Posts Tagged ‘apple’

Inaugural Winter Market

January 9, 2011

We were very excited this week to go to the inaugural day of the local winter farmer’s market.  The only market within the reach of the subway (a mile by bus or walking from Davis Square), it’s in the Somerville Armory.  It runs from yesterday through the end of March, on Saturdays, from 10 to 2.

We went about 10:30, half an hour after it opened, and it was already crowded and getting more so.  There was lots of congestion as people mingled socially and browsed the wares.  We were among the many pushing strollers, which added to the navigational challenge.   Soon the preschoolers and their parents took over the mezzanine for running around.  It seemed a perfect arrangement.

The mix of vendors was good.  There was one orchard (Apex) selling apples and two farms (Winter Moon and Enterprise)  selling vegetables.  We bought a half peck of braeburn apples, on the recommendation of the sellers that they are among the last picked.  They’re excellent in both flavor and texture.  Next week, I plan to try their empire apples.

Winter Moon was selling only their own produce, all storage crops of roots, squashes, and dried popping corn.  I was very pleased with my $3 bag of a bit more than 3 cups of ruby red popping corn.  The kernels are red, but the popped corn is white like any other popcorn.  Enterprise Farm was selling the same mix of items that they include in their winter CSA:  some stuff from their greenhouses and storage, some stuff from other New England farms’ greenhouses and storage, and lots of fresh items from the Carolinas and Florida.  All of it was clearly labeled as to origin.  They had the longest shopping line of any stand I saw.

I expect and hope that demand this year will be high enough that the same and other farms will invest in storage, and more local vegetables and fruits will be available next winter.

As a vegetarian, I didn’t pay much attention to the meat stands, but I did notice that there were 3:  one with fish, one with red meat, and one that might have been poultry.  Reseska Apiaries was there selling honey and beeswax candles.  Apex Orchards also had some honey.  Cook’s Farm, who was mostly there as a bakery, had some maple syrup and applesauce, too.  I saw a total of 3 bakery stands.  I guess it’s nice to have them there, if I’m shopping for an entire meal, but it still feels weird to me that bakeries masquerade as farms.  In other sweets, Taza Chocolates, based nearby in Somerville, had a table.

It was the first modern farmer’s market in Massachusetts history to have wine vendors doing tastings and sales, because a new law finally allows them to.  There were 3 wineries at the market.

Other vendors are on the publicized list.  Maybe I just didn’t see everyone, or maybe more will be there in future weeks.

For more information:
Somerville Winter Market Vendors List
Massachusetts Winter Farmer’s Markets List

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Eating seasonally: winter

January 31, 2010

Eating seasonally has been less local this year, because of pregnancy.  Which foods are appealing has changed, and that at least somewhat correlates with my different nutritional needs.  The biggest change from past years is that I fully succumbed to the citrus fruit cravings that I get every winter.  The only local fruit available over the winter is homemade applesauce.  While I’ve been eating some of that almost every day, it’s no substitute for raw, whole fruit. 

Citrus is in season now, not locally, but in season.  Relative to California, Florida isn’t so far away.  I’ve been buying Florida grapefruits and minneolas, although I also bought long-distance clementines while they were fully in season in December.  As long as I’m buying fruit at the supermarket, I figure I may as well get things that I can only get at the supermarket, so we’ve been enjoying a variety of tropical fruits:  mangoes (while they’re 50 cents each), papaya, and bananas. 

We’ve been eating greens from our freezer, and roots from our fridge.  Tonight it was pasta with broccoli rabe, veggie sausage, parmesan and mozzarella cheeses, and Italian spices.  Yesterday, chard went into soup that started with a can of tomato bisque, but also included canned tomatoes (the blight this summer meant we couldn’t freeze enough local tomatoes).  Earlier this week, turnip greens from the freezer joined turnips from the fridge in a tofu stir-fry.  Turnips and parsnips made a lovely pureed soup a couple of weeks ago, with caraway seeds, salt, and pepper, and served with a pat of butter in each bowl. 

The most exciting of our local foods this winter has been sprouts that my husband grows in a jar on our kitchen windowsill.  When nothing else green, fresh, and crunchy is local, we can have nutritious, delicious sprouts that have traveled no distance at all.  Commercially grown sprouts are more likely than other vegetables to harbor bacteria, and are therefore off-limits to pregnant women.  Homegrown sprouts, though, seem perfectly safe.   Now I just need to figure out where to get sprout seeds locally.

Oven-Braised Cabbage

September 21, 2009

Sometimes it’s nice to cook things in the oven, so that the hour or so before eating is not the time you have to be in the kitchen cooking. Braising is usually a stovetop procedure, but the idea of cooking with very little liquid translates well to the oven. Here’s a recipe I made this week. It was fun to serve alongside roasted blue potatoes from the farmers market.

  • Quarter, core, and knife-shred one red cabbage.  (A green cabbage would probably taste just as good but not be as pretty.  They also tend to be larger, so increase all the seasonings accordingly.)
  • Quarter, core, and slice about 2 apples.  (I used only one but it was a hefty ten ounces!)  McIntosh have a wonderful flavor, although by the time the dish is cooked, they’ll have turned into applesauce.
  • Put half the cabbage into the bottom of a deep lidded casserole.  Layer half the apples over it.  Then the other half of the cabbage, and the other half of the apple.
  • Sprinkle the top with salt and pepper to taste, and a generous sprinkling of caraway seeds.
  • Pour about 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and about 2 tablespoons of water over the cabbage and apples.
  • Bake at 350 (or whatever temperature your other food needs, but adjust time accordingly) for about an hour.
  • About 10 minutes before serving, remove the lid.  Stir together the cabbage, apples, and spices.  Leave the lid off to evaporate some liquid and gain texture.

I’d made similar dishes before, but this was the first time I tried it with caraway seeds, and I was very pleased with the results.  If you don’t have cider vinegar, you could use red wine vinegar, but the cider vinegar really kicks up the apple flavor.

My husband also found this tasty, but said he’d have preferred his cabbage and seasonings as colcannon, so I’m offering a link to my recipe for that, too.

Traveling and Coming Home

September 10, 2009

I think I’ve been away more than usual this summer.  I like traveling, and I was away doing things that I enjoyed or at least valued.  The food from a week at a camp and a week at a conference center, however, left me feeling lousy.  Dairy and eggs left this vegetarian craving beans.  Processed starches left me wanting whole grains.  And I acutely missed the abundance of fresh, local, delicious vegetables and fruits that I would have had at home.

At the end of the summer, I had the opposite travel experience.  We visited friends in Seattle and enjoyed plums and blackberries that grow on their property.  Then we went to a farmers market that was about 5 times the size of the larger of my local markets.  The variety of produce, cheeses, baked goods, and meat was overwhelming, in a good way.  The prices of fruits were much lower than what I’m used to paying.  I’ll admit a bit of climate envy.

At home, food this week has been about combinations.  A ratatouille included tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green pepper, and fresh garlic along with garbanzos, dried oregano, salt, and of course lots of  olive oil.  It would have included fresh basil, too,  if we’d had energy to pick some from out back.

A stir-fry included green beans, broccoli, turnips, turnip greens, radishes, radish greens, and some cilantro.  As has become usual, we firmed up the tofu by heating it without oil in a single layer on a nonstick skillet, flipping it when the first side browned.  To work with the cilantro’s sweetness, the sauce used a generous amount of jarred hoisin sauce along with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

We brought back a salad we particularly enjoyed last fall:  arugula with cheddar and apples, with a balsamic vinaigrette.  We’ve started to get apples from our CSA, and the rainy summer means this should be a particularly good apple season.  Flashback: last year I posted a catalogue of apples.  So far, we’ve gotten Ginger Gold.

CSA starts and Apple Bread

June 10, 2009

Our CSA began this week with greens, greens, greens, greens, and some more greens.  Specifically, we got two bunches each of red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, pea tendrils, spinach, chicory, and bok choy.  The bunches were so big that they wouldn’t all fit in our refrigerator without difficulty.

That gave us the push we needed to start right away saving for winter.  My husband washed, chopped, blanched, shocked, and froze one of the heads of chicory.  It will be good over pasta with cheese and mushrooms.  Between the time they were first cultivated and the time air conditioning was introduced, mushrooms were a winter crop.

We also cooked the spinach, both bunches, because it takes up so much less space that way. It ended up in a pasta sauce that is basically bechamel sauce with chopped spinach and parmesan cheese.  It made a lot of sauce.  When we have the leftovers, I think we’ll puree the sauce so that it spreads over the pasta better.   I hope that pureeing it doesn’t take away its fresh, green, spinach-y flavor.

We can almost defrost our chest freezer for the summer.  Everything but a few tubs of soup fits easily into the freezer attached to our refrigerator.  I could probably make it all fit, with some time and effort.  We’re reducing what’s in the freezer, still.  The night before our first CSA drop-off, we enjoyed a stir-fry of tofu with tatsoi and Asian eggplant, both from the freezer.  I am pleased to report that both froze satisfactorily.  The tatsoi stems became even tougher and harder to chew than when they’re fresh, and the eggplant was on the softer side but it did still have texture.  I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well just about everything freezes.  Putting Food By seems to get it right, every time.

The apple bread I wrote about in my last post turned out pretty well, so here’s the recipe.  If you didn’t save a glut of apples this year, come back to this recipe in October when there are lots and they’re cheap.

Apple Quickbread or Muffins (vegan)

Most quantities are guesses.
2 1/2 cups flour, white or whole wheat (dark spices make it brown anyway)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cloves, nutmeg, ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
2 or 3 tsp salt
3 apples, diced small
1 cup water, or less
1 1/2 cup applesauce

Mix dry ingredients.
Mix apple pieces in to coat with flour mixture.
Add half of water and then applesauce, stirring to mix evenly. If dough is too dry, add the remaining water.
Oil and flour a 9×9 baking dish (or a dozen muffin tins).
Pour in batter.
Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.

Farmers markets are open

June 7, 2009

Since I last posted, both of most-nearby farmers markets have opened.  There’s a market I can get to easily by bicycle almost every day of the week, but only two are easy to walk to.  Our CSA will start drop-offs this week.  This is the beginning of the season when I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t eat locally.

This spring was an unusually good growing season.  Unlike last year when the farmers market had only radishes and rhubarb (and a bit of arugula) on opening day, this year there were all kinds of greens available, and turnips in addition to radishes. My husband brought home spinach (to enjoy as a raw salad), chard (which was my favorite green for a few years – I don’t think I have a favorite currently), collards, and rhubarb.  He could easily have bought enough things for us to eat a different vegetable every day all week, but we still have a lot of freezer stores to eat down.

We ate the spinach with beet wedges thawed from the freezer, under balsamic vinaigrette.  Blue cheese would have been nice but we didn’t have any.  The collards we enjoyed, as usual, cooked with black beans in olive oil, garlic, basil, cumin, cayenne, and salt, served over brown rice.  The chard joined white beans in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, sage, salt and pepper, served over pasta.  The rhubarb is probably going to become ice cream sauce and go into our freezer until we make ice cream to put it over.  Sauces freeze very well.

Our CSA farmer is concerned about losing some crops that matured too quickly for his drop-off schedule.  As I said, it was a weirdly good spring for growing greens and their roots.  I hope he was able to sell them at farmers markets instead.  When we saw him on Saturday, we asked the same question we ask all summer, “Is there anything here that we won’t get in our share this week?”  His answer was broccoli rabe so we bought some of that and then stopped at an Italian grocery on our way home to buy parmesan to use with it over pasta.

In anticipation of a glut of vegetables, I did a lot of cooking this weekend to get us eating down last year’s stores.  I roasted two full cookie sheets of root vegetables.  One of them was all carrots, an interesting mix of colors (yellow, orange, and purple) and sizes.  While they were still warm, I tossed them with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley (the good part of what was left over from Passover – a lot of leftover parsley went into the compost).  We also had parsley in our freezer, and that went into a salad of bulghur and cooked lentils in a tabbouleh dressing.  The other cookie sheet was a rainbow mix of beets (one red, one yellow, and one red-and-white striped Chioggia), turnips, celeriac, parsnips, and more carrots.  Roasted in olive oil, salt, and pepper, they’ll be an easy side dish for some meal this week.

We didn’t make as many batches of applesauce last fall as I’d expected, and then we got more apples (local storage apples) through our winter CSA, so there are still lots of apples in our fridge.  Three of them went into an apples and spices sodabread that used a mix of applesauce and water as its binding liquid.  I don’t know yet how it came out.  A few others had to go directly into compost.  If the bread works, I still have enough apples to make many more loaves.

Weeks 50-51: May 6 – 19

May 19, 2009

The first local farmers market (Copley Square, Boston) opened today for the season.  I wasn’t there.  I’ll wait another two weeks until farmers markets open that are close enough to walk to, followed about a week later by our first CSA drop-off.

I remember last year at this time that I eagerly anticipated a bounty at the farmers market.  I know better.  Harvest season starts slowly.  So, while I feel entitled to stop hoarding and eat whatever vegetables are still in our freezer, I know that we’ll need some of them for a few weeks longer.

Frozen mustard greens and frozen diced-and-stewed tomatoes joined chickpeas, lots of curry powder, a bit each of cumin, coriander, cayenne, ginger, and of course salt, in a curried mustard greens recipe based on one in Joy of Cooking.  The tomatoes can be thawed, microwaved, or simply cooked with the spices and chickpeas before the greens are added.  The mustard greens are finnicky, in that they need to thaw before cooking.  I left mine (in thin layers in ziplock bags) thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours, then cooked with them as if they were fresh.  It worked, and they didn’t overcook.  I don’t think I could tell the difference between cooking with frozen verus fresh, although it’s been many months since I’ve had the opportunity to taste it with truly fresh mustard greens.

Some frozen green beans went with a pasta and sauce meal.  Some were a bit mushy, most were sort of generic frozen green beans, but a few still had crunch!

Frozen broccoli and frozen pepper strips joined tofu in a stir-fry.  The peppers held up well, the broccoli not so well.  That might mean that the broccoli was already a bit old when we got around to freezing it.

Apple sauce came out of the freezer to go into lunch bags.  Tomatillo sauce came out of the freezer to go on top of tortillas with black beans and cheese.

In a demi-miracle of proper handling, we still had two happy, healthy butternut squash.  One of them joined cannelini beans and sage to make a topping for pasta.  Sage, a perennial, is up in our yard, but we didn’t notice until after cooking with stuff out of a spice jar.  It was a missed opportunity, but we’ll have others.

The end, I mean the beginning, is in sight!

Weeks 40-41: February 25 – March 10

March 10, 2009

Our winter CSA has continued to bring us the lushness of Florida.  And it’s the same thing week after week after week.  I hadn’t realized how much I enjoy the way foods come into season, are abundant for a while, and then go out of season again.  I really, really do.  I’m looking forward to summer.  We will not be joining this same CSA next winter.  Our goal is to buy what we need over the summer when we can get it from local producers, supplementing our summer CSA with  local farmers markets.

It was very exciting to get some bok choy for variety this week!  The green vegetable I was most interested in, though was dino kale, I think because it goes happily into foods that feel seasonal.  I just can’t eat much salad in the winter, so lettuce and grape tomatoes week after week doesn’t work for me at all.  At least tomatoes cook into lots of things.  I’ve heard of cooked lettuce but it’s not my type of adventurous eating.

roots_dishes

We did manage a pair of very local meals last week.  The first, as seen in the photo above, was rather involved.  One of the dishes was colcannon.  Instead of my typical white potatoes and purple cabbage, it used green cabbage and got a bit of color from some red-skinned potatoes as well as the caraway seeds.  (Recipe in week 13.)  The color in the meal came from carrots and parsnips in a mustard-maple syrup glaze from a Vegetarian Times recipe.  (We “fleshed” out the meal, pun intended, with vegetarian bratwurst.)  All of those vegetables could be local.  Because our winter CSA produce has gotten intermingled with our local storage vegetables, I honestly don’t know how much of it was local.  But it could have been, and next winter it will be.

The steaming water from the carrots and parsnips along with the boiling water from the potatoes and cabbage became the broth for a wintry soup.  In went dried beans, seasonings, and a lot of  root vegetables cut to bite-sized:  carrots, celeriac, and rutabaga.  The vegetables could have been local.  I think the celeriac and some of the carrots were local, and the rutabagas and other carrots were not.  Dried beans are a winter storage food, but mine came from the supermarket.  I’d like to find a local source.  On the other hand, if I had a local source then I’d feel compelled to get all of my beans that way and we go through an awful lot of beans.

We finally made applesauce from a 10-pound bag of Northern Spy apples that had been sitting around since fall.  A half dozen of them were completely rotten and had to go straight to compost.  Another half dozen had siginificant bad spots that had to be cut out.  We still ended up with a whole lot of applesauce.

Since our winter CSA seems to know no seasons, I don’t know when the photo below is from.  I found it when I downloaded the colcannon and carrots-parsnips photos.  We’ve made this sweet potato salad a few times this winter.  It’s vegan (well, it would be totally vegan if you replaced the honey in the honey-mustard dressing with some other sweetner) and the recipe is in Moosewood Cooks at Home.  To make a version this colorful, first find a kitchen with orange counters.  Then mix cooked orange sweet potatoes, raw green bell peppers and parsley, and raw red bell peppers, and toss with dressing.

sweetpotatosalad

Weeks 36-37: January 27 – February 9

February 9, 2009

Our winter CSA shares have been more of the same:  a few root vegetables from around here, and lots of stuff from down South, which increasingly means Florida rather than North Carolina.  We’ve done a bit of noteworthy cooking, though, so I think this post will be worth it.

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve gotten apples and celeriac from Massachusetts; carrots, beets and parsnips from Quebec;  red and white potatoes from Vermont; sweet potatoes and a rutabaga from North Carolina; and lettuce, chard, parsley, bell pepper, eggplant, green beans,  and cherry tomatoes from Florida.

Some of the sweet potatoes, a pepper, and some of the parsley turned into a sweet potato salad, with a honey-mustard dressing, from Moosewood Cooks at Home.  Not only is it delicious, it’s pretty, with the bright orange sweet potato chunks accented by bright green pepper and parsley.  It’s also vegan, although I like to turn it into an entree salad by adding hard-boiled egg.  Their recipe calls for peeling the potatoes but we don’t, because it’s too much work and wastes a very nutritious part of the vegetable.  We brought it to a potluck and nobody seemed to mind at all that there were skins in it.

Some of the carrots and the rest of the parsley went into a lentil salad.  My husband cooked French green lentils until they were edibly soft but not falling apart – a delicate and important balance.  He grated carrots and chopped parsley, and mixed those in.  The salad was dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, very much like tabbouleh.  I have no idea where the carrots are from that ended up in.  I suspect they’re from our summer CSA because our farmer grows three varieties, including a chunky one good for grating.  The carrots we’ve been getting from our winter CSA are very slender, a shape which would make them good for steaming and elegantly serving them whole, but which is really not at all good for grating.  The lentil salad is good to pack for lunches, although it needs some sort of starch on the side.

Luckily, my husband also baked a cornbread rich with chopped apples and grated cheddar cheese, including some with hot peppers in it.  We keep not managing to make applesauce, but we’ve been cooking more with apples.  I sliced and fried up (in butter) a half dozen apples for serving over waffles.  I have to admit that we poured maple syrup over the waffles, apples and all.

I’ve gotten so accustomed to our produce coming from very nearby.  As a result, it feels now like our CSA food is coming from so far away.  I think I was reacting to that when I talked my husband into cooking a wholly-local breakfast last weekend.  The star of the meal was homefries made from potatoes we dug ourselves in November and diced peppers that I froze in September, both from our summer CSA.  Although he used non-local spices (what locavores sometimes refer to as Marco Polo spices), he used Vermont butter rather than oil from who-knows-where.  He also fried up New Hampshire eggs.  We’re very pan-New England around here.  Meanwhile, I mashed up a previously-baked butternut squash (summer CSA again) with New York maple syrup and more Vermont butter.  To cap it off, I remembered to take a photo.

eggtatersquash

We got a giant sweet potato a couple of weeks ago and I’m finally remembering to share photos of it.  The tiny white potato is one of the ones we dug ourselves.  We were so excited to find anything left underground, after so many other people had been harvesting before us in that same field.

bigtaterlittletater

giantsweetater

Week 35: January 20 – 26

January 27, 2009

In our CSA share this week we all got the usual carrots (MA), red potatoes (VT), white potatoes (NC), sweet potatoes (NC), apples (MA), and oranges (FL).  Less usual, we all got parsnips (origin unspecified) and green beans (FL).  It was the other couple’s turn for chard (FL) while we got collard greens (origin unspecified).  We got the green leaf lettuce (FL) while they took the dandelion greens (origin unspecified), because their bunnies love them and we humans aren’t so impressed.  We got the avocado (FL) and celeriac (MA) while they got the cherry tomatoes (FL) and jar of pickles (MA).

From Massachusetts:  only the apples, carrots, and celeriac.  Maybe the parsnips.  It’s a good thing I didn’t sign up to do the Dark Days Challenge.  Next year we’ll have done better storing our own.  I noticed my copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle lying around, and I opened it up to the January chapter.  In it, she takes stock of how much food her family put by.  Granted, we don’t have kids, but we’ve still been operating on entirely the wrong order of magnitude.  I’m estimating that we need to store 150 to 200 units of vegetables to get us from November through May.  (This is comparable, in seven months, to what we consume in the five months from June through October.)  One unit could be one bunch of kale, or one large eggplant, or a pound of green beans.  Usually one unit gets one freezer bag but sometimes we put two units of the same thing into a bag together.  This year we seem to have frozen only about 25 units of vegetables, not counting tomato and tomatillo sauces, too.  Our storage vegetables (squashes, root vegetables, cabbage) were another 55 units of vegetables going into winter, bringing the total to about 80 units, or halfway there at best.  So… maybe not the wrong order of magnitude, just not nearly enough.

A CSA that draws so much from Florida is not our answer.  It’s fun while it lasts, though.  I can’t remember when we’ve eaten this much raw food mid-winter.  In addition to the oranges, one of the apples was good enough to eat raw.  I think it was a Fuji.  The avocado was, of course, also raw.  We cut it in half, one half for each of us, then put a little lemon juice and salt into the cavity, and eat it with a spoon.  The lettuce has been good raw, too.  Some of it was in sandwiches, some of it was on a plate with dressing.  The celeriac will be good raw, too, especially if I get to it while it’s still fresh.  I might do matchsticks in a dressing of some sort, or I might do bigger sticks (think carrot sticks) served with a dip made from plain yogurt and spices.

The collards we cooked with black beans as usual, with olive oil, garlic, salt, and dried basil, cumin, and cayenne.  I know people do other things with collards, but I like this preparation too much to forgo it when we have just one bunch of greens.