There are many ways to get to know people, but few as instantly intimate as enjoying a great meal together. This next guest post on cooking and eating locally comes from Lynn Schweikart, whom I met at last year’s Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about her love of cooking, going to farmers’ markets, searching out local ingredients, and collecting interesting recipes. She shares a home in Portsmouth with her sister and brother-in-law, and often finds inspiration in the their library of cookbooks gathered over the years. Her own book, Peaceful Places Boston, will be published in the fall. Here, Lynn brings her skill as a storyteller to each evening’s meal:
You might think that three people cooking in one kitchen would get in each other’s way. But my sister Robin, brother-in-law Dave, and I work really well together. Dave didn’t start out as a cook, but access to great local food has really inspired him: now he makes his own sausages, cures his own bacon, and pickles just about every vegetable you can imagine. I was so excited by all the delicious, fun ways we were using local meats and seasonal produce that I started writing a blog, Savoring the Seasons, where I share some of the recipes the three of us enjoy making and eating.
We have two winter CSAs, one with Heron Pond Farm, where we get a set amount of food every two weeks; the other with Meadow’s Mirth, where we pay a set amount and then spent it down by buying what we like. The combination works really well for us. We enjoy being able to get what we want, but also enjoy the opportunity (and sometimes the challenge) of having to use things we might not buy on our own—like kohlrabi and Jerusalem artichokes, for instance.
Here are the dinners that came out of our kitchen one recent week, using as many ingredients as possible from the Seacoast Eat Local Winter Farmers’ Markets and our winter CSAs.
This is a fabulous vegetarian company meal from Gordon Hammersley, who owns one of our favorite restaurants in Boston. It may seem a little complicated, but the flavors are amazing, and the leftovers are great for lunches or another dinner. It’s a sensational way to use up root vegetables and the mushroom stock adds a deep, rich flavor. While the recipe calls for acorn and butternut squash, it was too late in the year for those from our CSA. So we added more carrots and parsnips, and threw in some turnips for good measure. The moral: use what you’ve got. Local ingredients: Onions, carrots, turnips, parsnips, rutabaga, and garlic from Heron Pond Farm CSA; tomato paste (made from Meadow’s Mirth tomatoes last summer and frozen); crust made with Sandwich Creamery’s cheddar. Recipe link: Winter Vegetable Stew with Cheddar Cheese Crust ala Gordon Hammersley
Monday: Flounder sautéed and pan roasted on a bed of sautéed shallots, topped with lemon, capers, and parsley, with roasted potatoes and sautéed tat soi
This is a really easy, yet healthy meal: Saute a couple of small onions in butter until translucent. Dredge flounder in breadcrumbs then give it a shot of salt and pepper. Do this just before you add it to the pan. Put this fish on top of the onions over medium heat. After a couple minutes, add a little vermouth and finish cooking the fish. Remove to a platter and cover with foil. Swirl another pat of butter in pan and add some capers. When the butter stops foaming, add the juice of a lemon and stir to combine. Plate the fish and top with the sauce and some chopped parsley. Local ingredients: Shallots, potatoes, and tat soi from Heron Pond Farm CSA; Philbricks usually carries locally caught flounder, though it wasn’t available this week.
Tuesday: Chicken roasted over root vegetables
For Christmas, I gave Dave a copy of Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home. There’s a recipe for roast chicken with root vegetables that’s absolutely to die for – it’s another great dish to cook in the winter when root vegetables are just about the only local vegetables you can find. We modified the recipe for an easier week night dinner, using chicken legs and thighs that were well browned before finishing on top of the vegetables. We used less butter and didn’t put herbs under the skin, the way we would have with a whole chicken. We also cooked more chicken than we needed so we could have cold chicken for dinner later in the week. Local ingredients: Onions, potatoes, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips, and garlic from Heron Pond Farm; chicken thighs and legs from Tendercrop Farm in Newbury, MA. Recipe link: Chicken Roasted over Root Vegetables ala Ad Hoc at Home
Wednesday: Lazy Lady Bulgur Pilaf, with beet and carrot tzaziki and sautéed spinach.
I love the fact that the farmers’ markets here sell locally raised meat. As this is an Eastern Mediterranean-inspired recipe, you could probably make this with goat, too. I bet it would be delicious. The beet tzaziki recipe comes from Ana Sortun who owns Oleana Restaurant in Cambridge, MA. I added carrots because I 1) like the taste; 2) thought they’d give the dish an even wilder color; and 3) had lots of them. Local ingredients: Ground lamb from Riverslea Farm; onions, beets, carrots, garlic, and spinach from Heron Pond Farm; yogurt from Brookford Farm. Recipe link: Beet and Carrot Tzaziki
We make sweet potato oven-baked fries a lot; one time I decided to see if rutabagas would work as well. They do! We had lots of kohlrabi in our CSA this winter, and slaws are a great way to use it. This recipe comes from Ivy Manning’s Farm to Table Cookbook, via Wednesday’s Chef, one of my favorite food blogs. I really like the Asian-inspired flavor. Local ingredients: Rutabaga, kohlrabi, and carrots from Heron Pond Farm. Recipe links: Oven-baked Rutabaga Fries, Kohlrabi Slaw
Friday: Fish chowder, with garlic bread and green salad
Dave loves to make fun Friday night dinners. This is one of his favorites. If he’s got some leftover house-smoked halibut or scallops in the freezer, he’ll add that, too. Local ingredients: Potatoes, garlic, onions, and greens from Heron Pond Farm CSA; Dave’s home-cured bacon made from Kellie Brook Farm pork belly; local cod from Philbricks; Me and Ollie’s cheese bread.
Saturday: Veal shanks with farro and braised chard
This is another great company meal. Tim Rocha of Kelly Brook Farm helped me get over my reluctance to eat veal. His animals are raised humanely and the veal is a lovely pink color, with a nice meaty flavor. Local ingredients: Veal shanks from Kellie Brook Farm; San Marzano tomatoes from Meadow’s Mirth Farm, roasted, then frozen; carrots, onions, garlic, and chard from Heron Pond Farm. Recipe link: Braised Veal Shanks ala Dave