Monday, January 30, 2012

Brookline & Wayland Winter Farmers Markets 1/28

On Saturday Gail and I went on quite the local food shopping trip, starting very close to home at the one-off Brookline winter farmers market and continuing on to the Wayland Market.
The Brookline market was part of climate week in the town of Brookline and was only a one time market. We decided to check it out because it was very close and a new there would be a few things (really local grains/flour) that I wanted to pick up as I had not seen them at any other markets. We definitely ended up getting some local grains/flour (15 lbs worth!!) as well as a few other items at the Brookline Winter Market:
We got a small bit of hedgehog & dried porcini mushrooms from an unknown but very eccentric vendor. A package of roasted red pepper, goat cheese & chive ravioli from the ladies at Nella Pasta.  Two jars of honey (Massachusetts Wildflower & Pollen and Propolis infused) as well as a great taste testing from the Boston Honey Company. Last but not least from our trip to the Brookline Market was the 15 lbs of grains/flour we got from Four Star Farms! We took home 5lbs of bolted Warthog bread flour, 4 lbs of whole wheat Zorro bread flour, 2lbs of whole wheat Bravo pastry flour, 2lbs of bolted buckwheat flour, and 2lbs of wheat berries!
Based on our conversation whole grain flour is cleaned grain which is then milled. Larger pieces of bran are left, giving the flour a rougher texture and stronger flavor, whereas the bolted flour has been sifted and screening resulting in a finer and more consistent texture. The difference between the Warthog and Zorro flours is protein content and flavor. The buckwheat looks to be a good alternative for 'heartier' breakfast breads, pancakes, and similar dishes. The wheat berries were definitely an impulse buy, as Gail tried them, fell in love and decided we had to take some home for ourselves! Elizabeth from Four Star Farms was really helpful in taking the time to answer all of our questions and explain the differences in all their products to Gail and I.
After our time was up in Brookline we headed over to the Wayland Market to grab some meat, produce, and, to my surprise some local booze! Saturday was one of the winery days the Wayland Market has throughout the season. As we browsed the produce, cheese, and other goods we also sampled a few wines and ended up bringing some home along with our meat, produce, and apples!
Our haul from the Wayland Market included a bag of salad mix from E&T Farms. Garlic and beets from Red Fire Farm. Parsnips, carrots, and 3 types of radish (watermelon, white, and daikon) from Winter Moon Farm. Apples from Charlton Orchards. Spicy Italian Beef Sausage and Beef Kielbasa from Caledonia Farm. An Ice WIne from Running Brook Vineyard and Winery, and Ginger Libation a spicy sweet carbonated brew from Green River Ambrosia.
Such a great haul for a Saturday afternoon. I'm amazed at all the great local products we are able to find even in the middle of (an unusually mild) winter. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

2012 In Progress (January)

Tomatoland - Barry Eastbrook
What I Eat: Around the World In 80 Diets - Faith D'Alusio & Peter Menzel

Life - BBC (finished this week
Livestream of tedxmanhattan Session 2

listening to:
The Who - Tommy
Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
Yale School of Forestry - Food and Sustainable Agriculture via itunes 

coffee we are drinking this week:  
This week we are drinking the New Harvest Coffee Roasters Cycledrome which is very light bodies and great for people who don't like their coffee to feel too 'strong.' It goes down smooth and has a lightly sweet aftertaste, with a slight hint of citrus.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Plotting & Scheming

It's time. By now most of the seed catalogs have found their way to my mailbox and I am ready to turn toward spring and start to plan out the garden for this year! I knew it was time to transition from daydreaming to actual planning when my Membership Renewal arrived in the mail from the Fenway Garden Society last week.
Earlier this week I took a look at the Grown Away seed box to determine what, if anything, will have to be ordered a head of time. For such a small garden space I've built up a fairly good stock of seeds allowing for plenty of variety when planning the garden for this year.
Grown Away seed box.
For such a small garden space I've built up a fairly good stock of seeds allowing for plenty of variety when planning the garden for this year. I plan on only ordering a few herb seeds to replenish what is depleted from my supplies, but when looking through the garden catalogs and reading about the grand plans of other gardeners who knows what I will actually end up with!
Once the concrete plans actually take shape I will make an attempt to share them before the fun (hours and hours of weeding) actually begins.

Have you started planning your edible garden yet? Will you try growing anything new or different this season??

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Copco Customer Service Appreciation

These days it is pretty common to hear about poorly designed items and crappy customer service, especially with how connected today's consumers are thanks to social media and the Internet as a whole. I thought it would be nice to share a positive customer service experience.
I drink a fair amount of coffee (and sometimes tea). 2 years ago I picked up a Copco Eco-First hot mug because it was BPA free, affordable, and looked pretty durable.  I was quite happy with my travel mug and used it pretty regularly. I had a few other travel mug's but this one was definitely my favorite and was used most often. A few weeks ago I noticed the lid to my mug had cracked in a few places - probably the result of me dropping the mug or beating it up, not at all due to poor construction. Hoping to be able to purchase a replacement lid for my mug I turned to social media and mentioned on twitter that the cap on my mug was cracked, and if anyone knew if they would sell just a replacement top. A few days later someone at the helm of the Copco twitter account let me know they were looking into this and would get back to me. Hours later I was asked to privately message my mailing address to the Copco account, and was told that customer service would replace my cracked lid.
I was extremely happy, though purchasing a $10 mug would not break the bank I thought it was a great gesture by the Copco folks to replace my lid, and all it took was a shot in the dark over twitter. I got a package in the mail a few days ago from Copco, but the box was a bit bigger then I was expecting, mainly due to the fact that instead of replacing my cracked lid Copco decided to send me a new hot mug - no questions asked!
I know it isn't that big of a deal to replace a relatively inexpensive piece of plastic with a new one, but I feel that Copco customer service went beyond my expectations in providing me a new mug instead of simply sending me a new cap, and for that they have earned my appreciation and support. So if you are in the market for a travel mug, hot or cold check out Copco - they may have one you like!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dark Days Meal #8: Oven Roasted Root Veggies & Turkey Kielbasa sauteed with onions and peppers

The Dark Days Challenge is on! Running until March 31, 2012 over 100 participants will be doing our best to cook and blog about one meal per week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients. Recaps will be hosted by the blog collective Not Dabbling in Normal where you can follow along with all of the other participants. 

This week's Dark Days Meal was put together mostly on the fly. We had picked up a Kabocha squash that I had been meaning to roast so I started there and built a meal based on what was on hand - a turnip, carrots, and onions. Cubanelle pepper strips and turkey kielbasa from the freezer. Add some butter, a bit of cider for roasting and a dinner was made!
I roasted the squash pieces in a bit of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a dash of maple syrup. I chopped the carrots and turnips to an appropriate size and roasted them in a dutch oven with whole cloves of garlic, a splash of cider, salt, and sage. The turkey kielbasa was tossed with sauteed onions and pepper strips and tossed in a bit of Burnin' Love Heartbreak Sauce.
Carrots, Onions, and Turnip from Silverbrook Farm.  Kabocha Squash from Red Fire Farm. Turkey Kielbasa from Bob's Turkey Farm. Garlic from Spring Brook Farm. Butter for cooking was Kate's Homemade. Cubanelle Peppers and Sage from my garden.

Everything came out great and cooked up in about 20-25 minutes. I had the squash cooking in the oven along side the turnips an carrots while the kielbasa, onions, and pepper was slowly sauteed. It was a simple no frill recipe that really hit the spot.

We also got to enjoy the 'extra' that comes with roast squash - roasted squash seeds, a simple and delicious treat

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Papperdelle with Spicy Beef Sausage and Cannellini Beans

Anyone who enjoys or follows the restaurant scene here in Boston is familiar with Barbara Lynch and her roster of great dining and drinking establishments. In November 2009 Lynch published her highly anticipated first cookbook Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition. Last summer Gail and I were given a signed copy of Stir by Barbara Lynch Gruppo because Gail pointed out a discrepancy in the ingredients we were told were in a dish versus what was actually in the dish. Gail did not complain, she contacted Barbara Lynch Gruppo knowing they would take this type of discrepancy seriously, and they thanked her with a signed copy of the great cookbook!
Since then I have wanted to cook something (or nearly everything) from this cookbook. Sunday I wanted to make the Rigatoni with Spicy Sausage and Cannellini Beans for dinner but some adjustments had to be made in consideration of smaller portions and slightly different ingredients.  Using the recipe as a guide and following the cooking instructions we ended up with a hearty pasta dish with a deliciously spicy beef ragu that was just what we wanted after a long chilly Sunday running errands:
Perfect on a cold night.
Truffle Papperdelle with Spicy Beef Sausage and Cannellini Beans
Recipe inspired by Barbara Lynch's Stir: Mixing It Up in the Italian Tradition
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3/4 lb - 1 lb beef sausage, casings removed
1 cup red wine
2.5 lbs tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt
ground black pepper
12 oz Truffle Papperdelle (my new favorite pasta courtesy of Valicenti Organico)
1 19 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
2  tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add Garlic and cook approximately 2 minutes. Add the onion and sausage  and cook, breaking up the sausage until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, increase heat to high, and cook until wine is reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crushed red pepper flakes. Season with salt and black pepper. Reduce heat to medium and cook until sauce has thickened, about 25 minutes.
While the sauce is thickening bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add Pasta and cook to al dente and drain. Add the drained pasta to the pan with sauce and stir until mixed. Add cannellini beans, cheese, basil, and butter and stir. Cook until the beans are heated 3-5 minutes. Taste, and adjust seasoning based on preference (mostly add more red pepper flakes if you want).

The original recipe called for 1 lb of spicy italian sausage, but we had 3/4 lb of beef sausage on hand so that is what we used. It also calls for canned or boxed crushed tomato, but we had fresh tomatoes from The Herb Lyceum so I used those. We were lacking fresh basil so I used 1.5 basil cubes from our freezer.  Also, the recipe called for 1 lb of pasta, and it was not papperdelle, but in Stir Lynch points out that the recipe as she wrote it calls for pantry staples (pasta, canned beans, canned or box tomato) making it an easy midweek meal! After cooking this I can see dozens of ways to alter the ingredients to incorporate a variety of different ingredients and vegetables.

Monday, January 23, 2012

SoWa Winter Market 1/22

We had a small haul at the SoWa Market yesterday, but we got a good amount of produce including a few pounds of greenhouse tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes in January are a treat. I definitely prefer the taste of a fresh summer tomato, but these are grown with care by some great people and being able to enjoy them fresh this time of year is a real treat. 
Here is breakdown of everything we got:
Carrots, onions, a rutabaga, and a turnip from Silverbrook Farm. Garlic from Spring Brook Farm. Tomatoes from The Herb Lyceum. A 'small' brisket from John Crow Farm, and Truffle Pappardelle from Valicenti Organico
After shopping and chatting with some of our favorite vendors we decided to grab lunch by the SoWa Vintage Market at Roxy's Grilled Cheese one of our favorite local food trucks! We were pretty hungry too, as between Gail and I we nearly devoured 3 grilled cheese and a basket of truffle fries! We enjoyed our feast!
Front: Mighty Rib Melt. Middle: Mac & Chorizo, Green Muenster
Back: handcut truffle fries.
Not a bad way to spend part of Sunday afternoon!
Did you get any local produce, meat, or prepared goods this weekend??

Saturday, January 21, 2012

2012 In Progress (January)

Horns - Joe Hill
Italy allows Unesco into Pompeii - The Art Newspaper 
Ommegang fears drilling could pollute its water - Washington Post Lifestyle Blog . The Ommegang Brewery is very close to where Gail and I attended college. I am a big fan of their beer and am proud to see how much they have grown in the 10+ years I have been aware of them

Colony: No Bees. No Honey. No Work. No Money -

listening to:
WTF with Marc Marcon # 245 - Todd Glass - Mr. Glass publicly comes out of the closet on this episode and explains how much difficulty he had with the decision
The Man Who Studies The Fungus Among Us - NPR

coffee we are drinking this week:
This week we have been enjoying the Texas Coffee Traders Organic Market Blend that Jess sent me as part of the Austin to Boston Food Swap. This was a deceptively smooth blend. The beans, whole and when ground had the odor of a bold dark roast but the taste was far more subtle with floral and citrus notes. Just for the 'not as dark as you thought' surprise this was great!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dark Days Meal #7: One-Pot Meal-Beefy Beef Stew

The Dark Days Challenge is on! Running until March 31, 2012 over 100 participants will be doing our best to cook and blog about one meal per week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients. Recaps will be hosted by the blog collective Not Dabbling in Normal where you can follow along with all of the other participants.

This week our Dark Days Meal was made for one of the voluntary Meal Challenges. The challenge as presented to us was - Soup and One-pot Meals: make a meal entirely in one pot like soup, stews, or a pan-roasted meal. When I saw this challenge I knew a beef stew was on way!! About 4 weeks ago Gail and I enjoyed a hearty beef stew from our freezer so I decided to challenge myself further by making a beef stock from scratch the night before to give my stew some extra flavor.
Extra Beefy Beef Stew
Using the beef shanks and a fatty piece of beef I got on Saturday from Charlton Orchards, and beef stew pieces from John Crow Farm. On Sunday I sweat a large red onion and a yellow onion from Red Fire Farm in Kate's Homemade Butter, browned the beef shanks and the fatty beef, and made a little more then a quart of deep rich brown stock.
The following morning I pulled out the same soup pot from the night before and browned the beef stew pieces, added 1/2 a bottle of the Plum Island Red from Mill River Winery in the style of beef bourguignon, the leftover meat and the stock and let everything cook and mingle at a low-medium heat, stirring frequently for about 45 minutes. While this was going on, I had soaked the meat & stock containers from the fridge in warm water and added these to the stock pot along with a huge pile of carrots from Terrosa Farm, as well as potatoes and more yellow onions from Red Fire Farm. I stirred frequently, adding water as necessary as everything cooked for close to 9 hours. Towards the end I added Garlic from Springbrook Farm along with dill and rosemary from our garden as well as a pinch of black pepper and salt. When all the ingredients were mixed together I added a splash more of the wine and let the flavors mingle and develop for a little while longer.
If the last beef stew I described as hearty this can only be described as beefy as the final product was thick with soft beef with the random larger chunk of beef stew pieces mixed in.
Overall it was very flavorful and maybe even a little too beefy, but it didn't stop Gail or I from each enjoying 2 servings for dinner as we toasted with the remaining wine!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two loaves: Crusty 'Country' Bread

It's been a while since I baked bread (almost 4 whole weeks!) and I had been having the urge to bake some, primarily due to the fact that Gail and I received a KitchenAid mixer for Hanukkah!! Both of us have been more then eager to test out the 5 quart tilt-head mixer. Gail had her opportunity on Friday when she whipped up a batch of meringues, Monday was my turn!! 
I wanted to try a new recipe, but did not want to over commit myself as the bread was being made in the downtime while baby sitting a beef stew. Because I was already doing prep work for the stew on Sunday, I had the opportunity to make a biga. Besides my use of sourdough starter I had never tried any other pre-ferment methods for bread baking. The biga or mother was a pretty simple mix:
3/4 cup water
1 cup + 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Combine the water, 1 cup of flour, and yeast until well mixed. Let sit in a bowl covered with plastic wrap for 6 - 8 hours. Stir in the additional 1/4 cup flour until dough stiffens up, recover, and place in the refrigerator overnight. That's it. Just like Ron Popeil says: set it, and forget it! Not much effort to make the mother, just some time. 
The actual bread recipe is in Joanne Chang's Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston's Flour Bakery + Cafe which I have baked from before with great success. She says about the Country Bread recipe "It's not ethereal and light like a classic French baguette, nor is it hearty and sour like an artisanal sourdough loaf. Rather, it falls deliciously in between..." After making and trying this bread I have to agree wholeheartedly! The loaf we eagerly cut into had a crispy crust and a nice density without being too thick or hearty. 
I altered the recipe a little by rubbing minced garlic and sage into the dough, however I didn't use nearly enough as the flavor was completely missing from the final product, but the bread was great and one is wrapped up and can sit in the freezer for a few weeks!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Wayland Winter Farmers Market 1/14

A great market bounty!
Gail and I visited the Wayland Winter Market for the first time this season on Saturday. The market is held indoors at Russell's Garden Center. Though this market may seem out of the way it is close to both of our families and a quick trip west of Boston is not unheard of! We love this market for the great variety of vendors.  We arrived 90 minutes after the market opened and had already missed the mushroom vendors! Nonetheless there was a tremendous variety.  Multiple sources of eggs, produce, cheese, alcohol (wine or cider), honey and a variety of meats! Baked goods, prepared foods, pasta, maple products, and lots of sweets too! We even enjoyed lunch on a bench in the greenhouse amongst tropical plants.
We brought home lots of great stuff:
Apples, hard cider, eggs, cider (not pictured), beef shanks, chuck steaks - from Charlton Orchards. White sweet potatoes, Japanese pumpkin (green Kabocha), potatoes, yellow onions and a red onion from Red Fire Farm. Carrots from Terrosa Farms. Cabbage and beets from Winter Moon Farm. Marinated feta from West River Creamery. Garlic & basil goat cheese from Crystal Brook Farm. Maple teriyaki marinade from The Warren Farm & Sugar House, and Plum Island red wine from Mill River Winery. Also not pictured is the 'personal' size chocolate bourbon pecan tart from Danish Pastry House which Gail and I spit and shared over the last few days!
It was so great to get back to this market and Gail and I both agree this is probably our favorite winter market and it was so great to get back there and sell the vendors. We spent a little extra time there as Gail had her kitchen knives sharpened by On The Edge, so while we waited we had lunch and browsed the market.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

2012 In Progress (January)

Horns - Joe Hill (new book i am reading thanks to Gail!)
How to Clone Mineral Water - Edible Geography 


listening to:

coffee we are drinking this week: 
we just finished the House Blend (again, it was really excellent. I feel like I enjoyed it even more this second week drinking it!) yesterday and will be enjoying something new next week!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dark Days Meal # 6: Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Potatoes & Turnip and Relishes

The Dark Days Challenge is on! Running until March 31, 2012 over 100 participants will be doing our best to cook and blog about one meal per week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local, ethical) ingredients. Recaps will be hosted by the blog collective Not Dabbling in Normal where you can follow along with all of the other participants. 
turkey meatloaf, beet relish, corn relish, roast
potatoes & turnip, and pickled cranberries!
This week's Dark Days meal combines a summer purchase with root crops from our winter market and relishes we canned ourselves! For dinner last night we had BBQ Turkey Meatloaf with Roasted Potatoes and Turnip, along with some beet relish, corn relish, and pickled cranberries from our 'pantry.'

Back in the summer at the Brookline Farmer's Market I became familiar with Bob's Turkey Farm of Lancaster, MA. Their turkey kielbasa were a favorite of mine on the grill all summer long! They also make turkey salad, turkey pastrami, turkey chili, you get the idea! Before the end of the summer market season I stocked up on some goodies for the freezer: a few packs of turkey sausage, a turkey kielbasa, and the bbq turkey meatloaf we enjoyed last night.
The potatoes and turnip are from Silverbrook Farm in Dartmouth, MA courtesy of the SoWa Winter Market.
The beet relish, corn relish, and pickled cranberries were all canned by Gail and I at some point in the summer or fall using local ingredients. 
The meatloaf cooked up nice and moist and did not dry out. Gail had some, but found the texture a bit odd, and though the top with the sauce was 'too meaty' for her taste. I roasted the potatoes and turnip with rosemary and sage from our garden, with minced garlic (made from farmers market garlic this summer), and Kate's Homemade Butter.
Overall I was happy with dinner as it really hit the spot on a windy and rainy day and there are plenty of leftovers to enjoy. There will definitely be a meatloaf sandwich for lunch in my near future!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pompeii & Food

Last weekend Gail and I visited the wonderful Museum of Science here in Boston to see their beehive, an exhibit on what people eat (more on that later) and an exhibit showcasing objects and artifacts from the ruins of Pompeii. Among the dozens of objects, trinkets, toys, and casts there was an astonishing amount of food related items.
Portable and stationary ovens, an ancient barbecue, cooking pots and pans, wine and water jugs, a replica of a produce scale, a cast of a pig, cooking tools, and carbonized food were among the countless items we saw that provided a glimpse into the daily eating habits of Pompeii's residents. I managed to snap a few pics on my phone and wanted to share some. You can read the placards in a few otherwise I've added my own comments in the captions!
Replica of a produce scale. The 2 metal plates are original.
Found at a farm on the outskirts of Pompeii
Millstone made from lava rock
Ancient fava beans! Behind the beans
is carbonized fish paste (blech!)  
For their deliciousness figs (fresh or dried)
are a valued foodstuff in my belly!
This bronze skillet is awesome. I want one. It is perfect
for single portions & the shallow rim is designed for the
food to slide of easily.
The exhibit was really interesting and aside from the food parts provided an excellent glimpse into the life of Pompeii's residents, from the upper crust to prisoner's and slaves. The traveling exhibition leaves Boston in February 2012. If it makes a stop near you it is certainly worth checking out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

National Hot Toddy Day!

Today, January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day!!
I will be using the more robust Crown Royal Black
for my Hot Toddy tonight!
A hot toddy is a drink, made with honey, lemon, sometimes spirits (typically whiskey, brandy, rum, etc) and a hot beverage (water, tea, cider) mixed together and garnished with a stick of cinnamon.

I will be making my preferred variation. I find the various Crown Royal blended whisky's to suit this beverage perfectly. For this recipe I am using Crown Royal Black which has a darker fuller flavor then some of their other offerings.
Fred's Warm 'n Fuzzy Hot Toddy
1 - 2  oz Crown Royal Black (the black has a more robust and dark flavor)
 2 tsp honey
1 small lemon wedge
8 oz hot mulled cider
cinnamon stick for garnish

Warm cider in pan with mulling spices. While cider is warming up you can add your honey, spirit of choice, and lemon wedge to a mug. Once cider is ready pour into mug, stir until mixed well. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy a perfect cocktail for a cold afternoon/evening.

How do you prefer your Hot Toddy? What other drinks (with or without alcohol) do you like on a chill-you-to-the-bone kind of day?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Accidental Carbonation

Just before Christmas Gail and I picked up a gallon of cider at the Somerville winter market. We drank a little more then half of it before we left for Maine for New Years, but haven't really drank any since. A few days ago I noticed the gallon jug of cider was bulging and started to carbonate!!!
When I popped the top the jug let out a little hiss and had a faintly alcoholic odor. A quick search led me to conclude that the cider was entirely safe to drink, it merely had began to carbonate and start the fermentation process. We were on our way to (accidentally) making hard cider.
Unfortunately that won't be happening now as I transferred the cider to a pair of smaller containers and they will be drank relatively soon, but the carbonation and fermentation process for something like apple cider is incredibly simple and I look forward to reproducing these results again in the future, but on purpose this time!!

Have you accidentally carbonated or fermented a beverage?? If so, how did it taste?

Monday, January 9, 2012

SoWa Winter Market 1/8

Gail and I made our post-holiday return to the SoWa Winter Market yesterday. Despite there being fewer vendors present then we were expecting  it was great to see those who made it out, and as usual, have a variety of interesting conversations with them.
This week we took home: potatoes, braising mix (chard & kale), and apples from Silverbrook Farm. Red pepper hummus from Samira's Homemade. Pickled golden beets from Grillo's Pickles. Kale & currant ravioli from Nella Pasta and artichoke & Boursin cheese ravioli from Valicenti Organico. A beautiful looking chuck roast from John Crow Farm, and last but not least, a bottle of hazelnut cold-brew coffee from Captain's Coffee Brewers.

It was great to catch up with some of the vendors, and as usual we learned a little bit from the vendors about what goes into their work ranging from butchering to finding seasonal farm help.
With the new year underway there are even more Winter Markets starting up for the season which means lots more new vendors and seeing some of our old favorites in new locations! 2012 is shaping up to be healthier and more delicious then 2011!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

2012 In Progress (January)

I am back with my (hopefully) weekly recap of some various things I have been enjoying. I am still tweaking the formula so the content might change but the general idea is the same - here is a peek at some highlights from the past week.

Organic or Local?? I say transparent - Maria's Farm Country Kitchen
Conversation with Barbara Lynch - New York Times
Egypt: A Riche History - The Economist
Second Nature - Michael Pollan (finally managed to finish this between reading about a dozen other things)

Marking the New Year - The Big Picture - Boston Globe
Taste the Waste trailer - from vimeo. Also available at Taste the Waste.

listening to:
moe. 12/30/2011 State Theater Portland, ME
moe. 12/31/2011 State Theater Portland, ME
after a spectacular New Years weekend in Portland it has been really great being able to go back and listen to both shows which were spectacularly played and well worth the listen if you are into this sort of thing.

coffee we are drinking this week: House Blend - This is a medium roast Columbian blend that is shade-grown, fair trade, and organic. It has a rich carmel taste and an aroma of dark chocolate with a hint of vanilla. What is nice is the coffee is roasted as it is ordered. When I received my coffee a few weeks ago it had a tag on it indicating it had been roasted and shipped within a day and arrived only a few days later. I like a variety of coffee covering the entire range of the roasting spectrum, and generally find blends to be, on the whole, over roasted and having a charred or burnt flavor, so I was really pleased when this coffee had a nice strong aroma but a pleasant and lighter then expected taste and presence. Definitely worth trying!! is an online entertainment & pop culture site that features loads of great content all things geek related, tons of giveaways, and a slew of podcasts, some of which I am a big fan of.  I received a bag of the coffee in a trade from Widgett at Need Coffee. I sent him 2 bottles of the great Captain's Coffee Brewers cold brewed coffee that I love so much. I didn't agree to review their coffee or anything, but I found it particularly tasty and thought I would share the love and my thoughts!
If you are into pop culture, geekery, and need a bit of a laugh be sure to check out and their podcasts!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dark Day's Meal # 5: Beef Ravioli & Homemade Sauce

The Dark Days Challenge is on! Running until March 31, 2012 over 100 participants will be doing our best to cook and blog about one meal per week featuring SOLE (sustainable, organic, local ethical) ingredients. Recaps will be hosted by the blog collective Not Dabbling in Normal where you can follow along with all of the other participants.

No pictures of this weeks Dark Days Meal as I was feeling a bit lazy and the meal isn't anything to special. I was very much still in recovery mode when I went back to work Tuesday and was looking for something quick, easy, and delicious for dinner. Pasta with sauce and some sort of vegetable or (maybe) meat is a pretty common meal here at Grown Away. Some days we don't want to cook anything fancy, just something warm and filling in our bellies. Tuesday was just that kind of night so I pulled a container of Valicenti Organico beef ravioli out of the freezer and warmed up a jar of our homemade sauce. That is it, nothing fancy but so delicious. I was expecting the ravioli to be loaded with ground beef, which I thought might be a little too much for Gail, but she was willing to give it a try. Turns out there was no need for concern as the consistency of the filling was creamy, and a nice mix of ricotta, beef, and seasoning without any of the ingredients overpowering the others. 
Quick, tasty, and simple food to start the year!

look for regularly scheduled posting to start up again next week.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Portland, ME: New Years Eve Dinner/New Years Day Lunch

While Gail and I were treated to two nights of amazing music for New Years courtesy of moe. at Portland's State Theatre we were also able to enjoy some of the great restaurants in Portland's wonderful local restaurant scene. Two of the weekends highlights were our New Years Eve dinner at Pai Mei Miyake and our New Years Day lunch at Duckfat.
Pork Bun
carrot/daikon salad &
cucumber avocado maki
Chef Sharon, who I have mentioned here before and her husband Rob picked out Pai Mei Miyake because the menu looked great and it was close to both the hotel and the venue for the New Years festivities. We had a 5:00 pm reservation which was on the early side, but we had places to be!! When we were seated we were presented with the usual menu's (drink menu, yakitori menu, main menu) as well as their special 3 course price fixe New Years Eve Menu. Sharon, Rob, and myself went with different selections from the tasting menu, while Gail picked her own items off of the regular menu. We also had some incredible drinks including a Maker's Mark & ginger hot toddy for two and a beetle' juice - a blend of vodka, roasted pickled beet, and beet juice! We split an order of their much talked about pork buns as well as veggie gyoza. The gyoza was very tasty but the pork buns with pepper relish and mayo were incredible. The bun was light and fluffy and the pork belly was tender and fell apart at the lightest touch of the fork. The tasting menu featured a starter, a noodle dish, and a dessert. I informed our sever I had a fish and shellfish allergy and she quickly confirmed with the kitchen what dishes would be safe and which could be adjusted for me. I had a tamago maki roll, a ball of duck ramen, and one of their delicious desserts while Gail had the veggie gyoza, a cucumber and avocado maki with roasted almond and spicey mayo, and a carrot and daikon salad with a sesame ginger vinagrette.  The tamago maki was light and slightly salty, while the duck ramen was hearty and had a slightly spicy note with the addition of ginger root to the dark duck broth. Gail really loved the salad and felt the addition of spicy mayo elevated the maki to a different level. My dessert of yuzu-glazed ginger bread with candied kumquat's was sweet and acidic, but not too heavy. It was good, but Rob got a warmed pineapple financier with caramelized pineapple and chantilly cream that the table unanimously voted as the top dessert from the tasting menu. 
pineapple financier

poutine and frites
pork rillettes and coppa
After a 5 hour New Years bash with moe. and a few hours of celebrating with friends people were hitting their beds closer to day break. By the time Gail and I woke up and got ourselves together and ready for food we decided lunch would be more appropriate. We enjoyed a short stroll through Portland and arrived at Duckfat for a perfect post New Years anti-hangover lunch! Gail and I decided we simply had to devour most of the menu so we ended up with quite hefty sampling of what Duckfat had to offer. I started with a small charcuterie board with pork rillettes and coppa, with a pickled sunflower shoot salad, mustard, apple slices, crostini, and a great pickled vegetable assortment. We each had a creamy milkshake (original for Gail and Salted Caramel for yours truly) with our actual lunch: A small order of poutine, a small order of normal duckfat fries with horseradish mayo & truffle ketchup, a pork belly panini, and a bacon, goat cheese, & tomato panini. Surprisingly, Gail ordered the bacon, goat cheese, & tomato panini after she discovered the amazingness that is perfectly crispy bacon that isn't over done. Needless to say with such rich food on the menu for lunch it was exactly what I needed to guarantee that I was content and ready for the 2 hour drive back to Boston. 

Ending and starting the year with memorable meals, fantastic live music, and in the company of great people was more then a could have asked for. 2011 was a very hectic, busy, and exciting year, and I look forward to more excitement and big changes this coming year! Stay tuned to see what we'll be growing, cooking, canning, and baking here at Grown Away in 2012!!

pickled veggie assortment