Asparagus

Image

First order of business- sorry for the lack of posts- two weeks of work travel & a short vacation kept me away from my local market & the blog.  Last week Isaac turned 9 months.  Hard to believe that little nugget is talking, getting ready to walk, and eating all kinds of foods (local, of course :))

I am sad to report that I have no photos of this momentous occasion, but I did, for the very first time, eat fresh spring asparagus this week.  It was divine.  The Easton Wintertime Farmer’s Market posted on their Facebook that there was a vendor there with the first cutting of asparagus.  Being a huge asparagus fan, and a huge fan of he book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (where asparagus merits a whole chapter!) this was a big day for me.  I’m not ashamed to admit I ate some raw, right out the refrigerator.  We sauteed the rest, briefly, with olive oil and garlic.  Served with a grass-fed pot roast from our freezer, and some blue potatoes., it was a lovely Saturday meal. 

All I have to say is that those who doesn’t eat locally & seasonally are really missing out.

The garden is ready for planting & I have a very healthy little patch of lettuce steadily growing in this beautiful weather.  I’m getting very excited for planting!  

In other news, I bought some bok choy from Oakdale Farms in Rehoboth, and I’m very unclear on how to cook/eat it.  Any suggestions?  

 

Advertisements

Meal Planning Monday & Whole Wheat Biscuits

We did not make it to the farmers market this week.  We were both busy Saturday morning and I ended up just hitting our local grocery store (Trucchi’s for the Tauntonians!)  Since I had a good amount of things stashed away in the freezer, I was able to make up a reasonably healthy meal plan though.  I mostly bought fresh produce at the market & spent about $45.

Sunday: Ham & Bean stew & whole what biscuits (Recipe below)

Monday: Family dinner elsewhere

Tuesday:  Clean-out-the-fridge salad- we have leftover vegetables in the fridge including some mushrooms, cucumbers & tomatoes that are not organic & are from many miles away- but I did buy some local kale & pea greens!

Wednesday: Spinach and goat cheese ravioli (bought at the farmers market ages ago)

Thursday:  Fried egg sandwiches on WW biscuits with cheese & hopefully some greens if they last that long!

Friday:  Homemade mushroom pizza (we froze a WW crust this weekend from http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-make-homemade-frozen-pizza-cooking-lessons-from-the-kitchn-186527)

Then Saturday we can return to our normal locally grown fare!

Whole Wheat Biscuits (adapted from www.100daysofrealfood.com)

2 c whole wheat flour (we use King Arthur)

1 c milk (approximate- I usually need a little more, especially if the weather is dry)

1/4 c lard (you want leaf lard, not Crisco! You can substitute butter or olive oil here)

1 tsp salt

4 tsp baking soda

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl

Cut in the lard or butter.  I do this by taking two forks and mashing the lard into the dry ingredients until there are only small pieces (smaller than a pea.)  You can also put this in your food processor on pulse for similar results.

Add in the milk & mix until everything is just combined (don’t over mix!!)

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap & place in fridge for at least 10 minutes.

Bake 8-10 minutes at 450 degrees & then on broil for 1 minute

Food Choices: Making Educated Decisions for Your Family

Image

Hi, folks. Annemarie has asked me to write a post on what I think is important in our food purchases and how I came to and continue to come to those decisions.

First, I’ll explain a little bit about myself. I’m a scientist by nature (and profession,) but what’s probably more pertinent to this post is that I’m a total skeptic. I tend to look at things through an analytical filter which shapes the way I view the whole world, especially what I eat.

Annemarie and I have always thought a lot about food. It used to just be about what would be the best tasting and it slowly evolved to be a more conscientious thought process. We really got serious when we started thinking about having a baby. It’s completely cliché to say this but when you find out you’re going to become a parent, everything changes. For me, that meant that I scrutinized our “food philosophy” even further.

I think anyone’s first impulse is to think “organic is better.” I know mine was. Then I started to think. Wait a minute! I took two semesters of organic chemistry where we learned about all kinds of nasty chemicals. All the word “organic” means to me is anything that is mostly carbon. I started to think more and more about all these words that are nothing more than marketing claims-

What does “green” mean?

What does “natural” mean?

What does “organic” mean?

When Annemarie started coming to me with these studies about things like how bad pesticides were, or that artificial sweeteners were causing cancer, I couldn’t help but be skeptical. She really wanted to know what is worth worrying about and what’s just hype. So I made a list of some red flags that we both use now to help us weed out the nonsense.

Here are some key words that grab my attention:

1.     Natural – You’ll see the word “natural” all over the place when you’re looking for good food. Lightning is natural, a rattlesnake is natural but I sure don’t want either of them in my dining room. If you’re buying food directly from the producer, they should be able to elaborate. If they can’t it’s probably not worth doing business with them.

2.     Green – My favorite example of what’s called “green washing” in my in industry is the production of surfactants (chemicals that are used in soap products.) Petroleum-based products are in the hot seat right now so when a chemical manufacturer is making “green” marketing claims, petroleum is an obvious target. The problem with removing petroleum-based materials is that they have to be replaced with something. In this case, this is usually done with palm oil. What they fail to mention is that they had to clear thousands of acres of rainforest to grow enough palm oil to replace the petroleum-based materials.

The point I’m trying to make is if there’s a feasible way to lessen the environmental impact of something, it’s in the financial interest of the manufacturer to go with that, but when people start to demand something without understanding the consequences, bad things can happen. What’s the next target? Palm oil plantations?

3.     Chemicals – This one kills me! Everything is a chemical. By that I mean every thing is made of chemicals. If you can touch it (or eat it,) it’s a chemical. The word chemical can sound scary until you understand  that everything is composed of chemical compounds. Air is a mixture of chemicals. Water is a chemical.

When something is described as “chemical free,” watch out. You’re going to buy a whole lot of nothing or you’re being subjected to a bogus marketing claim.

This is just the beginning. Over the next few posts I have planned, I want to teach you to become a critically-thinking consumer.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

– Eric

 

 

Market Monday/Meal Planning

One day late- forgot to post! 🙂 

This week Eric and I went to the Easton Wintertime Farmers Market at Simpson Springs.  We brought $100 and got plenty to eat for the week.  We spent $30 on wine from Running Brook Vineyards and the rest of the $70 went to groceries.  Here’s what I can recall for items and prices:

–          Apples ($2.99/lb)

–          Dill pickles ($8)

–          Lettuce $2/head (we bought four since we were having some family over for dinner Saturday evening)

–          Garlic

–          Cheddar cheese from Foxboro Cheese Company

–          Kale ($4 a bag, probably about 5 cups)

We also went to the grocery store for the first time in awhile.  We buy all of our paper and household goods through Amazon.com’s  Subscribe and Save, and I have a pretty good stockpile of rice, beans and other pantry staples, so there hasn’t been a need to hit the grocery store.  Since we were having a dinner party, and wanted to make chicken Parmesan  we needed some supplies, most notably chicken. I hope to be in a position someday to be able to throw a dinner party from our own backyard, but I’m not there yet! 

The rest of the week is all planned out:

Sunday- lamb shank and maple syrup-glazed Brussels sprouts (recipe coming up later in the week- absolutely delicious!)

Monday- Caesar salad with leftover fried chicken

Tuesday- leftover chicken Parm w/ sautéed kale

Wednesday- Salad with Cheddar cheese and apples

Thursday- Crockpot lentil soup w/ homemade whole-wheat biscuits

Friday- homemade pizza or calzones w/ mozzarella & roasted red peppers (frozen from last year’s garden)

For breakfast I am making enough Overnight Oats (of Pinterest fame) to last the rest of the week. Lunches are leftovers or frozen, homemade soups.

On another note, I checked our cold frame and some lettuce seeds germinated!! Here’s hoping they make it through the remaining cold days!

That’s what we’ve got cooking this week.  How about you?

Parenting Lessons.

Feeding Isaac has begun consuming a large portion of my brain space lately.

Here’s the situation:

My daycare provides free baby food for the first year. Do you know how hard it is to turn down free food?? Hard. I love free things. (Yes I have the best daycare ever. They also give us free diapers.)

This food is traditional baby food. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I am trying to give Isaac a good start as a healthy eater and I don’t want to have him eat foods that have sugar added and potentially have been exposed to pesticides and other nasty ingredients.

I also believe that eating locally grown produce is just better for our bodies, our planet, and our local communities. I like having farms and open spaces where I live, and I want Isaac to grow up with that, too. So making my own baby food makes sense. It fits in with my food ethic and the values I want to instill in my child.

So what’s the problem?

One, I am not awesome at going against the norm. I wonder if the awesome teachers think differently of me, or make fun of me as a hippie granola mom. I wonder if they think I’m a snob. Why do I care? I shouldn’t, really. And they have been nothing but accommodating with all of my requests (breast milk, nursing at lunchtime, no juice, etc.)

Two, I don’t have a lot of time for anything. As any working mom or dad will tell you, time becomes a precious commodity when you only get a few short hours with your child daily. So I have to balance whether my desire to DIY baby food outweighs other priorities like time with my family, exercising, showering, etc. For a few weeks, this won out. I bought organic baby food (crazy expensive) and then I just let Isaac have what the other kids ate.

But in a rare moment of lucidity and clarity, I realized that this internal battle is just the beginning. We as parents will have to make decisions for our son daily that might go against the grain (if we are any good, they will.) Next year it might be what he brings for snack, and the year after it might be the types of games we let him play. Then whether we let him drink underage, or go to R rated movies. Who knows. The point is, this is basic training for bigger decisions coming down the road.

And most importantly, more important than the food he eats or games he plays, or what daycare thinks of me, is that we are raising a young man who won’t be afraid to make the difficult decision, even when it isn’t easy. (Yup, paraphrased Dumbledore. Boom.)

That’s my parenting ramble for the day. I’d love to hear thoughts on this. How do other parents feel? Am I just crazy? Do you love free things? How about Dumbledore?

Also, any good baby food recipes??

🙂

20130315-215641.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!