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Jan 25 11

Checking In: Excuses & Apologies

by Willow

Months have gone by.  MONTHS. Yikes.  I’m really not to sure how it happened that I was so good, blogging regularly…  And then…  Just so, well, BAD.

It’s not that I stopped eating, certainly not — and I definitely didn’t stop cooking.  Au contraire!  It’s been a fall & winter full of vegetable wellingtons and adzuki bean stews and sweet potato fries and spiced quinoa and and and…  Really, I’ve been cooking up a storm!

But there are other things out there keeping me from blogging.  Big life changes.  Decisions to be discussed and plans to be made.  Photographing my food seemed to fall by the wayside when faced with bigger things.  Things like the Husband quitting his job.  Things like putting together a five week vacation in southeast Asia.  Things like planning a move cross country.  Yes, you heard right.  We’re up and moving, most likely to northern California.  But in the meantime, we’re taking some (well deserved) time off, traveling and sleeping late and exploring.  And, of course, eating!

I will not be forgetting about this blog, although I probably won’t be cooking too much over the next few months, given our travel plans.  But I will keep in touch, maybe showing you all some of the wonderful eats I’m discovering in Laos and Cambodia.

And once we’re settled somewhere new, I’ll be back in full force, promise!  I want to use this move, and the restarting of my business somewhere new, to really focus on nutrition and cooking.  I can’t wait to discover a new place, with new markets and new farmers and new foodies to befriend.  And the opportunity to focus my next career phase on just what this blog is called: Making Food Simple.  Teaching people that it’s really not so complex, despite what the news headlines and scientific journals and magazine covers tell us.  We can feed ourselves real, whole food.  And it can be done simply.

So I’ll be back.  Don’t forget about me in the meantime!

Oct 31 10

Winter And The Locavore

by Willow

Here in New England, the harvest season is pretty much winding down – which, as you know, makes me very very sad.  🙁  I’m busy stocking up on squashes, apples & sweet potatoes to store, and have spent the entire summer freezing any and all extra veggies and fruit so that we can have the tastes of the summer through the long, dark winter.

But wait!  Before I allow myself to collapse too deeply into the winter doldrums, I am reminded that there ARE opportunities for fresh food throughout the non-growing months, even here in Boston! For more details, check out my blog posting over at Slow Food Boston.  But for a quick overview, keep reading below.

First off, many of our farmers markets now continue through Thanksgiving, and three (that I know of) will be running January through March.  Hurrah!  For now, farmers continue to harvest carrots, beets, turnips, and potatoes as well as grow lettuces in the greenhouses.  Apples and squashes are being stored and brought along to sell  as well.  Add to this baked goods, frozen meats and fish and we’re in pretty good shape!

Winter CSAs are also widespread this year — everything from the basic storage-able crops to one farm that sources from up & down the East Coast, garnering you a few lovely grapefruits during the Florida citrus harvest.  More than likely, there’s one that will fit your eating habits.  Finding winter CSA info online can be a little hit or miss because many farms are doing it last minute, recognizing that their harvest has been abundant, and the need and desire from the consumers are there.  But do check out Local Harvest – I think it’s the best and most up to date resource out there.

There are also a couple of delivery systems being set up to bring the city-dwellers farm fresh food: Farmers To You is a new company buying and delivering foodstuffs from Vermont farms to the Cambridge area.  And the Stillmans Farm ‘Meat Meets’ will continue to happen again this year.  More info on them can be found through JJ Gonson at Cuisine en Locale.

So don’t despair — eat up instead!  There are ways to stay true to the mantra of eating whole, real, local food year round.  Sometimes it just takes a little research….

Oct 26 10

Beans!

by Willow

I had the great pleasure of attending the Chefs Collaborative National Summit a few weeks ago, and one of my favorite presentations included Steve Sando (of the renowned Rancho Gordo), Mike Holleman from Indian Harvest, farmer Matt Linehan and chef Peter Davis of Henrietta’s Table.  The focus was on the growing, selling and cooking of heirloom bean varieties.  I LOVE beans (have you noticed??) and am prepping for a class I’ll be offering on why and how we should be eating more of them, so it was great timing.

I’m also happy to support the growing, marketing and consuming of any heirlooms: just like with veggies, seeking them out is a way to discover amazing flavors and textures that you had never imagined before.  The way it stands now, our modern food  system favors only those varieties that are quick & simple to grow, easy to ship and uniform looking – but there is light at the end of the tunnel!  It started with American’s discovery that an heirloom tomato tastes HUGELY different (better!) than your perfect-looking, cottony-tasting red globe from the grocery store – and now it’s beginning to expand to things like apples, squash, lettuce and even peppers!  I love that people are starting to be willing to branch out – and it can only get better from here as more farmers realize that people want more diversity and so are more willing to branch out themselves.  Rah! Rah! Go Team! (Use your imagination: me with pom-poms, jumping around my living room! :-))

Anyway, off my soapbox and back to the beans.  I walked away from the session psyched to cook even more with beans and with the supplies to do so:  Indian Harvest gave us each packages of an Heirloom Bean Blend and even COOLER, some Black Garbanzo Beans!

I cooked up the bean blend first, which was a combination of Peruanos, Cranberries, Butterscotch Calypsos, Chestnut Limas and Jacobs Cattles.  Since they all were beautiful and different, I probably should have done a simple bean salad or bruschetta topping or something so that they could all stand out, but….  I didn’t!  It’s been darn cold here in Boston and I wanted something thick and smooth and warming.  Hence this lovely stewlike creature pictured above!

I soaked the beans overnight and then rinsed and cooked them with about 5 cups water for about 40 minutes.  I then sauteed onions and garlic (lots!!) till they were soft & translucent and threw in a huge bunch of chopped Rainbow Chard leaves and stems on the high heat to sear them.  I then turned the heat down, adding in a cup of  reserved cooking liquid from the beans and brought it all to a simmer.  In went some cumin and chili powder, some salt and pepper.  And last, in went the beans.  I let this bubble away until it got nice and creamy.  Served it up with toasted tortillas to clean the bowls.  If I was to repeat this again, I would probably use a more neutral green, like kale or spinach.  The chard was pretty strong and overwhelmed the beans, which all had such neat tastes & textures themselves.  It made me a little sad to not get those tastes in the final dish.  🙁  Oh well, next time!

Oh, and those Black Garbanzos?  I’ll be back later in the week with that post – I’ve got a little something up my sleeve…

Oct 23 10

My Last Foray to JP

by Willow

Due to other pressing matters, this week was my last one that I can afford the time to bike out to the JP farmers market to visit with Glenn and Curtis and pick up veggies.  But I made the most of it!  We chatted about life and the oncoming winter, and I loaded up the box on the back of my trusty bicycle.

  • Bunch Rainbow Swiss Chard
  • Butternut Squash
  • Bunch Carrots
  • Sweet Potato
  • 3 Apples (2 Green Delicious, 1 Ida Red)
  • Head Yellow Cauliflower

I also bought a couple of leeks and a bunch of kale (can’t help myself – love the stuff!) which aren’t pictured.

So here’s the end of the Summer 2010 Stillman’s Farm CSA.  From here on out, I will continue to document my weekly farmers market purchases and work at becoming more exact in my posts on how I use things up.  Soon we will be to the point of relying heavily on what I have frozen from the summer’s bounty.  Sweet corn, anyone??

Today is cold.  Winter is coming.  Time for hunkering down, time for soup and thick, warming dishes.  And I promise I have a few things up my sleeve that will fulfill all those needs.

Is there anything in particular you’d like to see me focus on?  Any recipes or ingredients you’d like some help with?  Let me know and I’ll try my best!