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Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. — Voltaire

3 Forums That Rock Western Mass.....

red fire farm  novemeber

Remember the green? It’s coming!

All on farming and sustainable food issues —

Good Food and Good Jobs in Pioneer Valley
April 10, Holyoke, MA
Pioneer Valley Grows presents a spring symposium this Thursday in Holyoke, MA that addresses the critical issue of justice in the food system. How can we ensure that the development of our local food system provides farm and food workers with fair pay, quality working conditions and a voice in the workplace? Learn what “good food jobs” are and what you can do to support their creation. (See you there.)

Pioneer Valley Grows is a collaborative network of organizations dedicated to enhancing the ecological and economic sustainability and vitality of the Pioneer Valley food system. Learn more and register here.

Farmland Access in the Berkshires
April 12th, Pittsfield
, MA
I’m exhilarated to see this critical forum, which examines farmer access to land, often a barrier to new and even to existing farmers. Berkshire Grown and Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires are convening this conversation among people and organizations working in the Berkshires to put more farmers on the land and more land into farming — an exciting challenge we need to meet. Read more and register here.

Simon’s Rock Thinkfood Conference
April 19th, Great Barrington
, MA
Interested in the local food movement? Three diverse panels of academics, foodies, farmers, school administrators, chefs, media experts and more discuss varying topics, including a well-grounded look at the farm to cafeteria movement through some of its key players. Brought to you by the Nutrition Center and the newly established Center For Food Studies at Simon’s Rock. Learn more and register here

Spring Fling

Wild Watercress

Here’s 3 for April….

Spring Toss:
Vibrant green watercress is back in the rapidly running icy cold stream behind my house.

Ramp it Up
Today I saw wild leeks, called ramps, in the woods around the corner. (Please don’t over harvest, as we have to leave some for the next generation!) Stay vigilant, as they’ll be up soon and ready to blend into a fabulous pesto.

Fresh Chive Noodles with Early Spring Things
The chives are up too and superb in homemade noodles made with with freshly laid eggs.

Not forgotten

I know I’ve been gone awhile, but I haven’t forgotten you. It’s just that I’m knee deep in two exciting projects, both of which are in keeping with The Locavore Way. One involves developing farm fresh recipes in a school kitchen for a state-wide cookbook. (Last time it was Massachusetts; now it’s Missouri.)

You’ll hear more about both projects on this blog, although postings are likely to be more infrequent for at least several months. But I promise to keep you abreast and deliver delicious local recipes and news tidbits when I can….

Italian Spring Celebration Class

stuffed peach(This is a stuffed peach. We’re going to do the same thing with pears. Fabulous.)

Let’s celebrate the thaw of spring with this menu inspired by the flavors of Italy. Join me in a hands-on workshop using Italy’s signature flavors in dishes that will quickly become family favorites as the new season unfolds and all these ingredients are readily available — peas (soon), pancetta or bacon (any  time) herbs for green sauce (soon), rosemary roasted vegetables (now), lemon-olive oil cake (use local yogurt now).

Where? At the Different Drummer in Northampton
When? Join our waiting list for the April 23 class (6:15-8:45), as they may run a second class!
How do I sign up? Go here

Menu

Risotto with Pancetta and Peas
A trademark of spring

Chicken Breasts with Piquant Italian Green Sauce
A tangy addition to any repertoire

Rosemary Roasted Vegetables
A vegetable favorite with seasonal vegetables

Olive Oil-Lemon Cake
Who knew this could be so good?

Baked Pears with Chocolate
Almond Filling Only the Italians would think of this one

 Instructor:  Amy Cotler

Fee: $65.00

CSAs & Running-on-Empty White Bean Soup with Local Wheatberries

What’s Below

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


Happy Brithday to Me!

Seed time!
(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.

Background

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.

The Recipe

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 shareServes 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.

Bites

images-2Bites from Facebook?
For those of you who aren’t on my Locavore Way facebook page, where I post more frequently, I’ve selected some recipes, tidbits and links from last month’s posts. (And I admire you for staying out of the Fray:)

Links to articles are orange.

Share foods you hated but now love
Tastes change. As a kid I HATED broccoli. I can still remember its sewage scent wafting towards the dinner table as it greyed on the stove. (But I now adore its bright green flavor.)

My mom served anchovies with garlic and oil on thin spaghetti, which made me gag. (These days I love anchovies on everything but cheesecake.)

Strong cheese forced me to flee the room. (And my dad was no help with his directive to “reach for its rotten flavor.”) I now understand his point.

Even as a young adult I hated cilantro, which tasted like bleach. So, I taught myself to savor its fresh flavor while traveling in Mexico, where I’d go hungry if I didn’t eat it. (I now use it so much that one editor told me to stop putting it in so many recipes.)

Tell us about foods you hated but now love for any reason at all. You grew into them, had them cooked well, they became popular so you gave them another chance, or…?

(Fun article here.)

Round Carrots posted by Red Fire Farm. Who knew?
Parisian Carrots (55 days)…A great little round carrot that is a nineteenth-century French heirloom. It “excels in clay or rocky soil where other carrots have problems developing properly”. They say it works great for containers. — with Afifeh Afi Tajbakhsh, Gina Alzate, Alba Lopez Corona and 20 others.

Is it affordable for us to feed our kids health school lunches?
Good piece here.

Learn more about how to produce clean meat. It ain’t easy…
CISA workshop here.

Chevre recipes from Susan Sellew of Rawson Brook Farm
(and for your best local cheese!)  Here is also a talk with her on the fabulous Berkshire Food Journal.

Leek or Onion Tarte
Line a 10” pie plate with favorite crust.
Put in:
6 leeks or 4 onions, chopped and sautéed
gently in 4Tbsp. butter 20 min +/-
Mix together and pour over leek/onions:
7 oz chevre, 3 eggs, ½ c milk, ¼ tsp. thyme
Bake 400°, 30 min. or until set and browned.

Marinated Chevre
Unmold a 7 oz. Monterey Chevre onto plate. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top. Adorn with fresh herbs, pepper, edible flowers etc. Allow at least 1 hr. before serving.

Chevre Mayonnaise
(for grilled fish, chicken, elegant sandwiches)
In food processor or blender, blend:
1 egg yolk
1 –7oz. cup chives and garlic chevre
1 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. hot mustard optional
¼ cup oil ..drizzle in while blending.

Baked Chevre
Form any variety Monterey Chevre into ¼” thick patties, dip in extra virgin olive oil then in bread crumbs. Bake 350° for 15-45 minutes. The longer the time, the drier and more brown the result.

Fun from Facebook

Facebook?

For those of you who aren’t on my Locavore Way facebook page, where I post more frequently, I’ve selected some links from last month’s posts. (And I admire you for staying out of the Fray:)

Recipe at the bottom of this post…

images-1All links in orange…

Thinking about gardening but don’t have the land (or want company)?
Can’t wait to bike to the community garden community garden that I’m registering for this month. It’ll be the first year in decades I don’t have my own wonderfully sloppy garden, but I’m looking forward to gardening with others in my mini plot. What about you? Ordering seeds? (Johnny’s? High Mowing?) Joining a garden? If you live around Northampton, join me at the Grow Food organic garden for fun. Otherwise, to find a Community Garden near you click here.

March happenings
Berkshire Grown Maple Dinner on March 24th here. March 29th veggie fest here.

Sometimes humor is the only way….
Monsanto develops hardier strain of corn that yields 4X the litigation.

Good news for a change in school lunches here.

Time to join your local CSA!
What’s a  CSA? Click here. Need to find one? Click here 

2014 CSA shares are now available to new members!  Visit us at www.allandalefarm.com for more information.

Picture above  from Allandale Farm)

Roasted Vegetable Soup with Walnut Parsley Pesto
Just remembered this fun winter soup I developed for Joy of Cooking years ago. During that time I created a trillion soups, heaven for me, but tough on my husband who longed for something to chew on. Anyway, they may have left this stunning soup out of the final book, but it was a good one.  It is even better the next day. About 4 Cups

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a baking sheet with:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Roast on the baking sheet, turning occasionally, for 20 minutes:
1 small sweet potato (5 to7 ounces)
1 medium onion, halved, with skin on
1 small carrot, peeled, cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 head garlic, cut through circumference, covered loosely with foil
Toss in a bowl:
1/2 pound beets, cut into 2″ pieces (l 1/2 cups)
1 to 2 small turnips, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces (l cup)
l teaspoon oil
Add to the baking sheet, and cook, stirring occasionally for an additional 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft.
Remove and peel the onion, sweet potato, and garlic cloves. Place all vegetables in a pot with:
3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
l/2 teaspoon salt
l/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Simmer, covered, until the vegetables are very soft. Blend until smooth in a food processor. Return puree to pot and heat. Serve very hot.
To garnish make a walnut parsley pesto. Puree in a blender until smooth, than add to each bowl:
2/3 cup packed parsley leaves
l/3 cup toasted walnut halves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

 

 

Indian Pudding

Sweet, slow cooked and back-to-the-womb satisfying, Indian Pudding is a New England classic. This version is adapted from an old James Beard recipe, using maple syrup instead of molasses along with local milk and freshly ground local flint corn. I used dried corn kernels from my Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA share, which was ground into a coarse flour, but if you don’t have anything local on hand, use store-bought corn meal and cook it longer, as described in the recipe. It will still be delicious. Serves about 6

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
5 cups whole milk, scalded
1/2 cup freshly ground flint corn flour or any cornmeal
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried ginger

1- Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a casserole dish dishes generously, reserving the excess.

2-Over a medium-low heat, scald the milk by warming it in a pot, then heating it until it has tiny bubbles along the edges but is not boiling. Slowly add cornmeal, whisking as you add it. Once it is all added, stir frequently until it is thickened, but still pourable, about 5-10 minutes for freshly ground corn, 15-20 for corn meal. Stir in the remaining butter, maple syrup, salt and ginger.

3-Pour into a lightly buttered casserole and bake in a 300°F. oven for about 2 to 2-1/2 hours, or until golden brown, even dark brown in spots, like he picture. (Tips: The finer it’s ground and the more shallow the baking dish the quicker the pudding cooks. With store-bought cornmeal this took about 2-1/2 hours, but the my local corn flour it took only 2. Indian pudding hardens as it cools, so make sure it isn’t hard when you pull it out.) Serve warm, as is, which is how I like it, or or traditionally with ice cream, heavy cream or even whipped cream.

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.

Background
I was already a chef who understood fresh when, Robyn Van En, who co-founded the CSA movement in North America, and 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 a CSAs on their own.

Robyn has since died, but 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.

Sustainable Coffee
Continuing the subject of what locavores do about food that isn’t produced regionally but they won’t give up, here’s Short Talk about Sustainable Coffee. It’s worth noting that the words “naturally grown” are bandied about and that they can mean two things.

Last night, I unexpectedly brought this blog’s coffee and Indian Pudding together. My evening java kept me up late, so I coasted on the high by polishing off most of this Indian pudding. Hmmmm (and ouch!)

Moscow Borscht

Local Food News Below

Good Meat, Comprehensive New Book on Sustainable Meat
Learning About & Buying Sustainably Raised Local Meat
Berkshire Maple Dinner on March 24th

The Recipe

You won’t believe the depth and character of this meat borscht, a hearty meal-in-one soup from my book, The Locavore Way.  It’s a winter favorite in my house that continues to get better over the course of several days and freezes well, so double or even triple the recipe.

The recipe calls for chuck roast, which works well, but I use any cut from my 1⁄8 cow order, except the more tender steaks, sometimes adding the bones for flavor and then removing them at the end of the cooking time. The yogurt or sour cream topping and all the vegetables but the tomatoes are available now. And if you canned tomatoes last summer, you an add them too. Makes about 2½ quarts.

Preparation Tip: Use a food processor to shred the veggies, radically cutting down on preparation time.

3/4  pound beets
1-1/4 pounds boneless beef chuck roast (or any stewing meat), cut into bite-sized cubes*
Flour
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 quart water or beef stock, or some of each
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
3-1/2 cups shredded cabbage, any kind
2 carrots, diced or shredded
2 celery ribs, diced or shredded
2 small or 1 large onion,chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1½ to 2 tablespoons
Lemon juice
2 to 3 cloves garlic,minced
Generous salt and
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

Optional Topping
Yogurt, sour cream or crème fraiche (optional)
Chopped fresh dill (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wrap the beets in foil, and roast them until they are easily pierced with a fork, about 1-1-1/4 hours. Set the beets aside until they are cool enough to handle. Removing any remaining stems. Slip off and discard their skins, peeling any that stick. Dice the beets by hand or grate them in the food processor. Reserve.

2. Meanwhile, toss the meat in a bowl with a little flour until lightly coated. Remove the meat, leaving most of the flour
behind. In a large pot, brown the meat in one layer in the oil over medium-high heat, shaking the pan and turning the meat as it browns. (Do it in two batches if necessary.) Don’t worry if some sticks or if the meat doesn’t brown evenly.

3. Add the water and/or broth and tomatoes, and simmer gently until the meat is almost tender, about 1 hour or more. (Taste it!)

4. Add the vegetables, including the beets, and tomato paste. Simmer gently for another 30 minutes or until the meat is very tender. (If necessary, add extra water or stock to reach the texture of a thick soup.)

6. Season with the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, and sugar, if using. Simmer for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings if you like.

*If you use meat with bones, double the weight.

Local Food News

Check out Good Meat, a terrific book by fellow New Englander Deborah Krasner with a foreward by Senator Bernie Sanders. It’s a comprehensive reference book for the serious cook about sourcing and cooking sustainable meat, covering beef, lamb,pork, rabbit, poultry eggs and even side dishes. Recipes range from classic crowd pleasers like Hoisin Spareribs to out-of-the-box dishes like Kim Chi Soup with Fried Pork Belly.

Click here for another recipe using grass fed beef and lots more on sustainably raised meat.

Celebrate sugaring! Berkshire Maple Dinner Coming Soon on March 24th. Link here.


Sustainability Mexican Style

aa luc and familyThe Monzies family in their homestead kitchen, cooking us a superior lunch that included braised eggplant and fennel from their market garden, fig chutney from their tree, and a salad dressing made with their honey. The conversation was equally good, mostly about how to live a sustainable lifestyle, integrating good humor with a healthy combo of practicality and vision.

The couple lives simply on their land— next door to Luc’s father — mainly supporting themselves through a small organic produce store and installing gardens. But, they have plans for all kinds of projects, from raising chickens to growing a moringa tree coop.  Luc’s yearlong teaching CSA, where members built the garden and greenhouse, has morphed into a sustainable agriculture meet up group. I visited them last week to talk about the local food movement in The States. The movement is in the early stages here in Mexico, an exciting time. Follow them here.

dd luc inner courtyardThis feels a bit like a monastery garden, Mexican style. Luc’s extended family live next door, including Luc’s dad, his wife, their two children and his wife’s dad, who gave me a fist full of fresh rosemary and lavender before we left.

ii luc and grasshopperLuc holding up a giant dead grasshopper, a pest, he says, “Right out of the bible, the way they sweep in and destroy everything.”

ee luc 2 year old kaleThis kale plant is two years old and still feeding the family — hard to imagine…

hh urban farming 2 artichokeYes, that’s an artichoke in a bottle.
The water bottles serve as mini greenhouses, holding in the sun’s warmth, and to Luc’s pleasure, a great deal of moisture too. Urban gardening in the country seems a contradiction, but it serves a purpose: Water bottles are cheap and plentiful here, and Luc hopes to develop an easily replicable model for family gardening in town.

dd luck and papaya 2Papaya in Luc’s greenhouse.

cc luc green house

The greenhouse he built.

bb luc's wallNow that’s a wall! Luc worked in construction in the US and is determined to build his home out of adobe, using no metal supports.

ff-luc winter viewWinter view from the compound.

Thank you Luc and Maya for having us!

More good food from the Bodega Organica

maya at her store

Maya Lucas with organic produce at her store, La Bodega Organica,which opened last spring in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

After reading about the Good Food Cafe here, you might have been curious about the other half of the local food compound in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The local food movement is comparatively new there, and it’s still possible for someone young (or young at heart) to start a local farm or food business on a tight budget. Pioneers like Maya and her husband Luc have helped pave the way bringing sustainably raised food to San Miguel.

What inspired you to start the store?
We wanted to create community while growing organic food here.

How do your products differ from others sold in San Miguel?
The prices are usually lower and we harvest almost daily.

Who are your clientele?
Friends, local neighborhood folk, people who live outside town and drive in, and of course a few supportive ex-pats.

Where do you want the store to be in 1 year, 5 years?
Right now we grow about 1/3 of what we sell, buying in the rest of the organic produce. By the end of 2014 we hope to grow as much tw0-thirds. We do not just want to be middle-men, and that way we can offer lower prices too.

How does what you do relate to the Good Food Cafe?
We are good friends, who divide our space and rent our businesses side by side. We sell them our produce and eat there all the time. The urban garden that I maintain provides the decor for the cafe seating in the outdoor patio. (Geneva, neighbor, friend and co-owner of the cafe says, “It is inspiring to see the bins of fresh herbs, fruits and vegetables that our good friends, and other local farmers grew. Everyday there is something new to add to a soup, or salad. You can really taste the quality in the simplest of dishes.”)

What are your favorite things to do with your ingredients that don’t require recipes?
Invite friends over and improvise!

Update!
Things are looking up!  Our the store sales have just about doubled in the last week in part thanks to the extra publicity from the urban gardening series…The urban course, talk at library and tour filled up and we are having to run a second course and tour… 

I am also installing a $4,000 urban garden with an automated drip system…This is helping us finish the front end of our house. We are going to have a living room by the time my mother-in law comes in two weeks!

bodega

About: The store’s sign with the hand painted veggies I love….

Below: Sign from the organic Saturday market in San Miguel, where Maya sells her produce. (The gorditas there were fabulous.)

 

 

good food cafe carrotscabbage lecuhuga