Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge

Laura at Urban Hennery posed a Dark Days Eat Local Challenge. She's posted her personal rules and encourages others to make their own.

I'm in! I'm thinking that if I can't get to 90%, I can at least have one local ingredient per meal. Does that sounds too easy? Wow-- what progress! Three months ago, I probably had about one local item per month!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Freezing Food

To save my precious applesauce, pureed pumpkins, pumpkin soup, and various other locally produced and personally processed items, I purchased a FoodSaver home vacuum-packaging system. It sucks out the air and seals the bag. I have beautiful blocks of frozen fare in my freezer!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Raw Milk

I finally tried raw milk. I read a few articles, like How Raw Milk Got a Bad Rap, The Raw Deal (Washington Post) and What is Real Milk? According to this last reference:

Pasteurization destroys enzymes, diminishes vitamin content, denatures fragile milk proteins, destroys vitamins C, B12 and B6, kills beneficial bacteria, promotes pathogens and is associated with allergies, increased tooth decay, colic in infants, growth problems in children, osteoporosis, arthritis, heart disease and cancer.

In my 100 mile radius, raw milk is legal in Connecticut, New York, Massachussets, and Vermont. It is not legal in New Jersey or Rhode Island.

I decided that the health benefits were significant enough if I mitigated the risks. All articles agree: know where your raw milk is comes from. I got mine at Holbrook Farms, a reseller I trust. They get raw milk from Deerfield Farm in Durham, CT.

I understand that Caraluzzi Market in Bethel, CT will begin carrying Deerfield's raw milk in addition to raw milk from Grassy Hill Dairy in Woodbury, CT.

I'm not much of a milk drinker--you generally won't find me pouring a tall glass of ice cold milk. I do however take milk in my coffee and on my cereal. Pasteurization occurs at 161 degrees F for 15-20 seconds. My coffee is 160 from the machine and drops instantly to 105 when I add the milk (from the refrigerator). I don't know if I'm killing my raw milk in my coffee, but I am fairly certain that I'm not doing any worse than I would be with the pasteurized kind.

Friday, October 12, 2007


I know I said I wasn't going to be "puttting by" foods; that I wanted to get my foods already prepared, just local, sustainable, and as organic as possible. So much for what I said.

I live in Connecticut and I come from New York. We make the best apples in the world in this region. I can't rationalize getting apples from New Zealand. Furthermore, Macouns (my favorite apples) have an incredibly short run. So what's a Locavore to do?

I gave in and got an OXO Good Grips Food Mill and set about making applesauce.

It turned out to be simpler than I expected. I cut a bag of the apples into sections and put them in a pot, skins, cores and all. I poured in about an inch of cider. I turned up the heat and covered the pot. When the apples were soft all the way through, I cranked them through the food mill using the medium grinding disc.

The applesauce really worked out! It was a lovely light pinkish color and tasted delicious. I did not add any sugar or spices. Just apples (and some cider).

Next step, buy enough apples to make enough applesauce for the equivalent of an apple a day until this time next year. Maybe I need a bigger freezer.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Nutmeg State. NOT!

Connecticut is known as the nutmeg state, but don't waste your time trying to find locally-grown nutmeg.

According to Chef Sanjeev Kapoor, from the Know Your Ingredient section of his Web site:

The nutmeg tree requires a hot, moist climate and well-drained soil with partial shade. With a history rooted deep into the distant past, Nutmeg had its origin in the Moluccas [Spice Islands].

The British introduced this spice to India at end of the 19th century.

Nutmeg was heavily used in foods in the U. S. Colonial period. Early recipes for such diverse foods as lobster, mussels, chicken, puddings and many desserts included nutmeg as a flavoring. It was so highly prized that it was common for unscrupulous Yankee peddlers (mostly from Connecticut) to carve nutmeg look-alikes, store them with real nutmegs to absorb the scent and then sell them to gullible housewives. This is how Connecticut came to be called the Nutmeg State.

So, the bottom line is that you cannot get Connecticut-grown nutmegs!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Saturday's Forage

We hit the road again this Saturday, concentrating on the Bethel area. I must admit, hunting for and gathering our weekly food in this manner beats the heck out of grocery shopping in the supermarket.

Our first stop was Bethel Farmer's market. The farmers are thinning out, but Don Taylor is still there and so are my favorite apples from Apple Ridge Farm. I couldn't resist getting another bucket of Macouns. I can't find a Web site for them, but the here's the Google Map link. I can't find a Web site for Don Taylor either, but did find an interesting article. The Bethel Farmer's Market's last day is Saturday, October 27.

Then it was off to find Holbrook Farm. We did find it, pretty much exactly where their directions said it would be. The place is surreal--barely noticable from the road, but chock full of the good stuff we're looking for.
In particular:
Holbrook's own fresh eggs: we are now addicted to fresh eggs and would not go back to the bleached variety. These were just being washed and set out as we walked in!
Vegetables galore. Carol (I think that was her name) was particularly helpful, letting us know how we could prepare some of the more exotic vegetables. John completely surprised me when he offered me some raw corn (on the cob) to taste. I have never eaten raw corn in my life, nor have I heard of anyone else doing so. John says if the corn isn't good raw, it's not going to be good cooked. He cautions us not to buy corn from a farm that won't let us taste it raw. Let me tell you, this corn was divine. It was quite possibly the best corn I've ever eaten. Of course we got some for home. Did I mention that it was raw? (I still haven't gotten over that!)

Holbrooks carries dairy products from New Pond Farm. We picked up some milk, yogurt, and fresh mozzarella.

And then there were the baked goods; pies, delectabilities (like the raspberry chocolate whatever it was called that I broke my diet for), and breads, including a three-grain French Country bread from Wave Hill Breads--the best "Italian" bread I've had in Connecticut. I can't find a Web site for them, but here's the Google Map link and a review from

We dipped that country bread in some Olive Oil from the Olive Oil Factory in Watertown, CT (also available at Holbrook's).

Whew! There's lots more there and I can't wait to go back--between the atmosphere, the education, and the exceptional inventory, this is THE place.

Here's a picture of John, Carol, and Lynn (John's wife)

Since we were in the neighborhood, we stopped in at Redding Coffee Roasters where Bill O'Keefe gave us a free cup of coffee (Nicaraguan) and a tour of his coffee roaster. In case you didn't know, coffee is a passion of mine. (Marco Polo!)

Bill O'Keefe

Next stop was Chamomile in Bethel to fill in the the rest of our weekly grocery needs.

We looked for On the Rocks Farm in Newtown, traveled some undeveloped back roads, found the address, but it no longer seems to be a working farm.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

My 100 Miles

According to the 100 Mile Diet Web site, "a typical ingredient in a modern meal has traveled 1500 miles or more from farm to plate."

The popular standard for local eating is anything from within a 100-mile radius.

The 100 Mile Diet site includes a widget where you can enter your zip code to display a map with a nice big red circle defining your 100 miles.

My 100 miles go as far east as Providence, RI, as far north as just over the MA/VT border, as far west as the west edge of the Catskill State Park in NY, and a bit farther south than Point Pleasant, NJ. (Looks like I get Jersey peaches after all!)

Monday, October 1, 2007

This Week's Foraging Adventure

We're getting our Saturday Adventures down to a routine: at least one farmer's market, one actual farm, and one whole/local foods retail store. It's a lovely way to explore the area, especially this time of year. We remembered to bring a cooler this time.

Our journey began at the Brewster Farmer's Market, located at Peaceable Hill Rd. at Routes 6 & 22 in Putnam County, NY. They're open every Wednesday & Saturday from June 9th - November 17th, 9 AM - 2 PM. They typically offer plants, herbs, honey, meat, cheese, bread, veggies, fruits, organics, and more.

The "and more" included Italian cheeses, breads, and prepared meats from Brooklyn, NY. Brooklyn is within 100 miles! I got fresh mozz and real NY Italian bread. (Connecticut is not famous for its Italian bread) I called Marco Polo for the provolone and soprasatta!

In addition to Macouns, carrots, potatoes, beets, and more, I scored some zucchini flowers. Very nice fried after an egg wash and a dredge through some flour.

Next it was off to the Stuart Family Farm in Bridgewater to get some beef. I was a bit concerned that there weren't any rib eyes listed on the Web site, since they are my favorite.

The shop proprietor/curator is Jim Winter, Deb Stuart's dad.

Jim explained that a Delmonico is a boneless rib eye. Happy me. (Further research revealed that the name Delmonico refers to a different cut depending on the region and the century.) Jim let us know that we can pre-order our meat and they will reserve it for our pick-up. Very convenient.

We got a few Delmonicos, some ground beef, and a roast. We also got some eggs, honey, and a couple of potatoes. I'd say we did all right for ourselves!

Then it was off to Green Planet Market in Watertown, CT.

On our way, we passed Maple Bank Farm in Roxbury, CT, and like those Saturday garage sale people, we instantly pulled over to check out their wares. We left there with some veggies and scones (baked at Ovens of France in Woodbury). They had lots of pumpkins, but no sugar pumpkins, but expected to next week.

We weren't so thrilled with Green Planet; their inventory is light compared to New Morning in Woodbury.

We're still looking for someone who's canning, freezing, drying, or otherwise putting by local foods for purchase. Any leads?