Archive for October, 2007

Local is as local does

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

Now that you’ve got a start on the local foods buying scene, here’s a great free program that will help us all understand a bit more about all the other facets of our lives in which buying locally would make a positive difference for our local culture, environment, economy, and society – from our collaborators, Seacoast Buy Local:

What is the true cost of mega-retailers on the Seacoast economy?

Learn more about what’s at stake, and how you can effect change


The Seacoast Buy Local campaign invites you to join us for a special event with Stacy Mitchell, author of Big-Box Swindle: The True Cost of Mega-Retailers and the Fight for America’s Indpendent Businesses. Mitchell will speak at the Portsmouth Brewery, 56 Market Street, on Thursday, Nov. 1 at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free, snacks will be served, and all local business owners, civic leaders and interested residents are encouraged to attend.

Big-Box Swindle, which was recently named one of the top ten business books of the year by the American Library Association’s Booklist, traces the dramatic growth of big-box retailers and unearths the extraordinary impact these companies have had on everything from the shrinking middle class to soaring gasoline consumption and declining community involvement.

But trends are not destiny, Mitchell contends. A growing number of communities are bucking the big-box trend and rebuilding their local businesses.

Mitchell’s talk will outline several innovative planning policies, small business initiatives, and other strategies that communities can employ to strengthen independent business and usher in a more prosperous and sustainable future.

“This region is at a crossroads,” notes Mitchell. “Fortunately, there’s still time to ensure that the Seacoast doesn’t end up like so many other parts of the country, which are overrun by the same sprawling stores and lack the economic vigor and sense of community that local businesses provide.”

Please bring a friend and join us for this conversation on Nov. 1. Learn more about what’s at stake across the Seacoast, and how you can effect change in our community.

Stacy Mitchell is a senior researcher with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit organization that works to build strong local economies and sustainable communities. She has served as advisor on retail development issues to numerous cities across the country and is a frequent speaker at conferences and forums. For more about Big-Box Swindle, visit http://www.bigboxswindle.com.

Seacoast Buy Local is a coalition of local busines owners and residents working together to strengthen the region’s independent businesses. The program is led by Seacoast Local, a grassroots, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting dynamic and sustainable community on the Seacoast. To learn more, visit www.seacoast-local.org .



more pumpkin recipes

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

Over on the Great Big Veg Challenge (or, how a British mom is turning her 7-year old into a kid who at least will try vegetables and have a pretty open mind about them through the wonders of blogging – and it’s working!), Freddie is up to P for Pumpkin which means we get lots and lots of great pumpkin recipes – just in time for our own wonderful pumpkin season.

And yes, the pumpkin really is the State Fruit of New Hampshire

(mostly) fall recipes from MOFGA

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

Twelve recipes developed for the Maine Harvest Lunch by Chef Cheryl Wixson and tested by school food service personnel at the Maine Harvest Lunch Food Service Class”

Aroostook Wheat Berry Fruit Salad
Autumn Harvest Corn Pudding
Barbeque Burgers
Carrot Ginger Soup
Carrot Raisin Slaw
Chicken Pot Pie With Maine Mashed Potatoes
Fresh Tomato Salsa
Italian Inspired Pasta w/ ME White Beans & Veggies
Maine Apple Gingerbread
Maple Roasted Root Vegetables
Pumpkin Snack Cakes
Wild Blueberry Cobbler

recipes here

found via Partners in Ending Hunger

Pumpkins as food

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Volunteering on a regular basis on farms often means I get to go home with a lot of food I know nothing about – farmers sharing new and old varieties they’re growing that I just haven’t encountered before. I went online to try to find out more about the French sugar wart pumpkin I came home from Meadow’s Mirth with, and lo and behold Mother Earth News is touting not just the Galeux d’Eysines but also another pumpkin that Meadow’s Mirth has grown for food this year, the Marina di Chioggia.

While I recently learned that the Marina di Chioggia is -the- gnocchi pumpkin, this article also touts its strength as a pumpkin for grilling. Grilled pumpkin!!! I have never conceived of such a thing!  Now I can’t wait to run out and restock on charcoal for some grilling . . .  add in some local sausages and some local beer . . . mmmmmm

Meadow’ Mirth Marina di Chioggia and Galeux d’Eysines, along with about a dozen other pumpkin and winter squash varieties, can be purchased at the Saturday Portsmouth Farmers’ Markets until November 3, and then at the two Holiday Farmers’ Markets at the Macintosh Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover on November 17th and December 22nd. With excellent long-term storage, you can stock up to eat locally and well all winter!

Heron Pond Farm in the Boston Globe

Sunday, October 21st, 2007

Heron Pond Farm, one of the larger small farms in our area, is a major participant in the new and growing “Get Smart, Eat Local” Farm to School program facilitated by the University of New Hampshire. The article in the Boston Globe provides some interesting details about how it works and how it is benefiting the farm and schools.

some choice quotes:

“It’s maximizing the time money stays in one place,” Andre Cantelmo, owner of Heron Pond Farm said of buying local, a dirtied white baseball hat shielding his eyes as he stood in Heron Pond’s dusty parking lot. ” ‘Cause once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Also, buying from area farmers keeps land undeveloped, and the food is similarly fresher “and frankly, tastes better,” he asserted. Once people eat fresh produce, he said, they’ll be turned off from grocery store food.

“People like New Hampshire the way it is: a rural state. But if we don’t support our local businesses, it’s not going to stay that way,” Duclos, program director said. “If we can replace even 10 percent of [school cafeteria food] with local food, it would make a big difference.”

It already has for Cantelmo. Farm to School accounted for about 20 percent, or roughly $25,000, of his business this year, he said.

The program has provided him with a more solid backing, he said, and has enabled him to grow extra crops. Lettuce, for example, has never been a huge money producer for him – he hasn’t been able to sell it at a competitive price that would also make money – but next year, he plans to grow significantly more of it because several schools are requesting the leafy salad staple.

I love reading evidence that the focus on buying local is changing the landscape of agriculture in our area for the better. The concept of buying quality food for our children is an important one, and one that I know could significantly improve our chances at addressing children’s illnesses brought on by too many calories and too little nutrition. Kids know just as well as anybody else – fresh food tastes better, and food that is bred to be consumed in the here and now tastes better than food that underwent too much travel.

Fall flavors

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

shanked.JPG By March I’ll be craving anything light, bright, and green but right now the foods of fall suit me just fine. I love shanks of all sorts, in some ways sister cut to short ribs. Meaty, a bit fatty, but that means they are so full of flavor. A Chestnut Lamb Coop lamb shank purchased at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market, over Meadow’s Mirth carrots, cippolini onions, and fingerling potatoes with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage from the back deck. Preheat the oven to 500. After prepping everything and arranging in a large roasting pan and adding plenty of salt, roast for 45 minutes or so at 500, then cover with foil and turn the heat down to 300, and roast for another hour or so.

Onions as a vegetable in their own right are under appreciated, but roasting them in this way, in the juices of meat and at temperatures to both brown and cook thoroughly, they are wonderful – creamy, mild, and sweet.

Soup Season

Friday, October 19th, 2007

soup.JPG We made this beautiful soup the other day that sort of typifies how our eating will go throughout the winter and now that the September Eat Local Challenge is behind us. The cannelini beans, lacinato kale, and onions were from Meadow’s Mirth Farm, the garlic was from New Roots Farm, and the andouille sausage and tortellini were from the store. Yup, the plain old grocery store. I can’t really imagine a meal that doesn’t have its basis in local foods, but fill-ins from the store are much more frequent in the winter.

The inspiration was an old Gourmet Magazine recipe that we just about tripled, and are happy we did as the leftovers are getting better and better every day.

Tortellini, kale, cannelini bean, and sausage soup (rough concept):

Soak and cook 1 1/2 cups cannelini beans, about 1 hour for soaking, 1.5 hours for cooking if you are using fairly fresh dried beans. I suppose you could use canned, about two cans, in which case they don’t need cooking. In a giant pot, saute 2 or 3 chopped yellow onions in vegetable oil, along with a whole head of minced garlic and 1 lb of andouille sausage sliced (you could certainly substitute a different spicy sausage). When the sausage is browned and the onions are cooked, add the beans to the pot. Add plenty of water or stock, bring to a simmer. Remove the stems from 2 large bunches of kale (we used the more tender and mild lacinato, or dinosaur, kale) and then roughly chop. Add to the soup. Add a large bag or package of tortellini. Allow to simmer until the tortellini is cooked through, 5 – 8 minutes. Serve with hard grated cheese such as grana padano (my favorite) or parmesan and a sprinkle of hot chile.

Try to make this a day ahead and it will be even more amazing as the beans break down and thicken the soup and the flavors meld.

Isles of Shoals mussels

Friday, October 19th, 2007

mussels.JPGAlthough this article from the Portsmouth Times (Foster’s Portsmouth paper) reads like a press release for Senator Judd Gregg, there’s some information to be gleaned.

Isles of Shoals Supremes, the branded name for this aquaculture project brought about by UNH, have finally hit levels of reliable sale. We bought the ones pictured left at Seaport Fish, on rte 1A in Rye (near Foyes Corner) a few weeks ago. (And they were very very inexpensive. Inexpensive enough to be eaten many many times a week. Like Ramen for local food eaters. I’m a tad afraid to mention the price in case it was a mistake that won’t be replicated for me or anyone else again, because it didn’t seem very sustainable, and, to quote/paraphrase Rich Wood, “The thing about sustainable [aquaculture] is that someone has to pay for it.”) I’ve also seen them on menus as I walk about Portsmouth and glean pleasure from simply reading menus posted in restaurant windows. The article mentions Radici, The Portsmouth Brewery, Wentworth by the Sea, and The Black Trumpet specifically, though I think there are a few others. 

I first heard about the Isles of Shoals Supremes program back in the spring at a wonderful series of talks put on by the Gundalow Company of Portsmouth entitled, “New England Fisheries: past, present, and future”. Richard Langan, Director of the Atlantic Marine Aquaculture Center at UNH talked about clean aquaculture and highlighted their development of the brand and process for Isles of Shoals Supremes. If I understood it correctly, fishermen would essentially become franchisees in growing and selling the mussels (without the normal franchisee garbage). I like the concept a lot – the “creation” of a recognizable local product that many fishermen could get in on, not just the one person who would have to put more time and energy than any one fisherman has into creating such a brand and the marketing that goes along with that. It makes me wonder what other local products have that potential.

So when I saw the  sticker in the window of Seaport Fish advertising the mussels, I jumped. We brought them home and steamed them in white wine with onions and hot peppers. Once the mussels were cooked (about 6 minutes), we removed them and added a splash of whole milk to the broth, and cooked it down just a bit. The mussels were so perfectly clean, we didn’t have to scrub them at all. This was initially planned as a first course, but with a bit of bread, one bag was way too much for even us, big eaters that we are.

The mussels themselves are HUGE. Not every one, most are a pretty normal to good size, but a significant number are almost frighteningly large. Like I had to cut it up and eat it in pieces large. Another time I think I’ll separate these ones out and save them to chop up and put in a chowder or use for pasta.

Although Judd Gregg mentions “feeding the rest of the country” with the food from our waters, I’m glad to see that they are selling out continually at Seaport Fish – eat local folks. No need to share the good stuff.

Popcorn …

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

… is popping up all over the Seacoast! (groan – my cheesiness overwhelms even me.)

popcorn.JPG

I picked up the Wake Robin Farm popcorn on the cob at the last Hampton Farmers’ Market, though they will be at Portsmouth for a few more weeks and then at the Holiday Farmers’ Market on November 17th from 9am-2pm at Macintosh Atlantic Culinary Academy in Dover.

Audrey told me about Middle Road Farm, a farm stand on 111a in Brentwood, which is also selling beautiful pumpkins and other vegetables.

Along with Parcell Farm at 589 Pickering Road in Rochester, this brings our local popcorn sources up to 3!

and a popcorn side story: When October hit, I wanted to use up some of the popcorn I’d had before finding out about the local sources. I made a batch up and was munching away thinking, “this just isn’t as good.” But I convinced myself it was in my local-foods-biased head. Then my husband called from the other room, “this popcorn isn’t very good! Where is it from?” It’s true, our local and fresher popcorn has a more complex taste – nuttier is the first word that comes to mind, and just . . . better.

Open Creamery Day in Maine!

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Sunday October 7, 11 am – 3pm, brought to you by the Maine Cheese Guild.

Maps and creamery information.

If you are here on the Seacoast, a lot of these creameries will be a pretty far distance. But Silvery Moon Creamery, makers of wonderful cow’s milk cheeses such as mozzarella, cheddar, brie, and more, is in Westbrook, just outside of Portland, Maine. And you can stock up on beef, butter, and a variety of other local foods while you’re there.