Thursday, August 21, 2008

Late Bloomers Farm

I have moved this blog to my own domain, Please join me there for the continuing adventures of my life as a locavore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CSA, Week 9

August 20 was the ninth week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market).

Our bounty:

- patty pan squash
- kale
- green onions
- Asian eggplant
- blue potatoes
- lots of different tomatoes
I'm not sure which is which---here are the choices:

Local meal, no challenge:
- grilled beef filet from Laurel Ridge Farm in Litchfield, CT
- baked blue potato from Waldingfield
- patty pan squash sauteed with green onions and tomato (all from Waldingfield) in olive oil and a tad of chicken broth, salt and pepper (from out there). I used very little seasoning to allow the natural flavors of the vegetables to dominate.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

In a Jam

Even on vacation, I can't resist foraging. I find myself collecting food, particularly items that can take me through the winter. Yesterday, we visited Dalton Farmstand, which I think is in Manchester and I got two 32 oz jars of jam (raspberry and mixed berry). They have a berry farm in another town, not too far from the farmstand. My thinking is that it's local here and I'm here and I'm already using the fossil fuels to cart myself here and back.

UPDATED (8/19/2008):
I like to put a big rounded teaspoon of berry jam on my morning yogurt. Several varieties of yogurts that have fruit also contain high fructose corn syrup (like Dannon, Columbo, and Yoplait). In the previous edition of this post, I mistakenly wrote that Stonyfield yogurt contained high fructose corn syrup. It does not. Thank you Sarah Badger for pointing that out. None of the Stonyfield yogurts contain that ingredient! My apologies to Stonyfield.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Another Locavore Vacation Day

After spending most of the day in outlets in Manchester buying clothing made in China and Indonesia, we went down to Bennington to their Farmers Market.

We scored:
- organic beets, carrots, garlic, purple "green" beans, Chinese eggplant, and eggs from Wildstone Farm
- organic watermelon from Mighty Food Farm
- corn from Darling Farmstand
- San Marino plum tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and peppers from the Youth Horticulture Project (grown at Mount Anthony Middle School)
- blueberries (no spray) from Apple Hill Orchard
- multi-grain bread from Avonlea Farm Brick Oven Bakery

We feasted:

The "casserole" consists of a bottom layer of hamburger, topped with a sauteed vegetable medley (one of every vegetable we bought, except for the beets and corn, shown separately), topped with Cabot extra sharp cheddar (it's local here!) and baked just enough to melt the cheese.

Local Meal on Vacation

Frankly, I wasn't sure if we'd be able to keep up with local fooding on vacation, considering how much of it depends on knowing where to go to get the good stuff. Sure, we packed up provisions in the cooler, but certainly not enough to eat for over a week's worth of time. So, an adventure awaits.

When we stopped at Chase Hill Farm in Warwick, MA for raw milk, we also picked up some farmstead cheese and two pounds of hamburger meat (from organic, grass fed cows!). Here's Monday night's dinner:

The tomato came from Waldingfield Farm via the cooler. The bun came from Shaw's in Arlington, VT and who knows where they got it.
(Not enrolled in any formal challenge.)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Raw Milk Detour

Sometimes, life just takes you to wonderful places.

We left the NOFA Conference and segued into our summer vacation: visiting friends and enjoying some down time in the great state of VT. I decided to pick up some raw milk at a farm along the way--well, slightly off the beaten path. This required us to move our driving plans off of a major interstate and on to a local "highway." (It has a number, so it's a highway...other than that, it's a back road.) Good move--the scenic route was the better way.

Chase Hill Farm is in Warwick, MA (Google map) and has organic raw milk, farmstead cheeses, grass-fed beef and veal, and whey-fed pork. They are members of NOFA MA (that's how I found them--in the NOFA guide!). The milk has an excellent creamline and tastes great. For more information, see the dairy page of the NOFA MA site (scroll down to the bottom of the page) .

NOFA Conference Impressions

I went to the 2008 NOFA Conference as an eater, not a farmer. My expectations ran the gamut until ultimately, I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting at all. Some questions I had were: Would it be boring? Would it be aimed at specifically at farmers? Could a small gardener/big eater glean enough to make the trip worthwhile?

The workshop topics were varied enough that anybody could have attended this conference and found something of interest. There were practical and instructional "how to" topics, environmental topics, political and theoretical topics, and more. It was anything but boring!

Kudos to the UMass Amherst kitchen staff that served exclusively organic meals, with Saturday night's dinner being both organic and local!

I'll probably post more about the specific workshops I attended and my impressions of the keynote speakers in upcoming blog entries.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

NOFA Conference

If you're looking for us this weekend, we'll be at the 34th Annual NOFA Conference, At UMASS, Amherst.

Keynote speakers are Dr. Arden Andersen, holistic medical practitioner, expert in human and agricultural nutrition, author, and educator and Mark McAfee, founder of the Organic Pastures Dairy Company in California.

The workshops cover the spectrum of topics of interest from farmers to eaters. It will be hard to choose!

NOFA is the Northeast Organic Farming Association. You don't need to be a farmer to become a member. Here's the site for CT NOFA.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

CSA, Week 7

I'm not usually the member of the household who gets to go to the Sandy Hook Organic Farmers' Market for our CSA pick-up. The market is open from 2-6 PM and I'm not generally in the neighborhood during those hours. However, this week it needed to be me and so I went.

Boy, have I been missing out. This is a most excellent Farmer's Market. There's music, fresh popcorn, and the pop-up tents are arranged like like a little village.

August 5 was the seventh week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market). Our bounty included:

- lots of red lettuce
- green beans
- patty pan squash
- cucumbers
- green bell peppers
- heirloom tomatoes
- yellow squash
- kale
- jalapeno and chili peppers

Patrick of Waldingfield Farm, serving a customer:

My local dinner (no challenge) was:
A salad of red lettuce (from Waldingfield), a sliced hard-boiled egg (from Arno's in Kent), shaved cheese (from Sankow's Beaver Brook), basil (from Stoneledge Hollow), and a sliced pickled jalapeno (from Sister CG at Bluestone Farm). I drizzled some of Waldingfield's salad dressing over it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

CSA, Week 6

July 29 was the sixth week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market). Our bounty included:
- mixed salad greens
- sugar snap peas
- green beans
- Swiss chard
- patty pan squash
- cucumbers
- green bell peppers
- Chinese eggplant
- sun gold cherry tomatoes

Our local dinner (no challenge) was:
- patty pan squash (from Waldingfield) stuffed with sauteed pork sausage from Ox Hollow farm, peppers, garlic, onions (from various farms), and cheese from Sankow's Beaver Brook.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I finally made a decent raw milk yogurt! I had the flavor I wanted, but couldn't get the consistency. I kept getting something that would properly be called a yogurt shake. The problem was that I wasn't heating the milk enough. Heat destroys the enzymes and natural good bacteria in the milk and I wanted to keep those. Otherwise, why not just use pasteurized milk? But it turns out that the milk's bacteria was competing with the starter culture! So, do you lose the benefits of using raw milk if you heat it to 180 degrees (as many yogurt recipes suggest)?

According to Linda Joyce Forristal (care of the Weston Price site):
Whatever temperature the milk will be heated to, in my opinion it is best to begin with raw milk. It is not homogenized so you get a wonderful cream on top. It has not had milk solids added to it, so it won’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Most important, raw milk has not been pasteurized, which is a violent, rapid-heating process that has a very detrimental effect on the proteins in the milk. A slow, gentle heating on your stove top will more effectively preserve the integrity of fragile milk proteins, especially if you remove the milk from the stove as soon as the desired temperature has been reached.
Here's my recipe:
1 quart of raw milk
1/4 cup of good commercial organic yogurt as a starter (I used Seven Stars)

Measure out the starter and allow to come to room temperature while heating the milk. In a saucepan, slowly bring the milk up to 180 degrees, stirring periodically (it took me one hour). Allow the milk to cool back down to 110 degrees, again stirring periodically. Put the milk and starter into jars, twist on a lid, and place in a dehydrator for 8 to 10 hours. (I did 10.) Refrigerate the jars. Since the milk had not been homogenized, there is a lovely cream line.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Local Meal, No Challenge

Last night's local meal is not a part of any of the ongoing organized challenges, but a local delight nonetheless.

Rib eye steaks from Stuarts.

Home made pasta, using:
- all purpose wheat flour, wheat from Lightning Tree Farm, milled and sold by Wild Hive Farm, both in Millbrook, NY (local wheat!!)
- eggs from Arno's Farm in Kent, CT
- olive oil from Italy
tossed with a sauteed medley of:
- tomatoes from Mitchell's Farm in Southbury, CT
- arugula from Newtown Cedar Hill Farm
- garlic from Smith Acres Farm, Niantic, CT
- shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, from Italy

Delicious and fun to make!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Bluestone Farm

To cap off a perfect day, we spent Saturday evening with the Sisters at Bluestone Farm, where we sampled many of their delectables as they were puttin' 'em by.

The Sisters had harvested some Nero Italian kale and some rutabagas. I learned that rutabagas can be cut into strips and deep fried, like French fries. I also learned that Sister CG makes an excellent Habanero hot sauce (not to mentioned those pickled jalapenos).

I got to witness the great wall of garlic and regret not having the foresight to snap a photo of it. Numerous varieties of garlic (all neatly labeled) cover about 10 linear feet of wall space, from top to bottom. They need to dry out before they can be braided.

I also got to have a visit with the duckings, who are currently at the adorable stage. And I had the opportunity to admire their prolific fields.

The Sisters sent us home with Italian Kale (nero), Bok Choy, Habanero hot sauce, and pickled jalapenos.

New York Breadbasket

Regular readers of this blog (if there are any) know that I have been complaining periodically (or maybe incessantly) about my inability to find local wheat. Well, have I got news for you--I found some! Lightning Tree Farm in Millbrook, NY grows several varieties and I saw it with my own eyes and tasted it in my own mouth. It's real.

Yesterday, over 80 people showed up for the Growing Bread Locally workshop, which was well over the expectations of the organizers. They'd initially expected a smaller audience of farmers and bakers but were pleasantly surprised to see so many consumers take an interest in local wheat and local wheat products.

Once everyone signed in and checked out the literature and grain samples, the organizers made their introductions. Al Earnhart is the farm manager at Lightning Tree Farm. Jeanine Connolly is also from Lightning Tree. Eli Kaufman is with the Wheat Heritage Conservancy. Elizabeth Dyck from NOFA-NY is the coordinator of the Northeast Organic Wheat Project. Don Lewis is the owner of Wild Hive Farm, a micro-mill and bakery exclusively using local grains.

Left to Right: Don Lewis, Jeanine Connolly, Eli Kaufman, Al Earnhart

Al Earnhart gave us a demo of the combine, an indispensable machine in wheat farming. A combine, according to Wikipedia is "a machine that combines the tasks of harvesting, threshing, and cleaning grain crops." First you drive the combine around the field to harvest the wheat. Then the combine threshes the wheat, separating the grain from the straw. The straw is left on the field as compost. Then there are multiple phases of cleaning and filtering. We saw a demo of the seed cleaner, where screen sizes are based on the grain as well as the year. Then there is the drying. The wheat must be dried properly to prevent molding yet retain viability. Once dry, grains destined for human consumption are stored in a metal-lined storage facility.

Lightning Tree Farm uses the COWS method of farming. They rotate corn, oats, wheat, and sod (clover) on each field in the 425 acres. In the late 1700s, wheat was over-farmed on this land until the soil could no longer produce anything. Those farmers moved west. Today, because of these sustainable farming practices, the land is fertile and able to produce wheat once again.

Elizabeth Dyck spoke about the Northeast Organic Wheat Project, which among other things is looking for folks to keep the heritage seeds going simply by growing the wheat and saving the seeds. Eli Kaufman travels the world researching and growing wheat. She spoke of the resurgence of some of the ancient wheat, such as emmer and spelt.

Then we got to the audience participation portion of the program. Don Lewis (of Wild Hive Farm) brought his mobile oven and baked bread samples with AC Barrie, Triticale, Frederick (soft white winter), and Red Fife wheat. His oven is his own design, crafted by Fletcher Coddington of Arrowsmith Forge. It is a mobile, wood-fired hearth oven. It has seven dampers to control the hot spots. It is a thing of engineering beauty indeed.

The bread was delicious. It was interesting to taste the differences between the different grains. It was intensely satisfying to finally eat bread made from local wheat. The butter was out of this world, locally made and as far as I know, not commercially available. Oh yeah, we had corn on the cob too, roasted in Don's oven.

I left the event with a ton of information, several bags of flour and grains, a loaf of bread, and great hope for the future.

For those looking to do something, here are some actions you can take:
Farmers and Gardeners: "adopt-a-crop" of rare heritage wheat, trial commercial wheat varieties and partner with local bakers
Artisan Bakers: work with local farmers to test wheat varieties for flavor and baking quality
Regular People: Buy and eat the products created by the artisan bakers. Buy the grains and flours and experiment with some recipes of your own.

Elizabeth Dyck
Eli Kaufman

Heritage Wheat Conservancy
SARE (Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education)

In case you want to grow your own wheat, here's the math to produce one loaf of bread per day. Consider that it takes about 1-1/2 lbs of sifted milled flour to make the loaf. Since you lose about 20% of your weight in the sifting, you need to mill about 1-7/8 lbs of grain. In a year, you'd need 685 lbs of grain. If you save and sow your own seeds, the ratio of seeds to yield is 1:10, so you need to produce 760 lbs of wheat to take some seed off the top for planting. You can get about 900 lbs of grain from 1/2 an acre. So, you'd need to plant just under 1/2 and acre to make a loaf of bread a day.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Grains at Last

It looks like I may have found local grains!

Lightning Tree Farm is offering a free workshop tomorrow (Saturday, July 26, 1-4 p.m.) called Growing Bread Locally. The event is a cooperative effort between Lightning Tree and Wild Hive Farm (a micro-mill and bakery). Here's the description from the NOFA NY site:
Get an in-depth look at an innovative enterprise we hope will soon become common: a working partnership between an organic grain farm and a baker producing artisan breads for local markets. At Lightning Tree Farm, tour the fields to see modern and heirloom wheats that produce high-quality bread flour including Red Fife, a classic hard red bread wheat developed by a Canadian farmer over 150 years ago. Follow the bread-making process through harvesting and milling and taste loaves baked in a traveling wood-fired hearth oven. Farmers Alton Earnhart and Jeanine Connolly and baker Don Lewis of Wild Hive Farm will be on hand to discuss the ingredients and know-how needed to make this type of enterprise a success. This workshop is made possible through the NE SARE funded Northeast Organic Wheat project.
Lightning Tree Farm is located at 132 Andrew Haight Rd, Millbrook, NY (Dutchess Co.) For more information, contact Elizabeth Dyck (607-895-6913).
DIRECTIONS: From Taconic Parkway South Take US44 Ramp to Poughkeepsie/Millbrook. Turn left toward Millbrook taking NY-44A which becomes US-44 Turn left onto N. Mabbettsville Rd (CR-98).
I'll be attending this workshop and will report back my findings.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

CSA, Week 5

July 22 (today) is the fifth week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market). Our bounty included:
- mixed salad greens
- sugar peas (or are these snap peas?)
- kale
- Swiss chard
- yellow summer squash
- patty pan squash
- broccoli

Our local dinner (no challenge) was Stuarts beef filets, tossed salad with Waldingfield dressing, and Brussels sprouts. The wine: McLaughlin.

We also put by the Swiss chard, sauteed with olive oil and garlic scapes.

Outsourcing Locavores

This NY Times article about lazy locavores proves that just about anything can be outsourced.
For a fee, Mr. Paque, who lives in San Francisco, will build an organic garden in your backyard, weed it weekly and even harvest the bounty, gently placing a box of vegetables on the back porch when he leaves.
As a result of interest in local food and rising grocery bills, backyard gardens have been enjoying a renaissance across the country, but what might be called the remote-control backyard garden — no planting, no weeding, no dirt under the fingernails — is a twist. “They want to have a garden, they don’t want to garden,” said the cookbook author Deborah Madison, who lives in Santa Fe, N.M. (Emphasis mine.)
Is anybody doing this in Connecticut?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Puttin' By

When I started this local eating thing, I had no intention of puttin' food by (storing it either by canning, freezing, drying, or some other method). I was to be a grasshopper, patron of the ants of the world. It turns out that there are not enough ants to feed locavore grasshoppers. While we made it through the winter, we did so with lots non-local veggies. You can get meat and dairy products all winter long, but fruits and veggies are hard to come by. No offense to Two Guys from Woodbridge, but hydroponic salad greens start to get to you. And you want something you can eat hot.

So, the plan this year is to freeze and dehydrate as we go. We may even explore canning.

This weekend, we cooked and froze:
- two bunches of beets
- beet greens from said bunches (sauteed with garlic and olive oil--pretty much how I cook most greens)
- corn off the cob (two ears)
- summer squash melee (from Simply Recipes, but without the cheese).
- roasted peppers
- kale (sauteed with olive oil and pancetta)
- a head of broccoli (blanched)

We store it in freezer bags using the FoodSaver home vacuum-packaging system. It sucks out the air and seals the bag. Nice (except when the food has a significant amount of liquid).

Looking back over the list, it doesn't seem like as much now as it did while we were preparing it.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Foraging, 7/19/08

Today's forage was a solo effort. I packed up the cooler, camera, and a notebook. And coffee. Can't forget the coffee. (Yes, I'm the kind of locavore that consumes things that don't or won't grow here.)

The first stop was the Bethel Farmer's Market. The season opening was last week, but I missed that one. As you can see from the photo, the place was humming. Since I belong to a CSA, I really don't need much more food, but I like to see what's available and you never know, someone could be growing something that my farmer isn't. I scored:
- arugula from Newtown Cedar Hill Farm (Hi Frank!)
- blueberries from East Windsor and eggs from Arno's Farm in Kent, both from Maple Bank's tent.

Goatboy soaps (with the kids) and Vaszauskas Farm from Middlebury, CT were also there.

Additionally, there were some tents with locally produced handcrafts. I generally go to these looking for food, but locally crafted merchandise certainly fits in with the basic idea.

Then it was off to New Morning in Woodbury to get my raw milk and a few other sundries. I really like their dried organic mangoes better than anyone else's (even Trader Joe's). Theirs actually taste like mangoes. No, they're not local and I suspect mangoes will never be (well, as long as the climate in zone 6 doesn't change).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

CSA, Week 4

July 15 was the fourth week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market). Our bounty included:
- lots of beets (with the greens)
- red leaf lettuce
- sugar peas
- kale (a lot)
- swiss chard (a lot)
- pattypan sqash
- zucchini
- leeks
- an heirloom cucumber

Mostly local dinner: I'm cooking some of the kale with pancetta. They don't make pancetta locally, so I have no qualms about importing it. This is an experimental dish and I hope it works out. We'll be having that with boiled (then cooled) beets, and porterhouse steaks from Stuarts.

Speaking of Stuarts, their new farm stand hours are:
Tues - Fri: 12-5 PM
Sat: 10 AM to 4 PM
Sun: 12-4 PM

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

CSA, Week 3

July 8 was the third week of our CSA (Waldingfield Farm, pick-up point Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market). Our bounty included:
- bunch of large beets with the greens
- zucchini, green and heirloom
- pattypan squash
- sugar peas
- mixedgreens
- brocolli heads
- swiss chard
- leeks

Eating locally, no challenge:
Most of our meals for the week have been mostly local (except for the usual suspects: olive oil, grains, beans & legumes). Meat, dairy, and veggies are around 90-95% local. The highlight dish of the week was escarole from my own garden, with cannelini beans (like I used to have when I was a kid). Yum.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Foraging, Sunday 7/6

We tried out a new Farmer's Market, the Sandy Hook Village Farmer's Market (Glen Rd). This one's not restricted to organic farms, although the area's organic farms are well represented here.

- Mitchell Farms, Southbury, CT
- Smith Acres Farm, Niantic, CT
- Shortt's Farm, Sandy Hook, CT
- Beldotti (baked goods, cheese, prepared foods), Stamford, CT

Apologies for not listing all of the items I got from each vendor, but I did not take great notes and the memory isn't what is used to be. Off the top of my head, green beans, zucchini (and zucchini flowers), and greens were most prevalent.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

CSA, Week 2

Today was week two of our CSA with Waldingfield Farm. This week's bounty was beets, mixed greens, yellow squash, zucchini, and sugar peas.

Our pick-up point is the Sandy Hook Organic Farmer's Market, where we also got some prepared pesto, fresh mozzarella, and whole wheat flax seed bread. These delectables were made by a company based in Stamford, CT (deepest apologies for not getting their name).

So, with all of that good fresh food in the house, we went out to dinner tonight to Sal E Pepe, our local favorite. Apart from the excellent food and service, Angelo (the owner) makes a point of having local items on the menu.

Sunday Dinner, No Challenge

On Sunday, we invited a friend over to help us plant a tree (a white pine) and enjoy a meal. She ended up getting on the roof and cleaning our gutters! Now that's a friend!

For dinner, we fed her pork ribs from Ox Hollow, with a curry dry rub, ribeye steak from Stuarts, salad from the numerous greens from Waldingfield, with some slice fennel from Riverbank on top. The dressing was from Waldenfield. We also had spinach from Holbrooks, sauteed with garlic and olive oil and Wave Hill bread. The wine was from McLaughlin's. She was drinking Mojitos with mint she brought from her own garden.

Fair trade?

Saturday's Forage, 6/28/2008

We packed up the cooler and the camera and headed north to the New Milford Farmers Market. We got:
- bread from Wave Hill Bread
- pork cuts from Ox Hollow Farm
- beets and fennel bulb from Riverbank Farm
- blueberry/raspberry jam, strawberries, and shortbread from Rose's Berry Farm
-strawberry jam and scallion scapes from Mountain View Farm.
-more soap Goatboy Soap (My purple sweatshirt is in, but not at this location this week. No worries--given the temperature lately, I'm not in a big rush.)

Waldingfield Farms was there and this week's offerings looked good...can't wait for Tuesday for our CSA drop.

Goat Boy's brother with some of the kids:

Mountain View Farm, from Kent, CT

Rose's Berry Farm, from South Glastonbury, CT

Seriously, the folks at supermarkets will not take the time to explain to you how things grow or how to cook something new to you like these folks will. Where have I been all my life?!

Okay, enough time marveling...back on the road and off to Stuarts to pick up our order. Jim was his usual jovial self and we made off with several thick ribeye's porterhouses, a few packs of burgers, and several other items to see us through the next few weeks.

That night, we enjoyed some burgers with fresh mozz (from New Pond), some greenhouse tomatoes from Maple Bank Farms, lettuce from Waldingfield, all on Wave Hill bread.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Local Meal, Not a Challenge

Tonight was a 95% local meal:
- beef tenderloins from Stuarts
- Sauteed greens (mustard greens and swiss chard from Waldingfield, garlic scapes from from Holbrook's, kale from our garden, olive oil, garlic and fennel from the world)
- boiled beets from Holbrook's
- water from our well

Delicious, nutritious, and local!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Our CSA!

Our CSA did start this week! Today!

Our CSA is with Waldingfield Farm in Washington, CT. Our pick-up point is the Sandy Hook Organic Farmers' Market at St. John's Episcopal Church, on Washington Ave in Sandy Hook (co-inciding with the Farmer's Market here on Tuesdays from 2-6 PM).

This week we got greens; lots of greens. We got Bibb lettuce, red lettuce, mixed salad greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and Chinese greens that I don't know the name of. Lots of greens. A very impressive first for us. We also bought some of Waldingfield's own salad dressing.

So tonight we had salad! We mixed the Bibb lettuce, red lettuce, mixed salad greens. We used the radishes, fennel, and carrots from the organic market as toppings. We also chopped the garlic scapes and cut some strawberries (from Holbrook's) for more toppings. For the protein, we crumbled some cheese we had from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm. And we used Waldingfield's own salad dressing. A very delicious meal.

Thank you Daniel, Patrick, and Quincy!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Our Victory Garden

I have been meaning to blog about our victory garden since January. Here's the picture from then.

I haven't quite gotten the dance down: live life, shoot photos, blog about it.

This is closer to how it looks now, taken on June 7.

Like children, these things grow fast and the gardens look different today. It's time for a new shot.

Our garden consists of three 4x4 raised beds, divided into one-foot squares, based on Mel Bartholomew's All New Square Foot Gardening. We also have several pots on the deck with tomatoes, and various herbs planted in pots and garden beds throughout the yard.

We mostly planted items from seeds. Organic seeds. Where seedlings were required, we got help from the Sisters at Bluestone Farm. Most of their seedlings come from their own harvested seeds. The Sisters are indispensable mentors, coaches, and cheerleaders for us.

We don't imagine we'll be able to feed ourselves from this garden. It's not that big, our garden needs more sun (and I'd have to take out a few trees to make that happen), there's really no protien, and I'm a lousy gardener.

It's primarily an educational effort. How do things grow? How do you manage pests without chemicals? I planted one square of lentils because I've been eating them my entire life and have no idea what they look like growing. I think I planted too many and that they won't survive because of that.

So far, we've harvested the spinach (as it was bolting), some kale, and two broccoli crowns. The broccoli rabe went to seed before it was harvestable. I understand we get a second chance on the spinach and broccoli rabe at the end of the season.

Saturdays Forage (6/21)

Our first stop was the Brewster Farmer's Market.
- From Bluestone Farm (Brewster, NY) we got maple syrup, strawberry jam, duck eggs, and some seedlings.
- From the Groovy Baker (East Fishkill, NY), we got biscotti. Lisa Wolf is the Groovy Baker, offerring a variety of organic and gluten-free confections.
- And from someone else from NYC (sorry I didn't get your name), we got imported (from Italy) suprasatta and provolone. Okay, not local but definitely legitimate Marco Polo items. I loved his apron, which said, "The problem with Italian food is that three days later, you're hungry again."

Our second stop was Holbrook's (Bethel, CT). We got beets, sugar peas, gorgeous fresh cut flowers, honey, bread, garlic scapes, early garlic (more like scallions), strawberries, peaches, spinach, raw milk, and fresh mozzerella. John and Lynn are looking forward to Sunday's CT NOFA Farm Tour.

We did some yardwork in the afternoon, and then had ourselves a local dinner:
- BBQ'd chicken from Herondale Farm, (Ancramdale, NY)
- BBQ'd pork tenderloin from Ox Hollow Farm, (Roxbury, CT)
- Sauteed beet greens and early garlic (from today's forage)
- Sauteed spinach and garlic (also from today's forage)
- McLaughlin Vista Reposa (of course)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

My Local Farmer's Markets

There are lots of farmer's markets in the region. These are just the very local markets that I'll be frequenting regularly. Here's a complete listing of CT Farmer's Markets from the Hartford Courant.

Brewster Farmers' Market
- Wednesday & Saturday, June 18 – November 22, 9 AM–2 PM

Wholesome Wave (Westport Farmer's Market)
- Thursdays, June - October 23, 10 AM-2 PM, Westport Country Playhouse
- Sundays, June 29 - October, 10 AM-2 PM, Theatre Company

Sandy Hook Organic Farmers' Market
- Tuesdays, June 24 - October 14, 2-6 PM

Sandy Hook Village Farmers' Market
- Sundays, June 1 - October 12, 9AM-2 PM

Bethel Farmers' Market
- Saturdays, July 12 - November 1, 9 AM-1 PM

Weekly local meal, not a challenge

I'm not currently active in any of the challenges going on (like One Local Summer), but we're certainly still eating locally. Mostly, local foods are well integrated into our daily menus and often we are delighted that an entire meal came from local fare. Like last night...

Bok Choy and Garlic Scapes with Beef. Here's the recipe, courtesy of Maple Bank Farm (ingredients annotated with origin.)

2 garlic scapes (Maple Bank Farm)
1 bok choy (Maple Bank Farm)
Sesame oil
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp honey (Dave's Honey Farm, Easton, CT)
Salt and Pepper

Wash the bok choy and garlic scapes. Slice garlic scapes diagonally. Cut bok choy stems separately from the leaves. Cut bok choy stems in quarters. Slightly cut up the leaves.

Saute the garlic scapes in the sesame and olive oils.

Add the bok choy stems, then add the honey, salt, and pepper to caramelize as cooking. Cook slowly until stems are tender.

Add the chopped leaves and cook an additional two to three minutes on medium high heat.

At this point, we added some sliced beef (left over from the huge top sirloin we cooked the other night - from Stuarts).

Of course, we served McLaughlin's Vista Reposa.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Saturday's Forage (6/14)

We're back on the road in search of food.

First stop was Stuart's in Bridgewater for some beef stuffs for the family Father's Day BBQ. We got a bunch of burgers and a couple of huge top sirloin for the event and a bunch of other goodies to round out the freezer stock.

Then on to Maple Bank Farm in Roxbury for some fresh veggies. We got spinach, radishes, garlic scapes, bok choy, and greenhouse tomatoes (for those burgers)? By the way, they also carry goat cheese from Beltane.

Serendipitously, we found Earth Tones (Woodbury) on our Saturday circuit. (This is my favorite part of Locavoring: new discoveries.) Earth Tones a native plants nursery and a lovely place to visit just for the joy of it.

Then off to New Morning in Woodbury for a number of things, especially raw milk. A sign from Stone Wall Dairy announced that the cows were back on grass. I picked up the latest issue of Edible Nutmeg. As usual, their cover art is stunning.

I think (hope) my CSA starts next week...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Conference on the Environment

Saturday, May 31, 2008, the Episcopal Diocese of NY is having an event called, Conference on the Environment: The Christian Care of Creation: Reconnecting With Your Community at St. Matthew's Church in Bedford.

The Workshops are:
- Greening Your Life (Your buildings and lifestyle, in city and country )
- Advocacy (Affecting your neighborhood, village, or city policy)
- What Has Changed and What Needs Changing (The negative effects of environmental change, and what to do about it)
- What We Eat (Farmers markets, community supported agriculture. How upstate food nourishes city neighbors)


It's been awhile since I've posted and I do apologize. My calendar got taken over by aliens and I've just wrested it back.

Yes, I'm still eating local. My milk, eggs, and beef are exclusively local and my cheese and other meats mostly are. My grains never were. (Yes, I'm still on that.) My vegetables are not--we've exhausted our put-by freezer supply. We joined a CSA this year, which will be starting soon, so fresh veggies are on the way. Hallelujah!

Among other things, we've been planting and tending our gardens. I'll be posting on that soon (with pictures, even).

While I was out, I attended a reteat at Trinity Conference Center, in West Cornwall, CT. The space is lovely and the weekend was good, but the food was fabulous. Chef Corey prepares exquisite items and several selections at each meal. I had an opportunity to meet him and we ended up having a long discussion about raw milk. (No, they don't serve or have raw milk at the Conference Center because it is against the law to serve it. In the nearby vicinity there are at least three dairy farms selling raw milk, which is perfectly legal.) Anyway, the best news is that several of these dishes were made using local, in-season ingredients. We had fiddleheads and ramps! Chef Corey showed me his map with a 120 mile circle radiating from West Cornwall. His goal is to source as much as possible from this foodshed.

If you ever have an opportunity to attend an event at the Trinity Conference Center, take it--at least for the food.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Foraging, 4/19/2008

This week's foraging trek began at the Fairfield Winter Market, greeted by Amber.

We scored:
- Patchouli soap from Goat Boy Soaps. Yes, the Patchouli is back in stock and I got an entire block of it! I'll be squeaky clean for a very long time. We also got some hand and body lotion and Lisa treated us to some of her absolutely divine fudge. The most delightful surprise of the day was their new arrival: a three-day-old baby goat. Here's a shot of Lisa with the Goat Boy's "kid" brother:

- French Country Bread from Wave Hill Bread, Wilton, CT.

- Soft herb cheese (without the herbs), a sheep cheese (much like pecorino romano), and a prepared lamb curry from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm. Here's Patricia.

- Pork chops and steaks and a smoked ham from Ox Hollow Farm.
- A potted herb garden from Moorefield Herb Farm in Trumbull. Absolutely beautiful, Mary!

Then it was on to Holbrook's in Bethel. This was our first visit of the season. After a happy reunion, we left with greens, snap peas, several varieties of seed potatoes, eating potatoes, and Cat Mint and Astilbe for the garden.

Onward north by northwest to Blue Stone Farm and the Community of the Holy Spirit where we got some seedlings and seeds for our garden. Today we got cabbage, two kinds of brocolli, brussels sprouts, two kinds of kale, and cauliflower. The exciting thing about these seeds is that they are the Sister's own, so they're both organic and acclimated to our zone. Seeings how they're also Goat Boy afficionados, we shared our fudge with them. They agreed it was divine (and I tend to trust the Sisters' opinions when it comes to recognizing divinity).

Special Note: Ferris Acres Creamery in Newtown opens for the season on April 21.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Blight Resistant Chestnut

Back at the turn of the century (the previous one, not the recent one), up to four billion American Chestnut tree were killed in a blight. The linked article is a good read, after which, you might wonder, well how far have we progressed in developing a blight-resistant American Chestnut? According to this article at

Now, Guilford's Conservation Commission, along with the Connecticut Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation, is working to establish a blight-resistant chestnut tree in a 1 1/2-acre orchard in the town's Nut Plains Park.
Their test orchard (last year) worked out and now they're planting in earnest this year!

I have gotten local chestnuts from Cherry Grove Farm in Newtown. These may have been Chinese chestnuts, which are blight-resistant.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Farmer's Pledge

I often see signs at farmer's markets that say something like, We took the Farmer's Pledge. If you're curious about what it is and how it compares to certified organic, check out the Farmer's Pledge (PDF file) .

In a very small nutshell, some farmers take the pledge in addition to being certified organic, looking to drive home the social justice and land stewardship aspects of their farming practices. Other farmers have opted out of the certification process because of the record keeping and cost, the fact that industrial CAFOs can be certified, so the meaning is diluted, and the consumer is deluded and go strictly with the pledge. The bottom line for farmers in either category is that "organic" doesn't go far enough.

Another interesting read: How the Farmer's Pledge began.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Patchouli is in!

Apparently, there was a run on patchouli Goatboy soap and they were out of it a few weeks ago. Goatboy's patchouli is an excellent implementation of this earthy fragrance. Not all patchoulis are good like this. I've been using the Lavender Oat soap in the meanwhile, which I've been calling "methadone for patchouli lovers" and it's pleasant enough, but it's not patchouli.

Lisa Agee, the goat boy's mom, said she'd let me know when it's in. Well, it's in! Patchouli is now available and you can get it at the Goatboy booth at the Fairfield Winter Market.

Lisa, if you're reading this, PLEASE save some for me!

Chewing on Guar Gum

I've been wondering about guar gum for while--is it evil or benign. I thought it might be evil based on the tone of voice Michael Pollan used when he said the words but I got some yogurt at a farmer's market that listed guar gum as one of the ingredients. Here's a recap of the comments from the folks over at The Ethicurian (answering my query under a completely different topic):

Ali said: Re, guar gum - I did some research on it a while back. I don’t think it’s anything to fear. Goopy stuff, made from a seed, nothing to suggest it’s harmful.

Migraineur said: use guar in my own kitchen occasionally. My problem with guar in commercial food products is that it is one of those shortcuts that is used to make up for poor quality. For example, you can whip 42% cream practically with a fork, but lower butterfat cream needs some help. With yogurt, I’d guess it’s because Americans are so conditioned to artificially thickened yogurt that your farmer feels he needs a little help to make the texture a bit more like what his customers expect.

Anna said: In addition to thickening, the added gums help products like yogurt stay emulsified, instead of naturally “weeping” a bit of liquid whey.

So, guar gum is not evil, could even be organic, but is probably not local. Thanks Ethicurian commenters, for helping me sort this out.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Now that's what I'm talking about!

In this article in The Newtown Bee (or simply The Bee), Local Farms Improve The Menu In Newtown Restaurants, Kendra Bobowick reports that at least two Newtown restaurants (Sal e Pepe and The Inn at Newtown) are using local ingredients on their menus. The farms providing these menu items are Cherry Grove Farm and Ferris Acres Creamery.

Interestingly, Connecticut has a Farm to Chef program, but these chefs just did it on their own! They are delighted to offer local food because, among other reasons, the produce is "harvested at the peak of ripeness" and they're able to use items that ordinarily wouldn't ship well. Additionally, Angelo Marini of Sal e Pepe, a neighbor of Cherry Grove Farm, picked out the seeds he wanted them to plant. Try doing that with Archer Daniels Midland!

Now, can we add McLaughlin wine to the menu?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Dark Days Local Challenge

Saturday's dinner consisted of pork chops from Ox Hollow Farm covered with sauteed onion and mango chutney (not local, but homemade by a friend). The sauteed spinach is from Starlight Farm, Durham, CT. The red wine, of course, is from McLaughlin.

Check out the challenge recaps at:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Raw Milk Yogurt

My biggest barrier to making my own raw milk yogurt was in finding a reliable low-heat source. My electric oven does not have a pilot and the light bulb lights intermittently. With the arrival of my Excalibur Dehydrator, I am ready to go!

I do like the organic local Hawthorne Valley yogurt as well as the organic regional brands from Seven Stars Farm (Phoenixville, PA) and Stonyfield Farm (Londonderry, NH). The problem for me is that these are all made from pasteurized milk because that is the law. Apparently, the few states that allow raw milk sales do not allow for the production and sale of raw milk yogurt. It seems to me that the food laws that are designed to protect us are the strangest of all.

So, I researched several recipes and it comes down to
- how much to heat the milk
- how much starter yogurt to add (for the live cultures)
- the incubation temperature
- the incubation time

The most popular milk-heating temperature is 110°. I did see one recipe that called for heating the milk to 180° and then letting it cool to 110°, but it seems it would defeat the purpose of using raw milk. I thought that the enzymes and beneficial bacteria are killed at 130°.

The recommended amount of starter yogurt to add varies from 1/8 of a cup to 1/4 (if you're using commercial, which by default means pasteurized, yogurt). Most say to use about twice as much if you're using your own previous batch of raw milk yogurt.

The suggested incubation temperature ranges from 90° to 110° and an often-suggested period is eight hours.

I got another recipe that called for heating the milk to 90°, adding 1/2 of a cup of (commercial) starter and incubating it at 90° to 100° for 18-36 hours. I have had this yogurt and it is exceptional, but this being my first time, I wanted something that would be ready sooner!

I went for heating the milk to 110°, and incubating it in the dehydrator at 105° for 8 hours. I did make two jars using 1/2 cup each of starter and two other jars using 1/4 cup each of starter.

My yogurt came out similar in consistency to the Hawthorne Valley, perhaps slightly "looser." There was no noticeable difference between the ones with 1/4 cup of starter vs. those with 1/2. It tastes amazingly like yogurt!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Saturday's Forage (3/29/08)

We headed out bright and early today to the Fairfield Winter Market. Lots of folks were there--vendors and customers. I did bring my camera but got so caught up in being a participant that I forgot to be an observer. My apologies to those who like pictures. Our catch of the day:
- Ricotta cheese from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm.
- Chevre from Beltane Farm.
- Frissee and lettuce from one of the Two Guys from Woodbridge, Hamden, CT.
- Lavendar Oat soap from Goat Boy Soaps. (They were out of patchouli, but assure me that the next batch is on the roster.)
- Bee Pollen from Andrew's Local Honey.
- French Country Bread from Wave Hill Bread, Wilton, CT.
- Potatoes and parsnips from Riverbank Farm, Roxbury, CT.
- Spinach and salad dressing from Starlight Farm, Durham, CT.
- Pork chops from Ox Hollow Farm.

We are happy campers with stuff in the fridge!

After that, it was off to Snow's Farm in Easton, CT where we got some Humus Loam (super duper soil) because, yes, we are having a victory garden this year. Not only am I behind in blogging about it, I am behind in creating it. The raised beds are built, I have soil, and as you will soon see if you keep reading, seeds.

And then, to New Morning in Woodbury to get:
- some organic fruits and veggies to round out our meals.
- seeds (they carry Johnny Seeds and some Seeds of Change seeds).
- two gallons of raw milk and a container of yogurt. Why? Because my Excalibur Dehydrator arrived today and I'm going to make raw milk yogurt. The store-bought yogurt is organic and regional and has the much-needed starter effect for making yogurt on your own.

That's it!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dark Days Challenge

Another couple of accidental local meals...

Last night, we had burgers (ready made ground beef patties) from Stuarts. I made mine a cheeseburger, courtesy of Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm, with lettuce from Two Guys from Woodbridge, on French country bread slices from Wave Hill Bakery. And of course, red wine from McLaughlin.

Tonight was leftover ribeyes from Stuarts, sauteed sliced potatoes from Riverbank, and not local baby bok choy (and of course, red wine from McLaughlin).

I find that as time goes by, I'm not doing as many deliberate 90% local meals, but have local food integrated in just about each meal or snack.

For example, almost every morning I have yogurt from Hawthorne Valley Farms with a dollop of jam from Stoneledge Farm.

I drink several cups of coffee throughout the day--all of them with local raw milk, lately from Foxfire Farm. I also drink one cup of tea a day with local honey.

I usually have cheese and crackers, the cheese being local and the crackers being worldly. Lately, I'm into those pretzel slices. Excellent with Sankow's soft white cheese (the herbless version of the herbed cheese).

While it lasts, I have my Macoun applesauce (from the freezer, sauced by me, apples by Apple Ridge Farm in Brookfield).

My dinners generally include at least one local item, sometimes two, sometimes more.

I'm liking this!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Finding Farms

CT NOFA has a Google Map featuring the farms, farmers markets and businesses listed in the 2008 CT NOFA Farm & Food Guide. Very cool.

NOFA = Northeast Organic Farming Association.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Farm Watch

I've been getting excited with the bulb shoots starting to peek up out of the ground. I'm looking forward to the upcoming growing season in a way that I never have before. I guess I should order some seeds already.

I miss "my" farms. I miss the variety of fresh vegetables at the farmers markets. I miss the super-extendo foraging runs that the nice weather encourages. (I don't like driving in snow or ice.)

So, with that, I offer you my first announcements of Season 2008 openings:
- April - Ferris Acres Creamery, Newtown, CT
- April 1 - Holbrook Farm, Bethel, CT

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Dark Days Local Challenge

On Sunday, we had a respectable Palm Sunday Dinner featuring a smoked ham from Ox Hollow Farm in Roxbury (obtained at the Fairfield Winter Market).

The ham was absolutely delicious. I'd intended to use some apple cider as the liquid in the roasting pan, but none of my cider was defrosted. Time to improvise. I did have some pineapple juice in the pantry, but it turned out that it had expired long ago so it was going down the drain and not on my prize ham. Keep looking. Believe it or not, we had a mason jar of maple tree sap in the fridge, a gift from the Sisters (they know I love sweet tea--a hot beverage, ready around the midpoint between sap and syrup), so I used that. It was perfect-o-mundo!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

I knew it!

Over the course of the past year, I've been replacing white sugar with honey or maple syrup whenever possible, partly because sugar's not local and partly because of that diet I've been on.

When my partner invited me to try some Stevia, I protested saying I don't want food to taste sweet, I want it to be sweet. It turns out that my body and subconscious might have known something that my conscious mind did not. According to a study at Purdue University, when the tongues tastes sweet, the body is looking for the caloric reward and may compensate by eating even more to make up for the input mismatch.

Wooo hooo! One for food. Zero for edible food-like substances.

Makes you wonder about the other deconstructed/reformulated ingredients on any given label.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Today's forage and challenge meal

What a luxurious life I lead; today I had to chose between two farmer's markets. The CitySeed Year-Round Market in New Haven is on once a month and today was it's day. And of course, the Westport Indoor Market (in Fairfield) is still going strong.

With lots more to choose from, I took home:
- herbed soft cheese and a quart of lamb Bolognese from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm, Lyme CT
- spuds and parsnips from Riverbank Farm, Roxbury, CT
- littleneck clams from Westport Aquaculture, Westport, CT

I went a few doors down to The Pantry for my loaf of Wave Hill French Country Bread. The Wave Hill folks missed this week, but are expected to be back next week.

We went on to New Morning in Woodbury and rounded out our shopping there:
- lettuce from Two Guys From Woodbridge
- eggs from Stoneridge Farm, Bethlehem, CT
and some other items of organic but unknown origins

And the Winter Dark Days challenge meal was, of course, spaghetti and white clam sauce. The Westport Aquaculture clams were outstanding!

- The next and final CitySeed Year-Round Market date is Saturday, April 19, 2008. In May, they begin their regular weekly season.
- The Westport Indoor Market (in Fairfield) continues every Saturday through April.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wheat Futures

I'm still trying to decide if this means it will get harder or easier for me to find local wheat.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Meatrix

There's a well done parody animation about factory farming called The Meatrix. I thought I was the last to see this, but apparently, there are lots of folks who still haven't.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Cultivating An Organic Connecticut Conference

This Saturday (March 8) is the CT NOFA Cultivating An Organic Connecticut Conference. It's from 8:30 AM - 4:45 PM at Windsor High School, Windsor, CT.

They called and invited me to be on a panel, but alas, I have other plans this weekend. Nonetheless, it looks like it should be a very interesting event.

Non Local Clean Up Progress

Yikes! Where does the time go?!

My plan to finish up all the freezer and pantry non-local fare turned out to be a non-event. The only thing in the freezer that isn't local is one Big Y whole chicken. The pantry is filled with predominantly carbohydrates and I am still keeping to a moderate food plan, so I'm certainly not going to finish up these things before the season. Most will probably run out of shelf before they see the light of day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Full Moon Fireside

Wednesday night was the February Full Moon Fireside at the Community of the Holy Spirit (aka the Sisters at Bluestone Farm in Brewster, NY). An ordinary Fireside begins with half an hour of drumming, followed by half and hour of meditation, and then an hour and a half of discussion on the topic of the evening. This Fireside began with the drumming and then a movie, The Future of Food, and then a discussion. The movie is a well-made 2005 documentary discussing genetically modified foods, how life came to be patentable, and corporate control over the world's food system. It was horrifying. As you might imagine, the discussion was intense. Some things we can do: grow our own food. Buy from local farmers. Do not buy food grown from Monsanto seeds, even if the farm is next door. By the way, if the farm is next door, don't eat anything you've grown--you never know what the wind blew in.

Despite Monsanto, the evening ended up on sweet note, literally. We ventured out into the cold to watch the lunar eclipse but kept warm sipping sweet tea. Sweet tea is a liquid mid-stage between sap and maple syrup. It's light and sweet and so very warm.

Winter 2008 Dark Days Challenge

Curious about the Winter 2008 Dark Days Challenge? Check it out at Urban Hennery. I'm quite behind in my posting and have three challenge meals with pix for this two-week stint.

On 2/14 (Valentine's Day), we made heart shaped ravioli, stuffed with a mixture of butternut squash, a soft cow cheese whose flavor is a cross between ricotta salata and goat cheese, and sage drizzled with a brown butter hazelnut sauce. The ravioli stuffing was all local. The usual disclaimers about the ravioli shell (home made pasta using flour of unknown origins and a local egg and an Italian olive oil).

On 2/17, we had a beef short rib ragout over tagliatelle. The short ribs are from Stuart's. The wine is McLaughlin's Vista Reposa. The same disclaimer about the tagliatelle.

On 2/19, we had ribeyes from Stuart's accompanied by butternut squash, sauteed mushrooms, a frisse salad courtesy of Two Guys From Woodbridge, and wine by McLaughlin. The mushrooms were from Stop-N-Shop.

Hope your meals have been happy, healthy, and satisfying.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

What we're eating!

When I think about it in a particular way, I think, how weird is it that I'm telling complete strangers what I'm eating and where I got it from. Yet such is the nature of the various local food challenges: a commitment to eat locally (your definition) for a given period of time; share your experiences, adventures, lessons, good futune, and encouragement (mostly menus, recipes, and perhaps leads on where to find a coveted item).

All in all, I've been viewing it as a positive experience. I've met (and virtually met) some interesting and wonderful people by taking these challenges. But I was wondering, what if there's blowback? What if someone in North Dakota reads my blog, and based on my prose, simply must have CT cheese for his (potentially local) macaroni? If he orders CT cheese online, do I have any carbon liability?

Seriously though, I'm going to spend the next few weeks eating non-locally except for the challenge-meal-of-the-week. We still have numerous items in our pantry and freezer from before and we'd like to use them up, prepare for spring, and make some space. It will be strange to do this deliberately, for sure! It will be cool when we are unequivocally able to say, "We know exactly where everything in there came from."

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Dark Days Challenge 2008

Well, there have been several local meals over the course of the two weeks, but this one was my favorite: pork chops, macaroni, and gravy. When I say gravy, I mean the Italian-American red stuff which some might call sauce. I reserve the word sauce for the meatless varieties. The simmer-all-day-and-eat-at-three-in-the-afternoon stuff has meat (typically braciole, sausages, and meatballs) and thus, is a gravy.

I made this gravy by pan searing the pork chops (from Ox Hollow Farm) then adding two jars of Waldingfield Farm's organic tomato-basil pasta sauce. I let that simmer while I made the macaroni. I made rigatoni from scratch using Hodgson Mills semolina flour (not local, but as close as I can get to my home that I know of). The olive oil is from Italy (Marco Polo). I boiled the macaroni in water that came from my own well with salt that came from Rhode Island.

I grated some cheese from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm, that was rather similar to a pecorino romano, although it's cow cheese. And of course, the wine was Vista Reposa from McLaughlin Vineyards.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Fairfield Winter Market

The Fairfield Winter Market (a new venture of the Westport Farmers Market) opened last week. It's indoors at the Fairfield Theatre Company at 70 Sanford Street, Fairfield, CT.

I finally got there today and as one who has done outdoors in New Haven, I am sure grateful for an indoor market! Of course, today it was unseasonably mild--a gentle 48 degrees. Sigh.

Some of my favorite vendors from New Haven were there: Two Guys from Woodbridge, Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm, and Beltane Farm.

Some of my favorites from other venues were there: Wave Hill Bread (Yeah!) and Goatboy Soaps.

A new vendor I met for the first time today was Ox Hollow Farm. I got some pork chops and a ham. They also have chicken (yipee!).

Westport Aquaculture had clams on the half shell and oysters. Two bakeries had delectabilities one expects from bakeries. I'm still dieting, so I tried to keep a respectable distance. One bakery, from Ridgefield (very sorry I did not get the name) had these wonderful oatmeal breakfast cookies that did not contain added sugar. All the sweetness came from apple sauce and fruit juice. Very nice.

A good time was had by all.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Accidental Challenge Dinner

I'd defrosted some chicken from Herondale Farm (just over the border in NY). Tonight we roasted it with shallots from Cherry Grove Farm in Newtown, organic carrots (locals long since been eaten), some store-bought chicken broth, some red peppers we had on hand (origins unknown), and thyme and sage from Missy's Farm in Warwick, NY (dried and bagged by us).

For our vegetable or carb (however you want to call it), we had acorn squash from Waldingfield Farm (acquired at the New Haven Farmer's Market this weekend). We quartered and seasoned that with a little butter, pumpkin pie spice, and a few drizzles of maple syrup from the Community of the Holy Spirit's Bluestone Farm in Brewster, NY.

The funny thing (to me) is that we weren't even trying to create a mostly local meal. It was an easy after-a-workday meal made from the stuff we had on hand! Wish every day could be like this.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened at the Winery

It sounds like the begining of a joke, which could as easily have begun: a Priest and a Locavore walk into a winery...

Anyway, we did (walk into a winery); McLaughlin Vineyards. It was Saturday afternoon and we'd spent the day Locavoring around New Haven. On the way home, we decided to stop into our neighborhood winery to replenish our Vista Riposa.

McLaughlin also sells eggs from Rough Cut Ranch, their neighbor. These are the most beautiful eggs I have ever seen. I wish I had a better camera to do them justice.

At McLaughlin's, Dee Dee's domain is the tastings and Frank (Francis) runs the retail store, among other things. We all got to talking about, what else, local food (and drink) and where you could get local honey. I told them that Holbrook's carries honey and the Stuart's carry honey. Frank wanted really local honey. I said that Cherry Grove Farm in Newtown has their own organic honey. And so the conversation continued.

As a matter of interest, Frank told me about this 93-year-old locavore in Newtown who keeps a Web site reporting on local foods and farms. I was intrigued--a kindred spirit, and a neighbor no less. He was impressed that this old biddy could still get around! I gave him my e-mail address so he could send me the link. He went on to talk about her Thanksgiving dinner of local foods and how she served McLaughlin wine. "So did I," I told him. He continued, saying that she felt bad that the Tom turkey wasn't local, but was a Butterball. The way he said it, got me thinking... That sure sounds like my Thanksgiving! "Are you sure she's 93," I asked? He was sure. He'd checked the profile at her blog and it said she was 93.

"Wait," I said, "it's me!" But I'm not 93. When I created my account, I had refused to enter my year of birth and the original version inserted a year from the turn of the century (the other one). I recalled a friend making a joke about it several months ago. It turns out that the upgraded version allows you to leave it blank without making a wild guess. So, I've fixed it. I am sorry if anyone felt misled. Kind of comical, though...

So, while I am old by some standards, I'm young by others. I do have gray hair. (I might dye it if they start to grow hair color in my 100 miles.) If you really want to know how old I am, when I was a kid:
- We had to get up to change television channels (though we did have TV, even color, but only seven channels).
- Water wasn't bottled.
- Coffee only came in one flavor: coffee.
- People smoked everywhere: in the grocery store (in every store for that matter), on buses, trains, and, airplanes, even in the doctor's office. Really. (It was legal back then.)
- Cars only had AM radio and you actually got exercise opening and closing the windows.
- Soda did not have high fructose corn syrup.
- Margarine was thought to be good for you and butter was unhealthy.
- Jack LaLane was the only one working out on TV. Julia Child and Graham Kerr were the only ones cooking on TV.
I could go on--but you get the idea. Suffice it to say, I was too young for the first Woodstock and too old for the second.

Anyway, I hope you're here for the local food information and not just marveling that an old lady can drive from farm to farm. If it's any consolation, I've been told that I do drive like an old lady.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Dark Days Eat Local Challenge

Mostly local meal of the week, 1/19/2008:

- Meatballs, made from Stuart Family Farm ground beef
- Home made pasta
- Gravy (a red, meat based "sauce") from the freezer from "before"
- Bread, from Apicella's Bakery, New Haven
- Salad, lettuce from Two Guys from Woodbridge (organic and hydroponic greens)
- Wine, Vista Riposa, from McLaughlin Vineyards