Tuesday, August 26, 2014



Edible publications here in the Valley and on the Vineyard provide a unique perspective on food:

"I find myself grabbing at weeds as I walk up to friends’ houses, pulling weeds from storefront flower boxes, even silently identifying weeds as I ride my bike along the paths—not because I like to, really, but because I must...." 


by Mary Sage Napolitan

read more

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TOMATO-TIME


Red Fire Farm's 5-K and Tomato Festival This Saturday August 23 in Granby MA.

On the MUSIC STAGE 11:00 AM - Indian Classical Music with Sitar by Mike Jarjoura and Tabla by Max Armen
12:00 PM - Larry Dulong and Band
1:45 PM - The Ephemeral String Band
3:30 PM - Tim Eriksen and Trio du Pumpkinland.

WORKSHOP: Tomato Canning Demo with Sarah Voilland at 3 p.m. 

Heirlooms in the Tasting Tent.....
Brandywine, Cherokee Purple and Paul Robeson as well as more exotic offerings, such as German Queen, Homer Fike's Yellow Oxheart, Vintage Wine and Fuzzy Bomb. There will also be a collection of cherry tomatoes to sample, such as Golden Sweet and Red Pearl, along with the more unusual Hssiao His Hung Shih, Egg Yolk, Lemon Drop and Pink Bumble Bee to name a few and they're not all red. Featured in the tasting tent from noon to 5 p.m.

  

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Recipe: Butter

Any major chef will tell you, fat is where the flavor is...... 

Use butter as much as possible. Make
it or buy if from Cabot (not so far away in Vermont and somewhat affordable if you buy it in block form, on sale.)




Butter Recipe

1 gallon raw milk


or


1 quart raw cream


1 tablespoons yogurt





To make butter from scratch, purchase a

gallon of raw milk or a quart of raw cream


from the good dairy.




If you buy the cream, skip this next step. If you

buy the raw milk, let it sit for a day or


overnight until the cream rises to the top.


Scoop out the cream and place in a glass jar.


Add a ‘culture,’ in the form of a tablespoon of


yogurt to the cream and let it sit for another


day or overnight.




The next step is to agitate the cream. This can

be done shaking the cream in a mason jar,


putting it in a blender or using a food


processor. (The jar method takes about 15


minutes. The blender or food processor


version is much faster.) When the fats have


coagulated, rinse with ice-cold water in a


bowl to separate the fat from remaining


liquids. Stir with wooden paddle and add


some sea salt. Keep in a small dish in the


refrigerator.  
Slather on everything.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Sunday Asparagus Festival - Casey Douglass at Bat

The Asparagus Festival on Sunday June 1 in Hadley. If you think you've had enough asparagus already, think again. Casey Douglass is cooking and his take on Hadley Grass is Asian. 

Who is Casey Douglass?  It’s 10:45 a.m. on Thursday morning and Casey Douglass has a problem. He's down two men. In five hours, two restaurants will fill up with people. One of them will have no chef.

“Welcome to my world,” he says.

A wiry guy and subject to brainstorms, Casey is originally from the eastern part of the state and has been on the restaurant scene in the Valley every since he got off the bus. He now runs two places simultaneously in Easthampton. On the topic of 'his world,' he continues, “I live over there,” he says tossing his bald head in the direction of his home, a block away, “...and I am building this place, still, and I’m at Apollo down the street.  There is also a wife, children, chickens, a rental property, the whole chef package.

We sit in his latest creation, Galaxy. Over the winter Casey and a team transformed the former watch repair shop into a sleek box where patrons can choose their food and their environment.

Inside Galaxy, even in broad daylight, it feels quite far from Easthampton and even farther from Kansas. There are three rooms with three states of mind. Feeling fraternal? Try the paneled bar with a Mondrian style bar and clubby wood paneling. Feeling rather Mad Men-ish? There is also the Minimalist Mod room on white leather banquettes and galactic lighting fixtures. Feeling here’s also a back room for private parties. That’s where the wine dinners will be. Out front Casey is building a deck for an outdoor cafe. But he won’t stop at the deck. Next there will be a beer garden in the back and down the road, five years tops, he says, a roof garden. “That’s where we can really take off.”  

Casey can be seen on any given evening either at Galaxy or Apollo or racing between the two with a carton of half and half, a saw or some other item essential to keeping the operation going before the end of service.

As we speak, he begins to riff on a plan to celebrate the fourth. Every year Easthampton hosts fireworks in the park. This year Casey will put on a spread. For free. “We’ll do a pig roast," he says. "And chicken, other meat, all out in the parking lot..." He pauses to wonder if he an get his hands on a smoker big enough and then says, "This will work, I know where I can get one."

Casey’s pedigree restaurant background in the Valley includes Green St. CafĂ©, Squires Smoke and Game Club and Del Raye. It was at Squires with the screened porch perched over the Mill River where Casey learned about smoking meat. Later at DelRaye, with its famous paintings on the wall and impossibly expensive food on the plate, Casey learned to orchestrate the room. Del Raye had an open kitchen. As head chef, Casey had a full view on the restaurant. “I could look out and see that table seven, 2 cod, is a 60-year-old couple who will be there for 2 hours. I can pace the delivery for that table and all the others.”  


As for tonight’s emergency, Casey will probably cook himself. And on June 28 while you’re collecting the chairs and blankets and getting the kids in the car to check out the fireworks, he’ll will be racing from Apollo to Galaxy to get the smoker going. Will he pull it off? Prepare for take off.  Everyone's invited. 

Friday, May 16, 2014

RECIPE: Asparagus Soup


RECIPE: Asparagus Soup

Asparagus Soup
Serves 4

1      Bunch asparagus 
2      Tablespoons butter 
2   Tablespoons flour
1   Pinch white pepper
1   Teaspoon salt
5   Scrapes nutmeg (or 1/4 teaspoon)
4   Tablespoons Whole Milk Yogurt (Sidehill) or sour cream.

Wash and trim stalks an inch off the ends. Remove tips and set aside. Bring five cups of water to boil. Blanch the tips in the water for three minutes, remove and set aside. Blanch the spears for between 6 and 7 minutes. In a sauce pan, dissolve flour in butter over medium heat using a wooden spoon to make a roux. Stir carefully to avoid lumps. When the asparagus spears are finished cooking, remove with slotted spoon. Puree spears in food processor with 1 cup of the cooking water. Process for about 2 minutes until fully pureed. Pour the asparagus puree into the sauce pan and mix with butter and flour roux. Add two more cups of the asparagus water and bring to a simmer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Correct seasoning as needed. Pour into bowls and garnish with a generous dollop of yogurt with a single asparagus spear in the middle of each.  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Writing the Land at Seeds of Solidarity



From the people at Seeds of Solidarity:

An inspiring workshop on nature & environmental writing taught by author and artist Mira Bartok, National Book Circle Critics Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir, The Memory Palace

We are honored to have our friend Mira offer this one-day retreat on our farm, that will include nature walks, guided writing exercises, & shared reading of work in a supportive environment. This special event is a wonderful opportunity to deeply explore the resonances between sense of place, memory, and your own relationship to the earth. No experience needed. Mira’s generous support of Seeds of Solidarity enables us to offer this workshop at a very special price of $100, and a farm-fresh lunch is included! Space is limited to 20; preregistration is essential and we expect the day to fill. Contact deb@seedsofsolidarity.org or978-544-9023 to register.

Writing the Land   Saturday Oct 11, 10am to 3PM  
Seeds of Solidarity Farm and Education Center, Orange MA


Thursday, May 1, 2014

Riverhead

on the seventh day, asparagus came, followed by corn. And then a strawberry. The Adventures of Rhubarbi were about to begin....

Friday, April 18, 2014

RECIPE: Boneless Leg of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce Compliments of Kristin N.

Grilled Lamb from Leyden Glen 

Back on the block....Boneless Leg of Lamb .... get it at Amherst Farmers' Market Opening April 19  (Tomorrow!)
Boneless leg of lamb - 1 1/2 to 3 pounds
For Chimmichurri Sauce
4 cloves of fresh garlic peeled
1 cup parsley leaves (removed from stalks)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (or more if you like things spicy)
1/2 cup olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
To cook lamb:
Prepare grill. Cut the strings that are tying the leg together. Rub salt and pepper on both sides of the boneless leg.
The boneless leg of lamb shown grilled for 10 minutes on one side over a rather high heat, 6 minutes on the other. The best thing to do is to test with a meat thermometer unless you have a natural feel for cooking meat. Our lamb was 130 degrees when it came off the grill. Let it stand for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and plate.
Chimichurri Sauce:
In a food processor, process garlic. Add parsley and oregano and process until chopped fine. This is not a pesto so don't liquefy the herbs. Transfer to a bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Stir and set aside. Is best if flavors meld in the fridge. Serve as a sauce for the grilled lamb.
The Chimmichurri Sauce will keep for at least a day. Leftovers are good on any kind of vegetable or potato salad. It is a flavorful sauce with a fresh zingy taste.
Copyright 2014 Kristin Nicholas

Monday, April 14, 2014

Could the mother of us all take on GMO's?


Gamma Sigma Delta stands for, "the binding together of earth, the mother of all, and the practice of agriculture, and the arts relating thereto for the welfare of mankind…" 

Future fish and large animal farmers Derek Silva and Lila Grallert of UMass were inducted into agricultural honor society last week. In the interviews below they share their thoughts on GMOs, permaculture, the future of farming and what they had for breakfast. 



Future Farmers Weigh In: Derek Silva

Derek Silva 

VL: Where are you from Derek Silva?
DS: A portuguese community in Lowell, Massachusetts

VL: What year are you?
DS: I’m finishing up my third year and I’ll be graduating in one semester.

VL: What is your major and area of interest?
DS: Plant, Soil and Insect Sciences with a concentration in Sustainable Food and Farming.  My interest is in aquaculture, which is an often forgotten aspect of agriculture that that has only been growing bigger and bigger in recent years.  I also have an interest of one day working in the tropics in developing countries.

VL: What got you interested in agriculture?
DS: Farming is a big part of my family’s past and I spent a lot of time on farms as a child.  The idea of growing my own food and raising my own animals just stuck with me.

VL: What are your thoughts studying agriculture in western mass?
DS: I think western mass is a great place to study agriculture because it’s such a big part of the daily life here and the atmosphere is very supportive of it.

VL: What are your thoughts on GMOs?
DS: From my experience, when people hear GMO they have very strong feelings either for or against.  There doesn’t seem to be much of a middle ground where people can calmly and rationally discuss GMOs.  With that being said, the thought of eating foods that have been genetically modified seems wrong to me and I haven’t read any studies that conclusively show GMOs to be the solution we need.  However, I try to stay open-minded and maybe some day, after significant study, we’ll see that GMOs aren’t all that bad.

VL: How can a farmer make a difference in today’s world of big agriculture?
DS: I think a farmer is making a difference as soon as they decide to be a farmer.  Even just a backyard farmer can have a huge impact on family, neighbors and their community.  I think the perfect phrase to describe farming in this country is out of sight, out of mind.  It’s been forgotten and by becoming a farmer, you’re bringing it back to people’s attention.

VL: What does having a chapter of the National Agriculture Honor Society mean to you and to the school?
It’s very rewarding.  The people at UMass who study agriculture already know that Stockbridge, its professors and its students are all great people.  To me having a chapter of the National Agriculture Honor Society is a recognition that we’re doing something right and it serves as encouragement to keep working.

VL: What do you recommend to students who are interested in going into agriculture?
DS: Do it.  I think the best way to learn in agriculture is to just get out there and not be afraid to mess up.  Plant some vegetables, visit farms, talk to farmers, do whatever you can.  If you show people that you’re really interested I think you’ll find there are a lot of people out there who will support you.

VL: What did you have for breakfast?
A bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and a cup of fair trade coffee.


Future Farmers Weigh In: Lila Grallert

VL: Where are you from Lila Grallert?
LG: Ayer, Mass.

VL: What is your area of interest?
LG: I am a double major in sustainable food/farming and pre-veterinary medicine. My focus is sustainable animal production. 

VL: What got you interested in agriculture? 
LG: The idea that food production brings people together with each other, with the earth, and with other types of life really intrigues me. I think this is what really draws me into the idea of raising animals for food. Animals need healthy land to feed them, and we need healthy animals to feed us. 

VL: What are your thoughts studying agriculture in western mass?
LG: Living in the pioneer valley has been extremely conducive to studying agriculture. I have had the opportunity to work and take classes on farms, gaining valuable hands-on experience. Learning about raising sheep in classes is nothing compared to staying overnight at the farm to help the sheep deliver babies if needed. In addition, most of my classes have included lab sections that involved visiting nearby farms and talking with producers which is a great opportunity for learning. Finally, the story of the UMass and the valley is deeply rooted in the story of agriculture in the US and understanding the history of the area and its people allows us to begin to understand the history of agriculture in the country.

VL: What are your thoughts on GMOs?
LG: The scientific data supporting the idea that GMOs are having a negative impact on our health is disputed. However, a downfall to GMOs that I don't think can be argued with is the implications that they have on farmers and the way in which industrial agriculture companies help create an oppressive system for farmers to survive in. The idea that life (GMOS... seeds) can be patented can be dangerous for farmers wanting to stay independent from seed companies and save their own seeds. In addition, GMO seeds as an export commodity pose a great risk to farmers invested in them as one failed harvest can result in a failed farm (because they rely on buying in seeds each year, often these seeds are not adapted to the areas where they are being grown, and the farmer becomes dependent on a company for supplying seeds). 

VL: How can a farmer make a difference in today’s world of big agriculture? 
LG: Creativity. I think that the future of agriculture relies on innovative solutions that integrate modern technology with holistic ways of thinking about the stewardship of life. In addition, being connected with their communities and understanding the needs of the people that live there is vital to the survival of small farms and the encouragement of strong communities rooted in healthy food and vibrant local economies.

VL: What does having a chapter of the National Agriculture Honor Society mean to you and to the school? 
LG: Gamma Sigma Delta is "The binding together of earth, the mother of all, and the practice of agriculture, and the arts of relating thereto for the welfare of  mankind." This motto is the reason I was drawn to agriculture, and the reason I wish to continue within the world of agriculture. Food production is something that can unite people, and remind them about their roots in the earth and their connection with the life around them. Joining this society reminds me that I part of a community of people who will devote their lives to this idea and to being part of feeding the world in a sustainable and just way. UMass Amherst has a community of people who wish to do this, and the honors society allows them to remain part of that community even after they graduate.

VL: What do you recommend to students who are interested in going into agriculture? 
LG: Talk to farmers, learn from their mistakes and successes. Constantly seek opportunities to make your own mistakes and find your own successes. Seek the truth by asking tough questions and trusting in your experiences. 

VL: What did you have for breakfast? 
LG:  Pork sausage raised my a fellow SFF major!... (shout-out to Skalbite Family Farm!) and an apple.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Between Now and Asparagus

locavore dead zone

Little left in the larder ... 

This is the last week of our root cellar in the form of a winter share at Brookfield. That means we're down to 4 carrots, a couple of turnips and 2 garlic cloves. No onions left. Between now and asparagus we have approximately 6 weeks. This time of year is known as the Locavore Dead Zone.

Next to the calendar in our kitchen is a cardboard wheel of the seasonal food. In the Mar/Apr portion of the wheel are sweet little drawings of what food nature provides at this time of year. There are eggs, there is a chicken, cured meats, maple syrup, preserves, mushrooms, dairy, squash, and kale, plus, for some reason, brussels sprouts.

Wildlife hunkers down or invades backyard bird feeders during the dead zone. What do humans do? If it weren't for a pretty blond who grows spinach all winter long, hydroponic bok choy and salad mix from Swartz Farm in N. Amherst and a handful of other stalwart farmers, it would be like the year of 2009 for this Locavore. 2009 was not pretty. I existed on potatoes, cornbread (made from cornmeal from Hadley, Ashfield yogurt, eggs from Wendell), butter and kale I picked out of the snow at a farm on River Road in Whately. 

That was then. Now kale can be purchased legally. Extended season growing efforts means that all of the local food indicated on the cardboard wheel of seasonal food can be purchased under one snow covered roof.  Winter Farmers Markets in three towns now sell hoop house greens and jars of tomato sauce from Red Fire Farm in Granby, the spinach lady's offerings, meats, cheese, mushrooms and more. Fruit and root vegetables are available all winter long due to improved storage facilities at Bashista in Southampton and Winter Moon in Hadley. The Locavore Dead Zone between March and Asparagus is officially over. 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

where am I?




Sunday 7:19 a.m.  

Light in room comes from a window framing a mountain with snow
and the early morning fingers of color in the sky blue and red

From your vantage a coverlet, white, eyelet and under that an ivory fleece blanket
Upon further inspection
A painting of a bridge, oil, blue and grey with brown
and...
a claw foot tub 
in the bathroom under a window....

Through the window in the bathroom, up the road and covered in snow
Is that Mary Lyon's Winter School for Young Ladies?

A spinning wheel next to the dresser and a chair with a needlepoint footstool...
On the dresser, a copy of Yankee Magazine
You reach for it it up to read about the fate of lobster men but is that ....
the smell of bacon?

You dress quickly. Freezing.
Downstairs a fire in the living room, no longer embers like last night...

You cross a hooked rug to the dining room where sun glints on the 
china and the cutlery and on the orange juice in blue goblets
You sit to a warm muffin and you are handed a mug of strong coffee  
that warms you, recently brewed, recently ground, where is this place?

You peek in the kitchen
Is that the lady?
who let you in last night
she was wearing a white woolen nightgown?
and her hair, down?

Is this Emily Dickinson's house?

You look out the dining room window and there is your car
in front of your car another car
with New Hampshire plates
owned by people sitting next to you

They ask and
you say you are at a conference at Rowe Center on Rt. 2
.... got in late last night

This is where you landed
lucky you. It comes to you later in the form of some recipes 
a talisman, two of them, of the experience.

You were at the "birdhouse" in Buckland
an Inn from long ago but still here.

The daughter of the woman who let you in
fed you eggs benedict
and offered two recipes for rhubarb dishes 
a plant that grows in their side yard. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Outsider artist with Assemblage in Springfield. Florist Gretchen Stibolt with natural and unnatural materials at a retrospective of her work. This Saturday at the Bing Arts Center at the "X" in Springfield. You might have to knock on the windows or turn on the lights but it is worth it.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Framing Spring Planting at Holyoke Farm-2-School Program

Future Farmers Design Spring Gardens....


photo: Mary A. Nelen

..... in Holyoke Public Schools  

Two weeks ago future farmers, ages 8 through 13, used cardboard to model the raised beds that will make up school gardens in the spring at Morgan Elementary and Peck Middle School in Holyoke.  

Pizza Gardens, Flower and Cabbage Gardens and a Popcorn Gardens are in the works and organized by School Sprouts of Holyoke. 

Last week students sawed and sanded their way to a wooden frame that will be used in the courtyard garden when the weather is warm enough. Next, seeds will be decided on and selected. 



Thursday, November 21, 2013

Talkin' Turkey


Locavore: Talking Turkey
For Thanksgiving, an Advocate Exclusive
Thursday, November 27, 2008
By Mary Nelen

Local turkeys sold out this year up in
Wendell. At over $3 a pound, it's hard to
believe that fowl such as this would be in
such high demand. But there's a reason to
pay top dollar and there's a reason you're
eating Butterball. Tom, a turkey from
Wendell, agreed to talk turkey about life on the farm in Franklin County.

ValleyLocavore: So are you a male or female?
Turkey: You talking to me?
VL: Yeah, I'm looking at you, aren't I?
T: I'm a tom, a male turkey, also known as a gobbler. They named an
entire country after me. Ever been to Istanbul?
VL: I'm doing the interviewing here. So tell me about the farm.
T: Where's my doughnut?
VL: How did you learn to talk?
T: How did you? I'm up in Wendell right now at a turkey farm where they
sell chickens, pies, turkey pot pies and eggs, plus some other local stuff
like cider donuts.
VL: What's a typical day like for a free range turkey?
T: Get up early, do some reading. I like Michael Pollan. Go out and range
a bit with the other birds, eat some feed, drink some spring water, go
online.
VL: You seem to have a lot of time on your hands. Are you free ranging?
T: We're in and out of the "free-roam" coop. I can't complain.
VL: Pretty crowded?
T: Not bad. I get out, but nobody sees me.
VL: What do they feed you?
T: We get water from a spring in Wendell, grain and some corn from
Williams Farm in Deerfield. No growth enhancers or hormones.
VL: So you guys go for over $3 a pound, whereas a supermarket turkey is
under a dollar a pound and sometimes turkeys are given out free at work.
T: Where do you work?
VL: Back in the day, factory workers were given a turkey every
Thanksgiving and every Christmas.
T: Yeah, and they sold mashed potatoes at the automat.
VL: Nice attitude.
T: I'm just glad I didn't make the cut this year.
VL: How come you didn't make the cut?
T: I hid under an old Ford out back where I can pick up wifi from the
neighbors' house.
VL: Nice. Don't they count the birds before slaughtering them?
T: It's called "dressing." No time for that... around the holidays it's pretty
busy and they run this place very well. You might want to read some
Michael Pollan if you want to learn more about turkeys and how food is
produced in general.
VL: I've heard of him. Didn't he write about being an omnivore? A skinny
guy, looks kind of like a tur—..skinny guy?
T: Michael Pollan teaches journalism at Berkeley in California. He
wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma in 2006 and then this year he wrote In
Defense of Food. The first book explains what it is we're eating by
looking at four ways to eat: industrial food— McDonald's, for example—
organic food, alternative food, and foraged food. The other book is a
straight-talk approach to figuring out what to eat. He says that we should
eat food, not too much, mostly plants, and don't touch anything your
grandmother's never heard of, like "whole grain white bread" or
"tofurkey."
VL: Why do eaters need a manifesto? I like to forage as much as the next
person, but "manifesto" is a fighting word.
T: Pollan calls it a manifesto because we have to take food, literally,
into our hands and out of the hands of agribusiness, factory farming, the
"man," whatever you want to call it. That crap will either poison you or
make you fat or both.
VL: Tough talk.
T: I'm a turkey, a tom. If you want to hear a bedtime story, talk to a
Butterball.
VL: Right. If you had to use one word to say why local turkey is better
than Butterball, what word would that be?
T: Blood.
VL: Blood?
T: Yes, blood.
VL: In terms of slaughter?
T: "Dressing!" And, no, that has nothing to do with it. When turkeys or
any animals get a lot of exercise, the blood is closer to the bone, which
makes the dark meat. And that is where the flavor is. With the snowy
white breast, there's not so much taste, not to mention it's squishy. But
the dark meat... that's where we keep it real.
VL: Are you pumped about the new administration?
T: Michael Pollan for food czar. In another paper of record, Pollan told
the incoming U.S president, "..... like so many other leaders through
history, you will find yourself confronting the fact—so easy to overlook
these past few years—that the health of a nation's food system is a
critical issue of national security. Food is about to demand your
attention."
VL: Go green.
T: Go blood.
VL: Who do you like on Sunday?
T: That's easy. Dallas and Tennessee.
VL: You think Tennessee will remain unbeaten?
T: If Detroit beats the Titans, I'll write your next column.

© 2012 The Valley Advocate

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why should you attend this biochar symposium?


Here are just a few reasons (adapted in part from Albert Bates book, The Biochar Solution)
  1. Because you understand your dependence upon agriculture and want to better understand how biochar benefits soil by stimulating microbial activity, attracting fungi and distributing nutrients to the roots of plants, much as a coral reef supports the ocean. You'll also want to know how the micropores in biochar provides a "reservoir and conduit for soil moisture, soaking up water from over-saturated areas and giving it back to dry areas"
  2. Because you care about sustainable agriculture and want to learn from others addressing the complex challenges of preserving ecosystem services, enhancing soil fertility, increasing water absorption while decreasing the amount needed, employing human and animal labor, as well as sequestering carbon.
  3. Because you worry about the complicated and unsustainable use of fossil fuels and want to explore energy alternatives. You want to see solutions that successfully address a rigorous life cycle analysis with full disclosure and transparency.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

If you're into the hard stuff......

Cider Days, November 2 & 3, 2013

Vintage calvados and signature ciders in Deerfield. Standing room only in The Cider Salon tent. 

Why? If you're into the hard stuff, the world's largest hard cider tasting with more than 60 individual cider brands from across North America in the big tent across from the Shelburne Buckland Community Center in Shelburne Falls. Two sessions — 3 to 4:30 and 5:15 to 6:45 (Saturday) BUY TICKETS

Where is Biochar Bob?

Biochar Bob

Where is he today? Haiti. Where will he be in October? Amherst.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

a boy's love affair with food........

this story concerns a guy who shook up his high school and won the right to bake with the boys......

"So began my love affair with cooking. I was given the keys to the castle, the ability to satisfy my largest appetite. It was like the power some kids feel when they get a driver’s license..." 

Click on link below for entire article.

"Cooking is Freedom!"
 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

RECIPE: Verrill's Corn and Tomato Tart


Verrill's Corn and Tomato Tart
(Ellie's Cookbook 2009)

Ingredients
1/2 chopped onion
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 T olive oil
5 ears of corn, kernels cut off
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 C grated cheddar cheese
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3 scallions, chopped
2 large eggs
1/2 C milk
1/2 C heavy cream

Directions Filling
Heat to 375. In a medium sauce-pan over medium heat, sauté onions and garlic of olive oil until onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add corn kernels and cook about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Put half of the corn mixture into Baked Pie Crust. Layer grated cheese evenly on top. Add remaining corn mixture. Scatter cherry tomatoes and scallions on top. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and cream; pour egg mixture over tart. Bake 30 minutes until tart is golden brown. Yield: 8 to 12 servings

Baked Piecrust

Ingredients 
This recipe is for a 9x10" pie pan (or use a tart pan)
3/4 C flour
6 T unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
2 T cold water

Directions Pie Crust
Heat oven to 375. In a food processor, pulse together flour, butter and salt until mixture resembles corn kernels. Add water & pulse just until the mixture forms a ball. Roll out dough and place in pie pan. Cover with parchment paper and a handful of dried beans or pie weights. Bake 15 minutes. Let crust cool, remove beans/weights, add filling. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

RECIPE: Cream of MFK Fisher Potato Soup Locavore Version

David Levine Image
Just because I love her and just because you asked, dear reader, I present MFK's recipe for Potato Soup. This in lieu of a chowder recipe. This is a good way to use Idaho potatoes.

If you really want chowder, which is a bit thinner, skip the roux part (i.e. don't bother with flour) of the recipe and add either 1 C shucked clams or corn.

Cream of potato soup
Serves 4

From M.F.K. Fisher’s How To Cook A Wolf.
*
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly (Idaho or Hadley--Idaho is best)
2 mild onions, sliced thinly (Pioneer Valley)
2 tbs flour (Wheatberry in Amherst ground by you)
4 tbs butter (Pioneer Valley)
salt and pepper (up to you)
1 cup potato water (local from sink)
3 cups rich scalded milk (local in fridge)
1 tbs chopped parsley, 1 tbs chopped chives (backyard)

First
Stew the onions gently in one-half the butter for 15 mins. Add the potatoes and cover with a small amount of water, about two cups. Cook gently until tender. Drain, saving one cup of the water, and put the vegetables through a strainer.

Second
Make a roux of the remaining butter and the flour (a roux is a cooked mixture of flour and a cooking fat that is used to thicken sauces and gravies), add the potato water and the seasoning, and stir in the scalded milk. Combine the mixture with the strained vegetables and heat thoroughly, beating with an egg beater for several minutes. Add the chopped herbs and serve at once, or chill and serve as Vichysoisse the next day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

RECIPE: Figs for now, for later, for lovers....


There is a man who lives around an hour from me due north.

He grows figs under glass. Comes from the eastern part of the state and before that the southern part of Italy.  He has the presence of a Mountain goat, more like an animal than a person, can grow just about anything….

Milo, first and last name, brought with him some culture -- how to stucco a barn or coax figs from New England soil.  I say, "hey, what kind of figs?" or "where are the seeds from?" and he says, "Maybe it was there in Italy, from my dad, or maybe my brother gave them to me to grow for my dad.....not sure." 

He is around 40 maybe 60. He has eyes the color of bottled mineral water and a long ponytail down his back. He wears old sweat pants and sleeps in a crows nest on the top of his house. He goes to sleep with the sun and rises with the sun. Milo's body is slight, brown and pliant like a fig when it falls, ripe to the ground.  

When I went to meet with him, it was to buy some figs and because I just stood there staring, he gave me a tour of his place.  We started with some news clippings about him and he served me a little a snack at the kitchen table of his oregano and tomatoes. When I finished eating, very good, astoundingly good oregano, he asked, "Back hurt? Sittin on the computer?" Hell yes. He pulled out a hassock and said to lie on my back and elevate my legs while he went off to do some errands. 

Milo's house is in the middle of town and can be entered through a gate, an elaborate creation of color and iconography. The primary hues of tie dyed t-shirts adorn the outer perimeter of his estate, a tangle of hearts and peace signs carved into the stone walls.

A tour of his place revealed spring-fed pool dug out of stone and heated with wood. His walls, the stucco barn walls are soft curves, "all by hand" he says, petting the walls. "No power tools." And the work, smooth stone inlaid with glass, mica and shells, is intricate, like cave paintings. "This one," pointing to a mandala on the wall of the entryway of the house, "is made from a buncha glass given to me by some guy who thought I would like it....I don't know.”   We leave the explosion of dinnerware. 

Next we climb hand hewn stairs toward a trapeze leading to the cows nest where our interview will take place. He takes a step up the ladder, grabs a nearby trapeze and hoists himself feet first, into the crows nest. He offers the trapeze to me.

"Are you sure you want me up here?" I say.

He smiles and shakes his head imperceptibly. An unnecessary question perhaps.  I ask him if he drank coffee. He laughed. Wine? No, at night he hikes and gets as close to where the sun is setting as possible. He discusses gravity and western medicine. “The best way to live life is to be like a plant-- just keep growing up ward!" He says and straightens his spine.

"Gravity is always trying to pull you down....like your mother," he said, pulling at my hand down to the earth. How does he know about her?  He looks into my eyes and wraps his hands around my rib cage, hoisting it like a small calf, upward.  "Like your mother." He takes a look at my soul and shrugs. 

Glassed in greenhouse where he grows the figs. They’re not ready to eat yet. He splits one open anyway with a knife, cupping it in his hand. I swoon.

FIG JAM FOR LOVERS AND FOR LATER

about 24 figs or 2 egg carton's worth
heat
water
small jar, about 2 ounces

Peel and cook down figs over medium heat until they are reduced by about 20%. This will remove moisture and concentrate the fruit. Spoon into clean  jars and process in canning bath for 15-20 minutes. Store in cool place. When opened, keep refrigerated. For more information on canning, go to www.balljar.com.



Thursday, July 25, 2013

Recipe: Politically Incorrect Chowder in Boise

Spuds to take a bullet for  ...
Morning in Boise
Coffee: Vacuum Pump Daily Special: Pink Titty Wake Up Juice

Afternoon in Boise
Store selling cigarettes and sandwiches with big electric sign out front: "If you have to habit, we have it!"

Evening in Boise
Liquor store big electric sign out front: "Livers are evil and must be destroyed." Then chowder that you would take a bullet for. Due to the spud.

Note to Self: When in Idaho order anything with potato especially chips and chowder with beer.

RECIPE: Chowder

All the usual suspects: Milk, cream, celery, clams, butter, bacon and most important, Idaho potato, cooked al dente. Sweat onion in bacon. Peel and cube potato, soak in water for one hour to remove starch and cook in chowder consisting of 1C clam juice 3 C water plus celery and onion for around 30 min depending. Remove bacon and serve in white bowl.







Monday, June 10, 2013

RECIPE: Hadley Grass Soup


RECIPE: Hadley Grass Soup

Asparagus has a lifespan in the Valley of four to six weeks. We are on our fourth week on June 10 so try this recipe on for size.

1 bunch asparagus with stalks trimmed
1 C yogurt
2 C chicken stock
1 C water
1 t white pepper
1 t salt
3-5 scrapes nutmeg
Slotted spoon

Trim tips off asparagus and set aside. Chop remaining stalks into 1-inch pieces.  Bring stock and water to boil. Add the asparagus stalks, salt and pepper. Simmer for   30 minutes. Add several scrapes of nutmeg. Process in food mill or food processor and return soup to pan. To cook them, add asparagus tips and simmer for five minutes.  Remove soup from heat. When still warm, stir in the yogurt. Serve in individual bowls with a dollop of yogurt speared with an asparagus tip as garnish. (You will have to fish them out of the soup.) Disclaimer: If you are the sort of person to share a bit of human food with your cat, resist the temptation with this dish. Asparagus soup has a similar impact on the feline digestive system to the female human digestive system.  Hadley Grass is an imposing crop and pretty much retains its character post consumption in soup or any other form!