Thursday, November 11, 2010

It's Fall and My CSA Is Over

My CSA from Farmer Dave's has finished for the year and I am a little sad! I really liked the concept of the CSA from the beginning. It is a great way to help out the farm when they need it the most, and then I get a steady supply of fresh veggies each week - pretty much a win/win situation!

I got a lot of great produce this year. From the beautiful tomatoes, to a steady supply of green and cranberry beans, to the big butternut squash, I was overall pleased with my shares each week. I got a lot of certain items which was nice as I was able to blanch and freeze items for the winter (I have TONS of sweet corn in my freezer) but there were some things I was quickly swapping out toward the end of the season as I'd simply had too much of them (bok choy and wax beans were often swapped for wonderful carrots and beets).

I would suggest anyone who loves produce and lives in an area where a CSA is available (which is pretty much everywhere these days) to give it a shot next year. You may not get all your favorite vegetables in the share each week but it will certainly help if you are getting bored with the same old veggies. Don't be intimidated if you look at a CSA flyer or website and it lists things you don't like or have never heard of - a quick google search will most likely yield a recipe that you'll end up liking. If not, a lot of CSAs have swap boxes where you can swap it out the next time!

I will be switching CSA's next year and I think its best to remember that this is not a multiple year commitment. If you go through the year and decide at the end that you didn't really like a lot of what you got, or that there wasn't as good a variety as you'd been hoping for, you can always switch next year! Many farms grow similar things but will have different ways of distributing between the shares. Also, it is sometimes a good idea to split a bigger share with someone in an effort to get a better variety (my plan for next year).

All in all, I loved my CSA and I can't wait for next summer to start getting a share of the crop each week again!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Harvard Square Urban Ag Fair

This past weekend, the 2nd Annual Urban-Ag Fair was held in Harvard Square. The girl and I took a trip over in the early afternoon to check it out. (We also stopped by the Charles Hotel Farmer's Market, held every Sunday - you should check it out!)

There were tables all around the square with food for sale as well as free samples of local foods and information about green initiatives in the area. One table even had different kinds of pickled fruits and vegetables to sample. (We didn't have time to try any, although they all looked and smelled great!) We did, however, get to try a few Grown-Up Sodas which were really good. We especially liked the Extra Dry Ginger Ale and the Dry Cranberry Lime.

Other tables featured ongoing and upcoming local food events. One of these that caught our eye was for the Boston Local Food Festival, coming up on October 2nd. It's going to be a big event down on the waterfront near the Children's Museum that will feature local food, exhibits and local music. It sounds like it will be a great time, and we will definitely be checking it out!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Corn and Chicken Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers (CSA Recipe)

Photo courtesy of Farmer Dave's

My CSA share over the past few weeks has been a steady stream of beautiful tomatoes, all kinds of peppers, and ears of corn along as well as some squash and eggplant. I've put together a quick recipe for chicken-and-corn-stuffed cubanelle peppers. As with most of the recipes on this site, it can be changed in any number of ways based on what you have for fresh ingredients and on your tastes. Enjoy!

Corn-and-Chicken-Stuffed Cubanelle Peppers

Serves 2

4 Cubanelle peppers (Poblanos would work well too)
2 ears of corn; kernels removed
1 tomato; seeded & diced
1/2 lb ground chicken; browned
1 clove of garlic; minced
1/2 jalapeno; seeds & ribs removed; diced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
salt & pepper to taste
juice from 1/2 Lime
grated Monterey Jack cheese (or Cheddar)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the corn, tomato, ground chicken, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, salt & pepper, and lime juice in a bowl.
2. Add some of the cheese to the mixture and toss until all ingredients are incorporated.
3. Using a paring knife, cut a T shape into the peppers.
4. Carefully stuff the peppers with your chicken and corn mixture, taking care not to rip them.
5. Place in a baking dish and cover with foil; put in a 350 degree oven for 25 - 35 minutes (until peppers are soft).
6. When peppers are soft, sprinkle the top of each pepper with more cheese and put them back into the oven, uncovered, until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.
7. Serve with rice, seasoned beans, or your favorite side dish!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Home Grown Potatoes

This is a pile of our home-grown potatoes! The new crop we decided to try in our vegetable garden this year was Russian Banana Fingerling Potatoes. We only did a small patch, about 3 x 3 feet, but we ended up getting a good amount of fingerlings. These did not last long; they were so delicious. We will definitely be doing them again next year!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Southwestern Corn Salsa (CSA Week 7 & 8 Recipe)

Since the summer is now in full swing, I've started getting ears of corn in my CSA share for the past couple of weeks. I really love corn from farm stands; it tastes so much better and sweeter than the stuff you get in the grocery store! The first week I got corn, we went the simple route by just boiling it for a few minutes and putting butter, salt and pepper on it. It was delicious!

This week, I decided I wanted to try something else - something simple that would also have good flavor. What came to mind? Salsa. I love salsa, I really do. Corn salsa, mango salsa, peach salsa, just straight pico de gallo...I don't discriminate when it comes to salsa. Luckily, the share this week also contained onions, tomatoes, and cubanelle peppers. The perfect ingredients for salsa fell right into my lap! (By the way, I'm still getting squash of all shapes and sizes. I see lots more zucchini bread in my future...)

I decided that I wanted to roast the corn in the oven (rather than just boiling it), so I soaked it in its husks in water for about 25 minutes while the oven was preheating to 350 degrees. Then I put it directly onto the oven rack, husk and all, for 25 minutes. Next, I roasted the cubanelle by putting the broiler on high and leaving the pepper under it until the skin started to blister. Then I flipped it over and did the same thing for the other side. (Make sure you pay attention, as it can burn really quickly!) Then I pulled off the skin, took the seeds out, and removed the stem. Everything was ready to make the salsa!

I think one of the reasons I love salsa is that it is so simple. There really aren't any rules, you can make it however you like it, and it's one of the easiest things to make. It's also really versatile in terms of what you can pair it with. Below is the recipe I created for my corn salsa, but it's just a base. Change it up however you would like! I would love to hear about which salsas you've made in the past, so feel free to shoot me an email (bostonfound at gmail dot com)!

Southwestern Corn Salsa

2 Ears of corn (in husk)
1 Cubanelle pepper
1 Small onion; minced
1 Large tomato; diced (seeded if you prefer)
1 Tbsp Ground Cumin
3 Tbsp Olive Oil
Juice from 1 lime
Salt & Pepper to taste
Red Flake
Cilantro; chopped (optional)


1) Soak the corn in water in the husks for 25 minutes; Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2) Roast the corn in the preheated oven for 25 minutes; Remove from oven and let cool.
3) Place cubanelle pepper under broiler until the skins starts to blister. Flip and cook other side until the skin blisters; Remove from the oven and let cool. Remove the skin and seeds from the cubanelle.
4) Cut corn kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.
5) Dice the cubanelle to size similar to the corn kernels and add to the bowl.
6) Add the tomato, onions, juice of lime, olive oil and spices to the bowl.
7) Mix all ingredients together and test the seasoning.
8) Add in the cilantro if using and let sit for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.

Enjoy this salsa with tacos, or as a nice side for a piece of grilled chicken or steak!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Zucchini Bread with Cranberries (CSA Week 5 & 6 Recipe)

The zucchini and squash are still appearing in the CSA baskets, as they have been for the past few weeks. I've made zucchini bread with the girl before, so I decided to use the squash that was the size of my forearm (no, really, it was that big!) to make it again.

This time, however, I added cranberries from one of last fall's farmers' market that I still had in my freezer. (Note: check safety guidelines for frozen foods first, and disregard the fact that I probably should have thrown these out by now.)

They really gave the bread a nice freshness and cut through the sweetness. You could also make these into muffins if you wanted, and add other fruits or nuts (depending on what's in season....or still in your freezer) . It's a good way to experiment!

Zucchini Bread
, Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: 2 loaves

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cranberries. Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean.

The Kelleher Rose Garden

Below are pictures of the Kelleher Rose Garden in the Fens taken by the girl. If you've never visited it, you really should take the time to go over there. It's near the Fenway Victory Gardens, so you could make a nice afternoon trip out of visiting both.

There are still plenty of roses blooming in the garden, so go take a peek while the weather is still nice!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Roasted Veggie & Hummus Wrap (CSA Week 3 & 4 Recipe)

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind - I really don’t know where this month has gone! The girl and I went on a short vacation, which was really nice, but now it’s back to the grind.

I’m still getting my CSA each week (thanks to my parents, who picked it up while we were gone), and it's provided a steady supply of greens and yellow, zucchini, and kousa squashes. We are also just starting to get cucumbers.

I have to say, I’m a bit overloaded with squash. Since I've never really eaten much of it, I'm struggling to find a way to use it all. This week I decided to just roast all of it (along with red onion and red pepper), and eat it in wraps for lunches. I used Mediterranean and Greek-inspired flavors for the veggies, which really brought out the flavor of the squash.

Roasted Veggie & Hummus Wrap

What you need:

roasted veggies (recipe below)
hummus (I like the original hummus tahini but use a flavored hummus if you’d like)
flatbread or tortilla wrap

What you do:

Spread hummus on the wrap. Top with roasted veggies. Sprinkle crumbled feta on the top. Wrap and eat!

Roasted Veggies:

yellow squash
kousa squash
red peppers
red onion

olive oil
lemon juice
oregano (I used fresh "Spicy Oregano" from the back porch)

Chop the veggies into bite-sized pieces. Toss the veggies with olive oil, salt, pepper, and chopped oregano. Lay out in a single layer in a Pyrex baking dish or roasting pan and squeeze lemon juice over the top. Put the veggies in the oven at 375 for about 25 minutes (or until soft). Remove from oven and let cool.

Vegetable Photos Courtesy of Farmer Dave's

Monday, July 5, 2010

Garlic Scape & Arugula Pesto (CSA Week 2 Recipe)

The second week of my CSA share brought another plentiful basket of lettuces and squash (zucchini, yellow squash and kousa). It also brought beautiful bunches of arugula and spinach, and more garlic scapes.

I decided to make a pesto with the garlic scapes and arugula, to highlight and retain their fresh flavors and beautiful colors. I picked up a wedge of Pecorino Romano from Polcari's Coffee in the North End. (Sidenote: if you've never been here, you really should check it out - they are the nicest guys and they've have a great selection of coffees, flours, legumes, Italian imports, and so much more.)

The sharpness and saltiness of the cheese really brings this pesto together, so make sure your pecorino is of good quality!

Garlic Scape & Arugula Pesto

What you need:
1 1/2 cups Garlic Scapes (trimmed just below the flower; chopped); About 10 scapes
1 cup packed Arugula
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano; grated
3 tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Salt/Pepper to taste (don't season until you've pulsed the cheese in or it could get too salty!)

What you do:
1) Add garlic scapes, arugula, Pecorino Romano, and red wine vinegar to a food processor and pulse until all is mixed and finely chopped.

2) Stream (or add in small amounts) the olive oil until the pesto is the consistency you want it to be.

3) Season with ground pepper and salt to taste.

It's that simple! I used my batch of pesto for a quick and easy pizza, using store bought dough. Just roll it out, spread on the pesto, and add sliced fresh mozzarella, halved grape tomatoes, fresh basil, and chicken sausage. (You can substitute any protein you like for the latter, or leave it out for a vegetarian pie.) Then bake until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbling. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Braised Bok Choy & Chicken Lettuce Wraps (CSA Week 1 Recipe)

Summer is finally in full swing around here, and that means fresh vegetables are on the way. A couple of weeks ago, I picked up my first CSA. The selection featured heads of lettuce (curly and Boston), bok choy, kousa squash, zucchini, beets, radishes, cilantro, and garlic scapes.

I was really excited by all the fresh produce, and decided to use some of it right away for dinner. Below is a simple recipe (although it’s more of a starting point - no measurements needed here, just play with it according to your tastes!) for braised bok choy and chicken lettuce wraps. This is a really quick and easy way to use fresh veggies, as cooking them quickly and simply will help retain their flavor, color and nutrients. Enjoy!

(By the way, I'll be posting a weekly update of my CSA's contents. I'll also include a recipe or two throughout the week, featuring the produce from my share. So stay tuned!)

Braised Bok Choy & Chicken Lettuce Wraps

What you’ll need:

1 head of Bok Choy (chopped)
Red Bell Pepper (sliced into 1/4 in sticks)
Minced Garlic
Fresh ginger (minced or grated)
Minced Shallot
Olive Oil
¼ cup water (or chicken stock)
Teriyaki Sauce (optional)
Cilantro (chopped; optional)
Teriyaki Ginger Chicken Sausage (or chicken breast seasoned however you’d like)
Boston Lettuce cups for wraps (or Iceberg Lettuce if you’d like)

What you do:

1) Chop chicken sausage into bit size pieces and sauté in a hot pan until browned (these chicken sausages are fully cooked; If using chicken breast, cook through, about 7 minutes per side). Remove from pan.

2) In same pan, add oil, ginger and garlic (to taste) and heat until the garlic and ginger starts to sizzle.

3) Add the shallot and bell pepper and continue to cook until they start to soften.

4) Add the chopped Bok Choy and sauté with all other vegetables until the Bok Choy is a bright green color (only a couple minutes).

5) Add the water and lower the heat. Continue to cook on a simmer as the Bok Choy gets tender.

6) Toss the chicken into the pan along with some of your favorite teriyaki (or any Asian stir-fry sauce; I like a spicy teriyaki sauce for this). Cook until the Bok Choy is done to your desired tenderness (I personally like it still with a bit of crunch in the stalk)

7) Assemble the lettuce wraps using the Boston lettuce cups. Place a bit of the Bok Choy and chicken mixture into the lettuce cup. Top with a little more of the sauce of your choice and some chopped cilantro.

*You can switch this recipe up in any number of ways. Mix in any of your favorite veggies, leave out the chicken, or change up the sauce if you’d like. You can also use different toppings, maybe some chopped peanuts for some crunch. Also, you can stretch it a little further with some rice.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Homemade Seed Strips

If you haven't started planting yet, don't worry - seriously! Last year, the girl and I didn't get around to planting until the middle of June, and we still had a great harvest. So you have plenty of time to get your garden going!

The girl and I recently started working on our flower garden, aiming for late summer blooms. We started some seedlings in newspaper collars, and they are looking good, but we have more seeds that we want to grow. So, we decided to make seed strips to make the planting easier. They especially make evenly spacing small seeds, such as poppies and basil, a breeze. No more worrying about dropping too many in the same spot!

We found a step by step in Organic Gardening Magazine (posted below), and adapted it to our needs. Give it a shot if you still need to plant your veggies or flowers!

Paper Towel Seed Strips

What you need:
Paper Towels
Qtip or toothpick or spoon
Seeds (of your choice)

What to do:
1) Tear the paper towels into strips about 1 inch wide.
2) Mix flour and water together to make a thick gravy (we started with 1/2 cup flour and mixed in water as necessary until it was the right consistency).
3) Lay out seeds on the paper towels at the recommended spacing (per the seeds instructions).
4) Using a toothpick, spoon, or Qtip, place a small amount of the flour "glue" on top of the seeds
5) Allow to dry and then roll them up and place in a plastic bag until ready to be used

When planting, simply plant the seed strip in the soil at the required depth, cover, and wait for your seeds to sprout!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ramp Pesto Recipe

Ramps, also known as wild leeks or wild garlic, are a great spring vegetable. They have a garlicky scent but an onion flavor. I have found that the strength of the flavor/scent really varies by each ramp. You can do a lot with them, whether it's grilled along with a piece of grilled chicken or steak, or in a pesto on pasta like this recipe, it really adds great depth of flavor.

This recipe is a quick pesto that I made recently. You'll notice the recipe is really basic (and doesn't have any actual measurements). It can be adapted completely to your taste. Like it spicier? Add more pepper. Want more acidity? Add more lemon juice! Give it a try and make it your own.

Ramp Pesto

Olive Oil
Black Pepper
Crushed Red Pepper
Kosher Salt (just a pinch; the Parmesan already gives a salty flavor)
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Lemon Juice

1) Trim the root end off the bulb of the ramps.

2) Coarse chop the ramps; bulbs and green tops. Put in food processor or blender.

3) Add grated Parmesan cheese, kosher salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper to the food processor.

4) Start grinding the mixture together while slowly streaming in olive oil. Continue this until the mixture comes together and looks like a pesto

5) Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten up the flavor.

Toss with your choice of pasta and any other vegetables or protein you'd like and you have a simple spring meal.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

23rd Annual Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival

A couple weeks back the girl and I took a ride out to Waltham for the Gore Place Sheepshearing Festival. It was a fun time, the Gore Place grounds are gorgeous and the sheep were so cute. The highlight for us was definitely the Border Collie demonstration (we want one when we get a house with enough space to let it run!). Here are a few pics the girl took while we were there.

Lambs just a couple months old (so cute!).

A ewe being hand sheared.

A freshly sheared ram and ewe.

Two Border Collies stalking some sheep.

The sheep are surrounded!

Border Collie jumping a fence with the frisbee during playtime.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Garden Update - Catching Up

So it's been a couple of busy weeks. The weather has been beautiful in the city and with that comes a lot of outdoors activities! We have been preparing the soil in our vegetable garden and have put in some fingerling potatoes. I'll be sowing some peas and lettuce in the coming days. I've also started some Roma tomatoes from seed indoors as well as tomatillos. They've both been recently transplanted into larger pots as they've been growing pretty well. I'll be starting some eggplant from seed soon with hopes of a late season crop.

On another gardening note, we have just recently gotten a plot in the Fenway Victory Gardens! We are very excited about this plot. It is going to be a flower garden. All different sizes, and some for cutting as well. We've already put in some work (had to take out some leftover shrubs and daylilies...boy did we have daylilies) but will be getting some topsoil in a couple weeks and then will start the landscaping and planting.

I will be posting some photos in the coming days of some things we've done recently in the area as well as some more citrus photos that the girl took.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fresh English Peas

English Peas are one of the earliest signs of Spring, and are also a really quick and easy side dish to any meal! I've never been a big fan of frozen peas, but when the girl and I saw fresh English Peas in the Whole Foods near my house, we had to grab some.

To prepare them, just shell the peas and then simply steam them for 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with some salt and a little pepper and you have a great, simple side!

Make sure you buy a lot of peas, however - you'll be surprised how many pea pods it takes to get a serving. Trust me, you'll be sad if you don't have enough!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade

The Meyer lemon has gained a strong following in the culinary world in the past few years, showing up on restaurant menus and in cookbooks everywhere. Why is it so popular? Mainly because of its flavor, a sweeter and less acidic version of a regular lemon's. (The Meyer lemon is actually a cross between a lemon and mandarin orange.)

Meyer Lemon at The Orangerie at Tower Hill Botanic Garden

I found some Meyer lemons in the Whole Foods Market near my house, and decided to make a Meyer lemon and vanilla bean marmalade. I tweaked an Epicurious recipe, decreasing the sugar. I also saved the seeds and put them in a cheesecloth pouch, then boiled them with the lemon/water/sugar mixture to add natural pectin to help it set.

I would definitely make this again, although I'd add some regular lemon juice to give it a bit more tartness. Unfortunately, it's the end of Meyer lemon season, so it looks like I'll have to wait until next year to try this again!

Meyer Lemon & Vanilla Bean Marmalade

  • 1 1/4 pounds Meyer lemons
  • 5 cups water
  • 4 cups of sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • Cheesecloth

Working on large plate to catch juice, cut lemons in half lengthwise, then very thinly crosswise. Save seeds to be boiled with lemons later. Pack enough lemons and any juice to measure 2 1/2 cups. Transfer to large nonreactive pot. Add 5 cups water; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand uncovered overnight.

Measure lemon mixture (there should be about 5 1/2 cups). Return to same pot. Add about 4 cups of sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Add seeds to a piece of cheesecloth and add to the pot. Bring to boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Attach clip-on candy thermometer. Maintaining active boil and adjusting heat to prevent boiling over, cook until temperature reaches 230°F, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Transfer to hot jars. Process jars in a water bath for 12-15 minutes. If you are not going to process in water bath, cool the mixture to room temperature and put in jars then refrigerate.

(All photos were taken by the girl, she's too good to me!)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

What Counts as "Local"?

With the growing popularity of eating locally produced and sourced food, this has become an increasingly important question: what is "local"?

If you look up the word “locavore” in the Merriam Webster dictionary, the definition reads “one who eats foods grown locally whenever possible.” This doesn’t actually give a clear meaning of the maximum (or minimum) distance needed to be "local", however. The locavore movement started in San Francisco based on an idea of a 100-mile diet, meaning that the food they eat is within a 100 mile radius of where they live. Other people define local a little more loosely, though, and think it means anything that they can drive a reasonable distance to get. What is "‘reasonable" is also up for debate.

I found my favorite description in the book “The Locavore Way” by Amy Cotler. She defines local this way: “as close to home (or wherever you are) as possible, the closer the better". This really struck me as the most unpretentious and easily accessible definition of local that I’ve come across.

My personal definition of local fits along the same lines as Cotler’s. I really try to eat locally, but I eat seasonally as well. During the summer months in the Boston area, I constantly buy my fruit and vegetables from the farmer’s markets around the city. I also harvest from my own garden and, starting this year, will have a CSA share. However, eating this way is not completely possible during the winter when the markets have stopped and most produce is not in season here.

When I can’t get produce locally, I buy it from places that are as close as possible and where the food is in season. More and more, supermarkets (even big chains) are labeling where food is actually from. Whether products are from Vermont, California, or Mexico, it's nice to see their origins noted and be able to make an informed decision about where I'm getting my food.

Certain foods, however, can be hard or nearly impossible to get from a local source, such as coffee. Coffee beans will not grow in New England, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a bit of a local touch. There are a few places in Boston, such as Flat Back Coffee Company, which roast their coffee beans in house. This keeps the beans fresher for a longer period of time.

The bottom line when it comes to the meaning of local is that it is up to you! Don’t be intimidated by the “100-mile” locavore definition, or think that if you don’t get it from your region that it can’t be considered local. Make your own rules, don’t be confined to one "definition", and enjoy eating good, fresh food, wherever local means to you!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Has Sprung...

At least for a few days! I know Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, so we're supposed to have more winter. And yes, spring doesn't officially start for another 2 weeks, but with high 40's predicted for the next week or so (and the girl switching to sandals), I'm declaring that spring is here!

It was a wonderful weekend in the city - low to mid 50's, lots of sun, and a beautiful blue sky. The girl and I decided to spend the afternoon at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. Though I'd never been there (even though I live about 15 minutes from it), I have to say, it was nice to see a big green space in the middle of the city. While there weren't too many things in bloom yet, it was still a great afternoon. You barely knew you were in the city!

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Arnold Promise'

Strolling through the Arboretum, we saw snowdrops, pussy willows, and a few different types of witch hazel. We wandered the different paths for a couple hours, past the lilac bushes, the rose garden, and the magnolia trees by the Visitor's Center. I really can't wait to go back when everything is in bloom!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fruit Find: Ugli Fruit

I'm always on the lookout at the grocery store for new and/or interesting fruits and vegetables. Well, I found a great one recently! It's called Ugli fruit (or Uniq fruit), and is a tangelo from Jamaica. It's a combination of a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine. As you can see, it certainly lives up to its name.

While it isn't the best-looking fruit I've ever seen, the flavor is absolutely amazing. It's sweet and sour at the same time, and not bitter at all - think sweet lemon. They are really juicy, and the juice actually tastes sweeter than the flesh.

If you see these at your local grocery store or specialty food store, I suggest you try one - don't let the look of it scare you!

(You can also purchase online at Melissa's Produce)

Monday, February 22, 2010

CSA Update

I wrote not too long ago about CSA programs for this upcoming summer, and I've finally chosen my CSA for 2010! I've signed up for Farmer Dave's Somerville CSA. Why did I choose this one? Mainly, I liked that Farmer Dave's has a small-sized share option. Given that the girl and I have our own vegetable garden and that we love going to the farmers' markets, I thought that a small share would be best.

I'm really looking forward to my first year of a CSA. Keep an eye out here for updates throughout the season, as I will be doing a spotlight on what I get each week with recipes and background information on the produce.

(Photo by Farmer Dave's)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cara Cara Orange Marmalade

I was at the grocery store a couple weeks ago, and noticed a kind of orange that I had never seen before called the Cara Cara. I found out that it's a type of navel orange that's a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. This gives the flesh a similar color to a pink grapefruit, but gives the skin the look of a normal navel orange.

I decided that the color of the flesh paired with the color of the skin would make a really nice-looking marmalade! Because Cara Caras are sweeter than normal oranges and have lower acidity, I added a couple of lemons to brighten it up a bit and add a tangy flavor.

After cooking down the Cara Caras and lemons and adding sugar (though the oranges are sweet, it IS marmalade after all!), the mixture was ready for canning. Luckily, there was some marmalade leftover so I could taste it right away! I thought it turned out great. You can really taste the flavor of the Cara Caras but the lemons add a nice zing of tartness.

Cara Cara Orange Marmalade
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

*6 Cara Cara oranges: 4 oranges peeled, peels cut into 1/3-inch pieces, flesh seeded and coarsely chopped; 2 oranges quartered, thinly sliced, and seeded
*2 lemons: quartered, thinly sliced, and seeded
*1 1/2 quarts cold water

1) Bring fruit, peels, and water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cook for 5 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let cool. Refrigerate for 8 hours (or up to 1 day).

2) Freeze a plate. Uncover citrus mixture, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook until thickest peel is tender, about 20 minutes. Measure mixture, and return to pan. For each cup of mixture, add 3/4 cup sugar.

3)Bring mixture to a boil, stirring often. Cook until mixture registers 220 degrees to 222 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. To test for doneness of marmalade: Drop a spoonful on frozen plate. If marmalade has a slight film when pushed with a finger, it's done. If it spreads out and thins immediately, continue cooking, and test again after a few minutes. Transfer marmalade to airtight containers, cover, and let cool at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight before serving. (Marmalade will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 month.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Visiting a Boston Seafood Institution (And My First Bivalve!)

I'll admit it: I am a bad New Englander - I'm not a big seafood eater! I've tried fish here and there, and enjoyed a lobster on occasion, but I don't choose seafood first. As a result, I have never been to many of the best seafood restaurants in Boston, including the Union Oyster House. That all changed on Saturday night when the girl and I went to the latter for dinner.

Overall, it was a great night. The restaurant feels very warm and cozy and is so full of history! Everyone from the future King of France who lived on the second floor to Daniel Webster to the Kennedy family have occupied the Oyster House over the years.

The menu features mostly seafood, but also has a small selection of land creatures. The girl ordered broiled sole (so good with a nice squeeze of lemon!) and I chose the Cajun chicken (back to the bad New England eater...). Though these were both perfectly cooked and delicious, they weren't the main reason we came to the Union Oyster House. We came for the oysters!

We ordered a half-dozen on the half shell, and they arrived with their famous cocktail sauce, horseradish, and lemon. I will be honest, I was a bit nervous to begin with. Once I tried one, however, I was hooked! My first oyster (and my second and third, for that matter) became the highlights of the meal.

Now that I know I like the oysters, the girl and I are are going to check out dollar oyster deals around the city. We already know about $1 Oyster Mondays at Rialto and $1 Oysters and PBRs at Myers + Chang but we are on the lookout for other specials as well. If you know of any oyster deals around Boston, please feel free to comment or email!

While I may not be the biggest seafood eater (yet...), I am at least trying to become a better New Englander!

(Photo from Union Oyster House Restaurant)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA Shares)

As you know from some of my previous posts, I wholeheartedly support getting your produce (and meat for that matter) from local farms as much as possible. So far, I've mainly purchased these from farmers' markets in the city. This year, however, I've decided to go a different route: a CSA share.

CSA stands for "Community Supported Agriculture". What exactly does this mean? Basically, you purchase a "share" of a farm, investing in its farming season. This gives money up front to the farm, prior to the growing season, and gives them income when they need it the most. In return, you get a share of their harvest each week. Several farms now have pickup locations at Boston farmers' markets.

Once you've purchased a share, you go to the designated pickup spot each week and get your box of produce! Along with your vegetable share, you can even get fruit, flower, and meat shares from certain farms. CSA shares are often priced on a sliding scale, and farms usually have different sizes available. There is a suggested price per share, but if you have a low income you can pay less. You can also opt to pay more, helping lower income folks to get shares. It really is a win-win situation all around!

Of course, there are risks involved in purchasing a CSA share (if you can call them risks). Since you are taking the same risk as the farmers by investing in the crops, you are at the mercy of the growing season. Having started my own garden last summer, I know all too well how the weather can affect the success of the harvest. However, I think the rewards of a CSA program far outweigh the risk of receiving smaller baskets of produce.

I will be posting updates as soon as I decide which farm to purchase a CSA share from. Then, throughout the season, I will be writing about some of the interesting and wonderful produce I receive.

I really hope this inspires you to go one step further than farmers' markets, and help local farms with their upcoming season by purchasing a CSA share yourself.

For more information on Boston area CSA programs, visit the Boston Localvores site or the NOFA/Mass site.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...