Monday, January 31, 2011

Somerville Winter Farmers Market

Saturday morning, Gail and I returned to the Somerville Armory, scene of last weekends ONCE in Valhalla for the Somerville winter farmers market. This market had some truly great variety! Produce, Baked Goods (breads and more sweeter fair), jams/jellies, syrup & honey, cider, wine, chocolate, cheeses, cane sugar soda, assorted meats, and fish are just some of the items you could pick up at the market.
This market, in its first month (the first market was January 8th) grew out of demand for locally available produce during the winter months has a great location and a very nice variety of goods to purchase. with so many great vendors on tap for this market some of them rotate which weeks they will be at the market.
Here's what Gail & I got at the market this weekend:
-A 6-pack of Yacht Club Soda - (Centerdale, RI) 1 cherry cola, 1 fruit punch, 2 ginger ale, 2 ginger beer. Yacht club has been in business since 1915 and uses water from a well below their bottling facility and only cane sugar (no corn syrup) and natural ingredients in all of their sodas.
-Apples from Apex Orchards and a 5 lb jar of honey from the Honey Company at Apex Orchards (Shelburne, MA). We also got a 1/2 gallon of cider at the Apex table, which is made by Pine Hill Orchards (Colrain, MA).
-Sweet Potato, Carrots, & Salad Greens from NorthStar Farm (Westport, MA).
-Radishes & Beets from Winter Moon Farm (Hadley, MA)
-A Buffalo 'T-bone' steak from Cook's Farm & Bakery (Brimfield, MA/Newbury, VT)
-Chocolate covered cocoa nibs, guajilo chili discs, & cacao purr discs from Taza Chocolate (Somerville, MA)
-A monster baguette from Hi Rise Bread Co (Cambridge, MA)
-Mozzarella Cheese from Fiore Di Nonno (Somerville, MA) & 'A Barndance' cheese from Robinson's Farm (Hardwick, MA)

Another week and another great winter farmer's market trip!!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Dark Days Update #9: Carrot Mash & Homemade Tater Tots

Note from Fred: This Dark Days update has been written by my girlfriend Gail. Without her support and encouragement I would never have started gardening or expanding my cooking skills. Gail does a lot of the cooking for us, usually more then I do, so I thought it would be nice if she did a write up for this meal as she did all of the work.
Our most recent Dark Days Challenge meal was wonderful. The carrot mash recipe comes from a local friend, while the tater tots are a result of our cooking adventures this summer and came from our freezer.

Carrot Mash
This delicious dish was previously titled Carrot Pudding, but I've changed the title after altering the dish (making a few errors) and it still came out delicious! After my modifications/mistakes I know this recipe is foolproof!
2lbs of carrots
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup flour
2 cups of milk
2 eggs
vanilla, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
-Preheat oven to 350F
-Peel & slice carrots
-Boil until tender (about 40 minutes)
-Transfer carrots to a food processor. Add butter and sugar. Process until smooth.
-Add rest of the ingredients. Pulse until combined.
-Put in a greased casserole dish and bake at 350F for 90 minutes.

Homemade Tater Tots
via Pennies on a Platter
While the outcome is delicious, this is a very labor intensive recipe
8 russet potatoes
1/4 cup milk
1 cup flour
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups crushed potato chips
-Preheat oven to 400F
-Boil potatoes in a large pot until barely fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and return to pot.
-Gradually add the milk and mash the potatoes until mashed, but still lumpy. You may not need to use all of the milk. It is important to keep the potatoes lumpy but a little dry so it isn't to messy to roll them into balls.
-Separate eggs, flour, and potato chips into 3 bowls and set aside.
-Form the potato mixture into 1-inch balls and place on wax or parchment paper. Roll each ball first into the bowl of flour, then the eggs, finishing with the chips.
-Once coated, form the balls into tots formation and place onto a baking sheet.
-Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until crispy and golden brown.

I will save you the details showing the exact mileage all of our products are from our apartment, but everything except the sugar, vanilla and cinnamon is between 12 and 152 miles from us! Here are the local ingredients in the Carrot Mash & Tater Tots:
Carrots (Red Fire Farm), Potatoes (Allandale), Butter (Katie's Homemade), Flour (King Arthur Flour), Milk (Organic Cow), Eggs (Baffoni's Poultry Farm), & Potato Chips (Cape Cod Potato Chips)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Dark Days Update #8: Soup & Salad

Sunday's Dark Days meal saw us reaching for something fresh and something from the freezer for dinner. With a bag of fresh salad greens and a butternut squash from Saturdays Winter Farmers Market we decided to roast the squash with some onions and add it to our salad along with the delicious 'Herdsman's Cream' cheese I picked up at the market. To compliment the salad and to warm our very cold stomachs we defrosted a great Kale & Bean soup.
Fresh salad greens in the dead of winter was certainly a welcome treat!
The soup was great on a cold night, and the leftovers made a perfect lunch on a Monday afternoon that saw temperatures dip as low as -3 Fahrenheit!
Kale & Bean Soup
serves 4
1-2 lbs kale
1 large yellow onion
3-4 potatoes peeled and chopped
2-3 carrots, peeled and chopped
8 cups chicken broth
2 sausages**
1/4 cup olive oil
6-8 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
1 lb cranberry beans
1 hot pepper, seeded and diced
1/3 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste
**To make this dish vegetarian friendly I cook and add the sausage when I want a portion for me. However I have included the sausages in the regular recipe and preparation. Feel free to omit them. I defrosted the soup on Saturday afternoon and cooked a sausage for my portion as the soup heated up. Generally a dish like this calls for chorizo or languica, but I substituted hot Italian lamb sausage and it was a perfect fit.

-Slice sausage, and cook in olive oil with onion and garlic. Add garlic last so it does not completely brown. Add liquid and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
-Rinse Kale and tear into bite size pieces, discarding the stems.
-Add Broth, potatoes, carrots, and kale. Simmer for 30 minutes.
-Add Beans and simmer an additional 15 minutes, or until beans are fully cooked. I used dry beans and had to soak them overnight.

This is a great soup to make ahead of time and freeze. I made this recipe in mid-November when I had just harvested my Kale and froze it.

I served the soup with some of the Cheddar & Leek muffins I made back in November.

Local Ingredients in our Soup & Salad: Salad Greens & Butternut Squash (Red Fire Farm), Onion for Salad (Allandale Farm), _____ Cheese (West River Creamery), Carrots, Onion, & Potatoes for Soup (Kimball's Fruit Farm), Hot Lamb Sausage (Stillman's Farm) Kale, Beans, & Hot Pepper for Soup (My Garden), Garlic (Linabella's Gourmet Garlic & Allandale Farm).

Between the great Viking themed dinner we attended on Saturday & a great local dinner Sunday I felt like it was summer again with the abundance of local produce I got to enjoy over the weekend!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wayland Winter Farmer's Market

It has been exactly a year since the first Wayland Winter Farmer's Market, which I eagerly attended last January. The growth and expansion of the winter market in only a year is pretty amazing. Last year there was a good variety of vendors and a few options for fresh food. This year it seems like there are 10 or 12 additional vendors, a whole part of the greenhouse at Russell's Garden Center on Route 20 in Wayland, MA was converted into a pop-up food court with a variety of vendors offering prepared foods. Aid the plants small tables seating 2-4 people had been set up. The variety of prepared foods was surprising, I will be showing up with an appetite next time!
In terms of vendors I saw a variety of meats, fish, cheeses, produce, granola, honey and baked goods as well as specialty products like maple products, sauces, pickles, pasta and wool. Saturday was one of the Wool days at the market, which featured 9 additional farms that sold a variety of wool products. The over 30 vendors can be found at the Russell's Garden Center website.
This was my first trip to a winter farmers market this season and was amazed and proud of how much great local food is available year round in this area. I easily could have filled the cabinets and refrigerator until they were ready to burst!
Here is the haul I brought home with me:

Carrots, Butternut Squash, Radish, Salad Greens, and popcorn cobs from Red Fire Farm Granby, MA

Potatoes from Springdell Farm Littleton, MA

Pickles (full sour) from A1 Pickle Company Dartmouth, MA (2 of their pickles, including the pucker pickles I purhcased won 1st prize at the Topsfield Fair this past fall. I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with owner Ed Alberto at the Farmers Market and he was an absolute delight!)

Cheese from West River Creamery of Londonderry, VT. The cheese is 'Herdsman's Cream' a raw milk cheese that isn't currently listed on their website.

Maple Syrup from The Warren Farm and Sugarhouse in North Brookfield, MA

I also picked up 1 non-local item: 2 packets of sprout seeds!

Monday, January 24, 2011

ONCE in Valhalla.

A table full of brave viking souls feast in Valhalla:
Saturday Night Gail and I had the great pleasure of attending a truly special dinner event: ONCE in Valhalla.
Local chef/mastermind behind Cuisine en Locale puts together One Night Culinary Events (ONCE) - multi-course local food inspired themed dinner parties that are for one night only! The theme for Saturdays dinner was ONCE in Valhalla. It was truly a feast of viking proportions. 200 or so people gathered at the Somerville Armory to drink Pretty Things Beer & Green River Ambrosia Mead while enjoying a delicious feast, which consisted of:

Island Creek Oysters with Sour Apple Mignonette
Fiddlehead Tomme, Stillman Farm Liverwurst, & Rye Hardtack
Pickled Sardines with Onions, Fermented Black Radishes, and Clear Flour Vokornbrot
Parker Farm Butternut Squash Soup
Stillman Farm Roasted Leg of Lamb, Red & Gold Beet Salad, & Sophia's Yogurt Sauce
Stillman Farm Ham Glazed in Maple and Cider, & Cheesy Oat Porridge
Wheatberry and Baer's Best Bean Medley with Roasted Winter Root Vegetables
Provincetown Cod Poached in Green River Mead with Juniper and Butter, & Gilfeather Turnip Mash
Double J Farm Beef Stewed with Pretty Things Beer and Braised Red Fire Cabbage, with Effies Oatcakes.
Sophia's Yogurt with Keown Orchard Honey and Beach Plum Sauce (homemade by JJ).

It was nice that the meat components and the vegetable components of each dish were separated so the vegetarian guests had plenty to eat, it also helped me during the fish course as I was able to enjoy the mashed turnips without having to worry about my fish allergy.
My favorite single course was the leg of lamb with beet salad and yogurt sauce, all of the components and flavors worked very well together, but each course I ate was delicious!
Gail's favorite dish was the same Beet salad and yogurt sauce, which she described as particularly delicious.
It was pretty awesome that in the middle of winter that JJ and the folks who put on the whole event were able to feed 200 people on ingredients that were more then 90% local. It goes to show the great that can be accomplished with careful planning and preparation!

Entertainment was provided by a wind ensemble and costumed viking gods, who led us in wassails and toasts throughout the evening. As part of our tickets we even got viking-style knit hats from the great folks at Short Army.
Happy full of mead and good food:

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Gail and I love cookies. Especially if we don't have to lift a finger to make them! Last week Gail won cookies of her choice from local personal chef/food blogger Sharon Shiner!
Sharon was having a giveaway on her Facebook fan page. Gail decided she wanted some Ginger Snaps, and they turned out fantastic! Sharon dropped them off on saturday afternoon & it has taken all of our willpower not to eat them all in one sitting!
Be sure to check out Thyme To Cook as well as Sharon's blogs What's Cooking at Thyme to Cook? and Rawk Out (all about raw foods). I've added links to all the Thyme to cook sites on the lefthand column of this blog!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Dark Days Update #7: Quesadillas

The kitchen remodel is pretty much complete and we can cook and use the sink again! To celebrate Gail decided to cook up local Quesadillas:
No recipe here, just delicious local ingredients:
Bell Peppers (various farms frozen in late summer/early fall), Onion (Allandale Farm), Garlic (Allandale Farm), Tortilla's(Boghosian Lavash Bread from Valley Bread Lawrence, MA), Salsa (Number 9 Mild), Tortilla Chips (Gringo Jack's).

The cheese was beyond our local food shed, but we were working with limited options given a fairly depleted kitchen fro the renovation! Back to regularly scheduled cooking, baking, and (mis)adventuring soon!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Looking Ahead.

A quick look at the calendar indicates it is smack in the early stages of what is shaping up to be a real winter here in Boston. With two major storms having already passed through Boston, and a third just around the corner it is difficult to look towards spring, but the time is here!
The seed catalogs have been coming in for a month already, with a few more arriving each week. Over the next few weeks I will be going through my seeds, contacting local farms about seedling sales, and browsing the catalogs while imagining fruitful harvests and warmer temperatures!
As the next bout of snow rolls in this weekend I will be sitting with a cup of delicious coffee or tea and sorting through my seeds and marking up these seed catalogs as a plan begins to form in my head and on paper for the forthcoming year.
It will only be my second year of gardening but I am excited to see where the lessons and skills from my first season will lead to greater success in year 2.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dark Days Update #5 (Punta Cana) & #6 (Quiche)

Eating locally has been especially challenging the last 3+ weeks as the kitchen in our apartment is being redone (only a few more days to go then I'll be cooking up a storm!). With this in mind as well as our recent vacation our last 2 dark days meals come from interesting origins.
First off is the Dark Days meal Gail and I enjoyed while in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic last week.
Update #5 - Creamy Pumpkin Soup (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
One of the dinners we had while on vacation in the Dominican Republic was made with locally sourced ingredients! A creamy pumpkin soup made from local pumpkins. It was absolutely divine. Unfortunately I wasn't able to snap a photo but it was otherworldly paired with a delicious blue cheese. I am counting it as a Dark Days meal because it was local to where I found myself to be at the time, which I believe fits into the context of this challenge.
Update #6 - Goat Cheese & Bell Pepper Quiche
Before the kitchen work began Gail and I prepared and froze a variety of heat and eat meals to enjoy while the work was being done, that we would not be stuck eating exclusively junk and take out. One of the meals Gail made was this fantastic Quiche!
Everything except the pie crust is locally sourced! The eggs came from Jane's chickens (Jane is Gail's sister), the variety of peppers were frozen in late summer from local farmers markets, and the goat cheese is local, but the name of the producer escapes me at this point. It was really nice to be able to heat and eat something that still tasted fresh and healthy.

Look for a return to real cooking as soon as humanely possible. The redone kitchen is going to look great, but I am ready for a fully functional and accessible kitchen.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

and we're back... with coffee!

Gail and I returned from a wonderful yet all too short vacation at the Paradisus Resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic in the early hours of Sunday night/Monday morning. We spent the better part of a week sitting on the beach enjoying the sun, cocktails and the company of some great people. At night we were lucky enough to be entertained by my favorite band moe.
We were treated to an acoustic poolside set the first night followed by 3 2-set full electric shows on the beach. There are few things that can compare to dancing barefoot in the sand surrounded by palm trees and twinkling stars!
We enjoyed a local spirit, Mama Juana a blend of rum, porto, honey, and native plants, herbs and flowers blended together and left to sit and soak. The taste was light and sweet but it did pack a punch! We also ate... and ate quite a bit as the resort contained 12 restaurants. In terms of quality the food varied from passable but nothing special to downright tasty. Here is a look at 2 beautifully plated desserts we enjoyed at the 'contemporary french-romantic' restaurant. First off is a dark chocolate 'sailboat' with a whipped marshmallow center. Next up is coffee mouse stuffed tulip horns with a hazelnut & chocolate ganache all shaped into a grasshopper:

We even brought a piece of the Dominican Republic home with us in the form of 2 bags of local coffee! A bag of Organic Biodynamic coffee and a bag of shade grown Karoma estate coffee. Our grinder is broken so I won't be able to try these until the weekend but they sure do smell nice!

Finally I leave you with a picture of Gail and I at the beach... this trip definitely didn't suck!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Wishes & Vacation

I hope everyone had a safe and happy new year! I had a great time seeing my favorite band at Boston's House of Blues!

I will be on vacation starting today and out of the country for the next 10 days. Regular blogging will return around January 15th. Until then stay safe, happy, and eat good food!