Feb 10

Milling party!


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:

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


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.

Dec 09

Brilliant greens


At one of the recent Shared Harvest Winter CSA distributions, where we are dutiful checker-inners and box movers, Gretta had some extra goodies for sale. But these smart people came early and bought ALL the kale. Something like 80 bunches.

This couple were there on behalf of their coop, where they live with 13 other people who have localvore sympathies. They planned to take all this home and process and freeze it for the coop’s use this winter.

img_0592They shared with us their plan to blanch the greens, then squeeze them into balls, freeze the balls on cookie sheets, then store the balls of greens in bags. We do this kind of flash freezing with all kinds of things (berries, ice cubes of pesto), but it had not crossed our minds to store greens this way. Brilliant.

Oct 09

A couple pretty little apple tarts

tartApple picking with another couple this weekend = 107 pounds of apples. What were we thinking?

Fortunately, Ryan and Erik have the bulk of them.

The first dent in our gigantic store of apples came with Kristi’s first-of-the-season apple tart. Isn’t she a beauty? She made it with this Smitten Kitchen recipe, and while it’s not exactly dump-and-stir, it was fairly easy and super delicious. She made it with only a sprinkle of sugar and without the glaze the recipe calls for. The crust has a flakiness not usually achieved in this kitchen. I look forward to it tomorrow at work with a slice of cheddar and a cup of tea.

Last year we also went to this same orchard, somewhere just outside of Haverhill. It’s called Fay’s Farm and it was as uncrowded as could be. Apples were $1 per pound. There was even a picnic table for lunch eating and woods for peeing. And leaves for peeping and apples for tasting aplenty. Oh, but, it’s WINTRY MIXING today so who knows if there will be any further autumn apple picking days left this year.


Jul 09

Ch-ch-ch-ch-ch-cherrrrry BOMB!!

Cadillac, Feathers and Tom Cruise sure know how to enjoy an Ambrosia Salad, but the recipe below is more my speed.

Cherry Bomb
As we quickly run out of room in our freezer, I’m pursuing other methods of storing food for the winter.
I was initially inspired by Pete Wells’ recipe, which I might still try later this summer. For today, I opted to make these very, very simple brandied cherries, which I hadn’t ever done. Here are some tips, should you find yourself at the farmer’s market wanting a few extra pounds of cherries to put up.

Currently, it looks like I murdered someone in our apartment. As the cherries tend to burst as you pit them, be sure to change out of any clothing you care about or put on an apron. Also be sure to be clear of white walls, cell phones and/or library books. WOOPS. I scrubbed for a good 20 minutes, but future tenants will just have to wonder if someone died or got funky with too much red wine, thus blaming it on the boogie. You are going to get MESSY. Granted, I smell quite lovely, but my hands have a ghosty sheen to them, worthy of the best zombers get-up.

Maybe get a cherry stoner? I’ll say that again, CHERRY STONER. Why one of these monsters hasn’t been given to me as a house-warming gift is beyond me. Maybe one of these little cuties can come home with me some day? ZOMG, somebody STOP me from buying this one!

The iconic Dana Hill Liquor store (we like to call it “Vegas Liquor”) on Mass Ave has a good deal on brandy right now. The proprietor told me that it was shipped to them by mistake, so get $16 and head over for a liter of E&J VSOP Superior Reserve. Not the best brandy in the world, but does the trick for our cherry-rific purposes.

Audrey Horne wasn’t the only Twin Peaks character into cherries, but damned if she wasn’t the sexiest one. I think maybe I’ll end all my blog stories with video…

adapted from Cherry Home Companion.

It takes 6 weeks for results, but is well worth the effort.

cherries2 cups sugar
4 cups brandy
2 lbs. fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted

1. Dissolve sugar in brandy in a sterilized 2–3-quart glass jar with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Add cherries.
3. Cover jar and allow cherries to macerate in the refrigerator for 6 weeks.
4. To serve, pour some of the brandy into a small glass and add a few cherries. Cherries will keep, refrigerated, for up to 1 year.

Oct 08

Winter meat delivery!

We picked this up from The Austin Brothers at the Central Sq market, where we’ve been seeing them nearly every Monday for the last few months and buyingreally excellent ground beef and sausages. The farmers’ market season ends at the close of this month. But they’ll be making deliveries in Central Square (behind the Harvest Coop) on the first Monday of each month, from January - May.* They’ll take orders online, until the Saturday night before. And they’ve got a spectacular variety of beef, pork, veal and pies! — at very reasonable prices. As you can see. 

Here’s what they’re asking for though: each order has to be at least 50 bucks. But there’s no reason why you can’t split this with friends or make a big bulk purchase and freeze the meat. Also, the Austin Bros need at least eight orders to make the trip to the city wortwhile.  

Or e-mail them at austinfarm@hotmail.com / call (413) 668-6843.

*Pick up times are scheduled for roughly 12 - 1:30 on Monday afternoons. They’ll also be stopping in Framingham and Worcester for those of you who live/work farther afield. 

Oct 08

We’re awash in the winter CSA share

The meal you see here is brought to you by Gretta Anderson and the Belmont Winter CSA Share, a beautiful feat of efficiency and bounty. 

The Belmont winter share is distributed three times: one Saturday per month, Oct-Dec. You’ve got to go to the farm to get it, but it’s on the edge of town, not far from Memorial Drive and within very reasonable distance from Somerville or Cambridge. Gretta and her crew (of women!) ….. seriously have their shit together. Good eaters were ushered through an assembly line of pre-boxed and pre-bagged fruits and veggies with remarkable alacrity.  

The share is $225 — a bargain, we think, if the next two deliveries are at all like the first. On Saturday we took home apples, sweet potatoes, cabbage, spinach, potatoes, lettuce, parsnips, onions, leeks, parsley, turnips, beets, squash and a pumpkin… and more. Combined, about 55 pounds of food. Assuming this is the average delivery, that’s around 1.36 per pound.

Now, about the meal in the photo: Our friend Erik recently showed us the glory of a stuffed delicata squash and this is our attempt to replicate. We cut the squash in half and scooped out the seeds, then roasted it until it was soft. Meanwhile, we fried sausage (courtesy of Austin Bros. Farm and the Central Square Farmers’ Market) and, in a separate pan, sauteed onions, leeks, garlic and apples. After the sausage had cooked and rested, we cut it up and tossed it in with the sauteed stuff.

By this time, the squash was cooked. We took it out and scooped out most of the flesh, which was added to the apple-sausage mix. This wasn’t that easy — the skin on a delicata, while ideal in that it’s edible, is also, well, delicate, and prone to tearing. Don’t let it.

We stuffed the skins with appley, sausagey + squashy mix, and placed them back in the oven, topped with a tiny bit of grated parmesan cheese (though I’d wager that any grated or soft cheese would be equally as delicious). Then we threw it on a plate next to Gretta’s extraordinarily robust spinach (raw and dressed with red wine vinegar+olive oil). 

Aug 08

The bargain of my life: $1/lb tomatoes

Today. Government Center Farmers’ Market. I bought all of them, five glorious pounds of red ripe tomatoes for five dollars, and had to call Kristi for a ride home from the Central Square T station because I was so weighed down and my bag was ripping.

No farm is going to go out of its way advertising their seconds (aka sauce) tomatoes. They won’t be tarted up like the heirlooms or spread across the whole table like the uniform field tomatoes. There might not even be that many to begin with. But rest assured, in this epoch of $4/lb tomatoes, they are well worth looking for. From now until late September, when tomatoes are coming in fast and furious, farmers will be playing fast and loose with these ever-so-slightly damaged-but-otherwise-still-perfectly-delicious babies.

In truth, these weren’t our first cheap seconds tomatoes. Last week, we were riding bikes in Hadley and happened on a little cart of vegetables outside a house. Tomatoes: a quarter each. A quarter each! We bought all of those. Kristi made them into sauce, simmered gently and loaded with garlic and basil, light and sweet and clean. Kristi is not off the boat Italian, but close, and she brings a fantastic, genetic paesan’s touch to our humble gravy.

The Government Center tomatoes became a pretty spicy salsa today. Please hear me out. My ethnic heritage has no salsa in it whatsoever (boiled cabbage, though, and lots of it), but I make a good salsa. It’s sort of adapted from The Joy.

First, I also bought poblano and some other miscellaneous spicy peppers. We had some red onion, garlic and cilantro procured at the Central Square market today as well — and a lime.

I cut the tomatoes into halves and quarters, tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper, and threw them in a 400 degree oven until they were lightly roasted, soft and fragrant.

Meanwhile, I put the whole peppers on the open flame on my stovetop, blistering their skins and giving them a kind of roasty, smoky flavor. You need to let them cool and peel them before you use them.

Once you’ve organized the tomatoes and peppers, throw them in a bowl with chopped onions (red or white) a ton of garlic, some raw jalapenos or some such, olive oil, the fresh lime juice, salt, pepper and big, wild fistfuls of cilantro, stems and all. We have one of those stick things that purees soup. We call it the Zhusch, but we still haven’t figured out how to spell it. Use that or a food processor.

It’s pretty delicious, but we’re freezing it to help us later, in February, when the dark lords of limp, lifeless imported South American produce rule the misty, overlit produce sections.

Jul 08

Zucchini straight talk express

The hour of the zucchini is upon us, people.

But let us speak frankly about zucchini and summer squash here, among friends, alright? No stupid jokes about locking your car and no apocryphal crap about country-folk stuffing them in neighbors’ mailboxes.

OK. We don’t actually do a lot of different things with zukes. The reason is this: chop up a bunch of garlic (also available fresh right now), saute in oil, add zucchini slices, saute a bit more, add soy sauce or tamari, saute a bit more, eat. It’s so good. They say mice faced with cocaine or zucchini cooked with garlic and soy choose the latter every time.

Here are a couple of secrets, from someone who has ushered a lot of zucchini prepared this way down the hatch:

* Saute the garlic on medium heat initially, and only for a moment or two. It has plenty more time to cook during phases two and three.
* Slice the zuke thin. They soak up more soy that way.
* Increase the heat when the zucchini go in the pan. This will give some of the garlic a bit of a crispy, roasted feel and allow the soy to evaporate quickly when it goes in. This prevents issues of sogginess.
* When the soy hits the pan, move the zuke around quickly so no one piece sits too long and most receive an even coating.
* Less is more on the soy. It will need a bit of pepper but definately no salt.

Also, folks, zucchini bread exists for a reason. The sad reality is that it never seems to call for enough zucchini to actually put a dent in it when it stockpiles in the fridge. But even so, it’s one of those dry ingredients + wet ingredients thrown together and voila. I found a recipe on www.smittenkitchen.com that i halved successfully last week. We ate it for dessert and breakfast.

Lastly, tonight we did neither of these things, but instead made a simple supper with plainly sauteed zukes and summer squash from last week’s CSA share (oil + salt + pepper + garlic), and threw them on top of an omlette with eggs from Misty Brook farm and Cabot cheese. Oh, and today we were in Northampton (our old stomping ground) and we ate lunch at the one and only La Vera Cruzana, where I stole 3 little plastic containers of salsa. That went all over it well.

Jul 08

Farmer Al made me do it!

Yesterday I went to the Central Sq farmers’ market, one of my favorites, and stopped by Farmer Al’s stand, because I had something to give him. For the first time and perhaps the only time this year, his callaloo was being upstaged by another crop: his blueberries. There was literally a trash barrel-size container in the back of his van full of them, and he was pushing them, in his singsongy, jovial + passively aggressive way, on people by the bucket load. ($17 for just the berries, $19 if you wanted to take the cute little blue pail home.) He also had instructions posted on how to freeze these babies for the winter. Super simple.

1) wash them by the bowl-full in ice cold water
2) strain
3) line a cookie sheet with wax paper, spread the berries out so none are touching
4) pop the whole thing in the freezer for about 1 hour
5) if the berries are hard, toss them into a freezer bag

We now have 5 or 6 quarts of berries frozen which I will try my best to ignore until February or so, when it is so dark and there is nothing living, they will give me the strength to go on….

Al is at the Davis Sq market tomorrow, Wednesday, probably with the last of his bulk berries. Go!

…and speaking of farmers markets: the Federation of Massachusetts Farmers Markets, aka the Feds, or the people who make the six biggest markets in the Boston/Cambridge/Somerville area happen — the organization is turning 30 this year. And that’s OK! to celebrate, Henrietta’s Table is hosting a fancy ($$$) dinner of all local fare on July 29.  Tickets are $150 and available by calling (781) 893-8222. Most of the money, or so I gather, goes back to the Feds and the good work they do.