Saturday, March 31, 2012

2012 In Progress (March)

Mycelium Running - Paul Stammets

Tenacious D - To Be The Best - New album announcement from Tenacious D!

listening to:

Working our way through the wonderful Bard Coffee - El Salvador Cup of Excellence Lot # 13. I am still singing the praises of this slightly sweet and balanced cup, absolutely love it! 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dark Days Meal #17: Broccoli and Fontina Ravioli, Homemade Sauce, & Maple Sausage

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 is it. Our final Dark Days Meal for this challenge. Sadly no good pictures came out, but how exciting is another shot of ravioli, homemade sauce and sausage? Not very exciting but it tasted damn good!!
For this our 17th and final Dark Days Challenge meal we enjoyed a broccoli and fontina ravioli with homemade sauce and maple pork sausage.
The Broccoli and Fontina Ravioli is courtesy of Valicenti Organico, the sauce from our pantry, and the Maple Sausage from the farmers at West River Creamery. The sweetness of the sausage was a great balance to the richness of the fontina. 

I will be wrapping up and reflecting on this season's Dark Days Challenge next week.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

re:char & The Black Revolution

There are a number of food related Kickstarter campaign's out there from Wood-Fired Pizza Carts to Urban Farms and dozens of other projects in between. One such project I recently stumbled upon is more garden related, but the end outcome is greater vegetable production so it falls into the food category. I decided to support Jason Aramburu's Black Revolution Biochar project!
Jason Aramburu is a Princeton graduate who is interested in soil science and Biochar. Biochar is a charcoal produced at very high temperatures from plant waste and was used by farmers in the Amazon Basin as early as 3,000 years ago to help increase the fertility of croplands. Many believe products like biochar can be used to reduce carbon emission because once plant waste is turned into biochar it doesn't decompose into CO2. See what Jason has to say in the below kickstarter campaign video:

From the Black Revolution Kickstarter page they are looking to test biochar with a variety of growers (a few potted plants all the way up to small farmers) and skill levels. Backing the campaign gives you the opportunity to be part of the US trial of Black Revolution as they will "ask backers to measure the height and yield of their plants at multiple points for publication into a comprehensive study. We will also determine how much carbon we have all offset through the use of Black Revolution. All backers will receive results of the study upon completion..." 
I pledged $35 and had the honor of being the donor to bring the project over it's fundraising goal and guarantee it will be funded. For my pledge I will be receiving a small bag of Black Revolution (enough for 4-5 potted plants).
I look forward to receiving the Biochar and sharing the results with the re:char team as well as here on the blog!

Monday, March 26, 2012

SoWa Winter Market 3/25

Gail visited the SoWa Winter Market yesterday for what is definitely one of our smallest trips of the season. We have a refrigerator full of leftovers and weren't in need of much but decided to make the trip anyway to see some of our favorite vendors and get out of our apartment for a few hours.
We got 3 apples and a red onion from Silverbrook Farm. Green Peppercorn Pappardelle & Broccoli and Fontina Ravioli from Valicenti Organico. 2 gorgeous looking rib steaks from John Crow Farm, and a pair of Chocolate Sea Salt Biscotti from Joanna's New World Biscotti.
Not picture was the 1 additional item we picked up, a 6" tall rosemary plant from The Herb Lyceum.
The rosemary will have a temporary home on our windowsill until it is time to bring it to the garden, which will hopefully be very soon!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

2012 In Progress (March)

Mycelium Running - Paul Stamets
Seeking a Sustainable Path for Coffee, and Coffe Farmers, in Haiti   New York Times Dot Earth 

Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race- The Big Picture
Impermanent Sand Paintings- Andres Amador
Rangers & Celtic (5 Parts)-

Nerdist - Neal Patrick Harris
Freakanomics - Show & Yell

This week we starting drinking Bard Coffee - El Salvador Cup of Excellence Lot # 13. This is a sweet and balanced cup, with a hint of vanilla. It is makes the ideal cup at home. Probably the best coffee we've had this year and I really look forward to welcoming spring with this great brew.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Dark Days Meal # 16: Braised Pork Rib, Roasted Potato & 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.

In an effort to enjoy some of the meat we have in our freezer I decided to make a country style pork rib for Gail and I to share. I braised the pork rib with beer (Harpoon 100 Barrel Series Catamount Maple Wheat) and an onion. I finished the pork with a reduction of apple cider and a hint of maple syrup. I roasted up some garlic and butter potatoes with a hint of dill and added some relishes and pickled goods on the side. An easy meal that used a variety of items we had on hand!

Country Style Pork Rib from Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds, cooked in Harpoon Beer (brewed in Boston, MA & Windsor, VT) with Red Fire Farm onions and garlic. Charlton Orchards cider and Cook's Farm maple syrup for the finishing sauce. Pickled carrots and grapes from Grillo's Pickles and the corn relish is from our own stash. The Potatoes are also courtesy of red fire farm as was the garlic they were tossed with, and the butter was Kate's Homemade.

Next week looks to be the last week of the challenge. Just in time for this blog to transition from less eating to more gardening, though I will try and keep a balance. Look for 1 more Dark Days Meal next week and a wrap up/recap following that.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

New Kitchen Utensils

Gail and I picked up some handmade kitchen tools this past weekend at the Paradise City Arts Festival. Gail had previously bought a butter dish and spreader from Jonathan's Wild Cherry Spoons and was excited for us to check out their full selection at Paradise City.
We ended up with a bundle of assorted utensils and made plans to purchase even more in the future as we both really like Jonathan's work. Here is a look at the spoons that made it home with us:
The Spice Spoon & Honey Stick. Given my honey obsession
I am sure to get some miles out of that one. 
A pair of slightly curved cooking spoons and a fancy tasting
spoon that we picked out of the irregulars box.
Marmalade Spoon & Pickle Fork round out
the utensil shopping spree.
We were definitely in need of a few more basic wooden spoons like those in the 2nd picture but others, like the Honey Stick and Pickle Fork were impulse buys that I was happy to make. The spoons, along with the butter dish and spreaders and the cutting board set I previously gifted to Gail have started us off with a nice collection of handmade wooden kitchen items that I am sure will grow bigger over time.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Real Progress towards a year round Public Market in Boston.

It was announced on Monday that the Boston Public Market Association has won the bid to operate a year-round market in downtown Boston that will sell produce, meats, dairy products and more all made or raised in Massachusetts! The site, the first floor of a building on the corner of Hanover St. & John F Fitzgerald Surface Road is not expected to open until the Summer of 2014.
Despite the multi year time frame before the market is open this is a huge step forward to having a real public market the city deserves, one on par with Seattle's Pike Place, San Francisco's Ferry Building, or Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market to name some examples. For those of us who frequent farmers markets and get excited about local food the Boston Public Market represents a huge step towards year-round access to locally grown and sourced produced and goods here in Boston, all under one roof!
I can't even begin to imagine how much work and planning has to go into getting this up an running, even with a target opening that is more than 2 years away I know that countless farmers and market vendors will be buzzing about this as the summer markets start up soon and I can't wait to hear what they have to say about this great news!
Congrats to the BPMA and all those who've worked so hard on this project.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

2012 Garden Plan

I finally finished my Garden plan for 2012! Just in the knick of time... with the unusually warm winter I might be trying to get into my plot at the end of this month or early next month to get a jump start on this years gardening.
I'm doing something different this year: I sketched out, in 2 week intervals my garden plan from Late March/Earl April - Late September. Though it was fairly tedious I found it to be a great constructive exercise that allowed me to use the space available as effectively as possible.
My first season lacking any real knowledge I severely over planned and last year I only made a rough list of  what I wanted to grow and winged it for the most part. This year I am trying to strike a balance between over and under planning.
Sketching out the Garden in 2 week intervals allows me to produce an 'ideal' road map if all goes according to plan and the weather cooperates. It also let's me adjust plans on the fly as life and weather dictate my gardening time - one of the challenges of gardening in an urban community garden!
I'm ready to start growing! I just need to find the time to get to the garden and see how it looks after an unusual Winter.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Another Mushroom Harvest

No visits to any local Winter Markets this weekend as I was busy helping out my family and unable to plan a trip, so instead I am providing an update on the Back To The Roots mushroom kit.
Though it was slow going with the second fruiting we were able to finally get a small harvest last week.
When we left for Florida one side of the kit was showing a few signs of fresh growth and a few dried out mushrooms that seemed to stop growing out of nowhere. When we returned I saw this entire patch had grown in the 4 days we were gone! A small and unexpected harvest of 2.65 oz.
The kit looked to have lots more growth in it so I soaked it for an additional 24 hours between Thursday & Friday night and returned it to the box hoping for another fruiting (or 2 or 3).
I have also added a mushroom harvest tally in the left hand column to keep track of current and future harvests!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

2012 In Progress (March)

The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins
Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs - Greg Smith New York Times



We are continuing to work on the Hope Blend from Captain's Coffee Brewers. Travel and more tea have significantly slowed down our coffee consumption though we still have at least 4 lbs of various delicious roasts I look forward to enjoying!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Dark Days Meal # 15: Smoked Pork Chops with Garlic Braised Carrots and Sweet Potato Fries

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.

We didn't have a chance to visit any local winter markets last weekend due to our Florida getaway so I had to turn rely on what we hand on hand in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry to prepare our Dark Days Meal for this week. I went with mustard rubbed smoked pork chops cooked in carbonated cider and garlic topped with our homemade beet relish, maple braised carrots and sweet potato fries with a kiss of honey.
Dinner portions were so big I ended up with a great
lunch sized portion as well!
The smoked pork chops were from John Crow Farm, while the Dragon Stout Mustard is from Pete & Jen's Backyard Birds, the cider is from Charlton Orchards, and the amazing beet relish is from our own stores. The carrots are from Winter Moon Farm, and included a hint of Maple from Cooks Farm & Bakery and Red Fire Farm garlic. The amazing white sweet potatoes are  also courtesy of Red Fire Farm and honey from Boston Honey Company.
We are nearing the home stretch on this years challenge with only a few meals left and lots of great frozen meat and pasta, canned sauces and relishes, and even a little bit of produce! Check back next week to see what we decide to cook up!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fairchild Gardens & a hint at Miami's food truck scene.

While in the greater Miami area last weekend Gail and I had the pleasure of visiting the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden an 83-acre botanic garden that features an extensive collection of tropical (many are quite rare) plants. Our visit coincided with the final day of Fairchild's 10th annual International Orchid Festival which added a dizzying array of people, orchid displays, vendors, art, crafts, music, and food sprinkled throughout the grounds. 
We could not have possibly walked the entirety of the grounds in the few hours of our visit but found so much to marvel at. Included in this was a small area with a half dozen towering ficus' with MASSIVE roots such as the one pictured below.
The photo was taken from about 15-20 feet away. For reference Gail is sitting on one of the roots, one of which spread for at least 15 feet above ground from the tree! I've looked into growing a fig tree when I have a yard that would be well suited for one, but one that grew to this size would be crazy! I read that this species of fig is not grown commercially for fruit due to inconsistent yields. Phew!!

Another awesome sight was the incredible Rainbow Eucalyptus, the trunk of which is pictured below. The tree sheds patches of bark annually at different times. The bright green inner bark then fades into the various shades you can see.
Along with a beautiful display of tree's, outdoor sculpture and orchid's we also had a nice hint of greater Miami's food truck scene! I love food trucks, my dinner last night was courtesy of Roxy's Grilled Cheese, with that in minde I was super excited to see food trucks at the Gardens, looking at their website it looks like they incorporate food trucks into their regular event programming!!! Take note Boston- this is a great idea. Moving on- I love food trucks, but I was not able to eat as we had just had lunch and I had amazing cuban food to look forward too for dinner. All I was able to do was take in the scene and enjoy a coffee!
A large food court style area had been set up for food vendors selling from stationary set ups was replicated in a wide open area for the food trucks we saw. Here are a few of the trucks I remember seeing:
gastroPod - billing themselves as the original mobile gourmet they have an interesting and tasty looking menu, with an extensive list of past items here.
Dolci Peccati - Not much of a website, but who needs one when you operate a small batch made gelato truck in Miami! I assume this truck crushes most locations on the average day in a climate like Miami's. They had the longest line, offering 5 or 6 flavors of gelato, coffee, and espresso drinks, including an Affogato that Gail will be dreaming about for a long time!
Churromania - hot and fresh churros! In the right state of mind I could see myself destroying a few of these! Website is in Spanish.
Native Conch- Their menu painted on the bright colored wood cart - conch fritters & conch salad. 

This small window into the Miami food truck scene has me planning my next visit centered on a day of gorging myself on so many great looking food trucks!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Plantation, FL Farmers Market 3/10

As previously noted Gail and I spend Friday - Monday in the Ft. Lauderdale & Key Biscayne, FL areas visiting family and relaxing. This meant we missed our usual trip to one of the local winter markets here in Boston, but we didn't miss out on locally produced goods! On Saturday afternoon we visited the Plantation, FL Farmers Market.
Held every saturday, year round the market featured a great variety of locally produced goods including produce, grass fed beef, hummus, dog treats, flowers,  pasta sauces, pickles, honeys and honey products, beef jerky, hot sauces, prepared foods including quiche, kettle corn, ceviche, tea, wood fired pizza from a portable wood fired oven, and much more! While wandering around we stopped long enough to bring a nice little bounty back to Boston:
We ended up taking home a nice variety of products:
Lemon Garlic Hummus from Barry's All Natural Hummus
Mustard Pickles from Pickled Pink
Bee Pollen & Avocado Honey from SMAKattack
Smoke Sauce & Instant Marinade Spice Blend from Tiki Island. What is great about the spice blend is all it needs is water and coconut milk and we have a ready to go marinade that would be great for pork, chicken, tofu, or vegetables.
Aurora & Amatriciana Sauces from Nonna Rizzo's who also had some delicious pre-made soup. The Aurora is a creamy Parmesan tomato sauce and the Amatriciana is a tomato sauce with caramelized onions, bacon, and a hint of hot pepper.
Not pictured is the Habanero grass-fed beef jerky and chocolate and caramel kettle corn I also picked up that was snacked on and gone before we made it back to Boston.
It was nice to see all the great prepared foods and other goods at the market but I was surprised that on the afternoon we visited there was only 1 farm selling produce and much of it was clearly from large scale enterprises as there were stickers on many of the fruits and veggies indicating they may have not been local. Overall though It was nice to see the similar and very different vendors then the markets around Boston.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dark Days Meal # 14: Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Cambridge and Fried Potato

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 dark days meal goes back to last week. I had been so busy with work and packing for our brief getaway that I had not even thought about a Dark Days Meal, but Gail was on top of it last week!
Wanting to use the leftover pan fried Red Fire Farm potatoes from an earlier meal Gail scrambled up some John Crow Farm eggs with some shredded West River Creamery Smoked Cambridge to whip up an easy and filling local breakfast.

No picture as I don't expect Gail to be as anal retentive and documentation oriented as I am! We are nearing the end of the challenge now with only 3 meals left to go!! The challenge has been far easier this year with the growth of local winter markets, which I will be reflecting on more when the challenge wraps up.

Catching up.

It has been over a week since anything new or interesting has showing up in this space. A combination of business at work and visiting family in Florida was a perfect store of working, packing, & traveling to shut this blog down since March 5.
I left for Ft. Lauderdale & Key Biscayne with some half written posts and ideas and have come back with a few thoughts and reflections as well. Keep an eye on this space for the rest of the week as I try and catch up!

Monday, March 5, 2012

SoWa Market 3/4

Gail and I elected to spend Saturday hanging out at home and relaxing opting to make a trip to the SoWa Winter Market on Sunday rather then the Wayland Market that we have been visiting lately. We've got a short week coming up and weren't in need of much so we enedd up grabbing a few staples as well as some snacks.
We got a strip steak & eggs from John Crow Farm. Pumpkin & Brie ravioli as well as sage fettucini from Valicenti Oganico. Mousakaa and stuffed grape leaves from Samira's homemade. Apples from Silverbrook Farm. A few more small packages of Q's Nuts, and two jars of lemon-verbena honey from the Herb Lyceum. The honey and some of the nuts are being gifted to others.
I also grabbed a copy of the Spring issue of edible Boston.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

2012 In Progress (Late February/March)

This post is a day late because Gail and I spent Friday night at the House of Blues here in Boston seeing my favorite band moe. along with so many great and wonderful people we are lucky to call our friends.


Lucky Peach - Issue #4


listening to:
momofuku tres playlist - David Chang's Spotify

Coffee I am drinking this week: We have been drinking more tea and less coffee lately, but I still enjoy at least a cup or 2 most days. We are continuing to work our way through Captain's Coffee Brewers Hope Blend which is a nice mix of medium & light roasted beans from Asia & South America that goes down smooth and has a very mellow and pleasant taste.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Dark Days Meal # 13: Salad, Artichoke & Boursin Ravioli with Turkey Sausage

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 weeks Dark Days meal brings us back to the world of Ravioli. All winter we have kept 2 or 3 packages of local ravioli in our freezer. We are fortunate that there are a few amazing local ravioli & pasta producers (Valicenti Organico & Nella Pasta being our favorites) who frequent the Winter Markets.  Gail and I love pasta and our major canning experience this summer was in producing jars and jars of delicious homemade sauce using fresh local ingredients at the height of summer.  Great local pasta and jars of our own homemade sauce make cooking a healthy and delicious meal after a long day of work much much easier.

This week enjoyed a (not pictured) salad of Red Fire Farm mixed greens with Winter Moon Farm radish and carrots, a Charlton Orchards apple, and West River Creamery Herdsman Cheese. After the salad came artichoke & boursin cheese ravioli from Valicenti Organico with a jar of our homemade sauce that  mixed with a few Red Fire Farm onions. To round out the meal I added an Italian turkey sausage from Bob's Turkey Farm.
Nothing fancy, but it tasted good and we had plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day! What local goodies have you been cooking up lately?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Brioche and Breakfast for Dinner

Gail has been on me for a few weeks to make Brioche because 1) she wanted to make french toast so we can enjoy breakfast for dinner and 2) it is absolutely delicious! 
As I've explained multiple times I am learning to bake, especially bread, but I am not an expert. Lucky for me those with far more knowledge and skill have made their fool proof recipes available on the Internet. In the case of Brioche, I turn back to Michael Ruhlman's recipe which is easy enough that as he claims an eleven year-old and a stand mixer can make it. 
I may not be eleven, but I do have a stand mixer and a love of great (and easy to make) bread! Once again (this was my 2nd time with this recipe) the results were fantastic. The loaf is eggy, buttery, and almost cake like with a nice flaky crust:

With such an easy recipe that can produce something as delicious and great as the above photo I don't think I need to search for another one. Ruhlman's recipe will definitely be my standby when a basic loaf of brioche is needed. 
As I stated at the top of the post the whole point of making the brioche was so we could have french toast for dinner! Last night Gail sliced up half of the loaf and made a great homemade french toast that she dusted with a pinch of curry sugar. Topped with Cook's Farm maple syrup, a pile of crispy John Crow Farm bacon, and a fruit salad.  On a day that seemed like winter had finally arrived here in Boston a warm filling breakfast for dinner was exactly what we needed!