“Local things growing enough to fill your tummy” Time

This Thursday, a marvellous herald of summer happened.  The Red Fire Farm CSA began.  This marks the beginning of ‘local things growing enough to fill your tummy’ phase of the growing season.

Some herbs from our balcony garden. Chive blossoms, chervil, sage, and parsley.

We had already managed to enjoy fresh things from Allandale Farm, our own balcony garden, and a few farmers market trips over the past few weeks.  But the start of the CSA season really signals the time of the year where lovely fresh things are really starting to come out of the fields.  One of the important items coming from the fields: strawberries.  Need I say more?

Strawberries from Red Fire Farm.

Last week, we went out to the new part of Red Fire Farm in Montague for some CSA coordinator training.  We had gone out to Montague a year or two ago.  Now things on the land are hopping compared to then.  There are so many beautiful crops coming into bloom so to speak, and lovely farm developments, like a new packing barn, and updated cool storage.  It was really quite impressive.

We got to pick our share of PYO strawberries while out there.  A whole eight quarts.  And what did we do?  We ate them all in two days!

The rapidly disappearing strawberries.

Also in the meantime, our own garden has been coming along, just like the crops at the farm.  On a slightly, ahem, smaller scale.

Theresa in front of our garden plot at the Larz Anderson Brookline community Garden.

Our garden report: Everything is doing pretty well.  Some beer trapping for slugs and careful pruning for mold has averted some crises. For now.

Our first succession of large greens (chard and kale) are beginning to get big enough for some harvesting.

Our Lima beans are really taking off. We just hope our home-made bean pole construction is big enough….

And lastly, we’ve been harvesting a good amount of french breakfast radishes, salad Burnett and baby kale.

Theresa with a bowl of radishes and salad burnett.

And now the CSA update:

Our first distribution was wonderful.  The truck was on time, it only rained on us twice and there were so many familiar and new happy faces to receive the delicious goodness of farm fresh veggies. I have to say I really love getting to know new members and sharing the joy of seeing members from years past.  It really puts the Community in CSA.

Our CSA distribution ‘farmstand’. All prettied up for oncoming members.

Our share this week was large and lovely. Quite impressive for the first week of June.

Kohlrabi, Hakurai turnips, kale, green garlic, lettuce, cilantro, salad greens, braising greens, and spinach. Egg shares are on, and we got quarts of strawberries for our fruit share. Nom.

Theresa’s first order of cooking business was to make us a delightful dinner on Friday from these goodies.

Spinach feta pie with a lentil, mint and kohlrabi side salad. Super nom.

We’ve been enjoying a few other farm specialties.  We stopped at the Morse School Farmers Market today and picked up some meat from Kate Stillman, along with some english peas.  We ate those in a lovely tea time snack.

Locavore tea time snack of Effies Oatcakes, Cranberry Ginger Chevre from West River Creamery, Peas from Stillmans Farm and Strawberries from Red Fire Farm. Served with a sparkling Rhubarb Rush from Bug Hill Farm.

Ah…. the joys of summer.  I hope you are all enjoying the local bounty and nice weather too.

Posted in Farmer's Markets, Farms, Red Fire Farm | 1 Comment

Garden Update

So……. yeah, we haven’t really posted in a while….. a long while……..The last time we posted, New England looked rather bare.

The Brookline Community Garden in March.

This is the community garden at Larz Anderson Park in Brookline.  We have had the opportunity this year to garden in it.

Things at present look rather different.  If you recall from our past post, our garden plot came to us utterly empty.  Well, we had something to do about that:

We built some raised beds. Hurray for impromptu carpentry skills!

We planted some seedlings at home. Tomato, tomatillo, eggplant and cucumber. Some of them actually did well, regardless of our really crappy setup in a northern window.

We seeded radishes, and peas straight in the ground. Some of the seedlings survived their transplanting into the garden- some did not😦 .

We also tended to our balcony garden. We planted more alpine strawberries and annual herbs, and let the perennial herbs from last year take over. That’s our big fig plant to the left. 🙂

We let our kitties enjoy the amazingly warm and mild spring. Even more so on a heating pad. Here they are fighting over its rather small surface area. No, they’re not just being friendly.

We also began to enjoy some seriously good spring food. Asparagus, spinach, bacon, whole wheat toast, a farm fresh poached egg, and roasted garlic sauce. Nom.

We did something pretty awesome with our garden. The success of growing our peas under garden fabric (row cover white stuff) made us think our seedling transplants and bean plants might like some make-shift hoop houses made from bamboo sticks, clothes pins, and garden fabric. It has worked out very well.

Our fragile seedling tranplants appreciated this a lot. They were protected from the many many chipmunks that inhabit the area. They fared much much better than the poor cucumber transplants that we put in out in the open. We never heard from them again… But our tomatos, eggplants, tomatillos, beans and greens have been quite thankful.

Our peas are quite happy as you can see. Already blossoming! And getting along with its salad burnet neighbor pretty well.

We thinned our kale and salad burnet for a cute little first harvest. Kale on the right, sorrel in the middle, purslane and chard to the right.

Harvested kale and salad burnet. Mmm… microgreens.

We ate them as a delicious salad with the most amazing local camembert from Old Chatham Farm. How springy!

This Friday we had our first major harvest. One of our radish successions had come to ideal size- radishes about an inch in diameter and lovely looking.

We harvested radishes for dinner and some mint that has taken over this side of the community garden as a delicious weed.

The peas are looking happy. We were worried that they weren’t growing any taller. A quick search revealed our cultivar will only get 15-20 inches tall. So, they are pretty tall and flowering, with a few with little pea pods sticking here and there. Here’s hoping the crop will be a success!

Our harvest of radishes chopped up to make a radish and radish green pasta dish.

Radishes and tops from our garden, homemade spelt pasta from our grain CSA, with spring onion from Silverbrook farm, parsley from our balcony garden and parmesan cheese. Quite lovely.

We also celebrated with some delicious cooked rhubarb for dessert. We stewed it with some of our dried citrus peels and lots of sugar.  Nom.

We’ve been enjoying the local food popping out of the ground in our New England habitat. Not only from our gardens, but also the opening of the Allandale Farmstand, the beginning of the Copley farmers market, and soon the beginning of the Red Fire Farm CSA (and yes, I will be running it again this year, hurrah!) all have been making us very very happy.

We still have some frozen food, and pickles to get through before the height of summer, but we survived this spring as locavores very well.  Eating like locavore queens, regardless of a tough semester.

I leave you with this gratuitously cute picture of Fitzwilliam sleeping lazily in the heat on this lovely long weekend.

And that is the update.  I hope to give you more fun food and garden updates as late spring and summer rolls along.

Posted in Farmer's Markets, Farms | 4 Comments

ONCE of Whimsy to Take Us Away…

Last Friday (a long long time ago, now), we sauntered down to Union Square for a loverly ONCE event with JJ of Cuisine en Locale fame, and ONCE of Whimsy and fun to get our minds off of a rather trying day.  We didn’t take our monstrosity of a camera, but we do have iPhones now, so you get some dark and mediocre pictures of a fabulous dinner.  No pictures could really capture the glory anyway, so no worries on my end.

We were the first to arrive (naturally), and got our pick of seats.  We ended up with a lovely couple who loved very close and happened to work with the Boston Workman’s Circle.  Also a treat, we sat with JJ’s mum who is an absolute doll.  With a cold bottle of Pretty Things beer, we were all set for a marathon of food and good times.

Appetizer plate of glory

So, if I remember correctly, this plate has (starting at the fiddleheads and going clockwise) pickled fiddleheads, cold elderberry cured mackeral (Laura’s favorite), rabbit pate butter (my favorite), pickled green strawberries (a really good idea, actually), a fab mustard and chopped red onions.  Unseen is a bread basket with oatcakes, rye hardtack and a local white bread.  Five people decimate this before everyone arrived for dinner, and every bite was great.

This was delicious rabbit/barnyard rillette with rabbit meat, pork fat and chicken stock.  Really damn good (I still liked the rabbit liver and butter paste better, as far as rabbit dishes go)

Fried oysters, sunflower aioli and apple slices with sunflower sprouts

I think we decided to go simply for these: crispy fried Peter Point oysters, small tender and briny, with sunflower sprouts, a sunflower apple aioli and apple slices.  Fried. Oysters. Feed me just this, rabbit liver butter and the dish that follows, and I would be happy happy happy.

This sadly fuzzy image shows the best damn dried apples ever. EVER. And the dip was genious. A sweet yellow bean maple dip that I will be trying to, without success most likely, to replicate at home. Dinner dessert like thing at its finest. Yes please more.

A remarkably dark image of a parsnip bisque with lamb confit.  It made me crave parsnips again.  Amazing woman, that JJ, to make me crave something we’ve been eating bloody tons of for a while.

Three colors of beet, red, yellow and white (where the pink? we could have totally hit four with Chioggia) and the most intense blue cheese experience in my recent life.  A warm Bayley Hazen pepita cake that just blew me away.  So much strength and taste in such a small bundle.  And to make it even better, we now have a source for pepitas (pumpkin seeds) if I can remember the name of the farm.  Score!

Turkey breast with pear butter, kale and cranberries.  The pear butter was good, and the turkey was tender, but this was not my favorite dish of the evening.  Maybe because I felt like the Thanksgiving on a plate was missing stuffing.  Or I like my turkey to be dry as sawdust (no joke), adn this was a leetle too tender for me.  Good, but not super fantabulous.  So, I finished the rabbit liver butter on the pickle plate.

This is about the time you start going ‘whaaaaattt, there is moooorrrreeee food coming. And it’s meat and grain and heavy stuff?  Oh man, I’m going to roll my way home.”  But you can’t. stop. eating.  Lamb chop, with yogurt pan sauce and barley cake?  I find space for it, really I will.  Can’t let such a good piece of lamb get away from me like that.

Ah, a light and refreshing sorbet.A maple ginger mead frozen and topped with maple sugar and grated fresh ginger.  It was delicious, and very very very alcoholy.  Mmmm.  The ginger, maple and honey-mead flavors worked really well together, and I can see making a really good warm cocktail with mead, ginger and maple syrup.  Nom.

Light and refreshing, and then BAM dark turkey tetrazini with celeriac.  The tetrazini sauce was awesome (I am running out of words that mean “good” “great” or “fabulous” here).  I see a casserole or two in our future with this sauce.

And lastly, dessert.  JJ received a very special award for her pickled peaches and graced us with the last bit of them for dessert.

Sophia’s yogurt with pickled peaches and ‘Blood of the Gods’ berry sauce. Om a nom a nom.  definitely not a ‘light’ ending to dinner, but a special one to be sure.  Knowing that JJ was able to go the California and meet some food greats, talk to new farmers and generally be the most kick-ass food representative from the east coast made the whole dinner that much more special.

Thank you JJ! for being you and for giving such a lovely evening of food and fun and more food.  Its always a treat!

Posted in O.N.C.E. | 2 Comments

Le Garden!

So, we found out our garden plot number and absolutely had to take a trot out to try and locate it.  After all, if the previous inhabitants had left any sort of structure (raised beds, any tomato cages, etc.), we would want to know, in case we wanted to use it. Well, if we guessed correctly…

There is little else besides some neatly arranged pavers, some clay-y ground that might need amending and a rusting chicken wire fence.  The exciting thing is that if this is our plot, we have an almost blank slate of earth to work with.  It might not look like very much in this picture, but lets add Laura for scale.

All said and done, it is a pretty nice little chunk of ground for us to go crazy on.  I have a feeling we will be adding raised beds and maybe some new chicken wire or other fencing to mark it out.  Interesting, it doesn’t seem exactly 15×15.  We couldn’t figure out if it was narrow than 15′ or longer than 15′.  The archivist/planner in me desperately wants to measure it and make a detailed layout.  Thing is, we still don’t know if this is exactly the plot we have been assigned.  I want it.  I have my heart set on this one.

We are planning on buying some seeds and maybe starting some of our own plants indoors.  If they fail, we can buy some more plants, but we want to see what we can do ourselves from step one.

In the meantime, we have a large stash of sweet and regular potatoes to work through.  We can’t seem to eat them fast enough.  So, you know we did? We made pasta! Ha!

We were craving some serious comfort food, and homemade pasta and cheese was totally in order.  Instead of spaghetti, we made orecchiette (little ears) and covered them with some of the best swiss cheese we can find and peas from last spring.

Served with kielbasa sausage and sauerkraut it was fabulous.  The salad was some of the first winter baby greens we have gotten from Red Fire Farm, and they were so sweet and tender.  I swear I love greenhouse salad mix way more than spring green salad mix.  It just seems sweeter, tenderer. Or, we are so inundated with greens in the spring, I get bored of them quickly.  Right now, with freezing rain and cold nights it is a precious green delight.

Another winter delight? Apples.  We are obsessed with pears in the fall, so winter is the time for apples to shine.  Fresh on oatmeal, cooked into a sauce for pork chops, sliced thin and covered with graham crackers and served with whipped cream…

Freaking fabulous.  Can eat just this for dinner tonight? A big pan all for me?  Warm, sweet and comforting… mmm… winter.

And now for the humorous picture of the week.

Whaddya mean we can’t sleep on your knitting?  Why is it in the sun, on our daybed if we can’t sleep on it?  All squishy spots are ours to sleep on, no matter how much you want to work on it!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Good Eats and Good News!

First the good eats.  We went to the Wayland Winter Market for the first time this season, despite the snow and scored some awesome stuff.

Fresh Chard!

Blue Oyster Mushroms

These lovelys are from a new vendor, which we were thrilled to see!  We love us some mushrooms, and being to find them locally always makes us happy.  These are from Laurelwood Farms in Paxton.

We turn those lovelies into a super dinner of mushroom ragu over fresh ground polenta.

Mushrooms and shallots and garlic waiting for dinner

Pretty side salad with spinah, also from the market

I can’t find the picture of the actual dinner, but it was good.  I’ll post a picture with the recipe later this week.

In the meantime, be distracted by our lunch, including cute birdy in the upper left who has discovered, surprisingly, that he likes people food.

Bean soup toast with cheese, pickled radish and hot tea. Yum.

The market was also special in that it was a fiber day, and lots of wool vendors were there.

Laura is learning to spin, and bought some lovely wool to help her along with her new hobby.  Theresa didn’t buy anything, but scoped out the good for the next wool day in February.

Laura’s swag.  I expect to be the one knitting this up into something lovely, someday.  Maybe when she graduates up to a proper spinning wheel.

And now to good news!  We got on the waiting list for a plot at the Brookline Community Gardens, and actually got a plot this year!  We had a choice of 30 x 15 feet or 15 x 15 feet.  We (I) opted for the smaller, to get our feet wet in this gardening a larger space thing.  So exciting!  We are perusing seed catalogs for heirloom varieties that will be interesting to grow.  We’ll be posting about our garden adventures from here on, so look out for that.

With that, I leave you.  Disjointed post, true, but it could be worse! Cheers!

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

ONCE in Valhalla Coming Up Tomorrow

Even though we can’t make it this year, we wanted to give a last shout out for Cuisine En Locale’s ONCE in Valhalla.  We went last year, and I must say, it was a divinely tasty mid-winter locavore treat.  Highly recommended! This year’s ONCE in Valhalla Feast is happening tomorrow, and I believe there might still be tickets available.  Here’s the scoop:

ONCE in Valhalla Returns to the Armory for a Night of Locavore Viking Feasting and Mythological Hijinx

 

SOMERVILLE, MA, January 3, 2012 – The renegade locavore chefs and personalities of Somerville’s own Cuisine in Locale (enlocale.com) are at it again, this time with a deep winter ONCE (One Night Culinary Event) that blends locavorism and lore in one unforgettable four-hour food fest featuring ancient live music and inspired theatrics directed by Allegra Libonati of the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.).

On Saturday, January 21, 2012 at 7 p.m., the 2nd ever ONCE in Valhalla will bring together feats of derring-dining in the form of all-the-meat-you-can-eat (and veggie sacrifices, too), as revelers mix and mingle with Aesir Gods, trolls, gnomes and Valkyries in Odin’s Mighty Hall (the Center for Arts at the Armory). This savory Scandinavian saga will feature locally sourced courses incorporating fish, oats, grains, oysters, game, lamb, ham, turkey, cheese, and an array of overwintered fruits and roots. Tickets are $75 at brownpapertickets.com.

Featured local delights include Slumbrew BeerGreen River Ambrosia Mead, freshly shucked Island Creek Oysters, gorgeous meats from Hardwick, MA’s Stillman at the Turkey FarmFour Star Farms grains, Sherman Market pantry staples, and a smörgåsbord of storage crops from Red Fire Farm, Winter Moon, Northstar Farms and others.

All proceeds from this event go towards the cost of production and supporting local businesses by purchasing directly from farms and producers whenever possible. For additional queries about Valhalla or Cuisine en Locale, please contact Angie Gaimari, angie@enlocale.com, 212-961-7560.

WHO: Cuisine en Locale (enlocale.com), the area’s premiere all-local cooking company

WHAT: ONCE in Valhalla – a locally sourced all-you-can-eat 10-course Nordic feast, featuring theatrical performances and live music.

WHEN: Saturday, January 21, 7–11 p.m.

WHERE: The Center for Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA (map)

WHY: To celebrate, showcase and support local food culture and to transport Greater Bostonians to distant foreign lands in the dead of winter

HOW MUCH: Tickets are $75 at brownpapertickets.com, cash bar

WHAT TO WEAR: Artisanally knitted Valkyrie and Viking Helmets are available for purchase from Short Army, a Cambridge-based accessories company.

 

ABOUT CUISINE EN LOCALE

Cuisine en Locale (enlocale.comis a locavore personal chef, catering and consulting service, based in Cambridge and Somerville, MA. Our team of creative cooks is dedicated to using only locally and regionally sourced ingredients to create deliciously seasonal meals all year round. Working directly with farmers and producers, we bring their food to table, making it good for them and the community at large. In addition to throwing grand scale, all-local food parties, we do a shared food program – think of it as a cooked CSA – called ONCE a Week; bringing healthy, wholesome meals to busy folks, and supporting local food systems at the same time.

 

ABOUT VALHALLA

The Vikings believed that when they fell in battle they would be swept up by Valkyries and carried up the rainbow bridge to Valhalla- Odin’s hall in the Aesir ‘heaven’, Asgard.  In Valhalla the fallen heroes would fight all day, honing their battle skills, but at night they embraced and headed to the hall’s long tables to eat, drink, sing and dance.

Posted in O.N.C.E. | Leave a comment

Local Nachos

Well, we’ve been enjoying local bounty quite nicely over the past couple of weeks.  It seems like the winter months are actually really easy to eat locally if you have prepared correctly.  I kept on wondering why I felt that way… and then our inventory reminded me- oh yeah, I spent most of the summer preserving stuff…. that’s why it seemed so busy….

Anyway, we’ve been enjoying an indulgent local meal a couple of times now.  Local nachos. Now, I know that Tex/Mex inspired dishes with creative New England locavore tendencies will not please the purists, but I will share, because it deserves sharing.

Radishes! Black, regular red, and green chinese.

I like radishes, but Theresa isn’t the biggest fan.  For some reason, I feel like mexican inspired meals need radish.  Go figure.  So, my best solution for this situation: quick pickled radishes.

Radishes hanging with brine. I love the confetti of colors with all the varieties of radishes.

I used our trusty recipe for a radish brine, found here, and then just popped the sliced radishes in and let it hang out in the fridge for a few hours.

What else do you need with nachos?  I mean we’re making a meal out of this.  Beans, of course.  We have been really enjoying the black turtle beans from our Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA.

Black beans, with onion and garlic.

I also stewed some okra in roasted tomatoes (all put up during the summer in our inventoried freezers) with creole seasoning as a side.

And then, of course, corn, cheese, and corn chips…. yes, local tortilla strips-Number 9 from Paino Organics. Layer the chips, corn, beans, and cheese and broil, till lovely.

Nachos without the fixins.

And then you add the fixins, pickled radish, scallion, homemade salsa, and some sour cream like substance (that’s Sophia’s Yogurt for us). And you have something just dreamy.

Oh, yes. Local Nachos, in their full glory.

Add some local hot sauce made by our friends and you are in heaven.  Local nacho heaven.

What local fixin’s would you add to your local nachos?

Local Nacho Ingredient Sources:

Posted in Vegetarian Meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments