Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bread from a Pint-Glass!

I was recently tipped off to a great recipe from for Pint-Glass Bread, a bread that can be made using an imperial pint glass as the only measuring device (if desired). After securing an imperial pint glass, I was able to try the recipe for myself. Here are the results of my first attempt:

The final product was a hearty soda bread that is a great vehicle for jam and a perfect accompaniment to a strong cup of coffee. The bread was easy to make, even with measuring devices. I'll definitely add it to my repertoire!
I used an imperial pint glass as instructed, everything was measured out as directed by the recipe, but I double-checked the measurements using kitchen tools just to be sure.

Pint-Glass Bread
courtesy of a recipe from
1 pint glass (2 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1 pint glass (2 1/2 cups) whole wheat flour
Enough baking soda to coat the bottom of a pint glass (3/4 tsp)
Enough salt to coat the bottom of a pint glass (3/4 tsp)
Enough butter to coat the bottom of a pint glass (1 tbsp.)
3/4 pint glass (1 & 3/4 cups) buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 375°. Sprinkle 1 tsp. of the all-purpose flour over the center of a baking sheet and set aside. Put 2 tsp. of the all-purpose flour into a small bowl and set aside. Meanwhile, put remaining all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl and mix well with your hands to combine. Add butter, breaking it up into small pieces with your fingers, and mix it into flour mixture until combined. Make a well in the center of the flour–butter mixture and add buttermilk. Slowly incorporate buttermilk into flour mixture with your hands until a rough ball forms, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface and form into a neat ball (without kneading).

2. Transfer dough to center of baking sheet and press gently to form a 7 1/2"-wide round. Using a sharp knife, slash a cross 1/2" deep across the entire top of the loaf and dust top of loaf with the reserved flour. Bake until bread is light golden and a tap on the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow, about 70 minutes. Wrap bread in a clean kitchen towel, prop against a windowsill, and allow to cool for about 2 hours. Slice and serve at room temperature or toasted, with a slathering of Irish butter, if you like.

If you attempt to make this bread please note that an imperial pint is equal to 19.21 ounces as opposed to a standard American pint which is 16 ounces.

Got any other easy & delicious 'traditional' breads I should try? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Harvest Monday October 25th 2010

Harvests have really slowed down and come to a near halt lately. I've been clearing things out and preparing for next year. The garlic that I planted last week was mulched with hay this weekend, another bed was weeded and covered. The Bush Beans were pulled out of the ground as the temprature fluctuations have stopped pod production.
I manged to harvest one crop this week:

8.85 oz/250.89 g of Radish
Seasonal Total: 58.29 lbs/26.44 kg
Though I was only able to harvest Radishes this week they looked so plump and perfect as if they came straight from the farmers market! I was also able to harvest/snack on more raspberries as the 2 main raspberry canes continue produce a late fall crop.

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

While at the garden yesterday mulching my garlic and preparing more beds for the end of the season I was able to procure my own compost bin and a bunch of stones and bricks from the cleanup of an extra large plot that was being vacated right across from me. The compost bin is not large enough for all of my plant matter but will be a nice suppliment to the 3 large compost piles the garden society maintains for everyone.
I also noted my plants which are still in the ground and thriving: My Kale & Leeks are going strong. The leeks days are numbered though as I'm looking forward to another batch of delicious Leek & Potato soup and the Kale will be picked throughout the next few weeks. I also have the walking onions, which will be trimmed down and used as scallions, with the bulbs being mulched in the hopes of onion top sets next year. Parsley still has to be harvested and the Sage is going to be trimmed for winter along with the remaining chives and garlic chives which I'll be looking forward to this spring.
The garden is nearly put to rest for the winter, but there is still a little more to do and a little more to harvest.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a seasonal dinner (and recipe)

With the temperatures dipping rapidly it's clear fall is here. Inspired by the change in the seasons I had a wonderful regionally based dinner tonight:
Creamy Leek & Potato Soup with Stillman's italian sausage, vermont cheddar, garlic & onion focaccia and a glass of apple cider.
All of the soups contents sans the black pepper were from the farmers market (1 of my leeks made it into the soup). The bread was picked up from a local bakery, and the cider is also from a local farm. Fall in New England is a great time of year and features some of my favorite local ingredients and flavors. I have many more hearty soups and meals to look forward too and I can't wait!

Potato & Leek Soup
1 pound of leaks, cleaned and darker parts removed anywhere from 4 to 6 leeks.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heavy Pinch of kosher salt
1-1.5 lbs yukon gold potatoes, diced small (peeling them is up to you). I usually go with 4 to 5 good sized potatoes
3-4 cloves of garlic, diced.
1 quart vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon pepper (black or white is a matter of preference)
1 tablespoon fresh snipped chives (if available)
Chop the leeks into small pieces.
In a 6-quart pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the leaks and salt and let simmer for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook until the leeks are soft and tender, 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the potatoes, minced garlic and broth, raise the head to medium-high and bring to a boil. Once boiling reducing the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the potatoes are nice and soft 40-45 minutes.
Turn off the heat and puree with immersion blender or food processor until smooth. Stir in the heavy cream, buttermilk and pepper until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Sprinkle with chives and serve.
Bacon & Sausage make an excellent edition to this soup. Another alternative is to stir in chopped carrots and let them soften a bit before you add the dairy.

What seasonally inspired dishes are you enjoying this week?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

This Week's Harvest & Planting Garlic

I missed Harvest Monday!!!!! I was able to harvest a little bit last week though:

Bush Beans 1 oz
Dry Beans 1 oz
Leeks 2.20 oz
Mint 6.05 oz
Basil 7.5 oz
Weekly Total: 1.109 lbs/503.03 g
Seasonal Total: 57.74 lbs/26.19 kg

Dry Beans, Mint, Basil is all done for the season. We still have Bush Beans (maybe), Radishes, Lettuce (might be ready before it gets too cold), Leeks, Kale, and Herbs growing.
The Bush Beans have slowed down so it's a tough call to see if we end up picking more. The lettuce was planted a little late so if we manage to eat any before it gets too cold it will be a nice surprise.
We are slowly putting things to rest for the winter. Potato and Leek soup on the horizon will use up the rest of the leeks. Kale will be enjoyed after it gets just a tad colder, while most of the herbs will be left to rest under the snow.
Speaking of resting under the snow...
Gail and I did some additional end of season cleanup on sunday and managed to plant our garlic for next year. One of our back beds seemed the perfect spot to plant some. Space is limited in a small plot, but this bed will be dedicated to garlic until it is ready! We planted 31 cloves total: 7 cloves of elephant garlic and 8 each of: german purple hardneck, ukrainian hardneck, and some sort of softneck with small but flavorful heads. All of the garlic came from local farms/farmers markets. As garlic is a staple of my cooking I'm really looking forward to harvesting next year!

This weekend I will be picking up some salt marsh hay to mulch the garlic bed for the winter. I'll save the rest for later use as I shouldn't need all of it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Best Burger I've Ever Had.

While in Nashville I was fortunate enough to eat the greatest burger I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying courtesy of the fine folks at Burger Up. The burger, dubbed the woodstock is their take on the American classic bacon cheeseburger: Benton's Bacon, Tennessee Sweetwater White Cheddar, and a made from scratch Jack Daniels Maple Ketchup.
Sounds simple, but what made this burger so great? Everything was fresh and made with care. The bun was light and fluffy with a thin crispy crust reminiscent of a brioche roll. The burger itself was delicious and juicy cooked to medium-well perfection. The beef for their burgers comes from nearby Triple L Ranch in Franklin, TN. Triple L practices natural production methods such as pasture rotation and fewer cattle grazing on larger pastures. Their cattle live outside and graze large pastures where their diet is primarily grass resulting in a delicious and earthy tasting burger with an intensely rich flavor that was not overly fatty or greasy.

The homemade Jack Daniels maple ketchup was not overly sweet and enhanced the flavor of the burger rather then over powering it. The ketchup is made in house with fresh ingredients and uses no preservatives. It had the consistency of a marinara sauce rather then the soapiness of a sugary bottled ketchup. The Sweetwater cheddar was rich and melted in my mouth with each bite. It had a slightly sharp taste without being too pungent.

Overall from bun to bun everything bite of this burger was delicious and an explosion of flavors.

The folks at Burger Up do things right, with an emphasis on "sourcing as many products as possible on Burger Up's menu from local farms that treated their animals well, used organic farm practices and would allow [the owners] to visit unannounced." More on their philosophies, ideas, and practices can be found on the our story part of their site.

The only real bummer for me is the fact that Burger Up is in Nashville and I'm 1,100 miles away in Boston.

If you ever find yourself in Nashville make every effort to stop at Burger Up, you will not be disappointed.

Field Report: Nashville Farmers Market

While in Nashville for an extra long weekend I had the pleasure of indulging in great local barbecue, burgers, frozen yogurt, and plenty of southern hospitality. I also visited the awe-inspiring Nashville Farmers Market this past Monday afternoon.
The Nashville Farmers Market is a sprawling year round market that sits on 16 acres, including 2 large open air structures home to local farmers, produce re-sellers, food producers, and an indoor Market House with eateries and specialty food shops, as well as a weekend Flea Market. The Market was severely impacted by the devastating floods of this past spring. With the market closed well into June, and the indoor market house closed until early august many farmers and vendors missed out on their peak selling season. As a result of the floods and a slow clean up efforts the market is still working to regain its pre-flood strength and success.
Gail and I visited the market early on a Monday afternoon. We found nearly two dozen farms, specialty producers, and vendors set up outside along with 2 specialty vendors (an Indian grocer and a hot sauce vendor) and 8 restaurant/prepared food vendors inside.
What really struck me was the wide variety of produce available in comparison to the markets in Boston which are well into mostly fall products. We saw an abundance of fall goods such as winter squashes, pumpkins, onions, garlic, carrots, apples, lettuces/greens and dry beans as well as a ton of warm season crops like okra, hot peppers (at least 12 different kinds), sweet peppers (pimentos!), dozens of varieties of tomatoes, collards, lima beans, mushrooms, pecans, sweet potatoes, summer squash, peanuts and an impressive array of canned and prepared goods.
In talking with a few of the vendors we learned that the majority of the canned goods sold at the market are not produced by the farmers selling them, but they are local produced about 65 miles away in southern Kentucky. There are 4 or 5 rather large canning production facilities operated on the farms of Mennonite families in the region. It is a large source of income as well as a way the families are able to get themselves through the winter. Along with canned jams, jellies, relishes, and chutneys there was a variety of light and dark honey, molasses, and sweet sorghum. Gail and I did not have the opportunity to purchase much produce as we were returning to Boston the next day. We did manage to try a few different kinds of apples, as well as making it home with a few locally produced goods:
  • A bottle of "Historic Lynchburg Tennessee Whiskey Worcester Fire steak sauce" produced 90 miles south of Nashville in Lynchburg, the home of the regions favorite distiller Jack Daniels. This is not one of the 'Jack Daniels' brand BBQ sauces you see in super markets. The Historic Lynchburg line of sauces list Jack Daniels as an ingredient in each of their sauces.
  • Spring Valley Farms Pepper Relish & Sweet Potato Butter. Spring Valley Farms products are all natural, home-style, old fashioned canned products produced by one of the aforementioned Mennonite farms. Their ingredients are all natural and simple- The ingredients on the Pepper Relish read red & green peppers, vinegar, sugar, onions, mustard seed, salt. All easily identifiable!
  • Sweet Sorghum. Produced by another branch of the same Mennonite family in the Spring Valley, the sweet Sorghum was hand harvested, ground in a horsedrawn mill, and boiled down over a wood hearth. Like the potato butter and pepper relish nothing unnatural can be found in the product.
  • Mexican Chiapas Nashville Roast coffee. While the coffee beans are clearly from the Chiapas area of Mexico they are rain forest certified coffee, fair trade certified and USDA organic and roasted in Nashville's cannery row.
  • The fall issue of Local Table the food and farming magazine/guide in middle Tennessee, similar to the Edible Communities publications (no Nashville edition, though there is one for Memphis)
We might be home in Boston but I look forward to enjoying a little taste of Nashville in the coming months!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Boston Local Food Festival thoughts

Despite being laid out with a nasty cough & cold in the days leadings up to Saturday, I was able to rally and get myself down to the Boston Local Food Festival. The weather cooperated and the crowds came out in force . Those who made it out certainly weren't disappointed by all the organizations, demonstrations, and most importantly local food producers who made the event a smashing success!
Some personal highlights and favorites from the day:
Meeting Pat & Kristin Hayes (pictured above) of Hayes Farm in Enosburg Falls, VT. They made the 4+ hour trek to Boston to represent the dairy farmers of Organic Valley. They were one of the first people I interacted with at the festival and it stands out how down to earth they were. Their milk primarily goes into Organic Valley products, with the remaining milk going to Stonyfield Farm yogurts. Knowing that my patronage of Organic Valley & Stonyfield Farm supports dairy farmers committed to pasturing their cows and raising them right, like Pat & Kristin makes me proud to support these companies!
The abundance of non-food producers who had tables at the festival was great! The Boston Natural Areas Network, Boston Public Market, Chef's Collaborative, Heifer International, Lovin Spoonfuls Food Rescue, The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, and Slow Food Boston were just some of the great organizations and groups who worked hard to put out information and engage with all the attendees. One organization that was doing a great job engaging with children and encouraging healthy eating choices was the Boston Collaborative For Food & Fitness:
The BCFF had a wheel of 'fruit and vegetables' with trivia questions to engage children while promoting healthy eating. The person who ran the booth (pictured above) did a good job of engaging kids and adults alike.
There were demonstrations and cooking exhibitions throughout the afternoon:
(butchering demonstration)
(pickling demonstration)

Of course a major highlight was all the great food and food producers at the festival. Some of the highlights that stood out in my head: Summer favorite Batch was on hand vending their delightful salted caramel ice cream. Dough Raise Me was on hand vending some of the best chocolate cookies i've ever had (don't tell my girlfriend!!). Local pickle impresario Grillo's Pickles a long standing favorite of my girlfriend and I had a crowd at their table for nearly the entire afternoon. 2 cheese producers I had never heard of Shy Brothers Farm & Narragansett Creamery were stiff competition for Cabot Cheese & City Feed's fine selection of cheese samples.
Burnin' Love sauces won me over with their awesome 1919 Molasses BBQ sauce and sweet & spicy Heartbreak sauce, which I took a jar home to kick up some future stir fry's. Another happy purchase was made from the local artists at Taza Chocolate: A bag of their addictive Chocolate Covered Nibs and a package of Salt & Pepper Chocolate Mexicano.
There were also more then 20 local restaurants dishing out a variety of food for lunch in case people didn't fill up on samples and other tasty treats from all the farms and food producers. I had a delicious grass fed beef burger from FOUR burgers while Gail had indian from Mela. Longest food line was definitely for rib & pork slingers M & M BBQ. If that wasn't enough there was local pizza, grilled cheese, high end franks and fries, pressed sandwiches from Vermont Smoke and Cure (whose bacon I took home), and loads more to offer.
All in all the first ever Boston Local Food Festival was a really great event full of wonderful food and food producers which brought out thousands to support a variety of local business. I sincerely hope the local food festival becomes a regular event, as it was wonderful to see all the local producers.
One final note, the volunteers of the Boston Local Food Festival were great, contacting vendors to appear at the festival, helping set up the event, loading in the vendors, helping with the zero waste coordination, keeping everyone safe and smiling despite massive crowds in a small area, and staying late to help clean up! It's volunteers like Steve (pictured below) who made the event a smashing success and they really deserve all the festival attendees and participants gratitude!
(Volunteer like Steve deserve the credit for such a great event)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Harvest Monday October 4th 2010

The last of the peppers for the season were harvested this week, as were the last of the potatoes. Things are winding down now that autumn is upon us, but the harvests are still coming! Along with the last of the potatoes I pulled a rather large leek on sunday afternoon:
The leek weighed a little over 3/4 of a pound

Harvest for this week:
Potato 1.623 lbs
Bush Beans 4.55 oz
Dry Beans 1.15 oz
Wax Pepper 4.45 oz
Bell Pepper 1.2 lbs
Garlic Chives .50 oz
Leek 12.45 oz
Weekly Total: 4.26 lbs/1.932 kg
Seasonal Total: 56.63 lbs/25.687 kg

If you want to see what others are harvesting or share in your own bounty, stop by Daphne's Dandelions the home of Harvest Monday.

Probably won't be much of a harvest this coming week as the weather calls for rain and I am off to Nashville at the end of the week. Before Nashville though, I'll be writing up the the local food festival and reading up on planting garlic and over-wintering leeks and some more general garden stuff. I still have more bush beens, herbs, radishes, some lettuce, a leek, kale and hopefully some walking onions too look forward too before the growing season is completely over!