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.