Archive for July, 2007

local eating in the local media

Monday, July 30th, 2007

A couple recent articles and an upcoming radio bit about eating locally via our local media:
“What in the World Is a Localvore” is a project by Hillary Niles. Starting this week the five-minute audio diary pieces chronicling Hillary’s experience as she prepares for and participates in the September Eat Local Challenge will air on Wine Me, Dine Me, Friday evenings between 6pm-7pm on Portsmouth Community Radio, 106.1FM.

Sara Hamilton’s article about preparing for her September Eat Local Challenge appears in the hot off the presses Portsmouth Magazine. (article not available online – you’ll have to pick up a copy of visit your public library, but it’s worth it!)
Two recent articles have featured New Roots Farm and their fabulous varieties of organic garlics: Hillary Niles wrote an enticing article in The Wire and Foster’s featured another.

In the Portsmouth Herald was How Do You Like Your Tomatoes? just in time for the tomato season to begin in earnest, as well as some fantastic beet suggestions from Rachel Forrest.

Happy reading!

Watch your (Fo)odometer!

Sunday, July 29th, 2007

“Interested in eating less oil? In this VideoNation/Hidden Driver report, animator Molly Schwartz keeps track of how many miles your food travels from field to fork.” (video opens YouTube in a new window)

foodometer

I like that the (very cute & well designed) video brings up some of the other environmental factors besides food miles that eating locally helps to address – packaging and processing. When you bring your own bag to the farmers’ market or farm stand (I keep a couple totes in the car and near the door), you can get out of there with lots of food and very little packaging indeed – no more layers of cellophane, cardboard, more plastic. And most of the food is in its raw, unprocessed form. The book Twinkie, Deconstructed was enormously insightful for me – I learned a lot about the amount of energy needed to create processed foods. Sort of unbelievable how many factories and how much processing goes into a lot of everyday sorts of foods, let alone the super-processed Twinkies.

Flag Hill Cooking Class

Thursday, July 26th, 2007

Typically going to the dentist is an exciting trip for me these days, because it involves leaving the house by myself. No children in tow or bags of their stuff to keep them happy. So when I was able to attend the Flag Hill Cooking Class, it was a very special event for me.

The menu for the night was Beef fajitas (meat supplied by Lasting Legacy Farm), a marinated bean salad, and a raspberry mousse parfait, which we all went back for seconds and thirds for after cooking it. I learned a few new cooking skills, tasted a really great meal, and met some very nice new people. Chef McCormack was very skilled at answering questions, keeping us on task, and organizing the meal all at once. I also felt good knowing that my money spent for the class was going back into the eating locally cause, for the Willow Pond CSA.

The August class is already booked up, but September and October still have openings. Hope to see you there!

Blueberries

Tuesday, July 24th, 2007
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Blueberries are here! I am back on my feast and freeze plan, with the added bonuses that a) blueberry season lasts a whole lot longer than strawberry season and b) they are wicked easy to freeze, just pop ‘em in quart bags and into the freezer they go.

We’ve been to pick-our-own multiple times now, and there is no sign of a let-up. This year’s blueberry crop is amazing.

There are lots of blueberry farms listed in the Seacoast Local Foods Resource Guide, as well as plenty of pick-your-owns. Lots of growers are also bringing blueberries to our area farmers’ markets.

Kousa and My Secret Recipe

Sunday, July 22nd, 2007

Kousas

My favorite squash is starting to come in my home garden and I also see it at the farmer’s market. It’s called Kousa or Kusa and it’s a Lebanese version of the zuchinni. It’s about the same shape, but it’s a very light green in color. And I can’t get enough of it because of this recipe I am going to share with you. It was given to me by some close friends of our family that are of Lebenese descent.

We even just call the meal “Kousa”. And there is a hard version to make and an easy version. And of course I pick the easy version unless I want to turn some guests on to it. And sorry, you won’t get exact measurements for this recipe. It’s a family recipe that’s been handed down by watching people cook in the kitchen. I can’t think of a better recipe for success than that.

Ingredients:

1lb Ground meat, preferably lamb (Riverslea lamb is very good)
2-3 medium Kousas, seeds removed and chopped into 1 inch pieces

fresh tomatoes chopped or 2 cans of chunky tomatoes

a handful of freshly chopped mint or dried mint to taste

2-3 small handfuls of rice

About 1-2 cups of water, however you might like the consistency, more stew like or soup like.

Boullion cube if you like.

Saute the meat, toss in the rest of the ingredients and simmer until the kousa is soft, about 45 min. The liquid ingredients should just cover the meat and kousa.

The more difficult version involves coring out the kousa and stuffing them with the tomato/meat/rice mixture and then cooking them in a tomato sauce. It is soo good.

And waste not, the Lebanese take the Kousa insides/seeds and saute it up with onions and eggs for a delicious breakfast. Also, the insides and the kousa can be blanched and frozen, so you can eat this yummy warm your insides meal in the winter time as well.

If you are not into trying to cook as much, try out Martha’s restaurant in Hampton Falls. When Kousa is in season, you can have the meal made for you here. Click the link for a great review.

Local Chicken Eggs

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

Local Eggs

I have found so many great local foods, but I wanted to share about the local eggs I found for our family. And, as always, time plays a large part of the decisions I make for hunting and purchasing local foods.

There was more to learn about chicken eggs than I ever imagined. I personally now think the best eggs to get are free range (really free range, not a little grassy yard attached to a large holding building), and local. On the Vine, has Hannah and Sammy’s Magical Eggs from Stuart Farm in Stratham. They are very easy to get and my kids love the different colors and shapes.

I also discovered a neighbor that has free range chickens in her backyard and with a production of a dozen eggs a day, likes to give away the extras. This is another great benefit of eating local foods. You get to know a community and share your lives with many people close by.

But my favorite eggs, are from Riverview Farm in Madbury, picked up at the Exeter farmer’s market. The chickens are fed the best quality of corn with extra vitamin A. The egg yolks are a very dark golden color and they taste so rich. I was told they are possibly fertilized eggs which, they swear do not contain baby chickens inside, but makes them taste better. I think they were the reason our homemade waffles tasted so good for our Father’s Day brunch.

And by the way, there is an egg missing from the dozen in the picture because it was eaten.

Drink Locally

Tuesday, July 17th, 2007

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The Wire’s excellent feature article this week is about our two uber-local wineries, Flag Hill and Jewell Towne. While you can buy both companies’ products at the NH State Liquor stores, a lot of grocery stores, and even the farmers’ markets in the case of Jewell Towne, what you can’t do there is see just how beautiful a farm of vineyards is, and taste the wines to choose your favorites. Flag Hill Winery also offers local foods based cooking classes and dinners, as well as vodka and liquors made from local ingredients. The article mentions a soon to be released Apple Brandy as well – which for me means I’ll be making totally local sangria to savor during the September Eat Local Challenge.

Strawberry Jam

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007
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My mom used to make homemade strawberry jam when I was a kid, and I have fond memories of being yelled at for attempting to place half a container of jam on one piece of buttered toast. I decided this would be a great place to dive into local foods by picking and making my own jam and maybe giving me the ability to place as much on my toast as I want to now.

Well, strawberry season, as I have learned, only really lasts a good 2 weeks and as anyone with 3 kids knows, if you blink, you will miss it. One of the most difficult habit changes I am going through right now is, if you see something good, BUY IT!! I can’t keep thinking, “Oh, I’ll get it next time I go to the store.” I saw strawberries at the Farmer’s Market the first week they were in season, but because of swim lessons, hippotherapy/horseback riding, and relative’s visiting, I wrongly thought I didn’t want to make time to make the jam yet. I figured I still had time to figure out a good place to pick them or I would just buy them next week. Another week passed and by the time I could get the kids over to the farmer’s market that week (only 2 hours after it opened) all the strawberries were sold. I spoke with Farmer Kate from Willow Pond Community Farm and word on the street at the Farmer’s Market was that Monahan’s Farm had a bumper crop.

Isabella and I were able to make it to Monahan’s Farm at 8:00am on Sunday morning. And in true 3 year old fashion, as soon as we’d walked our way up to the strawberry field, she asked, “Can I go to the bathroom?” Luckily, Monahan’s has a port-a-potty at the farmstand, in case you are wondering. I was starting to think, that local strawberry picking is a cutthroat business, especially after having to climb the shelves at the grocery store for the last remaining fruit pectin box laying down at the very back top shelf. Needless to say, we picked about 4 quarts of strawberries between the two of us.

The process of making the jam was surprisingly easy. Unfortunately, I did not pick nearly enough strawberries to last the winter months. We are eating one 2 cup container now, and I am freezing the other 2 cup container for Christmas I guess.

Thank goodness raspberry season lasts much longer and peaches will be in soon too. I am ready for it. I’m going to stock up on fruit pectin and I know Monahan’s Farm won’t let me down. I’ll also be freezing fruit whole next time for making smoothies. A favorite drink in our family.

I have to say, the experience was well worth the effort. I am still looking forward to finding and making more local foods. I overheard Isabella saying this is the best strawberry jam ever!

store bought local food

Monday, July 9th, 2007

BLT

The vast majority of my summertime shopping starts at the farmers’ markets. This puts the most money straight into the hands of the farmers, gives me the opportunity to stock up without having to do too much driving to farm stands, and is generally a fun time – chatting with producers and growers, seeing all the neat stuff each farm brings. But sometimes I just plain can’t make it to the market, or run out of dinner material on a Friday night before the big Saturday markets.

Fortunately, we have several stores and markets that do a decent job selling local products, and to a lesser extent, local produce. By local products I mean those things created here or near to here, but not necessarily from local ingredients, such as our wonderful local bakeries. There just isn’t local flour to be had, but we have great local companies we can support.

Two stops – Golden Harvest in Kittery, for the tomatoes from Mackenzie’s in Milton and the bread, and Philbrick’s Fresh Market in Portsmouth for the bacon from North Country Smokehouse – netted me these amazingly delicious BLT’s. The lettuce is Meadow’s Mirth’s Love My Lettuce salad mix gotten the previous week at the farmers’ market – and because it doesn’t spend time travelling it can spend a bit more time in my fridge before I use it.

The mayonaise, well, it’s Hellman’s. Some things are just necessary for a perfect BLT, wherever they may come from.

feast and freeze

Thursday, July 5th, 2007
strawberries

We’re almost done with strawberry season here; last week’s heat just about put an end to a glorious and abundant season. While it lasted, we feasted. There have been several batches of strawberry ice cream, made with Brookford Farm milk and cream. There has been strawberry shortcake, and there was an afternoon where three quarts disappeared directly into our mouths. But the last of our berries will be headed for the freezer, lying in wait both for the September Eat Local Challenge and the upcoming winter, when local fruit is unavailable unless you plan ahead.
If your freezer is big enough, the best method is to wash and dry the berries, lay them out on a sheet pan, and freeze them whole. When they are frozen, put them into freezer bags (labeled well, of course) for future use.

Our freezer is not very big, so I washed and quartered the berries, and packed them pretty tightly into these deli containers. Frozen berries work perfectly for most every strawberry need – smoothies, pies, crumbles, ice cream, waffle and pancake toppings, and on and on.

The only thing they aren’t great for is eating fresh out of hand. Since there is no substitute, we feast while we can.

To try to catch the last of this year’s strawberries visit a Seacoast area farmers’ market, pick-your-own farm, or farm stand.