Thursday, August 29, 2013

Livin' La Vida Local

Last weekend was my last weekend of freedom!  School started this week, so it's back to the grind.  I can no longer spend my days contemplating what market to go to or what food truck to hit up.  I decided that I wanted to spend the little free time I have left to do what I like best, livin' local!  On Friday, I switched up my Copley Square routine to check out the Charles Square Farmers Market.  I had a mission in mind with my switch, which was to go to Kimball Farm to buy one of their award winning tomatoes.  It was another beautiful Friday afternoon, perfect for a Peet's iced coffee and a walk around the market.  Vendors included Busa Farms, Flats Mentor, Stillman's, Valicenti Organico, Hi-Rise Bread Co. and Q's Nuts.  So nothing was lacking at this market.  Check out the tomatoes...

Kimball Farm

Busa Farm

The next part of my weekend involved a knife skills class at 51 Lincoln in Newton.  I learned so much from this class and I am hopeful that it will cut down preparation time with cooking.  This class took place in the kitchen, which I thought was so cool to be behind the scenes in a restaurant.  There were so many knifes and other neat tools in the kitchen.  I learned how to chop, dice, julienne, brunoise, and batonnet various vegetables such as celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and oranges.  I also learned about the two most common knives, chefs knife and pairing knife, as well has the importance of keeping these sharp.  I am getting mine sharpened tomorrow and maybe even going knife shopping.  At the end of the class, the teacher made us lunch, which was beef empanadas with a fresh heirloom tomato salad, which were delicious!  51 Lincoln is a restaurant in Newton that features local, organic ingredients when possible.  They have partnered with Allendale Farm and Ward Farm.  They even have a rooftop garden to grow herbs, Swiss chard, kale, tomatoes, habanero, and banana peppers.  Go check them out!!

And lastly, I ended my weekend by going peach and apple picking with the family!  We went to Nashoba Winery in Bolton where there was also a locavores market.  The market was lacking in vegetables, but there were donuts, jewelry, tea, bread, and honey, but also some of my favorites Sweet Lydia's and Cookie Lady Treats.  We got a bottle of Cyser Wine, which is made with apple and honey and the guys got beer.  We sat out and had a picnic before we went picking.  Of course, we ended up getting another bottle of wine to take while we went picking.  This time we went with Marion, a blackberry wine.  I am more of a red wine drinker, but I enjoyed these fruity wines especially because it was a hot, sunny day.  We hit up the peaches first, I was on a mission to make boozy canned peaches out of my Food in Jars cookbook.  Taking a peach off the tree and eating it reminds me of my younger days when my grandfather would pick a peach and give it to me.  They were always super sweet, juicy, and messy.  I took some apples home as well, but no canning for those.  I have enjoyed a fresh, crisp apple everyday this week!

Peach Picking

Locavore Market

I hate to brag, but the hubs surprised me with a food dehydrator and I have a four day weekend!  So be ready for some pics of something dehydrating this weekend!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Timing is Everything - August

There are many flavors that I love about summer.  That first bite of a juicy peach, the sweetness of a ripe tomato, or even a crisp, fresh bell pepper, all of which you can find now at your local market.  Other veggies that you will be able to find now include beets, broccoli, cabbage, onions, potatoes, eggplant, collards, kale, radishes, cucumber and various herbs.  Fruits that you will find include blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, melons, peaches, nectarines, and plums.

I strongly feel the best part of summer is the tomato.  There is nothing like that taste of that garden tomato.  I am pretty simple with how I eat tomatoes.  I like to get a pint of grape tomatoes and eat them raw, slice up an hierloom and sprinkle a little salt, or top with mozarella and basil.  The more colors you can find the better!  It's great to find all different colors and make a colorful tomato salad with some fresh herbs and a little balsamic.  There's no need to get fancy, just appreciate that fresh summer taste.

Something I start doing this time of year is buying two pints of grape tomatoes when I go to the market, one to eat and one to roast.  The roasted tomatoes go into a ziplock freezer bag and in the freezer they go.  By the end of September, I have a nice stash of tomatoes to use in the winter.  Other ideas to preserve tomatoes include canning, making sauce, whole, or chopped, and dehydrating, which I have yet to try.  

This week is Massachusetts Farmers Market week, so be sure to stock up on all your favorites to support MA farms!!  

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Needham Farmers Market

I made a visit to the Needham Farmers Market last Sunday.  This is a nice little market in the downtown of Needham.  The vendors seem to change frequently, so be sure to check their calendar before you make a trip.  Last Sunday they had MacAuthurs Farm, Neighborhood Farm, Lilac Hedge Farm, Big Sky Bakery, Foxboro Cheese Co, Nella Pasta, and Susies Bakery.  There was a great selection of vegetables at MacAuthurs Farm and Neighborhood Farm.  I picked up some lettuce, cauliflower, sun gold tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, and I even found some strawberries!  I have been really into beets lately, so I bought some of those as well.  They taste great roasted and now that it's not so hot, it is not as painful to turn on the oven.  As I was leaving, a band began to play, so this is a nice place to spend a Sunday afternoon.  Needham Farmers Market is open on Sundays from 1-5, 23 Dedham Ave.   

I enjoyed National Farmers Market week by posting a picture of something I made using local ingredients each day.  I had some requests for the recipes I posted.  Since many people may be overwhelmed by the abundance of zucchini in their gardens, I recommend making zucchini pancakes, something I used to eat all the time when I was little.  My grandfather was one of those people overwhelmed by the zucchini in his garden and this was a delicious way to eat zucchini.  Zucchini also tastes great sauteed with a little olive oil, it can be roasted in the oven with other veggies, tossed into soups, made into breads, pickled, and it freezes well too!
How are you going to use up your zucchini?

Zucchini Pancakes:

I choose to make my zucchini pancakes paleo friendly, (minus the parmesan cheese) so I used almond meal instead of bread crumbs, but both are delicious.

1 medium Zucchini
1 egg
1-1 1/2 cup bread crumbs or almond meal
Lots of olive oil
sprinkle of parmesan cheese

Cut up the zucchini into thin slices.  In a bowl, whisk the egg and place bread crumbs on a plate.  Heat up about 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium-high heat.  One at a time, dip the zucchini slices into the egg, then bread crumbs, and place into the hot pan.  When the bread crumbs begin to brown, flip to the other side.  When each side of the zucchini has browned, place on a plate and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Repeat this process until the zucchini is gone, continuing to add olive oil to the pan when it gets low.