Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Some people probably love the winter vegetables. But I think many people don't think of turnips, beets, parsnips and kale as high on their lists of "must haves" and "favorites." I can't really picture someone keeping a stash of turnips in her desk drawer at work. Or sneaking to the refrigerator at night for one more bite of kale.
Anyway, I am here to tell you, as a reformed picky eater (oh, who am I kidding, I'm still picky, just try to put a condiment on anything I'm eating, and you will see), that these things are not bad. In fact, I'd have to say that kale is quite enjoyable and I can definitely tolerate the turnips, parsnips and beets. My husband did too, though I can't say he wolfed his dinner down. It was his first time eating any of those things, though and he did finish his portion. Why should you eat something that is just tolerable? Because it is local. It is in season. And it is getting cold (plus, I got the root veggies through my CSA and the kale is cheap). Plus, they are really good for you.
So anyway, this recipe if from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Wild Rice Salad with Root Vegetables and Apples
4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 turnips, peeled and roughly chopped
4 beets, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and roughly chopped
2 to 3 cups tart apples, peeled and roughly chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons thyme, minced
1 1/2 cups wild rice
7 1/2 cups chicken stock
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, washed, stripped from tough center stalk and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine carrots, parsnips, turnips, beets, squash, onions, apples, olive oil and thyme in a large roasting pan and toss thoroughly to combine. Roast approximately one hour, until vegetables are fork-tender.
In a separate pot, bring rice and chicken stock to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 55-60 minutes until desired texture is reached; any excess liquid should be drained.
Meanwhile, saute bacon in a large saucepot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat until edges begin to brown. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds, without letting garlic scorch. Add kale and continue sauteing until kale wilts and softens, 3 to 4 minutes.
Combine ingredients in a large pot or the roasting pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.
Serves 12 as a side dish.
-- Amy McConnell Schaarsmith
We ate this as a main dish, but I think it would be better as a side (as it is supposed to be) -- perhaps with some kind of steak as a main course. Or maybe I am just iron deficient. Anyway, I would start the beets and parsnips before the other veggies. Or cut them much smaller. Also, I had to up the heat (or we would still be waiting) to 425. It worked out great that way. And last, I only used four cups of broth to cook the rice. And I had to drain some of it. We used bacon from Heilman's Hogwash Farm purchased at the Strip District Farmer's at the Firehouse Saturday market. The wild rice was not local, sadly. No rice is.
Next up, brussel sprouts!
If you have any tried and true Kale, turnip, etc. recipes, send 'em along. . . Please.
Thursday, October 25, 2007
But, it was worth the wait. After more than a week in a brown paper bag, they are now delicious. I got some more at Schramm's Farm and will be looking for more soon. Mostly we just eat them sliced or out of hand, but just to put a little more pear in my day, I made these pear bran muffins which are excellent and pretty healthy too.
Pear Bran Muffins
1.5 Cups whole grain pastry flour
1 cup wheat bran
3 Tablespoons white sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 tsps baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups 1 % buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons butter
1 bosc pear, cored and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 1/2 tsps. vanilla extract
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with liners or spray with cooking spray.
Combine flour, bran, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine buttermilk, eggs, butter, pear and vanilla in another mixing bowl.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix just to combine; do not overmix. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool and Serve. Makes 12.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
2 large eggplants
1 to 1 1/2 cups parmesan or romano cheese
garlic powder (to taste) (I used one clove actual garlic)
1 to 1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (I used regular, and added fresh oregano and parsley from the garden and more like 2 cups)
Peel and cube the eggplant. Place in a pan of salted water and boil until very tender and soft. Drain and place in large bowl. With a fork, mash eggplant, then add egg, cheese, basil, garlic and bread crumbs. Mix well. Add more breadcrumbs and/ or cheese, if needed, to make handling easier. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees or fry in olive oil until golden brown. Meatballs may be frozen in freezer bags to be used in sauce later.
I baked them for 45 minutes. They tasted great with homemade tomato sauce.
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Basically (very, very basically) in 2002 63% of the budget for the farm bill excluding the nutrition program, is for commodity programs (which added up to 142 Billion dollars over five years). http://www.extension.psu.edu/FarmBill2007.ppt#261,6,2002 Farm Bill - $782 Billion (Figures in millions, 2002-2007)
That is, to subsidize the growth of corn, soybeans, wheat, rice and cotton. I cannot begin to explain to you why this is so awful, not just for the US, but for the whole world. Many, many people on the web can tell you much better. Here's another link you can check out http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/07/subsidy-laden_farm_bill.php
In the meantime, farmers here in Pennsylvania get comparatively little support. Farming is a big part of this state's history and a continued part of its revenue and identity. And wouldn't it be nice to support sustainable family farms growing fruits and vegetables? I heard someone (sorry for the vagueness, but I'm sure it was someone important) say on a CNN special that if every American suddenly decided to eat enough fruits and vegetables every day to meet the US RDA, the current production by our farmers could not meet the demand.
So, here is a plea we got in our e-mail. I'm passing it on for you to follow through with your own Senators:
" Tell Your Senators We Deserve a Healthier Farm Bill!
Next week, beginning Tuesday or Wednesday (October 23 or 24), the Senate Agriculture Committee meets to finalize its version of the 2007 Farm Bill. The Senate must invest significant new mandatory funding in new markets and improved access to healthy foods, protection of our air and water, increased opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers, and equitable program access for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. These priorities need adequate mandatory funding. Make your voice heard! Call your Senators today. ALL Senators are important to contact. To find your Senators' contact information, call the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121, or look it up http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm
When you call, ask to speak with the aide who works on the Farm Bill.
I am a constituent and I am calling to ask Senator [ ] to ensure that the 2007 Farm Bill provides increased mandatory funding for: (list your priorities)
access to healthy foods,
new markets, value-added enterprises, and local food systems,
organic farming, and
beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
For more information on the timeline of remaining Farm Bill actions, http://www.farmland.org/programs/campaign/whatshappening.asp.
And, I would add, cut subsidies for the big five commodities. In PA, our senators are Bob Casey (202) 224-6324 and Arlen Spector (202) 224-4254.
Sorry if I have confused you. I am confused myself. But, I think anything we can say about turning this country's approach to farming and eating around has to be better than saying nothing.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
I was glad to see where all of our vegetables have been coming from. I also got the answer to a burning question. . . is Art King (Kathy's husband) any relation to Joseph King who also sells at the East Liberty Market? Yes. Indeed, Kathy told me. Joseph and Art (and Larry, the other owner) are first cousins. Their fathers were brothers. Yes, they are related, but Kathy told me they have very different farming practices. Kathy wasn't giving any details. A friendly family rivalry perhaps?
Here are the crates all getting ready to be packed. Incidentally, we picked ours up today. Peppers, tomatoes, apples, pears, sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, onions and a ginormous daikon radish. Not sure what I'm going to do with that. Probably wrap it up in plastic and keep it (Art said in the newsletter that it would keep for several weeks) for my radish loving sister who's coming to visit in three weeks. I'll bring the salt shaker with me on the way to the airport. But I digress.
It is a beautiful working farm owned by very nice, smart farmers. No "boo barn" or pumpkin people. But I sure enjoyed it.
Monday, October 15, 2007
And, like most things from books (and television and movies) reality is, well, different.
The approach to Triple B http://www.triplebfarms.com/ is quite nice. After a 50 minute drive through Carrick and Duquesne and then Elizabeth along the Monogahela (and there appears to be some truth to what they say about the Mon Valley being depressed economically), we drove up a hill surrounded by forest. We parked in a very crowded field and then paid our admission price -- $7.00 for adults and $9.00 for children ages 3 and over. This gave us a wristband that admitted us to all activities. What activities you ask?
Well, there was the path decorated by scenes of pumpkin people made up to resemble pop culture icons like Scooby and the gang seen above. There was the ducky derby which involved water pumps, ramps and rubber duckies, the "Liberty Tube Slide," the Boo Barn, which our 4 year old swears did not scare her at all (but that's probably because my husband was carrying her and she had her eyes closed the whole time), the petting zoo, and this baby duck slide. The ducks are lured up the ramp by the food at the top and then end up falling down the slide into the water (grabbing a snack along the way if they're good). They always seemed a little surprised to fall down the slide. My six year old thought it was hilarious. Me -- well -- not so much.While I waited in line for the hay ride to the pumpkin patch, my husband took the kids through some of the other activites: the tractor to sit on, the tractor tires to climb, the corn maze (in which they would never have gotten out save for being rescued by a 10-year-old girl who magically appeared like a spirit guide and asked, "Do you want me to show you the way out?"), the hay bales to scramble on, etc., etc. There were also pony rides which we skipped and other activities which I never saw since they were too far from the line.
Eventually we boarded our trailer filled with hay bales and made the rickety journey to the pumpkin patch. There were plenty of pumpkins out there, some still growing, which was nice to demonstrate to the kids. We then weighed and paid for our future jack o lanterns (29 cents a pound) and took the hay ride back.
We bought the kids caramel apples as a treat (they just ate the coating off the outside and never got to the apple). They also sold "food" -- hot dogs, sausage, pulled pork, nachos, fresh cut french fries (from Idaho potatoes if you believe the box they were in), popcorn and fudge. Also a treat (I forget what it's called) of sliced apples topped with caramel and whipped cream which I wanted to try but didn't.
We never made it to their farm store but they had one and it looked big. Probably similar to Soergel's or Schramm's, I would guess. My favorite thing about the farm is its setting. It seems to be huge or else surrounded by other farms or undeveloped land. It is a rolling hillside filled with meadows, fields, groves. It is just beautiful. I'm guessing the Steelers' bye week resulted in some good support for local farmers. And like I said before, the kids had a great time.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Today it took me to Schramm's Farm Market in Harrison City (but the address is Jeanette) http://www.schrammfarms.com/home.php. I was sort of previewing for my kids' fall apple and pumpkin picking experience. The activities for the kids were pretty low key. A small hay bale maze, a small pumpkin patch accessed by a winding path decorated with scarecrows, and a structure (was it a tractor?) made of wood that all the kids present were climbing and thoroughly enjoying.
The farm market presented quite a bit of home grown produce at good prices. They also sold bulk quantities. Right now they had green peppers and every other hot pepper under the sun. They also had salad and roma tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant, potatoes, zucchini, many varieties of squash and probably some other vegetables that I am forgetting. They also had at least six varieties of apples and bartlett and bosc pears (and maybe another kind, too). Of course they also carried lots of other things from away but labelled all as such and many had their state of origin labelled.
In addition to produce, the store also contained a bake shop ("Grandma's") which made the whole store smell heavenly. They also carried local beef in a freezer. Next to that was ice cream from Kerber's Dairy which "Rose" carries also on Braddock Avenue across from Frick Park. Some other items that caught my eye were their apple cider (liquid gold), local honey, local maple syrup and some bake mixes from Burnt Cabins Gristmill (with a PA preferred sticker firmly affixed) http://www.historicmillandcamping.com/index.asp?id=12.
No, it's not the perfect farm. I can't really tell you why. Maybe it had to do with the McMansions I saw on the way there. Not their fault, I'm sure. Also, I think my kids would prefer a bit more to keep them entertained (much as I hate to admit it) like a hayride or cornmaze. The quest continues.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
First I cut the pumpkin into 1 inch chunks after trying to scrape off/ pull out many of the seeds. I then steamed the chunks for about 20 minutes (until they seemed quite soft). After that, I scraped off the stringy pulp and put the rest (including the skin) into the food mill. I milled out about 2 1/2 cups of pureed pumpkin. If I were doing this again, I would try to remove all the pulp before steaming because doing so afterwards was tedious and finger burning with the recently-steamed pieces.
I used a recipe from the book Simply in Season which included many non-local ingredients like white and brown sugar, oil and white flour. (Not to mentioned the spices, but I'm going to continue using those anyway). Above-mentioned daughter gobbled up her muffin right away and her equally picky younger brother ate two! I didn't even have to put chocolate chips in them. What a revelation.
Now, if I can figure out how to make them with honey, whole wheat pastry flour and butter, I will give you the recipe. I haven't found any online, but there is no way to search everything out there. I have also read some guidelines about those subsititions. In general, subsituting honey for sugar, people advise to reduce amount (honey is sweeter than sugar), reduce amount of liquid in the recipe (or can you increase dry goods?), increase baking soda by 1/4 tsp. (to balance honey's acidity), and reduce cooking temperature by 25 degrees. I have found no such rules for switching out butter for oil, or whole wheat flour for white flour. I'll let you know what I find out. I'm sure you are all waiting with baited breath.
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
So, after I made jelly once and was satisfied that it could be done (and not just become a grape sauce) I purchased a type of pectin made by Ball which says it does not require the use of sugar. The end result is that I made 8 8 oz. jars of grape jam with only one cup of local honey, and it is still very, very good. And tastes more like grapes. Here's what I did.
1. First I weighed out four pounds of grapes--despite the fact that the recipe on the box said to use 3 pounds (these were from Harvest Valley Farms).
2. I then pinched each one to separate the inside and the skin. The skins went into the bowl for my food processor and the insides went into a large pot.
3. After the grapes were all separated, I chopped the skins in the food processor into small pieces and set them aside.
4. I mashed the insides slightly with a potato masher and cooked them with 1 cup of apple cider (from Kistaco Orchards at the East Liberty Farmer's Market Cooperative on Saturdays). I brought them to a boil and then simmered them for 10 minutes.
5. I then put the pulp through a food mill to separate out the seeds.
6. Then I combined the pulp with the skins in a large pot with the special pectin to heat it.
7. After that came to a rolling boil, I added the one cup of honey. I got mine at the East Liberty Farmer's Market from the "Fine Family Apiary" from Monogahela (724-258-3834). We got the dark fall honey which is very mild in taste.
8. After that returned to a rolling boil, I let it boil hard for three minutes.
9. After that, I ladled into sterilized jars, put on lids and processed in a hot water bath canner for 5 minutes.
My next trial will be to do it without pectin.
Saturday, October 6, 2007
We took the family to the new ice cream parlor on Highland Avenue in Shadyside, "Oh Yeah!" They proudly proclaim their support of local sources, like the bricks on the patio from demolished buildings in Homewood, the locally roasted fair trade coffee, and the locally made ice cream from pastured Ohio Amish cows. They carry both Dave and Andy's (the best ice cream by far in Pittsburgh in my opinion) and Woo City (from the aformentioned Amish cows). They also have one hundred or so mix ins.
My husband had Woo City "5-star chocolate" with Peppermint Patties (his favorite add-in, next to Junior Mints, and the only place around that has that combination). I had the honey, apple, cinnamon granola (from Dave and Andy's). The kids had birthday cake and blueberry cheesecake from Dave and Andy's.
My only complaint is the price. One scoop (for grown ups or kids) was $2.75. That adds up with a family of five. As a New Englander and a self-proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, it's nice to have another good ice cream option (besides Dave and Andy's in Oakland, that is). Though we live 1/2 a mile from 4 chain ice cream shops, Oh Yeah, though it is a little further away, is worth the trip for me.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
The problem is that it is 84 degrees today! And was yesterday and is supposed to be tomorrow. I really don't feel like eating roasted winter vegetables or kale and potato soup. So, since our tomato plants are finally producing, we had a whole wheat pizza crust topped with chopped tomatoes, basil, oregano, red onions and cheddar cheese. I made the crust with whole wheat milled by the Beaver County Conservation District at last year's Maple Festival. I bought it at a farmer's market in Sewickley and have been keeping it in the freezer.
Here's the recipe for the pizza crust, which was fine, although I'm sure you could find another (better?) one:
This recipe makes enough for two 12-inch pizzas or eight small ones. Again, to double the recipe, remember that the ratio is three parts flour to one part liquid.
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour, sifted
Additional flour or cornmeal for rolling out the dough
1. Dissolve the yeast in water in your processor or mixing bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the sugar and salt. Mix in 1 1/2 cups of flour. Add the rest of the flour, processing or stirring until the dough forms a ball. Turn out the dough onto a board dusted with flour or cornmeal, and knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth. Divide it into equal round portions, and roll and gently stretch out. Press onto pans, cover with a dry towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 15 minutes. The crusts are then ready for toppings, or you can freeze them for up to a month.
My daughter and young son enjoyed kneading and rolling out the dough and spreading on the toppings. I'm not sure how it will taste topped with beets.
Monday, October 1, 2007
This one is from the magazine Everyday Food. We usually have frittatas or something similar at least once a week. Local eggs are very good and there are several places to find them. And they cost a lot less than local meat. There are several very good local cheeses available at McGinnis Sisters (in Monroeville)and sometimes at the East Liberty Farmer's Market.
Apple and Cheddar Frittata:
8 large eggs plus two large egg whites
4 ozs. white cheddar cheese coursely grated (1 cup)
coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon butter
2 Gala (substitute Honeycrisp, of course), peeled, cored and sliced lengthwise into 1/8 inch thick pieces
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with rack set in top third. In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, egg whites, and half the cheese; season with salt and pepper. In a medium cast-iron or nonstick ovenproof skillet, heat butter over medium. Add egg mixture; while it cooks, 1 to 2 minutes until edge is set, arrange apples on top in a circular pattern, starting from the outside edge, and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
2. Transfer skillet to oven. Bake until frittata is set in the center and cheese is browned, about 20 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, release frittata onto a cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Cut into wedges, and serve.
Tonight we had a salad made with lettuce (while we still can :) ), cucumber, scallions (a.k.a. green onions), apples, toasted black walnuts (available at the East Liberty Famer's Market Cooperative), leftover chicken and blue cheese (from Ohio via the East End Food Coop). Dressing was not local. I don't yet make vinegar and don't know where to get local oil of any kind. That can be a winter project. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Last night with our roasted chicken, we had baked squash and apples. This recipe is from Simply in Season -- a great cookbook.
2 lbs. butternut or buttercup squash (peeled, seeded and fibers removed cut into 1/2 inch slices) Arrange in an ungreased oblong baking dish.
2-3 baking apples (I used honeycrisp, of course, not baking apples). Arrange on top of squash.
1/3 cup brown sugar (I used local honey)
3 tablespoons butter (melted)
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground mace (optional)
Combine in a small bowl then sprinkle on top of apples and squash. Cover and bake at 350 until squash is tender, 40 to 50 minutes.
Welcome to October!