Sunday, October 28, 2012

A little Wedding Bliss

So we survived the three weekends in a row of weddings of all good friends.  It was such a fun and exciting time, but a little to busy for my liking.  I am happy to say that I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop, sippin on a dark roast, and blogging, a hobby I have not done in some time.  And as I am sitting here, I am watching the vendors and volunteers pack up the Waltham Farmers Market.  I really have nothing to blog about accept weddings, since that has been my life lately.  I went to the farmers market today for the first time in three weeks!!  I was hoping to go to the Kennebunkport Farmers Market while I was there last weekend, but I didn't have the heart to ask the bride to stop at the farmers market between hair and make-up on her wedding day ;)

I have been fortunate that I can stop at Strawberry Hill Farm on my way home from work and continue my local lifestyle.  I also talked my husband into taking a detour from Maine last weekend and going to Springdell farm to stock up on meat and veggies.  It was a much needed trip and they still have some tomatoes too!  Things seem to be settling down at the market these days.  I couldn't find any red tomatoes today, only green.  I bought them anyway because I love to pickle these.  There are many root vegetables such as celery root, carrots, parsnips and there are the greens such as kale and swiss chard too.  Apples seem to be plentiful as well.  

With all the wedding fun, I managed a way to connect my blog and the weddings!! There appears to be an fantastic trend of putting fall vegetables in centerpieces and bouquets and I have found the courage to cook them!  Every wedding for the last three weeks has had either basil, kale, artichokes, and plums!
At one of the weddings I got to take home the fabulous centerpiece full of plums, kale, and artichokes!  And of course, I had to cook it!

The first thing I did the next morning was chop up the kale.  I like to try to sneak kale into dishes so my husband doesn't notice.  I chopped up the kale and sauteed it with some olive oil, onion and garlic.  Then I added some great northern beans and served it with some fresh fish.

The real challenge was the artichokes.  I love artichokes, but I'll admit that I buy them canned.  With the help of you tube, I was able to figure out how to cook this beautiful vegetable.  I made grilled artichoke with garlic mayonnaise.  The first steps are to peel the stem, cut off the top, and trim the leaves on the choke.  Then cut in half.  Here's the tricky part, scooping out the seeds.  The seeds are super small and are covered in these feathery like strings, which get all over the kitchen.  And the video makes it look so easy, just scoop it out with a spoon.  Well I had my knife in there and tried to cut it out.  By the third artichoke, I found the best way to do this was cut a half circle with a knife and scoop it out with a spoon and put some muscle into it!  After you have the fun with the seeds, steam the artichokes on high heat for 5 minutes and then low heat for 25 minutes.  Be careful when you take them out, I squished one by accident.  Set on a plate and brush both sides with some olive oil and sprinkle a little S&P.  Grill on each side for about 2 minutes.  Let cool and enjoy.  These really were good especially to dip in the garlic mayo.  The garlic mayo is simple to make and you can do it while steaming the artichokes.  Take one half cup mayo, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, and mince two garlic cloves and mix well.  If you are up for a little challenge, try it out!  I hear butter or mustard goes well with artichokes too!

And those plums... those were great as is!  A sweet late night snack after getting home from a night of dancing.

So I guess I managed to eat this centerpiece!  Congratulations to the happy couples!!



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

It's fall and the livin's busy

So 3 weddings in 14 days and 2 babies being born during that time.  Let's just say that life has got in the way of my farmers marketing.  But here's a big congratulations to all and you know who you are!

With all the excitement, I was able to squeeze in a visit to the Waltham Farmers Market this past weekend before the trip down to Narragansett RI for the wedding.  This time of year you can find the best fall foods, such as butternut squash, spaghetti squash, pumpkins, apples, pears, peppers, brussel sprouts, and maybe if you are lucky you can find some corn.  I was fortunate enough to find some hot peppers too!  Over the summer, I canned some hot peppers and I saved the brine to pour over my salads.  I get home one night and my husband informs me that my spicy brine has spilt all over the floor.  I knew that it would be hard to find hot peppers this time of year, but when I found some from Dick's Market Garden, I stocked up.  Now that I know these can be canned and/or frozen, why not?  Several people came up to me to ask me what I was going to do with so many peppers!  To be honest, I may have gone a little over board, but I figure the worst that could happen is that some of these beauties end up in my freezer.

One of my favorite veggies this time of year is spaghetti squash.  I personally think the best way to eat it is pour some olive oil on it and top with some parmesan reggiano cheese.  However, I saw this recipe on the Whole Foods website and I just had to try it.  I got many comments on it during lunch time this week!

Recipe of the week:  Spicy Spaghetti Squash with Black Beans

1 Medium Spaghetti Squash
2 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno seeded, minced
1/2 cup red pepper, chopped
1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup sweet corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 teaspoon salt

Cut the ends of the squash and slice length wise.  Place squash, cut side down in a pan in 1/2 inch of water.  Roast in the oven, covered, at 375 for 45-50 minutes.  When cool, scoop out flesh with a fork, leaving the shell in tact for stuffing.

For the filling, hear oil in a large pan and saute red onion, jalapeno, and red pepper for 2 minutes.  Add beans, corn, and chili powder, saute for another minute.  Add cooked squash, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.  Cook about one minute until heated through.  Fill squash shells with mixture.

If you don't feel like making the mixture, follow the instructions to roast spaghetti squash, scoop out flesh, mix in some olive oil and top with parmesan reggiano cheese.  Yum!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Harvest Farm Dinner

Last night I went up to Nashua NH and went to the Saffron Bistro's Great Fall Harvest Farm Dinner!  This dinner included a five course dinner of local food from Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  I found this restaurant because my Dad and my step-mom are regulars here and I often gets texts on the weekends about the new beers on tap or the free range chicken on the menu.  So I started following the Saffron Bistro on Facebook and every weekend I see their menu that looks delicious.  When I saw that they were hosting a Fall farm to fork dinner, I called my Dad and said, "we're going!"

Dinner started with a cocktail hour with heirloom tomato and sweet pepper crostini and pumpkin risotto fritters.  The crostini was served with a smoked cheddar cheese and the flavors blended well with the sweetness of the tomatoes and peppers.  And I always have an appreciation for risotto, since this is something I cannot make myself, but when its fried and paired with a Shocktop Pumpkin beer it's even better!  During the cocktail hour, I had a chance to chat with the local beekeeper and learn about local honey.  I'm not gonna lie, I am terrified of bees.  However, since I have been researching farming, I have learned that honey bees are here to pollenate plants and make honey and not to sting me.  Last night, I was reassured that the honey bees are here to make honey, where as yellow jackets are just mean!  Hopefully next time I see a honey bee I won't freak out.  Hive At Your Home will come to your house and set up a hive.  All the bees are local (from Nashua), where most people will import the bees from other places.  Find them on facebook or

The first course was corn chowder from Kimball farm.  This was a surprise to me since I did not know the restaurant was working with one of my favorite farmers market vendors!  And who knew that later on in the evening, I would find out the owner was sitting at my table!  This chowder was garnished with Maine Peekytoe Crab and crispy North Country Bacon and it hit the spot on this cool, fall evening.

Arugula and Red Leaf Salad was the second course, using greens and butternut squash croutons from Brookdale farm and Blue Cheese from Great Hill.  This was topped with a peach vinaigrette and toasted almonds and served with cinnamon, pumpkin brioche from Great Harvest Bread Company.  There were so many great fall tastes going on in this salad.  The great part about this salad was the butternut squash croutons, a great substitution to traditional croutons, and paired well with the sweetness of the peach vinaigrette.  The blue cheese gave it a nice kick and then topped with the crunchiness of the toasted almonds, perfection!

My belly is starting to get full and I haven't even had the main course yet.  The main dish was Brookdale Cider Soaked Pork Medallions with Kimball farm sweet potato gratin and fresh watercress.  It was so delicious it wasn't hard to force down.  The cider sauce went perfect with the sweetness of the sweet potato.  I really tried to eat it all, but I knew that Kimball farm apple crisp with chef made vanilla bourbon ice cream would be next.  And it was outstanding!

After the dinner, I got to meet Carl Hills from Kimball farm and briefly talk about the farm and local food.  He said that they have about 40 restaurants that they supply produce for which they obtained all by word of mouth.  I told him about the delicious peach pie I had at Tempo last week.  He said the staff from Tempo spent about two hours getting a tour of the farm last month and are continuing to buy produce from Kimballs.

Thank you to the Saffron Bistro for hosting such a great dinner.  I hope that I have convinced my boston followers that it is worth a drive up route 3 to come to the restaurant for some good food and to meet great people!

Carl from Kimballs

Photo op with the chef!

The local bees and honey!

And you can find the other great photos on Facebook and twitter!!