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Category Archives: Winter Eat Local

Winter Veggies

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CSA’s and Markets. The places to get really fresh local vegetables in the winter. Not that easily decaying slimy stuff from the grocery stores.

I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to bring back discussion of local winter sources, like my year round CSA, for vegetables and farm fresh staples.

Lora clued me in on her source, which I hadn’t seen before. Open Book Farm Share. I would love to try this, but it isn’t local to me.

I have been a member of Lancaster Farm Fresh for eight years now. 48 out of 52 weeks a year, I can pick up farm shares with vegetables as fresh as one day out of the ground. Picked on Monday. Packed that night. Delivered on Tuesday.

In the winter, though, many vegetables are root veggies. Picked before bad weather and stored in optimum conditions. We all know that root cellars existed just to keep these vegetables fresh all winter.

Our shares include the standard items like carrots and onions, turnips, potatoes. We also get fresh mushrooms, and last week from the high tunnels, cilantro.

I love the mushrooms. I used two of them to make crab stuffed mushrooms. Thanks to Boarman’s for crab cakes. I also picked up mushrooms at the Catonsville Market, and made mushroom soup.

The classic way. Using Julia Child’s recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Rich. Decadent. Perfect with tomato pesto smeared toast.

I  also have a grain and flour share.

Last week we got a new cornmeal. Prompting me to use up the last of the old cornmeal to make ribs over polenta.

Castle Valley Mill supplies our CSA with grits and cornmeal. This is a cold weather, “stick to your ribs” rib dinner.

I also get cheese, biweekly.

Cheeses that work as an element on toasts. As a complement to wine. Served over salads. Grated on top of soup.

I know that there will be repeats weekly, at least for the first four or five weeks. Like carrots.

A few pounds of carrots last week. Organic. All you need to do is wash them. Don’t need to remove the peel. I have a favorite method for carrots. Cut them into coins. Boil them for about 10 minutes. Drain them. Put them back in the pot with  butter and honey and cumin. Let them get glazed.

Today, they were used to make beef stock. Winter veggies with beef bones and water. Slow cooked. Ready to make beef barley soup tomorrow night.

It’s soup and stew season and my veggie share is the perfect place to start.

Great Grains

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I have been slacking off. Forgetting to write about some of the really fantastic additives to my fall Community Supported Agriculture basket from the farmers’ cooperative at Lancaster Farm Fresh.

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My flour and grain share. Two pounds each. Every other week. This past week was the pastry flour and the spelt berries.

Two weeks ago.

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Bread flour and rye berries.

The first delivery last month.

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All purpose flour and cornmeal.

The flours are all from Daisy. They aren’t easy to find. I used to get mine at Atwaters in Catonsville. The Anson Mills which produce Daisy flour are located in Pennsylvania. Atwaters sold bags of their wonderful flour. I am loving the quality of the bread flour for those holiday breads like my chocolate zucchini bread or my pumpkin bread.

The grains, all come from Castle Valley Mill in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Other than wheat berries, which we got from Friends and Farms a few years back, I hadn’t been a big grain cooker. I purposely ordered this add on to my CSA share to remedy that lapse.

I am loving the berries. I found the perfect way to cook them, in my rice cooker. Simple. One cup berries. Three cups liquid. I have used all water. All veggie broth. A mix of chicken stock and water. Turkey stock and water. Add some seasonings. Set on the brown rice setting and let it do its thing. Makes absolutely perfectly cooked berries.

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Served here with a wilted arugula salad. Cranberries, pistachios, a drizzle of Secolari’s lime olive oil. A squirt of lemon juice.

I also downloaded an iBook, called Grain Mains. So many interesting ideas, including a take on a “gazpacho salad” using berries.

Who knows what will come in my final biweekly basket on the 13th of December. I do know that I am loving this addition and will be adding it to my winter subscription.

One Fish, Two Fish

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This is a post about fish. Fresh fish. The fish of my childhood.

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I know I was supposed to cook sausage today to go with my colcannon, but I forgot we were getting whole bronzini from Friends and Farms. And when you get fresh whole fish, you grill them immediately.

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What is bronzini? Or branzino? Or bronzino? A European sea bass, a good alternative on the Monterey Aquarium Seafood Watch List.

This week, two whole bronzini were in our basket. Not for the squeamish. Whole fish is an adventure and a real pleasure, when grilled to perfection.

Falling off the bone. Tender, juicy, with crispy skin.

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Simply prepared. Inside. Salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, lemon and parsley. Grilled at a roaring hot temperature. . Served with a Sauvignon blanc, and that colcannon. Plus, a simple grill of a zucchini and a couple of Campari tomatoes.

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They were basted with a Balsamic vinaigrette.

Our fresh seafood comes every other week from Reliant Seafood in Jessup. Just behind the retail/wholesale supplier at Wild Seafood, where many of us go for crabs, shrimp and other delectable fish. Friends and Farms uses Reliant to supply them daily with incredibly fresh seafood. No smell. No slime. Absolutely some of the best fish we have ever had, other than the rainbow trout I caught decades ago in the southwest. Nothing like really fresh fish.

Oh, and the colcannon was excellent, as well.

60/40

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So I have a question. What percentage of your dinners are take out, restaurant or delivery? Are you like we were, back in the days when our commute dominated our lives in Howard County? Did you eat out more than half the time, every week? How about changing your percentages, to four days home. A 60/40 mix.

Believe it or not, you can change to eating fresher, more “expensive” food at home. It just takes a little effort to change dining out from majority to minority. Something so simple as one more night in, instead of outsourced.

I really love the protein and dairy bag from Friends and Farms. You can easily do four nights in, and still have three nights “out” with this affordable protein option. My $43 a week basket feeds the two of us, and provides us with the protein on our plates for at least four meals, sometimes five or six.

Take this week.

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There are chicken legs, chorizo, breakfast links and rainbow trout in our basket. Along with the weekly eggs and, in our case we have turnips since we don’t do the milk thing.

I can make two meals from the chorizo. Two from the chicken. We use the breakfast links in weird ways, like in tomato sauce or in soups. Not a big fan of pork for breakfast but these tasty links can be cut up and used in so many savory dishes. Eggs. For Meatless Mondays, they make great omelets or frittatas.

But getting back to the original thought. You can make a very simple meal from the trout. One that would cost major bucks at a restaurant. Less than 30 minutes. How?

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Plop those trout in a baking dish. Cover them in lemon infused olive oil, white wine and lemon pepper seasoning. Bake them at about 300 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I made two simple side dishes. Boiled baby potatoes. Microwave steamed Brussels sprouts.

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Looks great, doesn’t it? I put the potatoes on while prepping the trout. I steamed the sprouts two minutes before the fish was done. Open a bottle of white wine and you have an excellent meal. With a little effort, and a little help from Friends and Farms.

Home Delivery

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As we muddle along in one of the first single digit wind chill days this winter, I am reminded at just how much I liked the home delivery options for food that are available here. We had our initiation into home delivery with Zahradka Farm. Back in 2011-2012 when I discovered them. At the time, they were somewhat unique in our area. For many reasons.

Like pick a size. Six, ten or fourteen item produce and fruit. Meat option. Egg option. Some pantry items you could order. I’ll never forget that first delivery a week before Christmas. With half a fresh turkey as the meat item.

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Plus, the romanescu cauliflower, which became a special treat in our Christmas dinner.

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Covered in grated cheese and pepper and spices. That was the beginning of what became a highlight in the dead of winter. Really fresh and varied vegetables through those dark days.

My last post was written about a new option around here. The Hungry Harvest, fruit and/or vegetable deliveries. They are what I believe to be the fourth option that allows you to stay home nice and warm, and receive fresh food delivered right to your door in Howard County.

Pair Hungry Harvest with FarmtoFork, a recently launched venture by Carroll Farm to Table and other local farms. You could order your vegetables and fruit from Hungry Harvest and your meat, eggs and dairy from FarmtoFork. We are lucky. Carroll is not that far from our house, and we have gotten their whole chickens to roast. They have a farm stand open all year. Times of operation are on their web site.

Last but certainly not least, the long standing home delivery service from South Mountain Creamery. They started with dairy products, and slowly expanded to include everything from meat to hummus to vegetable and fruit bags. We used to buy their products at the Glenwood farmer’s market. They stopped attending many of the local markets when they instituted year round deliveries to this area. You can choose weekly, biweekly or monthly recurring deliveries, or just order what you want when you want. Check out where they deliver.

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I still head up to the Creamery to pick up items for parties, like the cheese choices. Besides, nothing tastes better than their fresh milk, unless maybe it’s their ice cream.

Now that I think about it, a recurring delivery from these local companies would be a perfect gift to give elderly family members. You could easily put together something that covers the coldest dreariest months. Not a bad thought to keep in mind for next year.

For us, if our favorite Amish CSA ever stops supplying us locally year round, we would be very interested in using any one of the four.

Spring Has Sprung

Yes, I know it’s the first day of winter. But here in Howard County, some of the cherry trees have buds on them. The temperature on Christmas Eve is predicted to be 73 degrees F.

And then there’s this.

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That would be the garlic greens aka spring garlic that was in last week’s CSA box. Obviously the fall plantings are taking off in all this warm weather. Besides the garlic we have been getting lots of greens. Usually they are done by this time of year.

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There was a bag of spinach. A bag of “spring mix”. A couple heads of romaine. Plus, those watermelon radishes, which I love.

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Sliced thin. Sprinkled with a little kosher salt. Perfect appetizer.

As for those garlic greens. A great addition to colcannon.

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This week’s base for colcannon was a combination of items from two weeks of CSA deliveries. Parsnips, turnips and potatoes, cooked. A mix of garlic greens, Napa cabbage and spinach. Not a traditional colcannon. But a very tasty one.

Here’s another rendition of my colcannon. With the post that tells how I made it.

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A simple dish to make, in any season. Some white stuff. Some green stuff. Some milk and butter. What’s not to love about colcannon?

Baby It’s Cold

Outside definitely. Inside, sometimes as well. Heat pumps can’t handle extended temps near zero degrees. We hit zero again on Tuesday morning. The heat pumps couldn’t hack that, so we had the resistive heat running continuously trying to keep it warm around here.

I decided, OK, I need to find something to do to keep us warmer, so I decided to bake and cook. All day. It kept the kitchen warm and made it easier for us to have quick meals the rest of this week.

At one point, I had both ovens going, and the large burner on the stove. Oh, and the dishwasher and the clothes dryer out in the mud room. All together, productive, while making it more comfortable in the house.

I hate heat pumps. Our house, like thousands like it in this area, was built during the moratorium on building using natural gas. Oil burners were also not used, as the price made them prohibitive. Heat pumps cannot take prolonged temperatures below twenty degrees, and we are suffering through the coldest February I can ever remember.

Two more days of this month. Today, even more snow came down. At least we got above freezing yesterday.

As for the cooking, what did I make?

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Apple cake. Adapted from the Not Without Salt recipe. I substituted my crock pot spiced apples for the two cups of apples.

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I like this recipe so much that I made a recipe card in Pages on my iPad. Since I like the extra spice, I used a pint jar from the freezer since I didn’t have any baking apples around. I also did decrease the sugar from the published recipe, to 1/2 a cup.

I had one oven making this cake, while the other made three things. At the same time. Beets. Chicken. Roasted root vegetables.

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I was cleaning out the produce drawer before the CSA came on Wednesday. There are parsnips, celeriac, sunchokes, carrots, sweet potato, turnips, white radish, scallions, yellow onion and a jalapeno in there.

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Heavily spiced.

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No measuring. More of what I like. Less of the stronger stuff. Olive oil. Mustard. White balsamic. All mixed up in a bowl and dumped on the foil. Roasted at 350 degrees for an hour.

Add to all of this, I was making chicken stock with the bones and skin from the whole chicken. I got a quart of stock, that simmered most of the afternoon.

After all was said and done, we had chicken and root vegetables for dinner Tuesday. The leftovers.

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Enough for a few days as a side dish.

Chicken leftovers for me yesterday while my better half went to an amateur radio club dinner. The last piece of chicken breast. Lunch today. The beets will be tomorrow’s salad. The apple cake. Dessert when we are in the mood for dessert. The chicken stock is in the freezer.

Not a bad way to spend a frigid Tuesday.