Wednesday, September 30, 2009

csa - and spaghetti squash casserole

This week's CSA is definitely looking like Fall - potatoes, onions, salad turnips, carrots, peppers, leeks, broccoli, kombocha squash, kale, and a beautiful bouquet of flowers from the pick-your-own garden. Last night, we sauteed green beans from our garden (even though it's been cold at night, our beans are still growing - hooray!) with leeks from the farmers' market in a little butter, and enjoyed over pasta - yum! Leeks are definitely a favorite - even though before last year, I'd never tried them!

Tonight, we're making Spaghetti Squash Casserole, as I bought another spaghetti squash and some tomatoes from a local farmstand. This recipe can be found in both the Moosewood Cookbook, and Asparagus to Zucchini - and it's a good one!!

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Cooked pulp from 1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
Dash of thyme
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup cottage or ricotta cheese
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a sauté pan, heat butter and cook onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add herbs, salt and pepper. When onions are soft, add tomatoes and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Stir mixture into squash pulp along with all the remaining ingredients, except the Parmesan. Spread into buttered 2-quart casserole. Top with Parmesan cheese. Bake uncovered, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

and then there were two

This weekend we added a second rabbit to the "working animal" side of the family - Rb has named him "Luke" as he's going with a Star Wars theme for his rabbits. We already have Yoda - so Luke seemed the logical next choice!

Luke is a mini-lop - we were originally planning to get another Creme d'Argent (like Yoda), but when we saw little 8-week old Luke, we couldn't resist. His color is beautiful, and he's the sweetest rabbit ever - he actually lies on his back in my lap... lest you think, "that's crazy - rabbits don't do that!!" I thought I'd include a picture (please pardon the pajama pants!). This is one mellow little guy!!

So, Luke joins Yoda, and we continue our quest for plenty of worm-composted rabbit manure for next Spring's gardens. All good!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

free puppy food

Eukanuba is offering free puppy food via their website (scroll to the bottom of the site, to where it says "Get your free bag voucher today"). Mo-pug eats Solid Gold food for her meals, but we use a variety of other foods for her treats (and she does love her treats!) - so we'll be looking forward to our free bag!!

free organic coffee

McDonald's is offering free Newman's Own organic coffee (any size, any time of day) through Sept. 30 at their New England locations.

When I think about this, it's interesting to me. I don't choose to spend my food dollars at McDonald's - but the coffee is free, so as long as I don't buy anything else while I'm there, I'm not supporting their business. It's also organic - which is certainly better for the environment than non-organic coffee. But then coffee's by no means local to New England, so even though it might be grown responsibly, it's traveled a long way to get here - and so its consumption still has a significant environmental impact.

I'm curious what those of you who also "eat local" do - do you drink coffee? Avoid it? Would you drink McDonald's coffee (especially if you didn't have to pay for it)? For me it's a dilemma - what about you?

Friday, September 25, 2009

botany of desire on PBS

I was just reading that on October 28, PBS will premiere a 2-hour documentary based on Michael Pollan's book The Botany of Desire. Sounds like it's going to be super interesting - I'm definitely looking forward to it!

This is what the WGBH website says about the film -

"Botany of Desire tells the utterly original story of four everyday plants and the way they have domesticated humankind. In 1983 Michael Pollan and his wife left New York City to make a new home on an abandoned dairy farm. Pursuing a childhood fascination with gardening and an old-fashioned hubris about his ability to control nature, Pollan set about creating a garden. He had no way of knowing that it would eventually lead him to an original and provocative re-interpretation of the relationship between plants and people. This two-hour documentary, based on Pollan's best selling book The Botany of Desire, takes viewers from the potato fields of Peru and Idaho to the apple forests of Kazakhstan, from the tulip markets of Amsterdam to the medical marijuana grow rooms of the United States. Along the way, the program will explore the natural history of the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato– and the human desires that link their destinies to our own."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

last day for the lee market, and some newmarket news

Today is the last day this year for the Lee farmers' market. It's hard to believe the markets are starting to wrap up for the year - but indeed, Fall is just about upon us! In Lee today, we picked up a garlic braid, beautiful watermelon, farm fresh eggs, and some acorn squash. A perfect end to a great little market!

One of the Lee farmers was telling us that there's only 2 more weeks left of the Newmarket market - if you haven't been yet to check that one out, it's super cute and has lots of great vendors (and live music!). It runs Saturdays from 9:00-1:00 in the parking lot of the Stone Church.

If you go this weekend, you can also check out the Newmarket Heritage Festival in town. See the Newmarket Happenings blog for more information about the market, festival, and other fun times!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

csa report - and roasted broccoli

In this week's CSA share we have lettuce, broccoli, delicata squash (hooray!), onions, scallions, salad turnips, beets, tomatoes, peppers, and cabbage.

Last week, we tried the salad turnips (also called Hakurei turnips) cut into bite-sized cubes and fried up in a little olive oil until they were crispy on the outside, and tender inside - and I was surprised at how tasty they were like that. I've always enjoyed them raw, but I think this is my new favorite way to prepare them!

This week we'll be making Roasted Broccoli - the recipe follows. It's super yummy!!

Roasted Broccoli

1 head broccoli, large and medium stems removed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Break broccoli head into medium florets and toss with remaining ingredients. Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake 18-22 minutes, shaking the pan halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven when broccoli is a deep green color with some darkened spots. Serve, and enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

mo-pug meets yoda

Yoda spent lots of time outside in the sunshine today, since it was such an incredibly beautiful day!

Mo-pug could not resist checking out this potential new friend (and very interesting creature) -

And Yoda was just as curious about his visitor as his visitor was about him!

Lesson for today though? Creme d'Argent rabbits can hop the wall of a 24" tall pen VERY easily. One second he was standing in the pen, watching us as we watched him. Next second - a big bounce - and Yoda was up over the wall of the pen and headed for the neighbor's house. Luckily he paused in a patch of clover, and we caught him. Note to self - build top for rabbit exercise pen (grin)!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

exeter market trip

We happened to be in Exeter late yesterday afternoon, so we stopped in at the Exeter farmers' market while we were there. I was hoping to pick up some acorn squash, but our favorite farmers had already run out by the time we arrived. We did get Juliet tomatoes from Barker's farm, chicken from Kellie Brook, and fingerling potatoes from Meadow's Mirth. Yum, yum, and yum!! I think I see a roasted chicken and potato dinner coming up for this weekend...

honey in nottingham

I heard rumor this morning that there may be someone coming to the Nottingham farmers' market this Sunday to sell local "made in Nottingham" honey. The Nottingham market runs on Sundays from 1:00-4:00, and is located outside the town library, on Route 152.

Another source for local honey - hooray!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

farming on the water

A little while back, I mentioned an article that had appeared in the New York Times about vertical farming - an interesting idea for growing fresh produce inside city buildings. Then the other day, I received the Fall 2009 issue of Heifer International's World Ark magazine, and they mentioned another idea that folks are already trying - farming on the water. A group in New York has created the Science Barge - a 135 foot long boat that's floating on the Hudson River, where they're growing plants hydroponically (and organically). They're also raising fish on the vessel, and are using the fish waste to feed the plants. Sounds like a pretty awesome project!!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

things that make you go hmmm...

So I went to the farmers’ market (I’ll skip mentioning which one, as “who” and “where” aren’t nearly so important to this story as “what”). I picked out some beautiful, fresh, organic veggies, and I took them up to the farmer so he could weigh them. Before he came over to the scale, he put down what had been in his hand – at which point my son said (with some delight) “look Mom – he’s eating Cheezits!!” I looked over and indeed, he was right – the organic vegetable farmer, who I’ve heard many, many times waxing on about the virtues of organic foods, grown with utmost respect for planet and place, was eating a box of Cheezits while manning his booth at the farmers’ market.

Now I totally understand that not everyone lives what they sell. The Toyota salesman drives a Ford, and the Market Basket manager shops at Shaws. I get that. I have been known to eat a Twizzler or two on my way to pick up my CSA share (ahem… yes, it’s true – I own who I am). Contradictions in life abound.

But when it comes to items that are available at the farmers’ markets and/or from local farms and farmers (you can’t get Twizzlers from the farm… but you sure can get fruits and vegetables and meats and even beans), I’m a committed locavore (and I should add that the Twizzlers are an occasional indiscretion, not a habit). I buy flour and oil at Market Basket, but never chicken or tomatoes. I eat apples from one orchard in town, and pears from another. In the winter, I don’t eat imported grapes and oranges, or summer squash trucked in from California. I do eat homemade applesauce made from the previous Fall’s harvest, or winter squash that we’ve been storing in the basement away from the heat of the furnace.

Part of why I do this is in attempt to keep local dollars in the local economy (no Walmart for me, thank you). Another reason is because I do believe that you can vote in an election but you can also vote with your spending – and I vote for green spaces and open farms and the beautiful New England landscapes that I grew up with. Buying from local farms helps keep the farms around, and that (to me) is a very good thing. I also buy local (and whenever possible, organic) because I believe in doing what I can to help the environment, setting a good example for my son, and (whenever possible) only buying things from people I trust to do right by the planet as well as the land they steward and the animals they raise.

This reminds me of a farm whose meat I don’t buy, because the farmer one day told a long and loud story about how he raises his organic meat on his big, beautiful farm, and how after he feeds his animals their dinner he takes his children to McDonald's for theirs. I’ll not even go into to the 1,000 reasons why this causes me to pause and think and wonder how and why people do the things they do – I’ll let you make up your own questions and come to your own conclusions, and I’ll just say, “McDonald's?????”

So back to the Cheezits. I understand a person gets hungry. I understand a person likes salt. And I understand that lots of folks do not “walk their talk” as much as perhaps other folks would like to think they do. But would you buy your organic vegetables from a farm-advocating, organic-advocating, outspoken environmentalist who brings his Cheezits to the farmers’ market to enjoy in front of you while you peruse his stand?? Maybe I am over-sensitive and over-thinking – but I’m not sure I’ll buy from him again. And I really do want to know – would you??

this week's csa - and baked acorn squash

It's beginning to look more like Fall in this week's share! We have our first broccoli and acorn squash, along with watermelon, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, beets, and onions. We also received lettuce and salad turnips, though they didn't make it into the photo.

There are many different recipes out there for baked acorn squash, but this is my favorite -

Baked Acorn Squash

1 acorn squash, halved
2 pats of butter
2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 375 - 400 F. Scoop the seeds out of each half with a spoon. Add 1 pat of butter, 1 teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, 1 tablespoon of brown sugar, salt and pepper to the hollow scoop of each half. Place the halves upright on a greased cookie sheet and roast for about 1 hour or until tender when flesh is poked with a fork. Serve, and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

durham market, tecce farm

On the way to the Durham farmers' market yesterday, we stopped at Tecce Farm for some corn - they had a sign up on the window that said due to the excess rain, the ears of corn haven't filled out like they should - but we brought home a half dozen and they looked (and tasted) just fine!

At the Durham market, we got apples from Nottingham Orchard (their Northern Spy apples are Rb's favorites, but they won't be ready until October, so this time we got McIntosh); delicata squash, acorn squash, and a red onion from Sustainable Farm Products; red potatoes from Back River Farm; and cucumbers and a watermelon from Wake Robin. A fun shopping trip for sure!

Monday, September 14, 2009

better late than never?

We bought 2 pattypan squash seedlings back in June at the farmers' market. The plants didn't really grow much over this unusual and super wet summer we had - but the last couple weeks, they've suddenly taken off. Then last week before we left for the Cape, I noticed they were flowering.

Then this morning when I went outside to the garden to pick some green beans, I could hardly believe it, but we have baby pattypan squash growing. This photo shows the largest one - but there are at least 4 more, and a bunch more blossoms as well. Now all we need is for the frost to hold off, and it seems we'll be harvesting pattypan!

roasted delicata squash

Delicata squash is one of my favorite fall squashes - and my favorite way to enjoy it is roasted with garlic. Thought I'd share the recipe - it's super tasty!!

Easy Garlic Delicata

1 delicata squash
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 375. Oil a 9x13 baking dish. Peel delicata, slice in half, remove seeds. Cut into ½ inch slices. Place in baking dish and toss with olive oil, garlic, and parsley. Bake 30 minutes or until tender. Serve and enjoy!!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

searching for sharks

Every September we head to Cape Cod for the town of Eastham's Windmill Weekend. It's a fun festival, with a sand castle contest, craft show, children's games, concerts, etc. - lots of family-oriented events to check out!

This year, to add to the excitement, great white sharks have been spotted off Chatham, Massachusetts (a short drive from Eastham), and though the beaches in Chatham are closed to swimmers right now, there are lots of people on shore with binoculars, hoping to spot, if not the fin of a great white, at least some of the seals that the sharks are following about in the water. Near the beach at Chatham Lighthouse, we saw many seals bobbing along (as my son said, "those are either seal heads in the water out there, or some REALLY big coffee cups!!"). Unfortunately, I couldn't get a picture of the coffee cup/seals - they were moving really quickly, and kept diving back under water!

At Coast Guard beach, we didn't see seals or sharks - though Rb looked and looked!!

At Nauset Beach, he didn't any seals or sharks either - just lots of big waves crashing. He said the crashing waves sounded like music, and this inspired him to hop up on a bench and bop out!

Hope everyone's having an awesome weekend - and remember, if the weekend's not bringing you exactly what you're looking for, you can always dance!!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

this week's csa

This week's CSA combines the best of summer and early fall. Tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, summer squash, zucchini, carrots (both orange and purple - though they're cut off in the photo - oops!!), beets, salad turnips, onions, and garlic - all good!

Salad turnips are a tasty treat - we enjoy them sliced thin and added raw in salads, though I know some people prefer to cook them or add them to other dishes. Either way, they're yummy!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

roadside shopping

I love the farmers' markets, but shopping at local farm stands is definitely a fun way to "grocery shop" too. Baskets full of fresh fruits and veggies to choose from - and my son thinks putting the money in the little box is the best part (especially now that he's tall enough to reach on his own!!).

The view from one of the farm stands where we stopped today is definitely more beautiful than the view inside our local grocery store.

And the hay fields we passed by on the way home seemed to be asking to have their photo taken.

Mo-pug is very curious, and loves checking out everything we bring home JUST in case there might be something for a little pug in the pile...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

csa - watermelon!

This week's CSA has watermelon for the first time this year - hooray! We also have beets, lettuce, Swiss chard, carrots, tomatoes, summer squash, peppers, green cabbage, onions, eggplant, and a cucumber. Already last night for dinner we enjoyed a stirfry of summer squash with onions, and a side of sliced tomatoes. Yum! And rumor has it that delicata squash will be making an appearance in the share over the next couple weeks - delicata is my favorite fall squash, and Rb's too. Can't wait!!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

time for apple picking!

The local papers are reporting that this could be one of the best seasons ever for apples in NH. Apparently the rain and cooler than normal temperatures haven't had the same effect on the apples as they have on the tomatoes, potatoes, squash, melons, etc. in our area - which is awesome for both apple growers and apple lovers!

This weekend marks "opening day" for many area orchards. For a list of apple orchards in New Hampshire that offer pick-your-own, click here!

We recently used some apples that we bought from Tecce Farm in Durham to make a tasty apple crisp - thought I'd share the recipe.

Apple Crisp

4 ½ cups peeled, cored, sliced apples
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water
½ cup honey
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ cup brown sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ cup rolled oats
4 tbsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Lightly grease 9” square casserole dish.
3. Evenly spread the apple slices in the prepared dish.
4. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and water, and pour over the apples.
5. Drizzle apples with honey, and sprinkle with cinnamon.
6. In a bowl, mix the brown sugar, oats, flour, and butter until the mixture re8/sembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the apples.
7. Bake 25 minutes, until apples are tender and topping is lightly browned.
8. Enjoy!