Asparagus

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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?  

 

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Lamb Shank, easy & delish!

This one is 100% Eric’s doing…enjoy! ImageImage

2 lamb foreshanks

Coarse salt and pepper, to taste

Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your dutch oven twice

2 ribs of celery, roughly chopped

1 carrot, roughly chopped

1 onion, roughly chopped

1/3 cup tomato paste (diced tomatoes are fine too, just strain them well)

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 sprigs of rosemary

1 bay leaf

4-8 cloves of garlic, smashed or minced

1 cups red wine

2 cups beef, lamb or vegetable broth

Preheat oven to 300°F

Over med-high heat add enough oil to coat the bottom of a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed (and oven-safe, with a tight fitting lid) pan and just as the oil begins to smoke, add the shanks, browning them on as much as their surface as you can.

When you’ve completely browned the outside of the shanks, remove and put aside

Add another splash of oil and add the garlic celery, onion and carrot. Cook until these are softened. (About 10 minutes)

Add tomato paste and cook for another couple of minutes.

Add wine and broth then bring to a simmer while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove all the great stuff on the bottom

Add the shanks back to the pan and cover.

Place the whole thing in the oven for at least three to four hours but as long as six (especially if your 8 month-old baby is about to go to bed and you want to be able to enjoy this great meal.)

Grow Your Own: Gardening for Beginners

When I started gardening, I was so ignorant that it wasn’t even funny. I literally did not know how or why you would repot a house plant, didn’t even know what potting soil was. The many, many websites out there are really geared more toward experienced gardeners. Lots of amazing tutorials, but simple questions were left unanswered. So I thought it would be fun to do a Gardening Basics series for beginners. I will post on this topic periodically through the spring and summer as we start our garden.

Topics I will cover include:

Finding your garden space
What to grow & a shopping list for your beginner garden
Weeding and ways around it
Watering- how often?
How to know when things are ripe (a big issue for me at first)
Basic food preservation techniques
Compost and fertilizer- why and how?

Are there any other beginner gardeners out there? Any other topics I can help with? I am hoping this can be a place where us newbies/reformed black thumbs can feel comfortable asking questions and learning together!

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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

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Sautéed pea greens with fried eggs

Sautéed pea greens with fried eggs This isn’t so much a recipe as a technique. Hardy winter greens and eggs are a great combination and a simple and fast weeknight dinner. I always pick up some greens at the farmers … Continue reading