Posts Tagged ‘egg’

Local and Not Frozen

March 20, 2010

The weather today was sunny and around 70, which made me want to go almost anywhere just for the walk to get there.  Conveniently, there was an indoor farmers’ market in reasonable walking distance.  Unfortunately, it was a one-time event, connected to a “Health and Wellness Fair” held at Somerville High School.  We bought a couple of pounds of blue potatoes from Dracut, MA; lettuce, bok choy, kale, and cabbage from smaller-than-industrial organic farms in the “region” meaning southern Atlantic states;  and a pound each of barley flour and wheat berries from Northampton, MA.  I hadn’t known that it was possible to get Massachusetts grains.  I wasn’t ready to try their wheat flour at $5/pound, though.

That exercise in locavore-ism inspired me to finally sort through our refrigerator vegetable drawers.  They’ve been full of root vegetables since November.  That was back when I still had pregnancy-related nausea, so they mostly just sat.  They sat long enough that they looked scary, particularly because leeks and fennel bulbs don’t hold up as well as roots do.  Once the drawers got scary, the stuff in them sat even longer.  Vicious cycle.  But today we finally sorted through them.  About a third of the contents had to go straight into compost due to our poor management.

Once we determined that there were still edible vegetables in there, I started in on using them up.  Cubed beets and parsnips, tossed with a  bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, are roasting in my oven as I type.  A half dozen smaller beets got boiled to be sliced and used in salad, along with the lettuce from the farmers market, lentil sprouts that my husband grew in a jar on our window sill, and hard-boiled eggs from southern New Hampshire.  I cubed a few of the turnips to get stir-fried with tofu and some of the bok choy we bought today, becoming tonight’s dinner.  Much as I’ve appreciated the supply of vegetables we froze last year, I’m very excited to be eating vegetables that are neither from the freezer nor the supermarket!

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Week 19: September 30 – October 6 (Part III)

October 5, 2008

We went to the farmers market yesterday in search of something to make for a pot-luck later this week.  It has to be something with available ingredients that will travel and wait well.  I wanted to make more of the arugula-apple-cheddar salad that was so incredibly delicious, but although there were plenty of apples there was no arugula to be had. We could have done Tunisian vegetables again, but I’m getting a little bored with that.  We could have done a corn and pepper salad, which was my mother’s suggestion, but I’m a little bored with that, too.  My husband asked for me to make my “famous” potato salad (recipe in week 10), and I told him we couldn’t because there wasn’t any dill.  Potatoes, yes, but not dill. 

Then we found dill!  I thought it was too late in the season for it, but there it was.  It was grown at Drumlin Farm, run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln, MA, less than 15 miles away.  We bought the dill, and also their yellow potatoes and tongue-of-fire shell beans.  Two pounds of beans in their pods yielded 3/4 pound of beans our of their pods. 

In case you’re wondering, out CSA is based in Lunenburg, MA, about 40 miles away.  The drop-off is on my husband’s way home from work, by bicycle.)

We bought six ears of corn to freeze Nicewicz Farm in Bolton, MA, a little more than 30 miles away.  We also bought from them two pears to eat right away.  It was nice to have fruit that wasn’t an apple, for a change.  The pears were nice and crisp.  I never know how to pick a pear.  Some varieties are crisp, some are juciy, or maybe it’s the same variety at different times in the season?  I know my apples very well by now, but not my pears.  My grandmother used to have a pear tree in her yard in New Haven of all places.  Maybe she’ll know. 

Edible Boston magazine was being given away for free at the market, so we took a copy.  I like the articles about local food producers.  It’s also the rare publication where I really look at the advertisements, especially this month, because they tell me what local foods are for sale and where. 

Because it’s Eat Local Challenge month and because they were there, we also bought some herbal tea from the Herb Lyceum in Groton, MA, a bit more than 30 miles away, and some chocolate from Taza in Somerville, MA, less than 5 miles away.  There was a vendor who sells mostly meat but also some eggs, but he said he usually sells out within the first half hour – even at $7 a dozen!  We heard a few other people go over and ask him the same thing after we did.  It’s really hard to find local eggs

We continued our local food search later in the day.  It takes only one car trip to go to the grocery store, so if I’m going to a lot of little vendors I do my best to not drive, so as not to pollute more because I’m buying local.  (We always walk to the farmers market, except when we bicycle.) 

Our first local food detour was to Reliable Market in Somerville, where we found Chang Shing tofu in silken, soft, fried, and puff varieties, but none of our usual firm.  We bought some soft and fried to try. 

We bicycled over to Christina’s spice shop in Cambridge, where the store is local, even though I’m sure the spices come from all over the world.  Spices are like that.  Of course, we popped next door to Christina’s ice cream.  One of their current seasonal flavors is Calmyrna Fig, and it’s incredible – rich, creamy, and tasting very much of fresh figs. 

Then we biked the little bit more to Harvest Co-Op, also in Cambridge.  I was thrilled to find a big bulk section with all the grains I would normally get at Whole Foods:  organic brown rice, organic whole wheat couscous, organic bulgur, organic grits, organic popcorn, and on and on.  The prices were competitive, and it’s nice to support a local non-profit instead of a national for-profit chain.  I also like that for many of the foods they list the grower on the label.  Our new brown rice comes from Arizona, as opposed to our previous rice which was from California.  That doesn’t make it any more local, I know, but it’s nice to know. 

Today we went to the Kickass Dairy Bar in Somerville and bought eggs from Jaffrey, NH, about 75 miles away, and firm tofu made by 21st Century Foods in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, less than 10 miles away. The eggs were $3.19 a dozen, compare to the $7  a dozen at the farmers market.  We’ll have to see if they’re truly good eggs, with a thick shell and a bright yellow yolk that stands up in the pan instead of flattening out.  I’m convinced that stronger eggs have higher nutritional value. 

I’ve also identified a couple more local or local-ish brands: Uncle Sam cereals are from a company with local headquarters, less than 20 miles away, and Bar Harbor chowders are made in Whiting, Maine, about 340 miles away. Not local in the strict sense, but compare that to Campbell’s.

For truly local food, here’s my new favorite resource:  Local Food Guide to Metro Boston

Week 12: August 10 – 17, Vacation

August 18, 2008

We spent last week on a lovely vacation in Lake Placid, in the Adirondacks.  I did my homework ahead of time, and found farmers market listings for New York State.

We brought a large cooler with us that contained, among other things, the corn salad and what was left of the Costa Rican slaw that I made in Week 11, along with chicory, lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, carrots, red cabbage, green bell pepper, potatoes, and two tiny yellow squash, all left over from the previous week (or even earlier). We ate some of the salads for lunch on the Lake Champlain ferry.

Our first night in Lake Placid, my mother-in-law made the chicory, mushroom, and roasted pepper pasta dish from Greens, Glorious Greens and it was colorful and delicious. (Yes, we brought the cook book with us. If you’re looking for it, look under escarole, not chicory.) While she cooked that, I made a colorful if odd salad of lettuce, radishes, yellow squash, green pepper, the largest cucumber, and some knife-shredded red cabbage leaves. It was a lot of food, even for four adults.

We went to the Keene Farmers Market on Sunday.   The highlight was a local dog-and-owner square dance troupe.    The dog and its owner were a couple, and the dogs had to be very, very good at accepting “stay” commands from each of the owners in the square, while lots of other interesting activity was going on, both human and canine. 

We were at the market with my in-laws, who were with us for the entire weekend.  Between all of us, we bought a dozen ears of corn, two zuchini and two yellow squash large enough to make burger-size slices to grill without falling through the slats, one incredible tomato, one bunch of beautiful rainbow chard, two pints of raspberries, a quart of mixed plums and Saturn peaches, and a dozen free-range eggs.

Everything about a free-range egg is sturdier than in a conventional store-bought egg – the shell is harder, the yolk is brighter and stands taller in the pan, even the whites are better, although I can’t describe how.  It was $3 for the dozen and worth every penny!

We hadn’t intended to buy peaches, because we get those around home (Boston area) often enough. Plums were more interesting, and we couldn’t decide between the two varieties being sold. When we asked for a mixed quart, the farmer looked around for an empty quart container to fill for us. Not finding one, he picked up one that already had peaches in it. Instead of completely emptying it out before putting in plums, he left some peaches explaining that they’re very sought-after, costing half again as much closer to New York City. (He lives much closer to New York City than to Lake Placid, but comes up to the Adirondacks to fish, and pays for gas by selling at the farmers market.) They’re strange looking fruit, because the flesh makes a doughnut around the pit, with dimples on the top and bottom where the pit is shorter than the fruit. They were, in fact, tasty, but we liked the plums better.

We grilled the squash and zucchini, and ate leftovers all week. Leftover corn we cut off the cob and diluted the overly spicy corn salad that I’d made the week before. Leftover wine and mushrooms inspired a yummy chard side dish: we cooked the mushrooms in some olive oil until they started to release juices, then added minced garlic, then red wine. It all cooked together for a bit while the rest of supper heated. When everything else was nearly ready, coarsely chopped chard went in, and was pushed around until it all wilted. The mushrooms were purple from simmering in wine so long, but the colors of the chard stems still showed through.

We visited the Cornell Maple Research Station where we learned about the many ways they’ve found to increase yield and reduce energy needed. We bought a half gallon of dark (grade B) maple syrup while we were there.

We had picked 8 blackberries before going away. When we got home again, we harvested a relatively-whopping 19 blackberries. More had ripened and then gone past during the week, so we left those for the birds.