I just receive this press release from OEFFA. I am so happy to hear their Thanksgiving CSA was such a hit last year that they are doing it again. From what I remember, they sell out pretty quickly, so hurry up!
It's finally time to start talking about hitting the farmer's markets on a regular basis. This is just a look at the Central Ohio markets I frequent, along with a brief description - as I get more information on start dates, I will update.
If this is your first year as a marketer, or if you are looking for some guidance, you might want to check out my weekly market and CSA reports from last year. I always find it helpful to look back, so that I have an idea what will be available on a weekly basis, just so I can have some sort of menu in mind. Here's also a general list of what's growing when, also for menu planning.
So, I've been trying to convince some farmers at the North Market to bring in ramps for a few weeks now. "No one ever wants them!" The farmer said. "I do!" I said. "I pulled so many of those out of my flower beds - I just threw them away!" was the farmer's response. Fortunately, later that day, the Widowphone rang - my super secret ramp delivery had arrived. $9 a pound. One farmer's weed, one woman's mission. I wait for these all year long, as they are fleeting. Sadly, Husband doesn't like ramps. I have to be stinky all by myself; I hope this is the year we make a convert. Expect some wonderfully aromatic recipes. To read more about ramps, see last year's ramp post.
This morning dawned warm, sunny and beautiful. It seemed wise to get outside as early as possible and enjoy it before I had to go to work. Perhaps for this reason I awoke at 7:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. This gave me a chance to get to the North Market early and enjoy some coffee in the sunshine before I purchased some arugula and mache from Combs herb farm, some "mizspoona," a green similar to mizuna, but with a broader leaf (pictured above) from Toad Hill Organics, and a potted chive plant from Somerset Herbs. I'm going to have to get some planting done soon!
Because it was still early, I decided to check out an event I recommended this week, the CCAD Spring student art sale. I bought some Japanese style ink drawings (India Ink on rice paper) by Sara Richard. I love the juxtaposition of the creepy crawlies painted so delicately:
You can see more works by the artist here. It was interesting to walk around and see all of the students; some are quite prolific and make some great things.
Guess what? There were a few brave souls at the North Market this morning! I bought some great (greenhouse) carrots, spinach and eggs from Just This Farm, and some catnip and radicchio from Combs fresh herbs.
With winter greens this delicious, you need only drizzle them with some very good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. It made the perfect salad to go with my roasted chicken.
Yesterday we talked about planting; today let's talk about having someone else plant for you. I've been getting a few requests for CSA suggestions, and I thought it would be good to discuss choosing a CSA. It might be too late to sign up for some of these, I have not contacted them to see if they are full or not, and some of this information might be out of date; the best thing to do is contact them for yourself.
So, what is a CSA? CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically, you pay a farmer at the beginning of the season, and they grow a variety of foods for you, called a "share." You will be picking up your share weekly, sometimes at a Farmer's Market or a local Co-op. Pictured above is one of my boxes from Elizabeth Telling Farm, taken in mid August last year. If memory serves, I also had tomatoes which came in a separate bag.
What should I expect from my share? Different farmers provide different things. You should discuss this with potential farmers. If the farmer sells at a farmer's market, you can also get a good idea of what they will offer in the CSA by seeing what they sell at the market. Keep in mind, however, that many farmers keep their best products for their CSA subscribers, and may frequently grow things just for their subscribers. This is true of my CSA; you can only get eggs from the farm as a CSA subscriber.
How many will the share feed? This is another thing to discuss with your farmer, and it is very important to consider before paying in to the farm; you don't want things to go to waste. I have found from my experiences and those of my friends that there is rarely too little. There is almost always some amount of waste or sharing with friends. I found halfway through that I had a coworker who would take any of my uneaten salad greens. I like my CSA because it is perfectly geared towards my living situation: adventurous eating small families. There is about the perfect amount of veggies for 2 people who don't cook at home every day. The boxes feature small amounts of various items; some CSAs have loads and loads of things like green beans and kale; suitable for bigger families, or for really dutiful canner/freezer/cook once a monthers. You might want to consider going in with a friend on a share, especially if this is your first year or you are single or have a small family.
Be aware that your share might start out small. If you are unfamiliar with the growing season in Central Ohio, you might be disappointed to find your first few shares; expect a lot of leafy greens and radishes. Once the growing season is well under way, however, there will probably be no shortage of tomatoes, sweet corn, and other veggies.
It's nice to plan ahead. This Central Ohio growing calender is a good tool to use when planning menus, whether based upon your CSA share or the Farmer's Market - or both. You will probably be surprised to find that things like leafy greens last a lot longer when purchased from a farm than the ones you buy at the supermarket, which traveled here from California. Last year I had bags of lettuce which lasted 2 weeks with only the slightest sign of browning.
Here are a few CSAs I am aware of, and any details I could find:
Elizabeth Telling CSA - of which I am a subscriber, designed for smaller families, Sandy knows a lot about vegetables and is particularly fond of greens. She plants continuously and picks greens when very small. Superb eggs, 1/2 dozen every week. Also makes lots of fun things like woodland wreaths and onion garlands, occasionally sells goat's milk soap made by her neighbor and helper. Shares are $350 and go from Memorial Day to Thanksgiving, roughly, and are picked up at the North Market Farmer's Market Saturday mornings. Call 740.484.0243
Green Edge Organic Gardens - organic, relatively new, these shares are picked up at the Bexley Natural Foods Co-op on Tuesdays (508 n. Cassidy Ave) Shares are $475 for 20 weeks or $250 for 10 weeks (every other week) Call Becky Ronde 740.448.4021
Kame Farm - Shares can be picked up at farm or at Worthington Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Shares are $450 for full or $250 half. Call Karen Johnson 419.566.4268.
Paiges' Produce - CSA subscription includes plants and flowers as well as produce. $275 half share or $475 full share. Call Brian Helser 740.477.7291. Shares can be picked up at numerous local farmer's markets - Athens, Clintonville, Lancaster and the Pearl Alley markets.
Sippel Family Farm - Shares are $545, and pick up is either Clintonville Farmer's Market or Worthington Methodist Church. Call Ben or Lisa Sippel 419.946.1394.
For more information about eating locally in Ohio, please visit the Local Harvest website, which contains a wealth of information. If you know of any other CSAs in the Central Ohio area, please e-mail me and I will add it to the list.
The snow is melting, it's a seemingly balmy 45 degrees outside, and walking around outside is a battle between the ice and the 3 inches of gray sludge on top of it. Yes, it is late winter in Central Ohio. Lest we all begin to fear spring and summer will never come, I thought I might prepare this slide show so we might all remember that it's the cold, gray, foggy, sludgey days which make the summer so much more beautiful. Click on the thumnail to see the larger picture; don't forget to look at all three pages. . . Here's to summer! Cheers!
(To get your own cool Flickr sideshow, click the "info" button at the bottom of this post - it's very easy!)
For those of you who are missing your CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) from the summertime, I have just learned of a new Winter share available from Athens County. Green Edge Organic Gardens has a 20 week subscription which will run from now until April and includes all manner of greens as well as root veggies (beets, rutabagas, daikon). Shares are $250 for half or $500 for full and will be picked up Tuesdays at Bexley Natural Market (508 N. Cassidy Ave in Bexley). For more information, please e-mail Green Edge.
The North Market was this week reduced to only a few few vendors - selling mostly apples, apple cider, greens, garlic and potatoes. I swung through long enough to contemplate buying 7 varieties of potato, but dismissed the thought almost as soon as it hit.
My CSA box this week included rutabagas! oh, how I love, love rutabagas - one of the most ignored of the cruciferous veggies. I can't wait to make a little pork chop on roasted rutabagas. And who doesn't love saying roasted rutabagas? Along with the rutabagas were carrots, potatoes, garlic, onions, radishes, greens (a good thing since my crisper froze everything last week), scallions and eggs. I have only 2 weeks left for my box and then my body will still wake up at 7:30 on Saturday mornings and wonder why it isn't getting up and buying produce.
Look! Thanksgiving dinner! Anyone who has ever been in my parents' house and seen the giant picture of me, as a 4-year-old, standing next to a live turkey, knows I have a sordid past with live turkeys (how was I supposed to know not all creatures want me to pet them!?). For that reason, I was a little nervous while sticking my camera lens into the cage to shoot this picture, but I really wanted to feature the extra skin over his beak. I wonder how one would go about finding the real name of that particular body part...Snood! Just looked it up at kidzone.com. Snood! What nice word.
The markets this week were very thin, of course, and it was cold - really cold. There were still a few diehards out there selling squash, apples, gourds, greens and cauliflower. I bought my last box of Toby Run shitake mushrooms for the year, and my last peppers, chiles, sprouts and onions from Dearsmans.
My CSA box this week included eggs, potatoes, bell peppers, arugula, greens, mixed lettuce, cauliflower, bok choy, scallions and bitter greens, which I used to make this yummy bitter green salad. There's nothing like it when eaten with or after a rich meal; I highly recommend it. This was a mix of radicchio and frisee with the bunch of arugula thrown in for good measure. Wash in several changes of water, spin dry, and dress liberally with olive oil, sprinkle over some nice sherry vinegar, cracked black pepper and a good shower of sea salt:
Radish pods - aren't they fun? A strange mix of sweet, watery crispness with a hot radishy bite at the end, good raw in salads or stir fried - I'll let you know what I find to do with them (these came from the Wayward Seed farm).
My CSA box this week included eggs, lettuce mix, mixed mustard and other greens, potatoes, cilantro (which I donated to another, cilantro-loving member), radishes, green tomatoes, and this cute dumpling squash:
And now, a photo montage of my other purchases, most of which came from the Wayward Seed Farm (of course, I also purchased the week's shitake mushrooms from Toby Run, and onions, peppers and Brussels sprouts from Dearsman farms, but you've seen those all a million times before).
Small purple kohlrabi:
Purple scallions and undeveloped cippolini onions:
And a nice bunch of garlic from Just This Farm, who has a new website and is currently accepting orders for turkeys, one of whom I met Saturday at the Farmer's Market. Furthermore, they are selling boxes of many of the ingredients needed for Thanksgiving dinner for $48, so you can have a local Thanksgiving.:
I had a stroke of brilliance a few days ago. Seriously, brilliance. You see, I have, as I'm sure many of you do, a yard full of green tomatoes. Pounds and pounds of them. My cherry tomatoes continue to ripen away as though it were 80 degrees outside, but for the larger tomatoes, well, they are stunted. Anyone who has lived in our climate knows there's no hope for these leftovers. I still have flowers on my tomato vines - the vine thinks it's still warm outside, but the tomatoes, they know better. I have been racking my brain thinking of ways to use all of these greenies. Remember the purple tomatillos from a few weeks ago (weren't they pretty with their little hats)? Well, they were going to go into sweet tomatillo and green tomato gazpacho, but then they froze by accident in the fridge and turned to mush, and anyway, still, I have green tomatoes.
And then it hit me: tempura!!! Of course! The perfect answer to fried green tomatoes! Why don't I ever see that anywhere? Why? I'll tell you why: tempura is not the best medium for fried green tomatoes. What seemed like the aforementioned stroke of brilliance turned out to be okay when fresh and scathingly hot from the wok, but immediately turned into a slightly soggy, sad mess with a molten-hot center. I would never want you, dear readers, to think that I think everything I do is perfectly delicious. Of course, I try to put my better recipes on the website, because what faith would you have in me if nothing every looked good or turned out? My mother cooks these recipes, for the love of crumb cake! I want them to work!
Which is why I will humbly advise you to take my word for it and not try to tempura fry green tomatoes. Would you like me to break it down further? Most people put a nice coating of cornmeal-heavy breading on fried green tomatoes - this ensures a nice barrier in case any of the tomato's insides start to leek through (even though we're using unripe tomatoes here, they are still wet inside). Part of the beauty of tempura batter is its fragile viscosity, which, when prepared correctly, will cling to just about anything, even a dry piece of broccoli. I just isn't suited to the threat of damp. It's delicate, whereas cornmeal is hearty. Therefore, I offer you last year's Fried Green tomato recipe, which is still good, after all this time.
I can attest to the fact that the following items, all purchased this week from the farmer's market, are delicious when tempura fried: onion rings, broccoli, cauliflower, salsify (I totally stole that idea from the menu at the Refectory - must give credit where credit is due), hot chiles, red bell peppers, and, of course, leftover bits of nothing but the batter itself, skimmed from the surface of the oil. To read more in depth about tempura frying, please see my earlier article on Squash Blossom Tempura - the basic method is the same. If you have loved ones who are finicky about getting in their veggies, tempura is a great trick! I served this up with a "tartar" sauce of equal parts Kewpie mayo and my hot sweet pepper relish purcahsed from Wishwell farms (that advice is right on the jar, and it's good advice!); of course, equal parts mayo and whole grain mustard with a dash of Tabasco works well, too, as does a simple good sprinkling of salt. After all of this fried goodness, you will probably need a nice bitter salad, so plan accordingly when you're out shopping.
It's getting cold here, folks. Saturday morning marked the inaugural wearing of corduroy for this frumpy foodie (I'm a generation Xer: I have always had, and will always have, an affinity for corduroy; although my flannel fixation pretty much died with Kurt Cobain). The markets were thin this week, both in the farmers and the crowds, and they were both filled with pumpkins, gourds, apples & apple cider, and decorative ears of corn. I toyed with the idea of making a cold storage area in the old boiler room in my basement (what I like to affectionately refer to as my "wine cellar," although we're lucky to have 25 bottles at any given time), but I haven't done it, and I'm not sure if I will - somehow I don't picture myself lugging 100 pounds of squash onions home just to test out my storage ability, but who knows.
We are in that fleeting time of year when all of the greens and root vegetables, because of the chill in the air, are remarkably sweet and delicious. Not to mention lovely to gaze upon. Witness this radish:
My CSA box this week included radishes (pictured above), baby greens, lettuce mix, tiny heads of red cabbage, bok choy, eggs, scallions, mixed gourds, garlic, and a pumpkin! I still have four weeks of my CSA left and only now am I finally to the point where I am putting everything to good use, even if it all goes into the pasta bowl (I did another one of those today, but I'll spare you another garbage-bowl pasta redux). I am planning to subscribe to the Elizabeth Telling CSA again next year, and I would recommend it to those of you who have been a little disappointed by the lack of variety in some other CSAs. Not that I am knocking any other farmers, of course, but I think Elizabeth Telling is perfect for adventurous but small families - there won't be pounds and pounds of beans or anything, just about enough to feed one or two people, but there's always a nice variety. Enough preaching. On with the slim pickins of the rest of the market (pictured below is my lovely gourd selection):
From Wayward Seed farm at the North Market I bought a little more salsify, since I know I probably won't be seeing it again until this time next year. It's actually quite tasty raw. Husband cooked it into beef stew last week and I didn't document it, but I will try to cook some up this week to give an idea of how to use it. I also bought these lovely, fat little carrots whose name I've forgotten. They look like little tops. We discussed the sweetness of carrots due to the cold, and I have been very happy with my carrot purchases from numerous farmers over the past few weeks, so I'll note it for next year: carrots are best in late September through October. I might even have a little carrot-salsify saute for dinner, who knows.
That was about all for the markets. I swung through the Worthington market with the express purpose of picking up my weekly dose of Honeycrisps - another thing to get better with the cold are these sweet and juicy apples - one a day keeps me a healthy girl! I also stopped by Wishwell farms for a jar of their great hot sweet pepper relish and a few pounds of redskin potatoes, now that Arbor Hill Organics has packed it up for the season. It's hard to believe that something like a potato could taste so differently when purchased from a farmer, but this past week Husband bought a bag of potatoes from a (reputable) grocery store and we both agreed they tasted strangely like dirt, and not in a good way. I am going to miss the pounds of wonderful potatoes I've purchase all year from my farmers. Maybe I should think about that cold storage area after all . . .
Sometimes on Friday afternoons, there's a little bit of panic when I realize how much produce I have left in the fridge and the next day is market day. It seems no matter how little I try to purchase, I always end up buying more than we can eat; especially if I well-meaningly planned meals while shopping at the market and then ended up eating out every other day. It was no surprise to find myself standing in front of the fridge Friday, pulling out everything I could think of which would go nicely together. It turned out quite tasty, and it's another example of using one basic recipe - pasta with butter or olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper - and adding to it as desired. That's why I love pasta so much; it's a blank slate. You can make it with nothing or pile things in and, as long as you cook your pasta properly, it's almost always good. If you wanted to get in an extra bit of fiber, you could use whole wheat spaghetti without very much noticeable difference.
You can, of course, add or remove ingredients as suits your fancy. For me, I was using everything from last Saturday's CSA box; it just so happened that everything fit together nicely. I felt I was using such healthy ingredients that the good dose of butter, cream and Parmesan cheese was okay. If you wanted to make this healthier, it's a cinch: substitute whole wheat pasta, leave out the butter and cream but add good, extra virgin olive oil (a good drizzle after the pasta is in the bowl); finely grated Parmesan can be used to good effect with under an ounce, so I leave it on even if I'm trying to watch the calories.
I do recommend adding the greens - they are a great and sneaky way to get some extra nutrition. I was writing an article on greens this week and was amazed to discover how good they are for you. As I interviewed Sandy Sterrett of Elizabeth Telling, my CSA farmer, I learned she likes to pick the greens young, tender and delicious. Just look at the picture below - can you believe how beautiful they are? This is an assortment of Swiss chard, arugula, a few different varieties of mustard greens, and several other varieties I've completely forgotten. You can buy greens now at the farmer's market; in the winter, they might be more difficult to come by, but you can almost always find kale, collards, arugula and mustard greens in the grocery store. They aren't going to look like this, of course, but they'll still be good for you. If you are using older greens, I'd recommend chopping them very finely to ensure they cook evenly.
This is just personal opinion, but I like to cut all of my vegetables and put them in bowls or separated on a plate, and then cut the chicken last, even though I don't put it in last. This is just so that I don't have to find a new cutting board and knife after cutting chicken. Husband and I had (non-spinach related) food poisoning a few weeks ago and I can tell you, it's no fun. So wash those chickeny hands and don't contaminate!
Friday Lunch Pasta - serves 2
6 ounces whole wheat or regular spaghetti, cooked according to package directions and set aside
1 small onion, cut into half moons - or an assortment of sweet and other small onions, from CSA box, as I used
3 small shallots, cut into slivers
2 sweet red bell peppers - I used nice sweet Italian peppers from last week's market - cut into small dice and divided
1 large chicken breast, cut into 1/2" chunks and seasoned liberally with salt and pepper
4 Tbsp butter
4 cloves garlic, shaved very thinly or minced
red pepper flakes
1/2 head broccoli, cut into very small florets
4 ounces shitake mushrooms, stemmed and cut into slivers, or other mushrooms
1 large bunch assorted greens, picked over, chopped if big tough, and washed in several changes of water
1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
20 grates of Parmesan cheese - maybe an ounce or so, plus more for garnish (about 1/2 cup freshly grated)
salt and freshly cracked pepper
good, extra virgin olive oil, optional
Place a large saute pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Add the onions, shallot, and half of the bell pepper (this is totally optional - I cooked half of the bell pepper down with the onions for taste and then added the other half later for texture) and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes.
Add the chicken and stir until it is cooked on both sides (it might not be cooked through yet, but it will be by the time you're finished), and then scoot everything to the top half of the pan. Tilt the pan a little and add the butter; lower the heat a little, to medium-low, and add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook until the garlic is soft, about 4 minutes (if the garlic is minced, only about 2 minutes), and then stir everything together; this is ensure the garlic is cooked without burning and the pepper flakes are soft. Add the broccoli and cook until it begins to soften, a minute or so (this is why we cut it small), and then add the mushrooms and the remaining red bell peppers, stirring and tossing to make sure they get a nice bit of buttery goodness on.
Add the greens. At this point, season everything liberally with salt. Add the cream and turn the heat up; add the Parmesan cheese a little at a time, stirring to melt it into the cream as you go. Stir everything together; the cream should coat everything with a little extra (to coat the pasta), everything should be cooked through but not mushy, and the greens should have wilted completely.
The morning started out cool - I spent the 10 minutes before leaving the house searching in vain for a scarf - but it ended up being quite a lovely day. I got to Worthington by 8:30 and there was not a crowd to be seen; it was a little sad, no one was enjoying breakfast on the patio of La Chatelaine, I had to begin to ask the farmers how much longer they thought they would be coming to market; the season is coming to a close. Just for the record, the Worthington Market will continue until October 28th; many of the farmers I spoke with intended to stay until the end as long as the weather was nice. The North Market may continue another week longer, with several farmers I spoke with remaining only a few more weeks; for a few farmers, this past week was it.
That isn't to say there was nothing to buy! The nice thing about things which grow this time of year is they tend to last awhile - hardy squash, garlic and onions, potatoes - it's time to think about stocking up for the winter. At Garden Patch Produce, I bought a few staples - onions, lots and lots of garlic, and some nice Italian sweet peppers (in our house, this means pasta for lunch every day):
I could hardly pass up the display of cauliflower (pictured at the top of the post) at Wishwell Farms, they were beautiful. They also supplied some nice redskin potatoes:
I stopped by Zemnicki for some apple cider (the very taste of Fall), broccoli and leeks; they also had lovely tiny little cauliflower heads but a girl can only eat so much in a week. I bought a quart of the fleeting and delicious Fall season strawberries from Crum's Strawberry farm. They are unbelievably sweet and tiny:
My CSA box this week contained carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, eggs, red bell peppers, lettuces, and greens (mustard/Swiss chard mix); I also bought a few more of those lovely carnival squash and some scallions.
I stopped by Toby Run Growers to have one of my last boxes of shitake mushrooms for the winter, and breezed through Dearsman farms for some more Brussels Sprouts - and yes, they were selling them either on the stalk or in a box, $2.50 either way. There's still time to convince yourself they're delicious!
I have so many things on the slate to cook this week I don't know how we'll find the time to enjoy everything! I still have a few things from last week I haven't told you about, and I am in the process of reviewing a great Columbus restaurant (last week it was great, we'll see how it goes tomorrow night); I have new beer to tell you about, and we're about to get back into baking season!
Get out there and enjoy the fall color!
This lovely little squash is the squash which has greeted you for a few weeks when you visit my website. I received him in my CSA basket a few weeks ago, and placed him on the counter as a decoration. Fortunately for me, a kind reader and CSA helper wrote to inform me that I should actually be eating, and not merely admiring what I thought was a little pumpkin. I'm so glad she did. This might be the most delicious squash I have ever eaten; my only regret is I have only one left, and who knows if they will still be available at the market on Saturday? This squash, which, after a little research, I have identified as a Carnival Squash, is absolutely divine with nothing on it - I promise. Of course, to celebrate the season, I thought a smattering of pumpkin seeds and the like wouldn't hurt. And who wouldn't be delighted to be served this little guy as a starter, perhaps filled with soup or served alongside some nice pork? or duck, rabbit or chicken? As the farmer who grew it said, "it's just the perfect size for one, and it bakes right up in the oven." True words, I tell you. And now for the recipe - this would work with any sort of squash, of course, and you don't have to use pumpkinseed oil, although if you can find it, I think you'll discover it adds the warmth of autumnal memories to anything, especially anything containing squash anord pumpkin (which are the same thing, those of you from the land down under and elsewhere). Pumpkinseed oil is meant as a flavoring agent, and should not be used for cooking; add it just prior to serving, wherever you plan to use it. Pumpkin seeds are a natural pairing with squash of all sorts and add a nice crunch to the sometimes baby-food soft texture.
Carnival Squash with Pumpkin Seeds, etc - serves one, especially nice when it is cold, raining, and hailing golf balls outside, as it was last night, when I was eating it.
1 small squash such as carnival, dumpling, kobacha, delicata, or butternut (which will, of course, be bigger.)
1 tbsp really good butter
1/2 tbsp golden syrup (or brown sugar)
pinch good cinnamon
tiny pinch salt
1/8 tsp, or just few drops pumpkinseed oil
1 drop vanilla extract - just a tiny, tiny bit from a toothpick
1 tbsp roasted, salted pumpkinseeds
This is my method for cooking any kind of squash - preheat oven to 350 degrees. Depending on your type of squash, cut either lengthwise (for delicate, butternut, or any long squash) or horizontally (for dumpling, acorn, carnival, etc) and scoop out the seeds and pulp. Place in a shallow baking dish (such as a cake pan), cut side down, and fill with about 1/2" water (one fingertip length or so). Bake for 20 minutes, and then check on it; some squash take up to 40 minutes - this carnival squash did, but the same method used for sweet dumpling took only 25 minutes.
While the squash is baking, melt the butter, salt, cinnamon and golden syrup or brown sugar over low heat in a small sauce pan (or in the microwave). Remove the squash from the oven, carefully place it in a bowl and place the butter mixture in the cavity, then add the pumpkinseed oil and vanilla. Sprinkle with pumpkinseeds and enjoy. Of course, you can skip the melting part and just put all of the ingredients inside the squash cavity, cover it up and wait for it to melt on its own. This makes it an almost effortless dish.
Did you know? 1 cup of squash provides over 200% of your daily vitamin A, over 30% Vitamin C, and 37% of your daily potassium? (source)
1 ounce of pumpkinseeds provides 23% of your daily iron along with 9 grams of protein, 22% of Vitamin K, and is a great source of other minerals. (source) This is why some foods, although high in fat, should still be consumed - such as nuts, olive oil, and avocados.
This was my first attempt at baked beans, and I was rather pleased with the results; they seemed the perfect thing to serve on a chilly Autumn day alongside pork chops. I made up my own recipe, following some vague advice from the sous chef at the restaurant where I work, which included "use lots of bourbon and molasses," which I certainly did. You might want to try smaller amounts of some of these ingredients (bourbon, ketchup, molasses), as I started with smaller amounts and then added as I saw fit, keeping track of my amounts as I went along. This recipe is the finished product.
It is nearly impossible to find fresh beans, but you should use them if you can - you might have to really search the farmer's markets. Here in Columbus, fresh beans of numerous varieties are easiest to find at Dearsman Farms at the North Market. You could substitute black eyed peas, cranberry beans, or any slow-cooking bean variety. Of course, canned beans work well, and you can always used dried, but with my patience level (low), I always get frustrated waiting from the to cook.
My new favorite way to cook beans is in the rice cooker. I just add the beans and lots of water and let it boil away, largely ignoring it except to check the water level every hour or so, as beans absorb a lot of water. For these fresh kidney beans, cooking time was about 2 hours or just slightly more. I would imagine dried beans, soaked overnight, would take upwards of 3-4 hours to cook. Canned beans, of course, can simply be drained and added directly to the pot.
Baked Beans - serves 6ish
4 cans kidney, cannelloni, or other nice bean, or 4 cups fresh kidney beans or other, or 3 cups dried beans
1 pound pork belly (fresh, uncured bacon), shoulder, regular slab bacon (either really thick cut or uncut*), or other relatively fatty cut of pork, chopped into small pieces
1 large onion, any kind, cut into medium dice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups bourbon (grocery store brand is fine)
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup golden syrup (optional, if not using, bump molasses and brown sugar up by 2 tbsp)
1 cup chicken, beef or vegetable broth
1/4 cup vinegar (any type is fine)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard or mustard powder
crushed red pepper flake
salt and pepper
If you are using dried beans, soak them overnight and then boil until tender, 3-4 hours; for fresh beans, boil 2-3 hours, then drain and set aside. For canned beans, simply read on.
In a large Dutch oven (at least 8 quarts), heat a tbsp of oil over medium-medium high heat. Brown the bacon or pork pieces well on each side, about 4 minutes per side, depending on side. Remove from the pot and set aside. Add your onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, stirring well. Be careful that your garlic does not burn. Add the bourbon - step away from the pan or you will get a face full of bourbon fumes! Look at your pork bits; if they are really fatty still, cut off anything you wouldn't want to eat. You can keep the fatty bits, chop them very finely, and use to make Brussels sprouts if you wish, or feed them to the dog, or throw away. Put pork back into pan; add the ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, golden syrup, broth, vinegar and mustard. Stir to combine. Add the beans. Add about 1 tbsp red pepper flakes, or less if you prefer, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Allow to cook - uncovered - for about 1 hour, stirring frequently, until the sauce has reduced to a delicious thick coating on the beans. Taste after about 1/2 hour the check the seasoning. You might find you need a little more vinegar, brown sugar, or molasses. Adjust as necessary and continue cooking, tasting every 15 minutes or so. Remember your flavors are going to concentrate as the mixture cooks down, so use a restrained hand when cooking.
Remove from heat and serve to hungry Husband or other happy recipient. Keeps in fridge for several days and gets better with reheating. If you want to feel healthy next day for lunch, pair with some brown rice - a good way to get in your daily fiber!
*Blues Creek Farm in the North Market, one of my favorite meat purveyors, sells chunks of bacon ends which can't be sliced into neat little strips. These are perfect for this sort of thing, or for making greens; they are less expensive than the prettier bacon but just as wonderful. Blues Creek has hands down the best tasting bacon I have tried in Columbus.
The beans, onions and garlic were all provided by local vendors at the North Market Farmer's Market. Really good stock can be purchased from North Market Poultry and Game - both beef and chicken. It might seem expensive, but it is concentrated and can be watered down to make broth by mixing with equal parts warm water; freeze anything remaining, and do not keep in fridge longer than about 5 days.
It is cold here in Central Ohio! Okay, that might be exaggerating a wee bit, but I have the window open in my office and it is currently 63 degrees. I would close the window and warm up, but there are kitties looking out over the traffic, so I'll just add another layer. . . we are scheduled for light patchy frost this evening.
The chill in the air has finally got me thinking about the Autumn and Winter, and the hearty dishes we can enjoy during those months. Although this dish is inspired by Mediterranean ingredients, I always think of lentils as an Autumn food, especially when blended with sausage - or one of our favorites, with curried apples. French green lentils might be a little hard to find at first, but resist the urge to buy them at Whole Foods or another gourmet store where they will be highly overpriced. They can be found for a fraction at Indian or Mediterranean groceries, such as Patel Brothers (Kenny Square shopping center, corner of Kenny and Old Henderson and the Northwest side) or at Mediterranean imports, a new favorite of mine, (which is at the corner of Ackerman and High street in Clintonville, next to Houndog Pizza and the late great Turkish Cuisine, a few blocks north of Hudson).
This dish is lightly spiced with paprika and garlic, and you could certainly add some chile flake or something to make it a little spicier, but I liked sticking with the hearty, earthy flavors inherent in lamb and lentils, as well as the typical spices found in chorizo (namely paprika).
Lentils with Lamb Chorizo and Feta - serves 2-4, depending on hunger of Husband
1 cup French green lentils, picked over for rocks, sticks, or other non-nutritive matter
2 lamb chorizo style sausages (note on source below); or other Mediterranean lamb sausage, or pork chorizo
1/2 large red onion, chopped into medium dice
1 red bell pepper, chopped into medium dice
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp balsamic or sherry vinegar
1 tsp smoked paprika (if you haven't used your in awhile, go out and buy some fresh - you'll probably wonder why you've overlooked it for so long)
freshly cracked black pepper
good extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces good feta - choose French for a mild flavor, or Greek for a tangier flavor - this is another product I like to buy by the pound at Mediterranean Imports in Clintonville; they have about 7 different varieties
Simmer the lentils in stock or water for 30-45 minutes, until they are soft. The nice thing about French green lentils is they hold their shape nicely after being cooked. Drain the lentils and set aside.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a little olive oil. Remove the sausage from the casing and crumble (if you are using a pre-cooked sausage, chop the sausage, with the casing, into a medium dice) it into the pan, browning thoroughly until cooked through, then add the onions and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the red peppers and the garlic and cook for minute or so, and then add the red wine, vinegar and the stock. Add the lentils to the pan and stir everything together. Add the paprika, a few pinches of salt, and about 10 grinds of pepper. Taste to check seasoning. Turn the heat up to high and simmer to reduce the wine and stock. You should end up with a nice ragout of lentils with very little extra liquid. Taste seasoning and adjust as needed. Place lentils in bowls and drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil and crumble over an ounce of feta.
A note on sources: I bought this fantastic lamb chorizo from Northridge Organics at the Worthington Farmer's Market; I'm not sure where you could find something similar, but another lamb sausage would work fine. Just for the record, the onions, peppers, and garlic all came from this week's farmer's market as well.