Author Archives


28
Jul 10

We went to the Cape and ate fish + bivalves

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I have two things I’m quite proud of in this life. One is introducing Kristi to oysters, and the other is learning to shuck them. And I suppose that eating them together counts as one of the great pleasures in this world, as well.

We don’t eat a lot of fish or oysters, but we bought a pound of fresh local haddock and two Wellfleet oysters this weekend while we were in Provincetown. Kristi oversaw the preparation of the haddock - bread crumbs from a leftover Iggy’s baguette were combined with Kate’s butter and a whole lotta garlic from our CSA. We covered one side of with the breading, slid the two fillets into a crappy pan at our rental cottage, and cooked them slowly, letting the butter poach the top parts of the fish and drip into all the rest. It was perfect.

I oversaw the shucking. For those of you who’ve never tried, you wedge the point of a short, strong knife into the hinge of the oyster and move it until you feel the hinge pop. Then you glide the knife, ever so gently, between the top and bottom shells, careful not to spill the liquor inside. When you remove the top shell, there’s a bit of the oyster clinging to it, so you have to be careful to cut if off before you separate the two. Lastly, and not everybody does this, I run the knife under the oyster, separating it from the bottom shell, so that it’s easier to tip into your mouth. We ate them with a squeeze of very unlocal lemon, but decided after that even such a simple dressing was unnecessary.

Later, we tried to determine what made oysters so good. The conclusion: it’s impossible to describe.


23
Jul 10

Inflatable movie screen + local burgers + campy independent horror films

I’m not sure I need to say much more than that, but ok.

We love the Haley House Bakery Cafe in Roxbury. They’ve been a very generous in letting us use their space for our events, plus, they’re just cool. They host programs that teach kids how to cook, and provide job training skills to people coming out of prison.

Every year, they partner with the Color of Film Collaborative and the Roxbury International Film Festival for an outdoor dinner and a movie. This year’s Dinner and a Movie is Friday, July 30, 6:30-9:30 at the Haley House.

Last year, the Haley House manager, Bing Broderick, asked us to help make the event all local. And he wasn’t kidding. Just about every single menu item was: cheese, beer, bread, burgers, chicken (which was made so delicious by our friend Erik that the people there christened him “The Bird Man”), fruit, cabbage, carrots, onions, garlic - everything.

We really assumed that the local BBQ was a one time theme, but this year, they’ve just kept it largely local again. It’s so cool. This is how change happens.

Here’s the menu (The event is Friday, July 30 from 6:30-9:30):

-Haley House Homemade chicken dogs topped with our homemade sauerkraut
-Hardwick Beef cheeseburgers with all the fixings
-Haley House’s own special veggie burgers
-Haley House potato salad with local potatoes and vegetables and Noonday Farm eggs
-Haley House special healthy slaw made with Chinese cabbage from Noonday Farm
-Fresh local tomato salad
-Sour Cherry Upside Down featuring Roxbury/Dorchester cherries, courtesy of Earthworks, topped with whipped cream
-Watermelon punch
-Organic beer & wine will be available for purchase

You can buy tickets here.

We’ll be volunteering at the event. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there!


18
May 10

Ode to Vermont

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This is what it looks like when we go to Vermont. Kristi looks like she’ll collapse from happiness.

In this photo, she’s standing where our friend Howard’s yard meets the neighbor’s yard. We happen to know that in the neighbor’s yard is a cheese cave where wheels of Vermont Shepherd are aged. And across the street, Vermont Shepherd’s flock graze in the twilight.

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I was ten when my family moved to Vermont from Long Island. I think that was young enough for it to mean I have no other home. Life was always just, you know, life. We did not grow up with money or privilege, but secret waterfalls and misty blue afternoons like this one were very much normal. Now when I go back, I’m like a tourist, unable to believe that such beauty still exists unspoiled and that people just live in this Eden in such a daily way. My day to day life now involves hot exhaust from MBTA buses and hipsters, trying so hard.

I know that Vermont has done a hell of job marketing itself to the rest of New England and the world as an exceptional place where exceptional artisan food is made. But this flock of sheep, guarded by a working sheep dog, are not at all an unusual site. These photos are not taken wildly out of context. The marketing is no shill.

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20
Apr 10

Creatively preserved tomatoes: an update

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These little babies date from early September. On our way home from Northampton, we swung by Red Fire Farm, our CSA farm, to exercise our pick-our-own rights. There were so. many. cherry. tomatoes. So we shared them with Ryan and Erik, who stuffed them whole and raw into quart jars with a few onions and covered them with olive oil and have been refrigerating them since.

When the whole thing is in storage, it looks a little less than appetizing. The oil hardens and looks a congealed. But brought up to room temperature, as you can see, the oil looks like oil and smells like summer.

The night we met last summer’s cherry tomatoes, we were having flatbreads. They would pull out a few, sort of smear here and there across the dough, then brush the whole thing with this fragrant oil. In retrospect, it seems like you could add herbs to the oil at the outset and have very flavorful oil indeed come April. It’s just a lot of oil to part with. I think that’s what prevented us from doing this ourselves at first, but we will definitely be doing it come cherry tomato season.

Our experiment, however, failed. Not sure why. We put whole tomatoes (not cherries) in a jar, covered in a simple salt brine, then filled the jar the rest of the way with oil. First, the expanding tomatoes pushed the oil up and out of the jar, leaving a huge mess where we had them stored. This month, when we went to open them, we found very tough, like, tomato husks. They were like hollow little footballs in the shape of tomatoes. It may be that they have a shorter shelf life. But we won’t be wasting tomatoes like that again.

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7
Apr 10

Spring also means rot + decay

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At the top left is the last of our unidentified root vegetables that we’ve thrown into soups and slaws. WHAT IS IT?! A rutabega? We feel like such fools, but for some reason, we can’t figure it out. The carrots are holding up beautifully, don’t you think? Moving clockwise, mystery root (Shared Harvest Winter CSA), onion (Enterprise Farm, via Metro Pedal Power), carrot (Red Fire Farm, via Metro Pedal Power as well) and potato (this could be either Red Fire or Enterprise).


30
Mar 10

By some miracle we got a community garden plot

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So we’ve decided to co-garden with friends (left). I am putting this photo up as a reminder that we made our first visit in coats and hats and gloves (March 28). At center is the plot itself, #22. As you can see, it borders the fence which borders the sidewalk. There was a mild debate about whether we should use the fence to grow peas or somesuch climbingness because of pea theft by passersby. But we tried to thieve a pea and it would actually be a lot more trouble and shrub-fording than a pea is really worth. So it was settled that the fence was a trellis.

It’s called the Squirrel Brand Community Garden because of it’s proximity to the Squirrel Brand candy company building (right).

We’re all CSA members, so we can really grow for variety. I’d take any suggestions for unusual New England fruits or vegetables. Also, we have catmint that the previous gardeners left behind, but also something we can’t identify. Anyone out there know what this is?

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10
Feb 10

Milling party!

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Thank GOD our mill came with this headbanded, smiling man. He really made grinding corn and spelt on a Saturday night more fun than I imagine my commoner ancestors had it.

Of course, that’s fellow localvore Ryan, and Kristi on the hand crank. The mill is actually my brother’s. Liam, 25, a former Marine and Iraq war veteran and current out-of-control new-agey yoga teacher, Earth chakra seeker, raw foodist type has apparently been grinding his own flour for years. Who knew? Which is just to say, get to know your siblings. Because who knows what’s changed since we were all kids together. And they might have a mill that you might happen to need.

Ryan is holding the mill because this Ebay special kind of shook itself off of the counter, where it was clamped. But it made our milling party of five really feel like a party. Because people were always switching off, and no one was ever left alone, grinding, grinding, while the sound of laughter and clinking glasses floated in from the other room.

Members of our party each brought a few quarts each of whatever they wanted milled. The spelt milled easily down with one pass through the mill, while the harder wheats (like the Hadley wheat) we choose to put through twice. And, miraculously, the dent corn was ground down no problem into something that looks like it will make a very hearty polenta or porridge.

Only twice did someone (me!) pull the hopper off the rest of the thing and send grain flying all over. Here, enjoy some dark scenes from a mid-winter grain milling dinner party:


24
Jan 10

The grain CSA hath arrived

The grain CSA we bought from Pioneer Valley Heritage Grains has finally come in. We split our share down the middle. What follows is what is in a whole share, and what follows that are some scenes from the efforts to make some order of it all. Yes, those are pillowcases we are storing the grains in. They tell us that because these grains have not been industrially dehydrated, they need to breath otherwise they’ll mold.

Also, we’re in the market for an inexpensive (or free!) mill. Any type, really, but one of the Kitchenaid attachments would be great.

  • 30lbs of wheat (spring and winter wheat)
  • 10lbs of black beans
  • 10lbs of oats
  • 20lbs of corn
  • 5lbs of barley
  • 6lbs of rye
  • 15lbs of spelt
  • 4lbs of emmer

17
Jan 10

Eating locally in winter: It’s just not that hard. In fact, it’s possibly easier than eating locally in spring and early summer

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Kristi went to the Winter Farmer’s Market in Wayland yesterday. This is what it looks like there, in mid-January. An abundance of food, not just of the root variety, but fresh and green and vibrant, as well.

Sometimes in the spring and early summer, when the markets start up and the CSA starts rolling in, I experience this guilty sensation. I want to just dive into full-on local eating, but you can’t really eat greens, garlic scapes and strawberries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s just not enough calories.

The nice thing about the deep winter is that you can count some serious local calories to be the backbone of a meal. Like potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squashes, beets, turnips, kohlrabi. Then fresh and green things are welcome additions.

So I have a bone to pick with consumers and with farmers/infrastructure builders. Consumers: it is not difficult to buy 50lbs of potatoes (for example) and tuck them away in a reasonably potato-friendly spot in your home. Farmers/People with Resources and Power: It would be even better if YOU invested in root cellars and stored the food for us. Then we could be sure that our carrots and onions were well preserved. And we could get our asses out to you, or you could get our turnips to us here in the city. [Mental blip: Perhaps we need municipal root cellars.]

Last bit of this for everyone: It’s not hard to eat locally and well in the winter. With events like the Wayland Farmer’s Market, it doesn’t even require the advance planning or upfront capital of a winter CSA.


4
Jan 10

Souperbowl II: Hotter than last year

sbowllogoPlease come to the second annual Souperbowl! In fact, go buy your ticket now!

The good news is that we will have more soups (6 or 7 even!), delicious locally baked bread, locally brewed beer, locally made cheese and locally pickled pickles. There is no bad news (unless you count the fact that Kristi and I will likely not be trying our hand at a soup again this year. A sad year for chili lovers indeed).

We’re still organizing the menu, but we’ve heard early rumors of matzoh ball soup. Vegans and veggievores will be well-represented. Take a gander at last year’s menu for a preview of what to expect.

The stolen idea* here is that we demonstrate just how much is available in terms of local food even in the darkest heart of winter,  that we stay in touch with each other, and that we  eat and drink and be merry and put the final nail in the casket of January. Bring on February!

Here are the deets (More to follow, like the menu which our soupwrights are hard at work finalizing):

  • Sunday, January 31
  • 4 p.m.
  • Haley House Bakery Cafe, 12 Dade St., Dudley Square, Roxbury
  • $15

*Props to the Mad River Localvore Project out of Vermont for the inspiration for this event.