Tuesday, June 30, 2009
First off, breakfast:
Scrambled eggs with green onions, chives, parsley, and cheese.
Eggs from Waltham Farmer's Market
Green onions and Cheddar cheese (Smith's Country Cheese) from Waltham Field Community Farm
Chives and Parsley from my garden
Butter for cooking was Kate's Homemade Butter.
I made some sauteed spinach for the main meal. Here's what I did:
Ingredients (for one serving):
2 bunching onions, finely diced (from Waltham Fields Community Farm)
Approximately 1/2 lb of spinach, stems removed, leaves roughly torn (from Waltham Fields Community Farm)
A few slices of Havarti ( Smith's Country Cheese)
About 1 teaspoon butter (Kate's Homemade Butter)
Melt the butter in a skillet. Add the diced onion and saute until translucent. Add the spinach and toss until wilted, about one minute. Place the havarti on top and leave in the pan until slightly melted, about one minute. (The cheese will keep melting once you transfer to a plate, so you don't have to totally melt it).
On the side, I had a Macintosh apple. I know, an apple. In June. I found it at Winchester Farmers' Market. I was a little worried about an apple that had been stored all winter, but it was perfect...crisp, juicy, and flavorful. Plus a perfect accompaniment to the spinach.
I was still hungry after lunch, so I made a snack as well. I'd picked up some hothouse tomatoes at the Winchester Farmers' Market, plus some Narragansett Creamery mozzarella also from the Winchester Farmers' Market. I also had some left over basil from the Lexington Farmers' Market. So I threw it all together.
I was a little disappointed in this. Clearly, I'm pushing the tomato season here in Massachusetts, and this dish paid the price with less than stellar results. The mozzarella was also very plain. I ended up "cheating" and adding some salt and a splash of vinegar, which improved it dramatically.
The main part of our meal was halibut from Globe Fish Co at the Winchester Farmer's Market. We got to the market really late, and there was very little choice left for the fish so I'm not sure quite how local this really was, though at the very least, it was supporting a local vendor. There was no meat vendor at the market either (again, maybe because we were so late), so this was a last minute substitution. I added some diced green onions and thyme from the CSA, a drizzle of some melted butter, and TK cooked this on the grill.
On the side, we had some grilled garlic scapes (also with melted butter). And, at the Winchester Farmer's Market, I found some early summer squash. I diced three of them, and sauteed in some butter with thyme from the CSA and parsley from our herb garden.
Dinner was really outstanding!
For dessert, we just had a bunch of sliced strawberries. A hit with the whole family!
What did I learn from this? Well, eating 100% locally is A LOT of work. Given a busy schedule, 2 picky preschoolers, and a budget, it's probably not something I'm ready to commit to. Adding a loaf of bread to the dinner would have made the meal much more palatable to my kids*. Having pasta, rice, or quinoa available as a side dish also would have helped. And I miss olive oil.
I think it's important to be conscious of choices, and planning a 100% eat local day helped raise my consciousness of the choices I make. I'm happy I did this, as it reinforced my commitment to eat locally when possible, and to happily supplement with non-local choices when necessary to improve our largely local meals.
* I should note that I would be happy to buy bread from a local artisan bread maker, even though they don't use local ingredients...there are so many around and all look delicious! However, we haven't been able to find a nut-free bakery so can't buy local bread due to my son's nut allergies :( We're stuck with the major supermarket brands of bread...I'm just happy if I can find nut-safe, HFCS-free bread at this point!
I kind of followed this Bon Appetit recipe, though with a number of minor changes.
1 15.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
6 garlic cloves, peeled and partially crushed (just a quick hit with the side of the knife)
1 large onion, diced and divided in half
3 bay leaves
Approximately 6 to 8 good sized swiss chard leaves, stems removed and leaves coarsely torn
3 more garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
1/2 cup olive oil, plus a little more for the pan
Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine in a baking dish: drained garbanzo beans, the 6 peeled and crushed garlic cloves, half of the diced onion, and the 3 bay leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add 1/2 cup olive oil. Roast for 45 minutes.
As you near the end of the 45 minute roasting time, start on the chard.
In a large pot, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Saute the remaining garlic and onion until slightly translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chard and toss until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes until the chard is tender.
Pour chard mixture into a strainer to remove the broth (it would probably be delicious! I let mine run down the drain without thinking about it and then was kicking myself!)
Remove the bay leaves from the garbanzo beans and discard.
Return the chard to the pot and add the garbanzo bean mixture. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the garbanzo beans if there's a lot of oil left in the pan. Mix it all together and heat through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
Monday, June 29, 2009
This week, my CSA share included sugar snap peas, strawberries, salad mix, tomatoes and asparagus so I wanted to revolve our meals around those foods - not really hard! Here is what we came up with:
Breakfast: Tomato, basil and chevre omelet (tomato from the CSA; basil and chevre from Winchester Farmer's market; local brown eggs from Whole Foods)
Snack: Stonyfield Yogurt with strawberries
Lunch: Sugar snap peas sauteed in butter and salt, pan-seared asparagus and marinated steak tips (Peas and asparagus from CSA both cooked with local dairy butter; steak from Stillman's, Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette dressing for marinade by Appalachian Naturals)
Dessert: Crescent Ridge Dairy vanilla ice cream
We did cheat a bit by using salt and pepper on the peas, asparagus and steak. Not that you can't get local sea salt (you can!) but I just didn't plan that far ahead. Overall, I would say it was a great learning experience to see how easy and tasty it can be to plan your meals around local, in-season produce. I also realized that when you are eating the freshest produce available, you don't need a lot of other stuff to dress it up. Everything we ate was simply prepared and so good.
Try it out for a day (or more!!) and see how delicious it can be - New England in summer gives us so many wonderful choices! You can't go wrong.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Courtesy of http://www.buyfresh.org/
- Freshness & Taste - Locally grown fruits and vegetables are usually harvested within hours of being purchased by the consumer. Whether you buy them at a farm stand, Farmers Market or visit a farm and pick them yourself, you will be getting food with exceptional taste.
- Local farmers raise and sell wonderful unusual varieties of products that you will never find on supermarket shelves. That is because local farmers grow for taste not the ability of the product to be shipped great distances.
- Nutritional value declines, often dramatically, as time passes after harvest. Because locally grown produce is fresher, it can be more nutritionally complete.
- With local produce, you can visit farms or meet the farmer face to face at the market. You get to look them in the eye and ask them anything you would like to know about how they grow the products that you are buying. Farms also offer hayrides and festivals to encourage people to spend a day in the country finding the perfect pumpkin, picking the best apples, or just relaxing while munching on a warm cider donut, sweet apple pie and a cup of ice cold cider.
- Local growers live in your community, spend their dollars in your community, hire local workers and their farms help make communities livable. Regional farmers paid over $9.3 million for labor and $1.3 million in real property taxes in 2002.
- Local food supports a clean environment - A well-managed family farm has been handed down from one generation to the next. These farmers value their land, clean water and fertile soil. It takes 87 calories of fuel to move a single calorie of fruit from CA to NY.
- Farmland benefits wildlife - residents get a thrill when they see wildlife that live in the patchwork of fields, meadows, woods, and ponds that farms provide.
- Buying local food preserves open space - You have probably enjoyed driving out into the country and appreciated the lush fields of crops, the meadows full of wildflowers, and the picturesque barns. That landscape will survive only as long as farms are financially viable. When you buy locally grown food, you are doing something proactive about preserving the agricultural landscape.
- Local food keeps your taxes in check - Numerous studies have shown that farms contribute more in taxes than they require in services, whereas suburban development costs more than it generates in taxes, according to several studies. On average, for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, governments must spend $1.17 on services, thus requiring higher taxes of all taxpayers. For each dollar of revenue raised by farm, forest, or open space, governments spend 0.34 cents on services.
- Local food is about the future - By supporting local farmers today, you can help ensure that there will be farms in your County tomorrow, and that future generations will have access to nourishing, flavorful, and fresh food.
Why not visit a local farm market today and taste the difference? Your taste buds will thank you.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Every Wednesday, Small Footprints has a new weekly challenge. I missed the first two, and boy, I'm glad I didn't miss this one! Check out this week's challenge:
For one full day this week, eat only local foods. No tropical fruits from across the world ... no veggies that traveled hundreds of miles to get to your table ... only locally grown foods (this includes meats, dairy products, etc., if you eat them).
Cool, huh? Right up my alley! I wonder, though, how much fudging is fair for the boys. I don't think their morning Cheerios are local. I also haven't found good local sources of cooking oil (though I could just plan to use local bacon on my 100% local day and cook in the grease, or use butter, or, gasp, plan meals that don't need any sauteing), salt, or grains. I can probably do without those for a day, though it's the staples like these that keep me from ever attempting a more extensive local food challenge.
Anyone else want to play along? Head over to Reduce Footprints!
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
We were blessed with an abundance of garlic scapes in our CSA basket of goodies this week. I had already been eyeing this recipe and couldn't wait to hunker down in the kitchen for some quality time with my food processor. I pretty much followed the recipe with a few slight changes - I used white pepper instead of black, added the juice from half a lemon and totally bagged the drizzle of olive oil with salt on top when it was finished.
I consulted with my professional team of taste analysts (aka my colleagues) and it was unanimous. This recipe is finger-licking good (don't ask me how I know). This will definitely be on my list of favorites come garlic scape season each June. Oh, and I've already called the parental units to tell them how they've deprived me all these years.
Next - I can't wait to try WhataCard's recipe below for caramelized goodness!
Last year, I was never overly pleased with my garlic scape adventures. I mean, some turned out pretty good, but nothing I was super excited about getting to eat again this year. So at the pick up this past week, I mentioned to one of the farmers that I wasn't sure what to do with the garlic scapes. He gave me the PERFECT advice, so here it is for you!
Garlic Scapes, a la Waltham Fields Community Farm Farmer
AKA Grilled Garlic Scapes
Garlic Scapes (I think I used about 15 scapes)
A tablespoon or so of olive oil
A pinch of salt (I splurged and used some fleur de sel)
Trim the very thin, skinny end of the garlic scape off. It'll just get burned, and the farmer told me it wasn't the tasty part anyway.
Toss the scapes in olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Transfer to a grill basket and grill until they begin to caramelize. Don't go too long...they're not that good if they start to char!
These were SO good. I mean, so, so, so, so good. Mildly garlic-y, a slight reminiscence of asparagus, and a singular deliciousness that made me wish I had a zillion more garlic scapes.
These were great eaten straight off the grill, and I think this is also the way to go to prepare garlic scapes for use in other recipes. Mincing the grilled scapes and adding to garlic bread would be excellent. Or adding to stuffed squash, or a salad, or quinoa, or just about anything. Yum!!!
You can see in the picture that we also had some grilled pork chops we'd picked up at the Waltham Farmer's Market. Also delightful! My favorite part of the meal wasn't in the picture, though: the salad. It didn't seem worth taking a picture, as it was just a standard salad of the stuff from our CSA distribution: arugula, red leaf lettuce, baby carrots, and sugar snap peas, plus some hot house tomato we'd gotten at the farmer's market. Drizzled with some Cindy's Kitchen Wild Maine Blueberry Dressing. It was just a simple salad, but every part of it was perfection. It's really greens season now. If you don't belong to a CSA, run out to a farmer's market and get some lettuce and other greens. It's amazing how much more delicious it is at this time of year!
Monday, June 22, 2009
I find that people are so surprised when I tell them I belong to a CSA (Bear Hill Farm in Tyngsboro, MA). Of course, first I have to tell them what the heck a CSA is, but after that, they have a few specific reactions: "Why in the world would you drive anywhere else but Market Basket for vegetables?" "How much more expensive is it?" and "Geez, you don't strike me as the crunchy granola type." I like that last one the best.
Guess I do a lot of thinking about what people eat, what constitutes "cooking" these days, and where exactly the food comes from. I've read all the books--the Pollan, the Bittman, the Kingsolver, the Kurlansky. I also have to admit that I HATE gardening, a fact I learned only after planting a large garden after moving into a suburban house with a big backyard. Sadly, I didn't inherit either my dad's green thumb or his ability to spend literally all day outside with his "crops." But I've been staying at home for almost 8 years now, so I've had the time to cruise around and see our local offerings.
My two closest friends out here in the country have gotten into vegetable gardening in a very big way in the past few years, canning and pickling and the whole nine yards. It's really been a big part of their free time (yes, I'm doing air quotes in my head as I type those last 2 words). At least I was able to teach the two of them how to make cheese recently--that way I got to enter their world of food preservation...
Anyway, I'm looking forward to actually reporting on my "field trips," getting interesting tips, and generally gabbing about my favorite subject. Thanks to WhatACard and Julie for the invite.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
In a large bowl, combine rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, 1/3 cup flour and cinnamon. Transfer to greased 9 x 13 in baking dish.
In another bowl, combine remaining 1 cup of flour with brown sugar, oats and nutmeg. Add butter and blend well to create the streusel. Sprinkle streusel over rhubarb mixture and bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes.
The things I liked best about this recipe is that the ingredients are simple and the recipe itself is very forgiving. I don't have the best stocked pantry, so I love it when I get a recipe and I can just make it without running to the store to get some odd ingredient. Also, I realized I had only half as much rhubarb as it called for but I decided to go for it anyway. And let me tell you, no one missed it! It still tasted great and had the tartness of rhubarb.
I will be getting another batch of strawberries and rhubarb tomorrow and I'd love some other ideas for them. My husband loved this but doesn't love what it could do to his waist line if I keep making it!
First, they have cheddar...the only local cheddar I can find. The sharp cheddar is so outrageously good. It's a little crumbly: cut a thin slice for a cracker and it may break in half. I love that! Cheddar shouldn't be a waxy mess the consistency of Velveeta! This cheddar is a little dry and so tasty. It's great with fruit or crackers, on nachos or quesadillas, or just eaten alone.
They really seem to be known for their gouda, though. Yesterday we tried a Garlic Gouda spread. Once again, amazing! The boys ate a TON, and for those of you familiar with my boys, having them eat any of anything is something of a miracle. My husband TK and I even got them saying "It's so GOOD-A!" (Yes, I'm not above cheesy jokes!)
Smith's cheeses are relatively easy to find in the Boston area. I usually get them at Roche Bros supermarket (though they don't carry any Smith's cheddar unfortunately, at least at my Roche Bros), Verrill Farm, or now making my summer exceptional, they sell it at the Waltham Fields CSA pick up. How convenient is that? Fresh veggies AND a cheese fix! We also got some at the Waltham Farmer's Market yesterday. Basically, if I see it somewhere, I'm buying it! Check their website for other locations where you can buy their cheese.
So what are your favorite New England cheeses? As I said, I'm looking to try as many different cheeses as I can!
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Why the interest in local foods? Well, for a number of reasons. I think it's better for us, better for the environment, and better for the local farms. Oh yeah, and it generally tastes better to have the freshest ingredients. It's fun and expands our diets beyond the normal stuff you get at the grocery store.
I'm far from "perfect", though. I have budget constraints, and sometimes even more importantly, time constraints. But I do my best and have fun doing it. I'm a big believer in making small changes, and eating locally, at least on a small scale, is part of my small changes. I may not eat 100% local, but I try to make local choices when I can.
So you're not going to get any judgments here. If you only replace one ingredient a week with something local, that's a great start. One of the problems I had when I was first getting started was that I didn't know where to find local ingredients. Another problem was that when I did find local ingredients, they were sometimes things with which I was unfamiliar. Hopefully this blog will help answer some of those questions for those of you just getting started. And I'm excited to learn new things from the other writers here!
If there's anything you're interested in hearing more about, or any questions you have, leave us a comment. Looking forward to getting to know all you readers and writers!
Thursday, June 18, 2009
I love you on grilled, roasted and stir fried veggies. I love you in my homemade sauce. I love you in salads. I love to use you as a rub on pork, chicken and beef. (I imagine you would add the perfect touch to fish.)
This combination of spices is a "must have". If you don't have a jar of Borsari in your spice cabinet (mine never makes it that far, it's on the counter at all times) then run, don't walk to your nearest grocer. It's the ideal spice. Enhancing, without overwhelming, the earthy goodness of all of the locally grown produce and meat you'll be eating.
I'll be honest, I've never ventured from the original flavor - it's kind of a "why mess with perfection" sort of thing. However, a colleague brought me some samples of the citrus and ginger flavors today. Oh yeah, if you're at all skeptical about making this investment, ask your local grocer if they have samples (you'll likely find them in the meat or fish department).
As an added perk to my love affair with Borsari....I discovered last night that it is produced by a former "neighbor" (I use the term loosely. He lived on the other end of the road I grew up on.) You can read all about it here.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
It has been very cool and wet in Western MA so far this growing season, but even so we ended up with -
- Four spring turnips
- Five radishes
- A head of baby bok choy
- A head of red leaf lettuce
- Braising Greens
I passed on the Kale (not my favorite) and Mesclun Mix, since I had some mixed salad greens in the fridge at home.
Our CSA provides a weekly newsletter and this week the featured recipe was Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Garlic. It was the perfect accompaniment to the grilled chops. With eight cloves of garlic, how could you go wrong? I'd highly recommend this simple recipe if you're looking for a delicious way to fix this veggie.
1/3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
1 T soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
3 T vegetable oil
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 pounds (about 1 full sized) bok choy, chopped, leaves and stems separate
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. salt (I omitted this)
Directions: Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch and salt until cornstarch has dissolved; set aside. Heat a 14" wok (or heavy bottomed pan) over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour the oil down the side of wok and swirl to coat the sides. Add garlic and stir-fry, 5-10 seconds until pale golden. Add bok choy stems and stir fry until bright green and tender (a few minutes) and then add the leaves and stir-fry for 2 minutes longer until limp. Stir the broth mixture, then pour into the wok and cook for another 15 seconds. Turn the ehat down a bit, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are crisp tender (2-4 minutes). Stir in sesame oil and gransfer to a serving dish.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Anywho...the real motivating factor behind this endeavor (besides my desire to create a central location in which to store my thoughts/recipes/experiences related to eating and cooking local ingredients) is to create a resource, which is useful to others of similar mind. And hey, if our sharp wit provides an ounce of entertainment along the way, well, that's just a BONUS!
I'll be the first to admit, my level of commitment to eating locally varies, depending on the season (or my craving(s) at any particular moment). For instance, I love bananas and last time I checked, there weren't too many New England farms growing those delectable, yellow fruits. (I have tried to grow my own, but have not yet met with success. Sigh.) I think what's important, is that each individual establishes their own, personal comfort level with regard to eating locally. To some that may be a year -round commitment. For others that may mean choosing ingredients produced as close to home as possible (and perhaps during the growing months only).
So no matter what level you're at, I hope you'll visit us frequently, taking a little something away each time, while sharing your own thoughts and experiences.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
We look forward to meeting you!
I thought I better include a brief explanation of the older posts. Yes, this is really the first post on this blog, but I decided to pull some related content I'd written on other blogs, so that it would all be collected in one spot. I had recipes on my own blog, plus on a vegetarian blog I wrote for last summer. So I'm trying to move them all here!
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
The fact of the matter is, with many CSAs, you end up with vegetables you don't want. Some CSAs are structured where you get to choose what you want, but many just give you a box of whatever is ripe on the farm that week. So what do you do with the vegetables you don't like?
The first thing I'd suggest is TRY THEM! Search around for a different recipe that uses the vegetable in a way you've never tried. You're getting the most fresh of the vegetables...it hasn't been trucked across the country or sat in a warehouse for a week. You might be pleasantly surprised by a vegetable you thought you didn't like.
But, there's probably no way you're going to like everything. Kohlrabi is my veggie I don't want anywhere near me...I tried it a few times last year, and never liked it. I'm not sure yet if I'll even bother taking it at this year's CSA pickups. Icky! So here some ideas of what to do with those extras:
- Talk to your CSA about setting up a "trade table", where people leave things they don't want and take something they do want. I mean, you're probably never going to find the popular veggies on the trade table, but you may be able to swap out your kale for kohlrabi or something. The CSA I belonged to tried this one week last year, and unfortunately, at least when I was there, the "trade table" just became filled with kohlrabi. I guess I'm not the only one who isn't a fan! But in theory this might work.
- Talk to your CSA about the possibility of organizing a donation to a local food pantry or hunger relief agency (if any can use fresh veggies). People can just leave whatever they get too much of, or don't want, and then a volunteer (probably you, if it's your idea!) can deliver it to the charity. Our CSA donates to hunger relief agencies, and I absolutely LOVE this about them, and it was one of the main reasons I chose them. If there's stuff in our pickup I don't want or know I won't be able to use, most times I just don't take it and know it'll go to good use.
- Offer the vegetable(s) you don't want to someone else who is there picking up at the same time. One week last summer, a family with a child with soy allergies offered us their edamame. I love edamame, so was quite excited! That vegetable you hate may be a favorite of the person standing next to you.
- Bring the vegetables home and offer them to friends/neighbors/coworkers/family. Someone will probably want it.
- Use the veggies to make stock, which can be frozen or used to make some yummy soup (thanks to the suggestion from Small Footprints. I've always been scared from some unknown reason of making stock, but I think I'll give it a try this summer!)
- If all else fails, start composting. I mean, I would never take veggies with the intent of just throwing them on the compost pile, but if all else fails, and despite your best efforts you can't get rid of them and just can't eat them before they go bad, well at least with a compost bin/pile, it's not a complete and total waste.
What other suggestions do you have for using up those unwanted veggies?
So who else is CSA'ing this summer? Or farmers' market'ing? Yay, I love summer!
I'm going to be moving some of my posts from last year over to this site, to try to get related content all in one area, instead of spread out between different blogs :) This is my first try!