You say ketchup, I saw catsup

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The table on my back patio was a sea of red as far as the eye could see.  Or, at least as much as the table would allow.  Tomatoes!  Tomatoes from my garden, tomatoes from the CSA share.  Too many tomatoes!

You know, maybe next year I’ll learn my lesson and plant a few less tomato plants.

I have made tomatoes in every conceivable way this year - sauce to salsa to dried tomatoes.  But I have not made catsup.  Until yesterday, that is.  Now I can say that I’m a catsup-making fool.

Nearly 12 pounds of tomatoes gave me two pints of ketchup.  It’s a good amount for our house - I barely eat catsup on anything, whereas my husband eats it pretty often.  After our current bottle of store bought catsup runs out, I think two pints of catsup should last us awhile.

Here’s how to make it:
4 pounds tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon allspice
1 cup vinegar

Peel tomatoes, then drop 2 or 3 tomatoes at a time into boiling water. Leave them in the water for a minute, or until the skins begin to split. Remove them to a bowl until they are cool enough to handle. Peel and chop the tomatoes, making sure to catch all the juices. Simmer tomatoes and onion in a heavy saucepan until tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the tomato-onion mixture in a food processor and return to saucepan [if you really want that uber-smooth consistency, run the puree through a food mill before returning to the saucepan]. Add spices and vinegar and simmer on low heat, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring frequently.

Spoon into jars and process in a water bath for 35 minutes.

Posted by Nicole on 09/30 at 11:29 AM


Market report: Haddonfield Farmer’s Market

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Haddonfield Farmer's Market

There’s nothing like putting things off until the very last minute!  Today, on the second to last day of the September Eat Local Challenge, I visited the Haddonfield, NJ Farmer’s Market.  I’ve never been there before and never purchased anything from any of the vendors present, so it counts toward trying one new resource.  The market is in the parking lot of the Haddonfield PATCO stop.  While small (I estimate about six or seven vendors selling food), there was a lovely selection of produce.  There are other vendors who regularly offer their products who were not there today, including Butcher Bloc and Red Barn.

I purchased scallions and the last leeks from the super friendly chicks from Flaim Family Farm.  They had at least a half dozen eggplant varieties, absolutely gorgeous carrots and beets, all manner of fresh herbs, beautiful salad greens, and a bevy of other vegetables and fruit.

Haynicz’s Orchard View Farms was selling a great array of apples and pears, as well as peach and apple cider.  My eyes lit up when I saw the peach cider.  I’ve never had it before, and it sounds wonderful!  It’s currently chilling in my refrigerator.

Triple Oaks Nursery was selling over half a dozen varieties of heirloom tomatoes, the only one of which I recognized was the Green Zebra.  They were all very pretty, though, and incredible-looking!  I also saw some fresh cut flowers for sale.

Busy Bee Farms was selling honey and soap.  I just purchased some buckwheat honey from Linvilla Orchards, so I didn’t really need more - but it was so tempting to just buy another jar.  It looked so good, and I overheard the vendor talking to a customer about his blueberry honey. Yum!

Versailles Bakery had a mouth-watering selection of locally made breads, bagels, and pastries.  The olive rolls were too good to pass up, and I walked away with two of them.

My husband purchased some dog treats from Cafe Woof.  While the ingredients are not locally sourced, they are locally made and my dog loved them!

The Haddonfield Farmer’s Market is open from 9am-1pm on Saturdays.  October 27 will be the last day for the market this season, and it’s easily accessible.  Only seven miles from Philadelphia, it’s a quick drive over the bridge or a quick train ride on PATCO.

Coincidentally, there’s another farmer’s market really close by, and also just as easily accessible via public transit.  That’s the Collingswood Farmer’s Market.  It’s also open on Saturdays, but from 8am until noon.  Better yet, Collingswood market is open until Thanksgiving.  The market offers locally grown and heirloom breed (free range, antiobiotic free) turkeys from Griggstown Quail Farm in Princeton, as well.

Posted by Nicole on 09/29 at 12:52 PM


Valley Shepherd Creamery Fairmount

Friday, September 28, 2007

Valley Shepherd Creamery Fairmount

The Fairmount cheese from Valley Shepherd Creamery has a strong Swiss cheese kind of taste and texture.  I suspect it would make a great fondue.  The Valley Shepherd site says it’s “definitely a mountain cheese with pasture and fresh mountain aroma”.  Fair enough.

Fairmount is a mixed milk cheese that is cave-aged 8-15 months.

There are several Valley Shepherd cheeses I am dying to try.  It seems as if the Ash Log is mimicking Morbier, with its line of ash separating cheese made from the morning and afternoon milkings.  And the Scent-sation cheese, which is apparently is pretty stanky.  The Ancient Shepherd also appeals.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for these. 

I bought the Fairmount at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal, but Valley Shepherd cheeses are available at a number of places.

Posted by Nicole on 09/28 at 09:34 AM


Taste test: Hardy Kiwi

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hardy kiwi

For many years I’ve been seeing the Hardy Kiwi in various gardening magazines, promising that it would happily grow for us here in the Northeast.  ‘Kiwis?’ I thought. “Here in Pennsylvania?  That’s just crazy talk!’

And so I didn’t give it a second thought.

Today, though, I was at the Fair Food Farmstand in Reading Terminal Market where, lo and behold, there were a few quarts of these teeny tiny little green fruits being sold off.  The nice lady who works the stand gave me a taste.  Shockingly, they really do taste just like tropical kiwi.  The outside skin is smooth and shiny, rather than furry.  But inside is the same old kiwi look and taste.

As a rule, I’m not a huge eater of kiwi and mostly just bought them for the novelty.  I’m thinking, though, that I might try a little jam experiment this weekend…using these kiwi fruit and a different fruit I plan to forage from my backyard.  It might be interesting.

Posted by Nicole on 09/27 at 06:24 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Lancaster Farm Fresh

What does the last week of September hold for the Lancaster Farm Fresh share?

6 red slicing tomatoes grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
½ lb. bunch edamame beans grown by Elm Tree Organics
4 red onions grown by Green Acres
1 bunch rutabaga tops grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
1 head escarole or 1 head radicchio grown by Scarecrow Hill Farm
5 lbs. potatoes grown by Farmdale Organics
2 spaghetti squash grown by Elm Tree Organics

Apparently, we were also supposed to get either a bag of beets or a bag of green beans, but something went awry.  The LFF rep tells us that she’ll be giving us an extra vegetable in two weeks to make up for it.

I was surprised to see more tomatoes in the share.  Sure, we’re still pulling them off the vines in the garden, but I just got it in my head that there would be no more tomatoes.

It’s exciting to see edamame coming my way - I didn’t grow any in my garden this year.  And I’m thrilled to see a couple of spaghetti squash.  It’s a vegetable I haven’t really used very often in my cooking, and I’m delighted to sort of be forced into some experimenting!

It took fervent googling last night to figure out the uses of rutabaga tops.  Have you ever seen those for sale in the market?  I haven’t.  But I discovered that rutabaga tops can be eaten raw, an addition to salad greens.  Or they can be cooked like greens or treated like spinach - and I found a specific recommendation to cook them like collard greens.  I just happen to have some smoked pork neck bones in my freezer, so I could definitely cook up a mess of greens with those rutabaga tops…providing the ‘bunch’ is big enough.

Posted by Nicole on 09/27 at 08:31 AM


For Those Short on Space

20070922_0495



Let’s face it, a lot of us in the city are operating in small kitchens that have limited shelf space and even more limited freezer space.  Canning and freezing fresh produce to use over the winter isn’t nearly as feasible under these conditions.  Still, you don’t want to be left out of the “eat local” revolution for six whole months until Mother Nature decides to dust off her chilly shawl.  Cooks in by-gone days solved a similar problem (their’s being more along the lines of “I have a fireplace and an ice box”) by drying much of their summer harvests.  Once vegetables are dry, they’ll keep for several months and can be used much as you would the fresh version once they’re reconstituted after a soak in hot water.  I’ll be trying my hand a various drying techniques over the next few weeks on www.straightfromthefarm.net.  Let’s start here with some corn since its season is winding down fast. 


DRIED CORN

Use fresh sweet corn, husked and silk removed with a brush.  Six ears will fill up one standard baking sheet and yield about 2 cups of dried corn.

Cut corn off the cob using a sharp knife and a shallow bowl or cutting board.  Be sure to cut as close the cob as you can to remove all the kernels and juice possible.  Line a baking sheet with foil and give it just a very light coat of nonstick spray.  Spread corn kernels out on the baking sheet into an even layer.

Turn oven onto 150 F and place tray on the middle rack.  The drying process will take several hours (up to 12, depending on the freshness and juiciness of your corn) so be sure to check on it every 2 hours or so, turning it and shaking the tray gently to loosen any kernels that are sticking together or to the tray.  You’ll begin to notice the kernels shrinking and eventually becoming much darker and hard.  When all the moisture appears to be out of the corn, remove the tray from the oven and allow to cool off completely.

By the way, if you don’t really feel like monitoring the stove for 12 hours straight, you can turn off the oven, letting the tray sit inside, for several hours and come back to it later.  Or, if you have an older gas stove with a large oven pilot light, you might not even have to turn the oven on - just leave the corn sit in there for a day or so to dry on its own.

When the dried corn is cool, place in a paper bag and hang in your kitchen to dry out any remaining moisture.  After about a week or so, transfer dried corn to a ziplock bag and store in your cupboards for use later this winter.

Posted by Jennie on 09/27 at 06:55 AM


An Inadvertent Local Meal

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

unintentional local meal

I’ve been traveling the last couple of weeks, which means that I haven’t been able to get myself over to the Headhouse Square Farmers Market in at least three weeks.  The next few weeks don’t look much better either, as I’m going to be in Iowa this weekend (I’m hoping to get to eat some corn) and next weekend I’ve got a jumble of weddings, wedding celebrations and visits from my younger sister. 

But I thought I’d tell you about the inadvertent local meal I had a couple of weeks ago.  I do try to eat local, but I’m not perfect at it.  Most often at least one item in my meal is local, but rare is the day that every element comes from within spitting distance.  But one afternoon I was sitting down to a lunch of scrambled eggs, sliced tomato and steamed beans, when I realized that everything on my plate had been purchased directly from the farmer.  The eggs and tomato had been purchased at the Headhouse market and the beans were from the Tuesday morning Rittenhouse Square market.  The realization made the meal just that much more delicious. 

Posted by Marisa on 09/26 at 02:46 PM


Slow Food Dinner Tonight at Marigold Kitchen

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On Wednesday, September 26, 2007, Slow Food Philadelphia is sponsoring a five-course dinner at Marigold Kitchen inspired by chef Michael Solomonov’s recent trip through Turkey and Israel.

Amuse Bouche

First Course
Modern and Classic Mezze.  Eggplant salad, chopped Israeli salad with quail eggs and white anchovies, tuna carpaccio stuffed with tabouleh, and mussels cooked with spiced basmati rice.

Second Course
Braised swordfish with Shakshouka (classic tomato stew) and poached egg.

Third Course
Smoked loin of lamb with stewed prunes and flavored with Za’atar.

Dessert
Peach sorbet with peach salad, peach mousse, and peach cobbler with labneh ice cream.

$50 + tax and tip (the total price will be $65).  Reservations can be made through Open Table Philadelphia.

Slow Food USA is an educational organization dedicated to stewardship of the land and ecologically sound food production; to the revival of the kitchen and the table as centers of pleasure, culture, and community, to the invigoration and proliferation of regional, seasonal culinary traditions. The members of the Philadelphia chapter come from a wide variety of professions and backgrounds. It organizes dinners, tastings, tours, lectures, and picnics, where members gather in a convivial setting to explore the richness of our area’s culinary heritage or the food and drink of other cultures around the world.

Marigold Kitchen
501 S. 45th St.
(215) 222-3699

Posted by David on 09/25 at 11:18 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Red Earth Farm

CSA 2007 #10

This week’s share:

Plum tomatoes- some were damaged when I brought them home.
Nordello peppers- new to me. Described as mildly hot.
Turnips- these are mild, almost potato-like in their consistency and flavor.
Leeks- made roasted leeks last week, which were delicious.
Mustard greens- pungent. Not sure what I’ll do with these yet.
Flat-leaf parsley

Posted by Yoko on 09/25 at 11:27 PM


CSA Weekly Report: Blooming Glen Farm

Autumn is here. Happy fall equinox!

CSA crop share 2007 #18 - 0925 - 01

CSA crop share 2007 #18 - 0925 - 02

(Click photo to read notes at flick’r regarding names and quantities of this week’s share.)

Is that an amazingly colorful and diverse share, or what?

Posted by Mikaela on 09/25 at 09:16 PM


Herbalicious

My coworker-slash-friend, LM, surprised me with a bouquet of herbs from her garden this morning. Of course, they’ve totally livened up my office, both visually and nasally:

Herb bouquet from Laura 01

Herb bouquet from Laura 02

Spearmint, sage, tarragon, rosemary, thyme.  Can you help a sister out?  Any suggestions as to what to do with it all?  If I have to preserve some, which ones preserve the best?  Should I freeze or dry?  I don’t want to waste a single leaf smile

Posted by Mikaela on 09/25 at 09:39 AM


Challenge update - week 3

Monday, September 24, 2007

I can barely believe this is the last week of the September Eat Local Challenge - this month has flown by!  So how did we all do last week?

Naomi made local corn bread and a tofu stir fry, and shared the cornbread recipe with us.

Anj canned peppers in oil and vinegar, and made a great vegan vegetable soup using leftovers for the stock.  Better yet, she has promised to share her canning technique!

Jeanne collected a gorgeous CSA share from Greensgrow Farm this week, and went on a little shopping trip to the Schuylkill River Park Farmer’s market for peaches, figs, apples, and carrots.  Her local meal was a mostly local vegetable soup she had frozen earlier this Summer.

I tried a couple of locally produced cheeses, and made three local meals - Daikon ribbon pasta with tomato basil sauce,  and two meals using Butternut squash.  And I made pickled carrots.

Did you miss the deadline?  Just add your progress to the comments section!

Posted by Nicole on 09/24 at 01:22 PM


The beautiful Butternut

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Winter squash, like Butternut, Delicata, Sunshine, Spaghetti, and Kabocha, have been finding their way into our CSA shares and farmers market trips lately.  I’ve had lots of Butternut, in particular.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve roasted at least three of them.

I do prefer Butternut roasted, no matter what I’m doing with it - it’s just easier to peel that way.  Peeling and chopping uncooked Butternut is hard work, and I like to take the easy way out whenever possible!  To roast a Winter squash, just preheat your oven to 400 degrees, cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast (cut side down) for about 20 minutes or so.

Some of my Butternut was cubed and frozen.  Some of it was used immediately.  Like in this soup I made last week…

butternutsoup

There’s nothing quite like soup to use up all your extra produce!  And temperatures were cool enough around here last week to actually make some soup.  The soup contains Butternut squash, onions, and swiss chard from my CSA share, tomatoes from my garden, and some homemade chicken stock I made last month from a local chicken.  I also used some non-local parmesan rinds to flavor the soup up a bit.  It was delicious!

butterpud

Tonight for dinner, I made Butternut and mushroom bread pudding.  A lot of people are familiar with sweet bread puddings, but hardly anyone traffics in savory bread pudding.  It’s a lot like bread stuffing, and is a great way to use up whatever veggies you’ve got lying around the house.  In this case, there was a Butternut from last week’s CSA share, and some mushrooms from Mother Earth Mushrooms in West Grove.  In fact, everything I used for the bread pudding was local, except the parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.

3 cups Butternut squash, roasted and cubed
1 c. sliced mushrooms
1 tsp olive oil
1 c. chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 c. milk
1 c. aged parmesan, shredded
salt and pepper
3 large eggs
2 large egg whites
9 c. day old bread, torn up into bite-sized pieces (I used Le Bus brioche)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, garlic, and mushrooms for about five minutes.  Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Combine 1/4 tsp salt, a pinch of pepper, milk, 1/2 c. cheese, eggs and whites; whisk lightly.  Stir in squash and onion mixture.  Add bread and stir gently to combine.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Spoon into a large baking dish coated with cooking spray or butter.  Sprinkle with remaining cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes.

This is some great comfort food and makes excellent leftovers!

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 06:52 PM


Apple-tomatillo chutney

After my week of canning with my dad, Nicole asked for my recipe for apple-tomatillo chutney.  Since I’m sure a few other people would be interested, here it is.  (Please note that it’s an approximation of what we did this year.  It varies from year to year, but I have yet to encounter a version I didn’t like.)

2 qt processed* tomatillos
5 med apples, chopped & cored
1/2 c cider vinegar
1 c sugar
1 t each of mustard seeds
          cumin seeds
          coriander seeds
          fenugreek seeds
2 onions, diced
2 t cinnamon
2 t granulated garlic
1 c currants

Start by toasting the seeds and then cooking the onions to translucence.  Add the tomatillos and then the apples and the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until the apples have fallen apart, then jar and seal in a standard water bath.  I think this batch made two pints and six or eight half-pints. 

*processed=chopped and cooked enough so they won’t go bad if you leave them in the fridge a few extra days

Posted by Naomi on 09/23 at 04:34 PM


Hendricks Farm Cow Pie

Hendricks Cowpie cheese

I can’t think of a more unappetizing name for cheese than Cow Pie.  It gives me visions of cow manure and stanky odors.  However ill-advised the name is, the cheese is outstanding.  Cow Pie from Hendricks Farm and Dairy is a mild, creamy cheese made from raw cow milk (grassfed cows!).  It has a bloomy rind that is incredibly delicious.  At room temperature, the cheese becomes gooey and wonderful, like the Camembert Hendricks Farm modeled the cheese on.

Hendricks Farm makes their Cow Pie cheese using the cow’s evening milk, which is fattier.  And the fat makes the difference here.  It’s a great, rich cheese that I highly recommend.  In fact, I think Cow Pie just became my all time favorite locally made cheese.

Cow Pie is available at the Fair Food Farmstand and Salumeria at Reading Terminal Market, their farm store in Telford, Cheese! in Phoenixville, Chestnut Hill Cheese Shop in Philly, Bakers on Broad in Souderton, and, I’m told, Whole Foods.  You can also find it at Majolica in Phoenixville.

Hendricks Farm is located in Telford, PA.  They’ll be hosting their second annual Oktoberfest at the farm on October 26.

Posted by Nicole on 09/23 at 09:04 AM


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