the winter, food artisans, and winter food markets. Friends were constantly asking me to email them links to the resources so I decided to start a blog to share them.
Eating seasonally provides that the ingredients come first based on what is available, and the recipes follow, versus how most people cook selecting a recipe first. I realized I loved the challenge of developing recipes using what is in season and my readers really have responded to that, so Boulder Locavore has evolved to focus in that area. My readership is 80% national and 20% international, so focusing on recipes allows common ground for all readers, not just readers in Boulder.
What are some of your favorite local food sources?
I’ve had a CSA share in Cure Farm since the second year they did them, so June through December I love getting my produce and meat from them, and they have a Farm Store that is open to the public, too (June-December). I personally do almost all of my shopping at Lucky’s Market in North Boulder. They source all their food very thoughtfully and focus on organic produce. The butchers are very helpful, especially when I’m developing a recipe and need input. I love the old school service with their mix of healthy, organic products and gourmet offerings.
Boulder Locavore offers instructions and recipes for a wide variety of DIY cocktails. What are a few of your favorites?
I really love fresh-style Margaritas. They have a common base of good quality tequila, fresh lime juice and agave nectar, and can be easily changed up with seasonal ingredients. My latest favorite is Persimmon Margaritas with Homemade Cinnamon Simple Syrup. Another favorite for this time of year is Blood Orange Ginger Margaritas.
Say you have guests who show up unannounced. What is your go-to food or drink recipe for when you need to prepare something on the fly?
At this time of year I love braised dishes. They are simple to prepare and a one pot dish that doesn’t demand your time as a host with the exception of about 10 minutes. A recent favorite that my readers loved is Cider-braised Chicken Thighs with Apples and Onions. I always have Mason jars of infusions going and fresh margarita ingredients, so I’d most likely customize a margarita from the fruit and herbs I have on hand.
Would you say that there are any unique challenges associated with gluten-free cooking? Any suggestions for overcoming them?
My children and I have been gluten-free for a decade now and with a whole food diet I don’t think food preparation is too difficult. Baking however, especially at altitude, can take some work due to all the flour choices but with some experimentation it can be mastered. Over time I’ve found my go to flour favorites, pasta, bread, baking mixes and gluten-based ingredients that make it easy.
It seems that gardening is a pretty important part of your “foodie” lifestyle. Do you have any special tips or advice for the novice gardener?
Make it easy for yourself. Food gardens can be grown in pots on patios, a big garden plot isn’t required. I love the square foot gardening method, which is a dense growing method maximizing the available space to grow lots of food in a small space. There are some blog posts on Boulder Locavore with seed starting and growing tips, too.
If you had to choose three garden vegetables that no garden should ever be without, which vegetables would you choose?
Tomatoes, fresh herbs and leafy greens. I also think strawberries that are garden-grown taste completely different (and much better) than those in the store.
How can someone who is new to Boulder get involved in the local food scene? (Ref. to local produce, not restaurant dining)
We are very fortunate in Boulder to have such a vibrant and committed food community. Our Farmer’s Market was named 2015 Best Farmer’s Market by USA Today, and with good reason. Our farmers are enthusiastic and helpful, in addition to growing an inspired variety of produce. There are many CSA programs with farms that both deliver or to pick up. The farm-to-table partnerships between the farms and restaurants are thriving in Boulder, as well, and diners are the benefactors of their collaborative passion.
Besides visiting the website regularly, how can people stay informed about what you’re up to, new recipes, etc?
Boulder Locavore has email subscription and RSS feed subscription options so whenever a new post comes out, subscribers will be sure to see it! The website content is also shared on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.