Link:More about ramps, including a recipe for ramp pesto
What is a CSA?
How to find one near you
New(ish) Berkshire CSA
A little background
The Recipe: Delicious Running-on-Empty Tuscan White Bean Soup
(Picture from Berkshire Food Journal)
In March and April, as local food runs low, I face the bleak facts and have to eat more food from far afield. Traditionally, this is the starving season, when cold storage foods run low and the pantry is wanting.
North country locavores like me are happy to have a few root vegetables around, boosted by tasty cheeses, yogurt, milk eggs, meat, freshly made maple syrup and the last of August’s jam. Real fresh food is a distant memory, sadly imitated by the hollow taste of produce from distant climes.
But cheer up, there is so much to dream about — garden planning, seed shopping and, yes, joining a local CSA.
It’s CSA time!
For the ultimate locavore experience, join a CSA, which is a Community Agriculture Farm. It’s the most direct way to connect with a regional farmer, nature and the flow of fresh, sustainably raised food right through the season.
What’s A CSA?
“CSA” stands for community supported agriculture. Although it denotes a kind of farming, the term has also come to mean the farm itself. CSA members, sometimes called shareholders, agree to support an environmentally responsible farm and farmer by paying upfront costs before the growing season.
Join a CSA and get a grocery bag or so of sustainably raised farm fresh food on a regular basis, usually once a week. Many CSAs also include a pick your own option on high labor crops, such as berries or cherry tomatoes. Pick-up days are especially satisfying if you can visit the farm, but even city slickers look forward to their weekly bag of startlingly fresh produce, and many visit the farm at least once a season. My book, The Locavore Way, has lots of information on CSAS — from how to decide if CSA membership is right for you to how to cook with CSA goodies.
How do you find a CSA near you?
Search for a CSA near you at the Robyn Van En Center. Or, if you live in NYC, use Just Food. In the Berkshires, where I live in Western Massachusetts, use Berkshire Grown. A new Berkshire CSA in Stockbridge is accepting 30 first-year members. Contact Katherine Vause at Solid Rock Farm. (413) 298-4500.
I was already a chef who understood fresh when Robyn Van En, who co-founded the CSA movement in North America initiated me into the local food movement. Robyn’s Indian Line Farm was one of the first two CSAs in this country. She spread the word through talks and a $4 pamphlet that taught farmers around the county how to start CSAs on their own.
Robyn has since died, her farm Indian Line Farm is still going strong. The CSA center at Wilson College which bears her name, estimates there are close to 2000 CSAs in North America. Here’s a good article about the CSAs and their history if you want more.
Running on Empty Soup: Tuscan White Bean Soup with Wheatberries
Nothing in the house? I made this delicious soup out of what seemed like nothing, adding two locavore ingredients — dried sprigs of rosemary from last year’s garden and wheatberries from last year’s grain CSA share. Serves about 6.
1 pound the biggest white beans you can find (cannelini or butter beans)
2 sprigs of dried rosemary
1 large or 1-1/2 small garlic bulbs
1/2 cup wheatberries
1 small can tomato paste
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
cayenne or quality hot sauce to taste
salt to taste
2 tablespoons whatever green is in the house, chopped (optional)
1- Soak the beans overnight. Drain. Cover beans by about 2 inches of water. Add the rosemary and bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer. Skim off any foam that floats to the top. While the beans are cooking, separate the garlic cloves. Peel and throw them into the pot. (Peeling can be done two ways: Smash them with the heel of your hand onto a flat side of a thick knife. Peel. Or you can cut off the end of the bulb and plunge them into boiling water for about 20 seconds then rinse under cold water. Peel.)
2-While the beans are cooking, bring 2 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil and add the wheat berries. Boil until they are soft enough to eat, about 45 minutes. (They will still be a little firm but not raw.) Drain when done.
3-When the beans are almost soft, about 45 minutes or so, spoon in the tomato paste and continue to simmer until they are very soft, about 1 hour or more, adding water if necessary just to cover. Puree the soup thoroughly in a food processor until very smooth. Return to the pot. Season with the vinegar, a touch of cayenne pepper or hot sauce and a generous amount of salt to taste.
4-Equally divide the soup among the bowls with the wheatberries in the center. (Let diners stir the wheatberries in.) Sprinkle with the greens if you are using them.
Read my new piece in Berkshire Magazine about preserving our landscape, including the farms that bring us the best food imaginable. (Here’s the article.)
And please join me and a panel of experts for a discussion about land conservation this Sunday in Great Barrington. (For more, visit this link.)
Art Rosenburg circa 1940 with his draft horse at his farm in Williamstown.
The Rosenburg farm is now home to Williamstown Rural Lands Foundation.
Sheep Hill today.
Mark your calendar for 4/28.
Spread the word.
Hope you can join me.
Please come by and introduce yourself.
Mark your calendar
Bring a friend
Spread the word
Give a delicious gift
Locavore Way Cooking Class — Main Course Salads
Use local greens as a base for main course one-dish meals! (See menu below)
10am-1:00pm (or so)
$50 plus a $20 food fee, including a delicious lunch
139 West Center Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266
Please send a check to hold your spot.
Join veteran teacher Amy Cotler, who has taught at Culinary Institute of America, Institute for Culinary Education and tested almost 1000 recipes, including those for her own books and Joy of Cooking. Amy is a longtime farm to table advocate, popular speaker and Author of The Locavore Way, Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Food.
Questions? Call 413 232 7174 or visit www.amycotler.com, where you can also find her Locavore Way, book recipe blog and radio show.
To register: Mail checks, written out to Locavore Way to Amy Cotler, 139 West Center Road, West Stockbridge, MA 01266.
Teriyaki Salmon and Soba Noodle Salad with Cooked Greens
Spring Greens Market Salad with Pan Roasted Potatoes and Feta
Cracked Pepper Grllled Chicken with Field Greens in a Lemon Dressing
Wilted Greens with Gorgonzola Croutons
Shrimp, Rice and Spring Green Sambal
Mesclun Greens with Roasted Mushrooms, Goat Cheese and Balsamic Syrup
Plus: How to make perfect salad dressings
Other local food events
March Maple Month Dinner, cooking by Berkshire chefs on March 18th. Find out more. http://berkshiregrown.org/march-maple-dinner-2/
Fundraiser, cooking class and dinner in Boston with Odessa Piper this Saturday.
Kill amendment 28! Protect our healthy food source! Commercial fishermen, processors, distributors, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, restauranteurs, chefs, conservationists, and folks like you are all fighting for sustainably-managed fisheries and YOUR right to enjoy healthy U.S.-caught. seafood.
At Passover: Me, my neice, Sadie, my daughter, Emma, and my baby sister, Ellie.
Spring has sprung. We’re not quite into edibles here in Western Massachusetts, but my chives are starting to come up between the patches of melting snow.
I’ve been posting lots on facebook lately, including the items below. So if you want to check in more frequently, share information or ask culinary questions, the link is here!
Join me! Two spots left in my Cooking Main courses with Local Greens cooking class on April 27th. For more see this link.
Please write and tell me what’s happening in your local food world!
COMING UP VERY SOON
SATURDAY, APRIL 6
2nd Annual Interfaith Paschal Lamb Roast
Menu including: Fire Roasted Whole Kinderhook Lamb with Mint Sauce, Winter Squash w/ Ioka Valley Maple Syrup and butter, Roasted Celeriac with Parsley, Farro and Crimini Mushroom Pilaf. In Great Barrington, MA. Link here.
THIS SUNDAY, APRIL 7
Bitter Seeds, a documentary
In India, GMOs driving farmers off the land. See Bitter Seeds at 11:45am at the Triplex in Great Barrington, sponsored by Project Native. This multiple award-winning documentary is a gripping portrait of a region under pressure, a young woman coming of age and a farmer’s fight to save his land and his farm. See excerpt here…
CHEFX CULINARY EXCHANGE
5 courses/5 chef. Berkshire Chefs in Hudson. Read more at this link.
THIS MONDAY, APRIL 8
Farm to School is about food democracy. Come join me and other panelists — Emily French from Massachusetts Farm to Table Project, Brian Gibbons from Berkshire Organics ,and Ted Dobson from Equinox Farms — as we talk about bringing farm fresh food to our schools. 7:30pm at First Baptist Church in Pittsfield, Open to all; RSVPs to Barbara at Berkshire Grown helpful (413) 528-0041. My free MA Farm to Table Cookbook is here. Link about event is here.
Earth Dinners are an annual series of events sponsored by Chefs Collaborative and Organic Valley to promote local, sustainable, and organic foods – and restaurants! Dozens of restaurants across the country participated last year and donated a portion of the proceeds to Chefs Collaborative, a national organization supporting sustainable agriculture. Link here.
ITEMS OF INTEREST
Modern Farmer, New Magazine and Website
Global coverage. Looks promising. Read their fun piece on Getting Dirty On-Line with Farmer Dating. Link here.
Fair Grounds in Great Barrington a Sustainable Agriculture Haven?
Well, despite the negative headline — Is the Great Barrington’s Farm to Table Idea a field of dreams? — fascinating things are going on at the local fair grounds, which are right on the Housatonic and have remained unused for years. Link here. Stay tuned….
New way to challenge corporate rule of our food system?
Good article in Truthout about ways to bust up the corporate food system, a system that looks like this — (link here)
* 4 companies own about 84% & of the U.S. beef market;
* 4 firms control 66% of the pork-packing market
*4 companies own 43% global commercial seed market
*3 companies control 90% of the global grain trade
*4 companies own 48% of grocery, etc…..
ANYTHING LEFT FROM YOUR FALL HARVEST?
Cedar Circle Farm in Vermont’s got purple polka dot potatoes left. If only I lived close by. No local potatoes left here…..You have any? Link here.
I’m brewing tea with the last of my dried lemon verbena, the only thing left from last year’s harvest. Not as strong as it should be after a long winter, but still unique in flavor that I adore.
Last of the local potatoes anyone?
This is a lazy person’s pizza, made with store-bought dough, last of the local potatoes and coarse cornmeal from a regional CSA. It’s a starch lover’s dream come true; potatoes and bread, seasoned with dried Italian herbs from the garden and a touch of local cheese. (Any good strong cheese works well.) Makes 4 servings
Note: This recipe is from my first book, now out-of-print, One Pot Vegetarian Dishes, which is still available for next to nothing from Amazon as this link. (Great recipes, if I do say so.)
l pound frozen pizza, defrosted*
3 tablespoons corn meal
l pound unpeeled potatoes, sliced very thinly
l tablespoon olive oil
l teaspoon dried rosemary**
l/4 teaspoon dried sage**
l/4 teaspoon dried oregano**
l/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
l cup shredded flavorful cheese, or more to taste
l/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1. Preheat the oven to 475˚F. Adjust rack to the upper 1/3 of oven. Brush a baking sheet liberally with oil. Sprinkle evenly with coarse cornmeal. Using your hands, press the dough out with to evenly cover as much of the sheet as possible.
2. In a medium bowl, toss together the potatoes, oil, rosemary, sage, oregano, salt, and pepper. Pour the potato mixture onto the dough, using your hands spread or neatly “shingle” the potatoes, overlapping them as little as possible, and leaving a l inch border of dough all around. Sprinkle with the cheese and onion. Bake until the potatoes are cooked through and lightly browned, and the crust is crisp, about 20 minutes.
*Homemade dough recipes abound, so make it if you like, but this recipe uses premade dough, defrosted from the supermarket or bought from a pizzeria. If it’s frozen, defrost it by leaving it at room temperature for a few hours, or in the refrigerator over night. Trust me; it’s still GREAT!
**I salt-dry my summer herbs in glass crocks. I dry them stems and all, but you can strip off the leaves and just dry them. Either way, both the herbs and the salt are tasty!
For those that don’t follow me on facebook, here are my best picks!
A few end of winter recipe links:
Winter Salad with Spinach and Beets
Connie’s Apple Cake
Your grandma’s fishcakes, revisited
Apparently US farmed Tilapia is considered OK by Monteray Aquarium, so I had some last night. Leftovers got become fishcakes. Pulse in food processor — cooked fish, scallion, cilantro, 1/2 thai chili pepper, egg, pickled ginger (love it) with a touch celery and salt. Form flat cakes. Dredge in lots of panko breadcrumbs. Bake or saute in olive oil until crisp and warm all the way through. Serve with hot sauce and lime wedges. Very easy and tasty. Link for sustainable seafood choices for the northeast is here.
Seed catalogs rolling in?
Margaret Roach talks about starting your sustainable garden with the right seeds. Link
Water is the “Food” Crisis of our Time!
Water is the ultimate “food” crisis of our time. What’s the next generation up to? Nick Friedman, the son of dear friends, has opened a biz that filters existing water for businesses, so they don’t have to go the bottled water route. Why not use your own clean LOCAL water:) Here’s a link to his business.
Improvised Goat Cheese-Chocolate Truffles
An alternative truffle using local goat cheese anyone? An idea that will probably work well:) Mix ½ soft goat cheese at room temperature with 1/2 melted chocolate, adding just enough confectioner’s sugar to bind it, along with a drop or two of vanilla. Roll into balls. Roll in a combination of cocoa powder with a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder….
“Clean” Meat Clubs are taking hold.
Here’s another one with deliveries in Westchester and a newsletter that my colleague raves about. Link.
And don’t forget my first spring class!
Fabulous main courses using local greens. Link.
Sustainable meat meets art, meets way of life….
Jake Levin, head butcher at the Meat Market in Great Barrington, Ma, is part of this next wave of the Good Food Movement. His upcoming talk will focus on his efforts to create a holistic and sustainable life, one that erases the lines between being a butcher, an artist and active member of the community.
While on the surface these are different kinds of work, Jake feels the decisions he makes at the Meat Market, the studio, and in his personal life all are based on his desire to live sustainably and ecologically, as an active member of my community.
He is particularly excited by the inherent contradictions and paradoxes he faces as he tries to integrate these elements into his life.
The talk is at 5:00, on March 10 at Stockbridge Library, on 46 Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He’ll discuss his local food system work, Foodways, particularly his Messianic Pig project, which is exhibited at the Stockbridge Library.
For a brisket recipe and lots about sustainably raised meat, visit this link.
Scan down this link for a free copy of my Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook, which was distributed to every district in the state. It has more than 50 USDA approved recipes using farm fresh foods, lots of tips on how to prepare them and an addendum for educators.
Interested in a local food that is yours for the picking?
Here is an opportunity identify and harvest mushrooms SAFELY while spending a vacation week on an island off the coast of Portsmouth, NH.
Standing above a chicken-of-the-woods, Laetiporus sulphure
Star Island is the location of a National History Conference to be held on June 22-29, 2013. The theme is “The Mysterious & Misunderstood World of Mushrooms”. Dr. Rick Van de Poll will be giving lectures throughout the week, giving the do’s and don’t's of picking and using mushrooms, including their many culinary uses.
Dr, Van de Poll is a state-certified wetland scientist who is a founding member of the NH Association of Wetland Scientists. He has recorded over 1300 mushrooms in New Hampshire, including a number of previously undescribed species. He taught Mycology at Antioch New England , Plymouth State University and is presently an adjunct faculty member for the Graduate School at Plymouth State University. He co-founded the Monadnock Mushroom Club in 1988 and founded the Sandwich (NH) Mushroom Club in 2001.
For more contact: Charles Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 518.648.0324
Suillus spraguei, painted suillus in hand
Gem-studded puffball, Lycoperdon perlatum
Join me on facebook for local food conversation and more frequent posts. Link here.
Other local food news:
2nd Farming our Future Conference in Craryville New York.
Farmers rebuild greenhouses after the brutal storm.
Bad news for us all. Supreme court rules in favor of Monsanto against Indiana farmer.
Restaurants develop locavore menus during the domant season.