Monday, June 27, 2011
One of my favorite local farms is Cherry Grove Farm in Lawrenceville. They have eggs, beef, whey-fed pork, and cheeses in their farm store, along with an array of products from other Jersey food artisans. It's always a treat to visit the farm, to see animals being raised the way they ought to be. Check out these chickens, roaming their pasture:
Of course, most of them just wanted to stay under cover. I don't blame them - we have lots of hawks in our area!
Some young calves were grazing in the field by the entrance (Route 206 is on the other side of that fence - I always check out the cows when I pass by).
Back in the shade are the goats that sustain Cherry Grove's new label: Piping Goat Creamery. This weekend's special chevre flavor was "Scapegoat": goat cheese mixed with garlic scapes from nearby Z Food Farm. Delicious!
So what brought us to the farm yesterday (and, actually, the day before as well, since I had the date wrong) was one of their periodic cookouts. These events are arranged to give you a taste for their grassfed beef before you start planning your holiday barbecue (they did this before Memorial Day as well). It wasn't a huge event, but there was great local food, some music and the opportunity to roam around the farm.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
One reason I wanted to join a CSA this summer (besides the joy of having fresh, local, organic vegetables every week) was to expand my palate. Since I hate to waste anything, it forces me to try things that I would never pick up at the store. One of those things was beet greens.
Now, I am not a fan of beets, but I'm trying to be a sport and find some preparation I can eat, if not enjoy. Last week's beet home fries were an epic fail - neither Jeff or I would eat the final product. We fared better with the beet greens, though, combining them with collards in this delicious recipe. Braised with bacon, onions and cider vinegar, these greens were delicious. We ate the whole batch in one sitting.
Add your beet greens and toss gently. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently until tender, about 5-15 minutes (if you're using kale or collards, you may need another 20-25 minutes of cooking to get them tender enough). Stir in vinegar and serve!
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Beat the butter in a stand mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add the sugar and cream together. Lower the speed and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until just blended.
Add the cocoa and vanilla. Beat on low speed for 1 minute until blended. Gradually add flour, beating well. Stir in chocolate chips.
Pour batter into a greased 13 x 9" baking pan. Bake 30-35 minutes (I put mine in for 35 minutes in the glass dish and got a goopy but stable middle - it might reach this stage more quickly if you use a metal pan). Cool completely before cutting into squares. (I totally sneaked a bite early, but it does pay to let the bulk of them cool, because then they don't stick to the knife.) Happy baking!
Sunday, June 12, 2011
Ta da! Hooray for the first significant produce from our garden! Today we decided to pick a double handful of the string beans that have been weighing my poor plants down. We have gotten a few things out of the garden already - some snap peas, green onions, herbs - but this was the first that could make its own (small) dish.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
My CSA finally started last week! The harvest on the East Coast seems to have gotten off to a slow start, but I don't mind because I was away when my vegetables should have started to roll in. Now that I'm home, I don't get to miss out on any bit of it!
I have been in love with the farmer's market for several years now. It's wonderful to go and pick out produce that you know is fresh, in season and local. I like knowing where my food comes from. But the CSA is an even more fulfilling experience: not only do I get vegetables that were picked that very morning (usually), but I get to pick some myself as well. Besides knowing that my produce is as fresh and delicious as it can get, I have seen several other benefits to this arrangement. First of all, I have an increasing respect for farm workers of all sorts. Now, I understand how difficult farming can be - one of my favorite books is Little House on the Prairie - but that intellectual understanding is totally different than the one I have gained by spending an hour in 90 degree heat bent over strawberry plants and snap pea vines. Second, I feel like I have made an investment in something worthwhile. I find it very soul-less to invest in stocks and commodities, making a profit off of companies that I will never see, that will never care about me in the least. This investment comes with a return that I have anticipated for months, and will look forward to week after week until the season ends. And besides that, I feel a sense of pride in walking onto the farm, knowing that I am a part of this effort to coax sustenance from the bare soil.
After spending yet another hour under the blazing sun this afternoon, plucking three pounds of snow and snap peas from their vines, I knew I had to do them justice by using them as soon as possible. These delicate beauties are best right away - storage in the refrigerator converts some of their sugar to starch, taking away from the flavor. I found an appropriate recipe in one of my produce cookbooks that used not only the snap peas, but the first slender zucchini of the season, fresh spring onions, and a handful of parsley from my garden. I wouldn't say this is the best vegetable dish I've ever had - it didn't blow me away - but it does justice to the vegetables by celebrating their individual flavors, which makes it an excellent early summer dish, in my opinion. Now if only the temperature would drop a bit so I could enjoy this outside . .
Snap Pea Stir Fry over Parsley Orzo
From the Rolling Prairie Cookbook. I'm already finding this book indispensable - it was originally done for a CSA, so the recipes are organized by the name of the fruit or vegetable, with two to four recipes each, so when you come home one day up to your ears in bok choy, you can more easily figure out what to do with it.
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced