Trying New Ingredients: Beets

 

Part of eating real is, inevitably, trying new things. When you, like me, have been eating a traditional diet, full of breads, pastas, lots of meats, and sugar, you will need to eventually replace those foods with whole fruits and vegetables.

This can be very challenging. cravings, the social pressure to eat processed food, and the tendency toward bad habits are all something you will face.

Finding new food that you really enjoy is key to success. Eventually, our bodies will begin to crave these real, whole foods.

So, trying new and different foods. This week, I tried beets for the first time. Apparently they are at salad bars often, but I always thought they were cranberry sauce. Yes, I really did.

 

Why beets? Well, in The Four Season Farm Gardener's Cookbook, by Barbara Damrosch,(www.fourseasonfarm.com) she mentions that they almost always have roasted beets in the refrigerator. I have been reading a lot about the Four Season Farm recently and I really admire what they are doing. Since they grow beets in their year round garden, I thought I should probably check them out.

From a nutrition perspective, beets provide a whole lot of good stuff: folate, fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. In addition, they taste great and are a really cool color. (Beet red…)

According to Wikipedia, the Romans considered beets an aphrodisiac. Just in case you needed another reason.

We roasted the beets in foil, in a 400 degree oven, for one hour. I had a hard time getting the skins off, but I'm told you can plunge them into ice water directly after cooking and the skins come right off.

Being a beet novice, I took Barbara's advice and put them in a green salad. We actually did this twice this week and I really enjoyed it! The beets are very sweet and the texture is buttery- kind of like cranberry sauce!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Chicken parm and dandelion wine

Sharing a meal with friends is one of my favorite things to do. Nothing encourages great conversation than spending time in the kitchen, preparing and enjoying good food. It’s good for the soul. As I am settling into the new (ish) role of Mom, I find more and more that I crave simple things like this. Our Saturday night was spent in the best way possible, with good old friends.

We brought the salad, and I was quite proud of it. Roasted beets, kale, turnip greens, turnips, and teeny tiny radishes that must have been thinnings from a future crop. Eric made a maple syrup vinaigrette with shallots. I don’t remember where I heard this trick (Four Seasons Cookbook maybe?) but putting a shallot through the garlic press is a great way to infuse your dressing with flavor.

Mark and El made an absolutely delicious chicken parm with rosemary and sauce from their canned summer tomatoes. They are fellow local food enthusiasts and gardeners so meals at their house are always a real treat!

Some photos to share from our local feast (which included some dandelion wine made up in New Hampshire! It was very sweet and reminded me of mead.)

20130312-174914.jpg

20130312-174927.jpg

20130312-174939.jpg

20130312-174950.jpgkv

20130312-175221.jpg

Market Monday

We had a great day at the farmers market in Pawtucket, RI today. Because we had an extra set of hands (thanks Aunt Sandy!) I was able to bring the big girl camera and document the trip.

Here are some shots:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meal plan

Saturday: we went to a friends house and brought a salad with Russian kale, roasted beets, harukei turnips and greens, and a great maple syrup vinaigrette that Eric whipped up.
Sunday: spaghetti and meatballs Eric made a few weeks ago and froze.
Monday: salad with smoked Gouda, roasted beets, radish greens, lettuce, and whatever else is in the fridge
Tuesday: lamb chops with sautéed pea greens (from Allen Farms Organics
Wednesday: Eric is out so I will probably have some leftovers
Thursday: Swiss chard lettuce wraps with some DIY fried rice and possibly some black beans.
Friday: Chorizo from Pats Pasturedand potatoes. I’m planning to do this on the stovetop but may turn it into a casserole.

I also bought some giant sweet potatoes and a butternut squash to make baby food for Isaac. I roasted the sweet potatoes yesterday and I plan to steam the squash tonight.

All in, we spent about $100 and got just about everything we needed to make the above meals. We splurged the grass fed lamp chops and a lamb shank from Hopkins Southdowns in North Scituate, RI. More to come on the shank- we threw it in the freezer and may make it next weekend.

Most of the farms at the market, as well as many other local farms offer CSAs for fresh organic produce, meats, and even seafood. Now is the time to sign up for a CSA for the summer – these local farmers count on their members to help keep sustainable agriculture going here in Southeastern MA.

As you can see, the eating is good up in New England, even as winter rages on!

Lard! Grandma’s secret ingredient

Baking biscuits makes me feel like a true homemaker (even if I do work.) It makes me want to pour a glass of sweet sun tea and say things like “hey y’all” and “bless your heart!” Which in my southeastern Massachusetts, combo-of-Boston-and-Rhode Island accent sounds truly ridiculous.

Recently, I learned how to make a really awesome biscuit. We rendered a few quarts of lard awhile ago (more on that someday) and I fully believe that lard is the secret to amazing baked goods, and to happiness in general.  I know the name lard is really gross sounding…maybe lard needs a rebranding campaign.  How about…pig butter? That actually sounds worse. Any thoughts on new names for lard?

I recently learned about the benefits of using lard from real food blog 100 Days of Real Food.  She has a ton of great info there about eating unprocessed foods.

These biscuits go wonderfully with just about anything. You can use them for breakfast, lunch or dinner…even dessert! (strawberry shortcake, anyone?)

Annemarie’s Awesome Biscuit Recipe

1 cup of whole wheat flour (what, haven’t you heard that white flour is the devil??)

1 cup bread flour (don’t forget you can order flour from Wood Prairie Farm in Maine)

1 cup milk, buttermilk is even better

1/2 cup lard, very cold

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

The secret to good biscuits is cold, cold ingredients. Very cold lard and milk will make for biscuits with lots of crumbly texture. If it’s hot in your kitchen, don’t even bother with this recipe.

Eating local as the days get longer…

There is no doubt that late winter is the hardest time to be a locavore. Nothing is growing right now, and the root vegetables that store well during the winter are probably getting a little tired. It’s easy to forget the bounty grown right in our own backyard. Mix it up with different seasonings. Try a little garam masala for an Indian feel, or buy some sesame oil to give your salads an Asian cuisine flair. If you dig out and visit a local farmers market, you can get creative with a recipe like the one below.

Apple and Gouda Salad

This is an easy weeknight meal that comes together quickly. You can adjust the cheese to what you have on hand- Cheddar, Asiago, or Gouda would all work well here. Check out Foxboro Cheese Company for an excellent selection.

Ingredients (serves four)

4 to 6 cups Winter lettuce mix (from Oakdale Farms in neighboring Rehoboth, MA)

2 Apples (from CN Smith Farm in East Bridgewater, MA)

Block of cheese, cubed

Croutons

Dress with a simple vinaigrette, or however you like.

Variations: Try a handful local dried cranberries, some Feta cheese, and some walnuts. Or, top your salad with some pan-seared local scallops.

Sorry for the somewhat crappy iPhone pics. Isaac was in need of lots of parental attention and I didn’t have the heart to deny him!

What’s your favorite wintery meal?

Sent from my iPad

20130306-215028.jpg

20130306-215041.jpg

Blizzard of 2013

I just found these photos on the memory card and I am so happy all this snow is gone!!

Baby’s first blizzard brought 12 hours with no power or heat and then 12 hours without water. no fun, but Isaac wasn’t bothered by it. As you can see, he was unimpressed by the snow.

The other adorable little one is our neighbor Wyatt. He’s such an awesome little guy and helped me with Isaac while their daddies shoveled us out.

Market Monday: The Meal Plan

Since I was visiting the Amish this weekend, Eric was in charge of picking up our weekly groceries at the Easton Wintertime Farmers Market  (located at the awesome http://www.simpsonspring.com/)

Here’s what we picked up:

Smoked Gouda (YUM)
Fromage Blanc with garlic
Apples from Oakdale Farm in Rehoboth, MA  http://www.oakdalefarms.com/
Lettuce mix  from Oakdale Farm in Rehoboth, MA  http://www.oakdalefarms.com/
Crab meat 
Onions
Garlic
Radish microgreens

And here’s our meal plan:

Saturday: Crab cakes (not very healthy but they were awesome!)
Sunday: Potato soup
Monday: Leftover kale soup
Tuesday: Fried egg sandwiches
Wednesday: Apple and gouda salad
Thursday: Tacos
Friday: Roasted brussels sprouts with some kind of grain (not sure on the protein here, might end up being porkchops…)

I have to say that I’m getting a little tired of the winter vegetable scene…but since we just started doing some early spring yard work, the end is near!

Market Monday: Amish Edition

Good morning!

This week’s market post is brought to you by the Amish! 

This past weekend I had to attend a meeting in Gettysburg, PA.  I took the opportunity to take the scenic route.  In this case, that was route 30, also known as the Lincoln Highway (they love them some Lincoln down in Gettysburg!) 

The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway in the US!  It took about 3 hours to get from Philly to Gettysburg, but as a total farmophile, it was worth it.  Lots of pastoral scenery, chicken coops, clothes out on the line…these are my people.  

Anyway, I decided to take a detour to Lancaster.  I am interested in the Amish and I hadn’t been back to Lancaster since I was about 12, so I thought it would be a fun side trip.  I visited the Lancaster Central Market (http://www.centralmarketlancaster.com/) which is the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in the US.  It was pretty amazing.  The building was awesome, and there were a lot of great vendors.  It was not a growers market, so you had to sort out the local produce from the rest, but there was a lot of local grass fed beef, and local cheeses.  Even a couple of real live Amish people!

My souvenir was two somewhat cheesy and adorable recipe pamphlets.

I got into a great conversation with a young farmer there who mostly had radishes for sale.  He had my favorite type of radish, the Watermelon Radish.  Eric and I are basically obsessed with these huge radishes.  They have the coolest red flesh (hence the name.)  Eric grates them up & serves with salt, pepper, and a light vinaigrette, although they are good just grated as is. 

We may grow some of these beauties this year.  I’ve seen a lot of them at local winter farmers markets, so they are probably a good winter crop (or they store well.)  Here’s a link: http://sustainableseedco.com/heirloom-vegetable-seeds/pe-t/radish-heirloom-seeds/watermelon-radish-seeds.html

And a photo (with boar chops- yum!)