Better Traveling Through Food

Sunday, September 01, 2013

I’ve written in the past about my attempts to eat local food when I am traveling.  This may seem obvious while vacationing on an organic farming Tuscany, but less so while in London.  Still, the way I eat at home has fundamentally altered the way I eat elsewhere, whether I am working or traveling.  While on my latest trip to Italy (a return to the beautiful Spannochia in central Tuscany), I saw three very distinct ways that eating local has actually improved my travel.

Vetting Restaurants. So much dining out when you travel can be a lot of fun, but the search for something worthwhile can also be exhausting.  Whether the restaurant has ceased to exist since your guidebook was printed or the address of buildings seem to have no logic whatsoever, we’ve all found ourselves in that miserable state of hunger and fatigue from a fruitless search. You might think that in Italy it’s hard to have a bad meal.  While that may be true (though I certainly don’t want to conduct that experiment and be proven wrong), it is also difficult to find a truly outstanding meal in the heavily-touristed places I have recently travelled to in Italy.  (E.g., Most of the gelato I tasted was actually inferior to Philly’s own Capogiro.)  The Slow Food organization has been indispensable guide to quality restaurants in Italy.  Any meal I have eaten at a Slow-Food-endorsed restaurant has been outstanding and because its food is somehow indicative of its location, quite unique and unlike anything I might have here.  Also, as much as I love the good folks at Lonely Planet, they are not restaurant critics by any stretch.


Getting off the Beaten Path. Though I am not a particularly intrepid traveller, looking for local food has made it a bit more interesting.  Even when I purchase imported wine, I try purchase from small wineries that are organic or biodynamic.  (Down to Earth Wines has been a consistently excellent source for them.)  In fact, through a recent purchase from Down to Earth, I was very impressed with wines of Montenidoli - so much so that I arranged a tasting when we traveled to Italy.  For nearly two hours, our host, Alberto, graciously showed us the estate and discussed their impressive wines.  Montenidoli is, however, quite far off the beaten track, even in such a heavily touristed area.



Eating Less Formally.  For whatever reason, I tend to think of sitting down to three proper meals when I travel.  I have been drifting from that recently, and I suspect it has something to do with years of going to farmers markets and eating from food stalls.  Now when I travel, I try to continue this “informal dining.”  This was particularly true of our time in London, where we had fantastic - and fantastically cheap - meals at both Borough Market and the Sunday Upmarket.  This both left more time for sightseeing and more money to spend on dinner at such fantastic places as Terroirs Wine Bar.



Posted by Kevin on 09/01 at 08:57 AM

Back To School

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer winds down as the minds start thinking about the return of school.  Sometimes a shift in schedules, throws your meals for a loop.  Whether you are a parent sending your little ones on the bus, high schoolers driving, or college students in the dining hall, proper nutrition is essential to fuel your brain!

-Start your day with breakfast.  Even if you are like me, waking up at the last second possible to be on time, grab a quick breakfast.  Breakfast will help you focus and can negatively impact your test scores if skipped.  Maintain a healthy weight with including lean protein and skip the processed meats.  Suggestions: Greek yogurt, low fat cottage cheese with fruit, protein smoothie, hard-boiled egg with fruit, flaxseed muffin, whole wheat toast with peanut butter, oatmeal mixed with nuts or seeds
-Pack satisfying snacks to give you a boost in between meals.  I remember the days watching the clock for the last lunch period.  Keep snacks handy to help regulate your blood sugar, but resist grabbing for cookies or candy. Snack ideas: Peanut or almond butter with whole wheat crackers/toast/English muffins, mixed nuts & fruit/dried fruit, hummus with vegetables, 100% fruit or vegetable juice with unflavored protein powder
-Healthy lunch choices can also be leftover dinner.  Skip the side of chips or fries.  Fill up with fiber and lean proteins to energize the rest of your day.
Prepare meals on Sunday night or one night that you have a little extra time.  Prepare a larger portion for dinner and separate a portion to freeze or place into individual containers to have left overs for lunch. Quick meals: Black bean soup, vegetarian chili with mixed beans, stuffed peppers with lentils and brown rice or quinoa, tofu stir fry, chicken fajitas, greens with beans/nuts/avocado, pita with hummus and fresh veggies.

Continue to be conscious of your choices during a busy schedule.  I’ve heard it before: “It’s time consuming to cook healthy.”  Running between school and sports, but nutrition is key to keep your body functioning.  Take control of your health now to prevent illnesses.  Being sick is costly as well as time consuming.  Aim to pair a fruit or vegetable with every meal and snack to help meet the recommended guidelines of at least 5 servings/day! 

Posted by Renee on 08/29 at 09:49 PM

    What to Eat Rather Than What to Wear

    Since the very nature of Diner en Blanc answers the question of what one wears on such occasions, one is free to focus on the far more important question: what does one eat on such occasions?

    At the inaugural Diner en Blanc, we opted for the catered dinner by Garces Catering, but now that we are more experienced at what to pack, sit on, eat on, etc., we thought we could risk bringing our own. 


    The baguette was made with Daisy Organic Flour, a mix of whole wheat and white, which comes from Mark Bittman.  On which we smeared, quite inelegantly I have to admit, the lovely Puddle Duck from Hillacres Pride, which I first read about from Madame Fromage.  The quiche is an old family recipe from my wife, cut into rounds for additional elegance.  The potted trout is from Marc Vetri’s Rustic Italian Food, made with Pennsylvania trout.  We purchased the cheese from the always-wonderful Green Aisle Grocery, where we also picked up Market Day canales for dessert and Green Aisle’s own line of tea. 

    Just as last year, Diner en Blanc 2013 was a very special evening.  Once again, the organizers did a fantastic job of using, and celebrating, existing public spaces in the city, reminding us of the overlooked beauty right in front of us. 

    Posted by Kevin on 08/29 at 05:53 PM

    Market Highlights - August 14 2013

    Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    Market blogging 08-14-13

    Although all the great summer vegetables are still there, this week’s marketing was all about the fruit for me.  The full rainbow of plums are available now, along with peaches, nectarines, berries, melons, and just peeking behind them to remind us that fall is right around the corner, the first of the apples. Just before Labor Day, I will load up on all those plum varieties to make jam, but for now I grabbed a few each of the Italian and Santa Rosa ones, which may end up as popsicles this weekend to test out my fancy new molds. 

    Speaking of popsicles, I also grabbed my still-favorite of all: Vietnamese iced coffee.

    Coffee Popsicle

    Posted by Gabriela on 08/14 at 07:44 PM

    August Frozen Treats Challenge: Blackberry-Honey Ice Cream

    Monday, August 05, 2013

    Blackberry Honey Ice Cream

    Apart from potted herbs, there are exactly two crops growing in my garden this year: green zebra tomatoes, because I can’t get enough of them, and a blackberry bush I planted last summer because it was the lowest-effort fruit I could think of.  I just let the bush establish itself last year, not expecting any berries, and as a result it’s now sturdy and has set enough blossoms that I think we’ll get at few small harvests of berries by the time fall rolls around. 

    While I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on homegrown berries for this year’s frozen treat challenge, I still wanted to do something with blackberries, and to get my ice cream maker out of its cupboard.  After some further brainstorming, I came up with this bright magenta, intensely berry-flavored ice cream, which also incorporates locally-produced honey, eggs, and dairy products.  There were even just enough ripe berries on my bush to serve as a garnish!

    One bit of advice: because the honey is definitely present after the initial burst of blackberry, the best choice for this recipe is a mild to barely medium honey—ideally a berry honey, but a light wildflower or blossom would be good too.  Don’t use a dark one like buckwheat or one with a lot of herby notes, or the finish of the ice cream will be distractingly medicinal.

    Blackberry-Honey Ice Cream
    Makes 1 1/2 quarts

    3 pints blackberries
    1/2 cup plus 1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1 1/3 cups heavy cream
    1 1/4 cups whole milk
    1 vanilla bean, split
    1/3 cup honey
    6 large egg yolks
    Sea salt

    Place the blackberries, 1/2 cup of sugar and a pinch of salt in a non-reactive pan and mash gently with a potato masher to start releasing the juices.  Let sit undisturbed for 45 minutes.

    Fill a large bowl with ice water and suspend a slightly smaller bowl lined with a fine mesh strainer within it.  Combine the cream, milk, vanilla bean, honey, and another good pinch of salt in a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until the milk steams, but don’t bring it to a boil.  Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the remaining 1/4 cup sugar until the yolks lighten just slightly and the sugar dissolves, then whisk in half the hot milk.  Stir the egg mixture to the milk in the pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a heat-safe spatula, until the mixture thickens slightly.  (Again, be careful not to bring to a boil or the eggs will curdle.)  As soon as the custard thickens, pour it through the strainer into the bowl over the ice bath, discarding any egg solids that stick to the strainer but hanging on to the vanilla bean.  Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod with a sharp knife and mix into the custard.  Let the custard come to room temperature, stirring occasionally, while preparing the berries.

    Bring the berries to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook for 3 minutes, mashing further as needed to completely break them up.  Run the berries through a strainer, scraping the pulp with a spoon until all the fruit and juice has passed through.  Discard the seeds and hulls.

    Once both the custard and the berry mixture have cooled down, cover them both and chill them in the coolest part of the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, and up to 24.

    When ready to freeze the ice cream, stir the custard and berry mixture together, and pour into your ice cream maker.  Churn until a soft-serve consistency is reached, then transfer to tightly covered containers, pressing plastic wrap against the surface of the ice cream if there’s more than nominal headspace between the ice cream and the container lid.  Let the ice cream firm up and ripen in the freezer for at least two hours before serving.

    Posted by Gabriela on 08/05 at 11:48 PM

    Eating Local in Italy

    Sunday, August 04, 2013

    Last week, we made a return visit - and we hope the first of many return visits - to Tenuta di Spannocchia in central Tuscany.  A former estate farmed under the mezzadria system, guests can stay at the main house (the castello) or former farmhouses scattered throughout the property.  The estate produces organic wine (red, white, and rose), olive oil, and cured pork products from the heritage breed Cinta Senese.  The estate also has an extensive garden that produces almost all of the food for the main house and its guests.

    The bucolic setting is perfect for hiking, reading, etc., but it’s absolutely inspiring when it comes to cooking.  When we open the door to our farmhouse to find a loaf of tuscan bread, a bottle of vino tavolo rosso, and large crate of produce (onions, garlic, potatoes, zucchini, string beans, tomatoes), it’s difficult to refrain from cooking right then - even if we did just come from a multi-course feast at the main house.

    Of course, this was Italy, so we gravitated to pasta dishes that took advantage of the produce, the cured meat, or both.  This carbonara did just that.


    Spannocchia cures a variety of meat products - coppa, salame toscana, prosciutto, lardo, and pancetta.  Using farro pasta purchased at the the Consorizio Agrario (see below), I made this carbonara with the pancetta and the zucchini flowers that the gardeners had kindly left attached to the fruit.  First, I rendered the fat from the pancetta over low heat.  Then, I added the onions and gently sauteed them. (I have found both a long rendering and gentle saute of the onions over low heat to be crucial to good carbonara.)  When the pasta was cooked, I added it to the pan with eggs and grated cheese (an organic pecorino from a nearby farm) and tossed in the zucchini flowers that I had cut in a chiffonade.

    Before Spannocchia, we spent several days in Siena.  In anticipation for all of the cooking, we did our grocery shopping at the Consorzio Agrario.  Akin to a boutique grocery store, it sells many prepared foods (and, apparently, excellent pizza) that showcase the farmers and producers from around Siena.  We were lucky to find locally-made ragu made with the local boars, or cinghiale.  For pasta, we made the traditional pici by hand, using only flour (both semolina and white “00”), water, and a little oil.  The thick, chewy pici demands the big, bold flavors of something like boar ragu, and I would hesitate to pair it with anything delicate.

    Many traditional Italian recipes are deliberately unspecific when it comes to quantities for ingredients; the preferred phrase is quanto basta, just enough.  In this spirit, and because the farmhouse was totally lacking in measuring cups or spoons, the pici was simply two coffee cups of flour (one literal cup of each type) and just enough water to make it cohere. 



    Of course, between the salame toscana, risorgimento, and bistecca fiorentina, we needed a break from all of the meat at some point.  So, a light dinner of several garden-grown vegetables was perfect.



    My only regret here was that I didn’t think to roast the beets in the cooling ashes of the wood-fired pizza oven the night before.

    The last time we were here, I was amazed at how easy the “00” flour was to work with.  Both my gnocchi and hand-rolled pasta was so easy to work with.  As with the pici, I poured out the flour on the table, added two eggs and one egg yolk, and incorporated just enough flour to make a dough.  Not having my Kitchen Aid attachment from home, I stretched and rolled the dough by hand, stopping when the large disk was transparent enough to see the grain of the marble table beneath.  This was paired with dried porcini mushrooms I picked up on a day trip to Volterra.



    One of the highlights of a stay at Spannocchia is the salumi tasting class.  It occurred to me at that moment that my food was never going to be more local than this - eating pork raised several hundred yards away, cured in a room several hundred feet away, washing it down with wine grown and vinted several hundred yards away.

    We are very fortunate that we have quality wine, salumi, and flour here.  It won’t taste like Spannochia, but that is exactly the point.   



    Posted by Kevin on 08/04 at 09:49 PM

    Market Highlights - July 31, 2013

    Thursday, August 01, 2013

    Market highlights 7-31-13

    Summer is still in full swing in the markets, with tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant both baby and big particularly catching my eye this week, making me want to make ratatouille, caponata, or maybe a lightly-cooked vegetable stew.  The stone fruits are a little riper too, although they’re not quite at their peak just yet. I think the nectarines I bought are going to end up on baguette slices with brie, broiled, and maybe drizzled with a little honey for breakfast on Saturday, before I do my second round of farmers marketing for the week.  Although the Saturday market is more varied, it does lack my favorite feature of the mid-week one:

    Lil Pop Shop Truck

    Did you know Lil’ Pop Shop has a frequent-buyer card?  Next week, I get a free popsicle for lunch!

    Posted by Gabriela on 08/01 at 10:45 PM

    Market Highlights - July 24, 2013

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013

    University Market 7-24-13

    We’ve decided to highlight what’s going on in the area farmers markets, so this will be the first of hopefully many regular market reports.  From the looks of the University City Wednesday market on Penn’s campus, summer is in full swing, with everything from eggplant to cane berries available now.  I was tempted by all the heirloom tomatoes, corn, peppers and stone fruit, but because whatever I buy has to be lugged home on regional rail, I save my major marketing for the weekend instead.  I just picked up some mixed cherry tomatoes, some lovely little sugarplums, a few peaches that should be great after a few days on my counter to reach their peak, and, of course, a popsicle from the Lil’ Pop Shop truck for lunch.

    Posted by Gabriela on 07/24 at 11:02 PM

    Vendy Awards

    Friday, July 19, 2013

    vendy awards

    Last month, on June 8th, I attended the 3rd annual Philadelphia Vendy Awards (a little delayed on writing about my experience).  The event took place at Penn Treaty Park overlooking the Delaware River with great sunny weather for converting Vitamin D.  Money was raised for The Food Trust, an organization striving to improve access to affordable, nutritious food.  Naturally, as a Registered Dietitian, I was excited to represent Farm to Philly at this event.  I spent a wonderful afternoon with my mom indulging in delicious food and sipping on beer.

    king of falafel

    I did not know what to expect from street food vendors… I usually just think of Philly cheesesteaks.  I was pleasantly surprised by the flavorful variety and quality of the food!  These gourmet trucks were vegetarian friendly and utilized local farms.  Cupcake vendors offered vegan options, which passed my sweet tooth taste test (yes, moderation can allow for dessert in a well-balanced diet).  Delicious!  The Vendy Cup winner- The King of Falafel. See the picture above of this mouthwatering falafel, which was one of my personal favorites from the day: ground chickpeas, onions, garlic, herbs, and spices.  The Cow and the Curd won both Mess Yet Tasty and People’s Choice awards.  Lil’ Pop Shop allowed tasters to cool down on this hot day and awarded Best Dessert.

    Also, it was a pleasure meeting the Andrew Gerson, Executive Chef of Brooklyn Brewery, who is a Philly native and co-founder of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Vendors Association.  We chatted about local Philly food and upcoming places.  Plus, I couldn’t resist petting his well-trained, cute dog.  Stopping at Brooklyn Brewery is on my list during my future travels!

    brooklyn brewery chef

    Posted by Renee on 07/19 at 01:53 AM

      Swap Till You Drop: Swapping Food at the Wyck House

      Tuesday, July 16, 2013

      On Tuesday,we participated in the second Philly Food Swap held at the Wyck House in Germantown.  If you’ve never been to a food swap, it works like this: you bring something (or things) you’ve made, put them on display along with some samples, ogle other people’s food and eat their samples, and then trade for all of the stuff you really enjoyed eating.  It’s a bit more formal than that, but nothing fussy.  This is the second food swap I’ve attended, and I was every bit as impressed as last year - if not more so. 

      The range of food available was amazing: boozy cupcakes, nettle pesto, refrigerator pickles (cucumber, jicama, and a medley), barbecue sauce, hot sauce.  All of it was clearly made with enthusiasm and care. 




      We walked around, repeatedly impressed with everyone else’s work, and it was nice to find things I would never think to make for myself (e.g., peach barbecue sauce).

      We brought multiples of these: sourdough bread, Momofuku refrigerator pickles, and River Cottage rhubarb relish.



      And we came home with smoked whitefish dip, the aforementioned barbecue sauce, whole wheat crackers, brandied cherries, refrigerator pickles (cucumbers and jicama), homemade nutella, and much more.It’s already provided us one dinner, two lunches, and dessert.  The Philly Food Swap is held four times a year, so if you’re interested, be ready for the one this fall. 

      Thanks again to the organizers for another great event. 

      Posted by Kevin on 07/16 at 12:03 AM

        Keeping Your Cool

        Thursday, July 11, 2013

        White Gazpacho

        Gazpacho is one of my main strategies for getting through July and August.  Preparing a big batch on Sunday not only makes wonderful use out of all the seasonal produce pouring into the markets, but also gives you a ready-made, colorful and refreshing dinner to look forward to when you’re slogging home through the sweltering humidity on Monday evening.  It’s also perfect as a festive first course for barbecues and brunches all the way through Labor Day.

        While tomato-based red gazpacho is fantastic, especially when made with a mix of heirloom varieties, white gazpacho is an equally traditional way to highlight cucumbers and the fresh garlic now making its first appearance.  The base of almonds and bread creates a soup that’s creamy and silky without being overly rich or heavy.  While the straining step is a bit of extra work, the soup still comes together in minutes (not counting the half hour of chilling in the fridge), and doesn’t raise the temperature of your kitchen by a single degree.

        White Gazpacho
        (Adapted from Jose Andres, Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America)
        Serves 4

        8 ounces blanched, slivered almonds
        1-2 cloves fresh garlic
        2 ounces stale French- or Italian-style bread (not whole grain)
        1 medium cucumber, peeled and roughly chopped
        2 1/2 cups filtered or mineral water
        2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
        1 teaspoon salt
        1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

        Place the almonds and garlic in a large bowl or liquid measuring cup and cover with boiling water.  Let sit for a few minutes, drain, and repeat with more boiling water.  Drain and place in the carafe of a blender.

        While the almonds are soaking for the second time, moisten the bread in cold water just long enough to soften.  Squeeze dry and add to the blender, along with the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. 

        Pour the gazpacho through a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer set over a large bowl.  Once most of the liquid has passed through the cheesecloth, gather up the ends of the cloth to completely enclose the solids, twist the top of the gathered ends tightly, and squeeze to extract the last of the soup.  Discard the solids.

        Pour the gazpacho into a pitcher, cover tightly, and chill at least 30 minutes.  It is normal for the gazpacho to separate as it sits; just give it a quick whisk before serving.

        Posted by Gabriela on 07/11 at 11:52 PM

        A Local Tofu Dish

        Sunday, July 07, 2013

        If you try to cook locally, cooking with tofu presents two challenges.  The first is finding local tofu; the second is how to make it flavorful.  Thankfully, Allentown’s Fresh Tofu solves the first challenge for me.  The second, however, is all mine to tackle. 

        Like pasta, tofu is a thrillingly blank canvas and will take to innumerable uses and flavors.  In fact, I think it is better than meat in certain dishes, as it never descends to the rough, dry texture of overcooked meat. (Anyone who has eaten The Royal Tavern‘s vegan sloppy joe will know exactly what I mean.)  However, such a blank canvas can also be a bit exhausting, particularly when you are not feeling creative. 

        This recipe from The Guardian intrigued both for its construction (a stuffed tofu) and for its batter of ginger beer.  After all, when a ginger beer is only half empty, you simply have to make yourself a dark and stormy, don’t you?



        Posted by Kevin on 07/07 at 06:06 PM

        Tired Hands Brewing Company

        Sunday, June 30, 2013

        Delaware County is, relatively speaking, bereft of restaurants that focus on locally grown foods. Here in Aldan and the surrounding areas, you’re more likely to find chain restaurants and diners than anything else. There’s Sycamore in Lansdowne, but they stopped serving brunch years ago. What’s a girl to do on a Sunday morning?

        The answer is: drive to Ardsmore.

        True, half of Ardsmore is in Montgomery County, but beggars can’t be choosers. I’m not sure which half of Ardsmore Tired Hands Brewing Company is in, but I’ll claim it for Delco! Tired Hands is a little over a year old now. However, they’re major players in the microbrewery world already, and they’re routinely featuring locally made cheeses and other local ingredients.

        Today I had a small glass of 5 out of 5 beer, a dark beer containing chocolate and marshmallow fluff, and Lil Lady, a lighter beer with rooibos tea. Both feature local ingredients—the 5 out of 5 has local maple syrup, and the Lil Lady has local wildflower honey. I also a cheese plate composed of several cheeses from Birchrun Hills Farm, including Nettlesome, Red Cat, and Equinox, and Pepato from Valley Shepherd. The Jeano’s Panino, a grilled cheese with haricot vert, featured Birchrun Hills Farm blue cheese.

        The charcuterie plate was also filled with great meats. The sopressata and abbruze came from Licini Brothers in Union City, New Jersey, while the amazing duck prosciutto is from River & Glen in Warminster.

        If you’re near Ardmore, give Tired Hands a try. The service was friendly, the food was quite good, and I loved the focus on locally grown foods. And I didn’t even have to leave Delaware County!

        Posted by Nicole on 06/30 at 04:13 PM

        Summer Crepes

        Saturday, June 29, 2013

        Buckwheat Crepes

        For some reason, I always associate crepes with colder weather, but the truth is that they’re accommodating all year round, as demonstrated by these vaguely Provencal-style ones filled with zucchini and mushrooms, and topped with a bright, uncooked tomato sauce.  As the summer moves along, you could augment the filling with eggplant, fresh peas, pattypan squashes, etc., and you can make use of the rainbow of heirloom tomatoes that will start showing up in a couple of weeks.

        These make a very satisfying dinner as-is, or if you want to serve these for brunch, you could quickly scramble a few eggs and tuck them into the crepes before the vegetable filling.

        Zucchini-Mushroom Buckwheat Crepes with Raw Tomato Sauce
        (Crepes adapted from Deborah Madison & Edward Espe Brown, The Greens Cookbook, 1987)
        Serves 6-8

        For crepes:
        1 cup water
        1 cup milk
        3 eggs
        3 tablespoons melted butter
        2/3 cup all-purpose flour
        1/2 cup buckwheat flour
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        2-3 tablespoons neutral-flavored oil for cooking

        For sauce:
        2 ripe tomatoes
        1 small clove garlic
        1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
        Salt to taste

        For filling:
        3 small zucchini, grated
        8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
        4 tablespoons olive oil for cooking
        2 small cloves garlic
        Salt and pepper to taste

        Place all the ingredients for the crepe batter except the oil in a tall measuring cup and blend with an immersion blender until smooth.  (Alternately, you can do this in a regular blender.)  Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.

        To prepare the sauce, halve the tomatoes and grate them, cut side down, on the large side of a box grater set over a bowl.  Discard the skin you’re left with when the flesh has all been grated.  Finely mince the garlic (I just use a microplane grater) and add it to the tomatoes, along with the olive oil and salt to taste.  Let sit at room temperature while making the filling and crepes.

        Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the garlic, sautéing briefly before adding the zucchini.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the zucchini is softened and the liquid has cooked off, then remove from the pan.  Increase the heat to medium-high, and add the rest of the olive oil and the mushrooms, cooking until the edges have browned.  Turn off the heat, return the zucchini to the pan, and season to taste.

        Heat a teaspoon of oil in a small nonstick pan or crepe pan over medium heat.  Give the batter a quick whisk before ladling about 1/4 cup of batter into the heated pan and swirling the pan quickly to evenly spread the batter.  Cook until the crepe has set and is beginning to crisp at the edges, then flip and cook the other side briefly.  Remove the crepe to a plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter, adding more oil every three or so crepes, or whenever they show signs of sticking.  Adjust the temperature as necessary to prevent excessive browning.  If the batter is too thick to swirl easily in the pan, whisk in a little more water to thin back to the consistency of heavy cream.

        To serve, fill the bottom half of each crepe with a few spoonfuls of filling, flip over the other half of the crepe, and fold in half to get quarters.  Place two or three filled crepes on a plate per person, and top with a generous spoonful of the sauce.

        Leftover unfilled crepes, filling and sauce will all keep well for at least a day in the refrigerator, although both the crepes and the sauce are best freshly-made.

        Posted by Gabriela on 06/29 at 03:27 PM

        Grounded in Philly

        Thursday, June 27, 2013

        Every time I turn around, something really cool is going on in Philadelphia. This time, it’s Grounded in Philly. The website lists all the vacant lots in Philly, along with a lot of information—including the owner, size of the lot, why the lot is considered vacant, and the property’s City Council, planning and zoning districts. Why is this important? Because Grounded in Philly wants you to find a vacant lot near you and turn it into an urban garden or other green space. They’re part of Garden Justice Legal Initiative, so it’s all done legally.

        There are a plethora of ways for you to get involved with Grounded in Philly.

        Head over there and play around with the map/lot finder. It’s shocking how many abandoned lots there are—you can take the lead in creating a place for public food foraging, community gardens, etc!

        Posted by Nicole on 06/27 at 05:53 PM

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