Margo’s Post: A Food Resolution

January is a beautiful month for fresh starts. Many individuals decide to make New Year resolutions, especially around food. And I’m no different. However, this year the main objective isn’t based on looking a different way, but feeling a different way. 2019 for me is the year of nourishment – of sharing delicious homemade meals with friends, not restricting fun foods, and being in the present to savor the flavors of locally grown and produced foods. Using ingredients that were taken care by the farmers I have gotten to know better over the last eight months to me adds an extra level of enjoyment to cooking and tasting. Food is such a social vehicle, and to add an additional element of community provides me with such joy. So here is to a year of taking in beautiful local food, the community that local food creates, and the memories created and shared over this abundance.

Included below is one of the first recipes I made in 2019 and ate with a few of my best friends. It is a flavor explosion in the best way possible – sweet, savory, salty, and with slight heat. Warning – it’s hard to stop eating them once you start! Best enjoyed with loved ones 🙂

http://thefirstmess.com/2015/04/02/vegan-curry-garlic-sweet-potato-fries-miso-gravy-recipe/#more-5766

Befriending Fennel

Confession: I don’t like fennel. I have never really used fennel and I think I don’t like it.

Last week, we received one small fennel bulb with stalks and fronds. I promptly did with it the only thing I know how to do with fennel, I dispatched it to the freezer to be used in a future fish stock. My favorite fish stock, found here, uses a single bulb of fennel and bulbs used in those stocks remain the only time I have ever used or eaten this locally grown item.

This week, my fennel problem multiplied to two larger plants. Wuh Oh. Game on, fennel.

So, I took to the couch for “research and development” – meaning I combed all my favorite local-foods inspired cookbooks in a big stack. Then, I got to work. First, I separated the plant into three parts, bulb, stalks and fronds. The bulbs went into a produce bag in the fridge. The stalks became more fodder for stock and I separated the fronds, wrapping them in a moist towel inside another bag in the fridge.

Next I chose two promising looking recipes: fennel frond pesto and sauteed fennel and onions. Both come from the CSA Cookbook. Today was “Fennel Frond Pesto” day and my adapted recipe is below.

Fennel fronds smell like licorice and are, honestly, pretty tedious to remove. As a size reference, the two bulbs were fairly small and even still the fronds amounted to about 4 packed cups, twice what I needed.

Fennel Frond Pesto

  • 2c packed fennel fronds
  • 1-2tbs chopped ginger
  • 1/3c olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • juice and zest from 1 full lemon
  • 1/3c raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • ground pepper to taste

Above is my amended recipe- going by the book’s recipe, my pesto was very dense and lacked a bit of ‘zing’ – it looked and tasted a little like something the lawnmower spit out. I added more olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. There is also no cheese in this recipe. It’s still fairly dense as is, but I would consider adding some grated cheese.

And the final verdict? Not bad! Certainly, there was no heavy licorice flavor like I anticipated. Next up? Sauteed fennel bulbs with onions!

August is NH Eat Local Month!

Throughout the month of August, Seacoast Eat Local joins with 70+ partners throughout the state to highlight New Hampshire Eat Local Month — a month-long celebration of local food and New Hampshire farmers and producers.

“New Hampshire residents and visitors, alike, are showing unprecedented interest in local food, and this month-long celebration offers a great opportunity to feature New Hampshire grown foods and farms,” said Gail McWilliam Jellie from the New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food.

As part of the NH Eat Local Month festivities, we invite all Seacoast Residents to visit a local farmers market and to consider donating fresh market produce to Seacoast pantries through the NH Gleans Program. Seacoast Eat Local assists with gleaning at markets and donations of fresh produce may be submitted at the Seacoast eat Local table of any one of our seven participating summer farmers’ markets  NH Eat Local Month also coincides with National Farmers’ Market Week, honoring farmers’ markets all across America.

“August is an excellent month to celebrate and introduce people to the bounty of locally grown foods in our state. Eating locally strengthens the health of our community, culture, economy and environment. Many may be surprised at the array and quality available only minutes from their own homes. We hope all Seacoast families will take the opportunity to support and get to know a local farm through shopping at a farm stand or farmers’ market location during this time. We also hope to spread awareness that these opportunities are open to all New Hampshire families, regardless of income, with thanks to our SNAP/EBT acceptance programs at local farmers’ markets.” said Jillian Hall, Director of Programs for Seacoast Eat Local.

New Hampshire Eat Local Month is a statewide celebration of farmers and local food producers throughout the month of August. Promotion of this year’s NH Eat Local Month is in collaboration with the Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food, Monadnock Buy Local and Seacoast Eat Local.  Find more information at www.nheatlocal.org and www.facebook.com/nheatlocal.

Seacoast Eat Local connects people with sources of locally grown foods and advocates eating locally for the health of our environment, community, culture and economy. Through advocacy, organizing and education, we work toward a sustainable local food system that meets the needs of both producers and consumers. Our work includes operating a SNAP/EBT Farmers’ Market Program, organizing winter farmers’ markets, producing a local food guide, Seacoast Harvest, sponsoring workshops and events, and providing information through our email newsletter, blog and website, www.seacoasteatlocal.org

Double the Dough!

Seacoast Eat Local is announcing an exciting opportunity– the first like it in our history!

This year, donations made to Seacoast Eat Local will be matched 2:1, until we meet a fundraising goal of $5,000. That means that every gift in support of local farms and foods will be doubled, thanks to a generous gift from the You Have Our Trust Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

This extraordinary opportunity could not come at a better time, in the final weeksof our summer fundraising campaign before the end of the fiscal year June 30. We are calling these remaining 10 days the “Double the Dough” campaign and we hope you’ll join us!

Gifts to Seacoast Eat Local further our mission of advocating eating locally for the health of our economy, community, culture and environment. Support of our major programs increases market opportunities for local farms and access to fresh local foods by our friends and neighbors.

All donations are 100% tax deductible – and they’ve never counted more! Make your gift securely online today, or mail a check to:

Seacoast Eat Local, 2 Washington St. Ste 331, Dover, NH 03820

Farming is Determination

The physical change is incredible. The last time I visited Carla, I was working as a 4-H Agent and her two children, then in their early teens, were involved in my

programming. They lived in a thickly wooded property in Barrington down a dirt road and Carla tended a garden just large enough for her family. Four or five years later, their road is still unpaved, but they’ve cleared nearly an acre of their property. Just a short walk beyond the driveway, in what used to be a stand of tall pines, sits a neatly tended and fenced quarter acre plot of rows planted in spring greens. Welcome to Determination Farm.

“It’s a blank canvas, really” Carla explain to me as she surveys the rest of the yard, across to the back of the house where another, smaller and older plot sits. I can tell she is seeing the next five and ten years unfold. There are blackberry and raspberry bushes in that vision, more blueberries, better space for potatoes. Her soil is better in that vision, too. Currently, she works row by row to slowly replace the sandy soil with nutrient-dense materials. “Cover cropping about 30% of my rows this winter is my goal. I try to take on just a little and improve bit by bit.”

In a corner of her fenced plot is a small greenhouse, about 15 feet long. The frame was borrowed from an old carport and her husband, Marc, dedicated some of his time to transform it into a greenhouse. Inside are plugs of a variety of different greens, growing forests of tomato plants and some of the tastiest mustard greens I have had in some time. Carla gets very excited about the lettuce, sharing with me the different varieties and the joy she has in each step of the lettuce’s life from seed to transplanting, cutting and later bagging for market sales and for her CSA customers. “The lettuce is what I really like growing and I see myself really concentrating on the customers who love their salads.”

 

It’s a new act in life for Carla. She grew up in the South (Missouri) and moved north, studying psychology before becoming a caseworker. She later married her husband, had two children and homeschooled them through high school. With her children in early adulthood, Carla was ready for a new phase in life. Determination Farms is just two years old and in its fledgling stage. Wisely, she has started very small with only a handful of CSA customers. She knows exactly how many CSA shares she needs to break even and what her limit is, should she reach it. She has some tentative plans to sell extra greens to try to maximize her sales potential. She knows a lot of her investments may not repay themselves for years (if ever), but she has plans to keep growing, little by little.

Determination Farm is still accepting CSA members for the 2018 CSA season. For more information about the farm and its CSA program, visit their website.

 

Enjoying Native Scallops

I made my first scallop order from New England Fishmongers several months ago at the start of the scallop season. It was a bit of an experiment. My spouse scoffed a little.. “they’re expensive… I’m not sure I like them..,” but I persevered. I remembered this same conversation about our fish share last summer and by June “Fish Night Tuesday” was our favorite dinner of the week and a certain someone became a local fish connoisseur. After a delicious chili-lime scallop dish earlier this week (see below!), someone was quickly changing his tune and wondering whether we could order more scallops. He’ll learn! Scallop season in New England is quickly coming to a close, but I was able to sneak in one last order from New England Fishmongers, who have been busily harvesting and delivering native scallops for the last several months. The season starts around holiday time and is looking to wrap up in the next week or so.

And, just to be fair… my spouse is an excellent cook who has taught me a thing or two in the kitchen as well. Something is always on the stove in our house and we like to believe it’s the focal point for a loving exchange of ideas, and recipes.

Bay/Sea, Dry/Wet… What’s it all about?

New England Fishmongers harvests day-boat sea scallops. This means that the scallops were harvested relatively close to shore from a small fishing vessel. Sea scallops, as the name suggests, are harvested in open sea waters and not in closed bays. They are typically categorized by size or how many scallops/”units” fit in a pound. Bay scallops tend to be smaller in size. Scallops coming from the New England Fishmongers are what are referred to as “dry scallops,” meaning that they were

not soaked or treated with a solution meant to extend their shelf-life — they are untreated and fresh off the boat!

A Little Science

Scallops are bivalve mollusks. This means that they are a soft-bodied invertebrate with a two-part hinged shell and breathe/filter feed through gills. When we eat scallops, weare eating what is known as the adductor muscle, which is responsible for opening and closing the shell. The “foot” a hard tendon that we remove from the scallop, is responsible for rooting and moving the scallop in the water. When we receive a pile of white flesh, we are receiving scallops that have been shelled.

I Ordered Scallops… Now What?

At nearly $20/lb, local scallops are certainly a delicacy in our house. The upside is that they can be enjoyed long past the harvest season because they freeze extremely well. When you receive your scallops, follow these simple steps as soon as possible:

  1. Rinse the scallops in a colander with cold water. Gently agitate them with your hand.
  2. Remove the hard tendon, sometimes referred to as the ‘foot.” Some sources suggest a paring knife. I find that it is easiest and best to gently peel this off with your fingers, working carefully not to rip the delicate flesh of the scallop.
  3. Pat each scallop dry and place on a lightly oiled parchment-lined cookie sheet or plate. This sounds tedious, but goes quickly. 1lb fits nicely on a serving plate. 2lbs fit perfectly on a full size cookie sheet
  4. Place uncovered in freezer until completely frozen, then place in appropriately sized freezer bags or containers, removing as much oxygen as possible.

Tip: I freeze in 1lb packages, which seems about right for a two-person dinner.

Ok, They’re Frozen… How do I eat them?

A day before, remove the scallops from the freezer and into the fridge. The day you plan to cook them, remove them from their package and rinse them in cold water. Feel them to make sure they are thawed through. Dry them off before cooking, but they are ready to cook with at this point.

There are hundreds of scallop recipes out there. Dumplings, risottos, stews and soups… but our favorite is to sear the scallops in a hot pan (cast iron or non-stick works) and serve with a flavored sauce and sides. Scallops have a very mild flavor, so the sauce pairings are endless from a simple brown butter sauce to asian-inspired twists. Most recently, we cooked a NYT Cooking Recipe: Seared Sea Scallops with Ginger Lime Butter.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled ginger
  • 1 fresh hot red chile pepper, finely chopped (I used red pepper flakes instead)
  •  Zest and juice of 1 lime

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small dish and add other ingredients to taste
  2. Heat a pan with a coating of olive oil on medium-high heat
  3. Dry the scallops then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. When the pan is hot, add the scallops. Do not disturb, but flip when the bottoms have a nice sear (~4m)
  5. Sear the remaining side, being careful not to over cook (~2-3m) and remove from pan to warm plates.
  6. Re-melt the butter mixture if needed and pour over scallops

We served this with a fresh salad and roasted sweet potatoes, using the butter sauce as a dressing for the salad as well.

 

 

Join Us for a Special CSA Event!

April 18th, 5:30-7pm

American Independence Museum’s Folsom Tavern (164 Water St, Exeter)

Join us for a special CSA Event with the American Independence Museum! Maybe you have never had a CSA and need to learn the basics (what’s included, what to ask, what are the benefits?) or maybe you have been a CSA customer for years and are ready to share your story and learn more about how important CSA programs are to the health and sustainability of local agriculture. Either way, this event is for you!

 

5:30 PM: Mix and Mingle with local farms offering CSA Programs

6:00 PM: Hear comments from Edie Barker of Barkers’ Farm in Stratham about the important connection between local farms and the communities they feed

6:30 PM: Browse Local CSA options and speak directly to the farmers!

The public is welcome to arrive and leave from this event as needed. Local participating farms will have information about their CSA programs and consumers may register for a CSA at this event if they wish. Any person who registers and pays in full for a CSA at this event will receive a free CSA cook book from Seacoast Eat Local (while supplies last). This event is made possible through the Federal Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant with the goal of increasing awareness and sales of CSAs in our region.

Learn more about the American Independence Museum and get directions.

Please Note: Folsom Tavern is located on Water St in Exeter. Street parking is available.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of this historic building, it is not handicap accessible. Participants needing accommodations should contact Seacoast Eat Local by April 15.

Summer Internship: Marketing and Communications

Seacoast Eat Local is a small, dynamic non-profit organization looking for an intern to assist with digital advertising and communications.

The main responsibilities of this internship will be:

  • write a weekly blog post related to a local foods topic
  • assist in creating posters, flyers and brochures for the organization
  • creating social media content advertising events and services
  • creating digital images, ads or content related to fundraising, events, nutritional education or other projects
  • Doing some photography at farmers’ markets, local farms, at programming or events

Interns should have a general working knowledge or interest in learning about cooking, basic nutrition, local agriculture and local foods. Experience with lucidpress, canva and google suite is preferred by not required.

This internship could be completed entirely remotely, but a local intern has the opportunity to attend some events and organizational meetings. That said, there are no regular office hours for the organization or the intern (staff work primarily from home). Staff are available to speak or meet at will, but the interns work will be project based and completed independently. Interns in this position must be self-motivated and able to work independently.

A high quality intern in this position has the opportunity to work as part of a fun and dynamic team as an equal partner. Interns are encouraged to share ideas and define, to some degree, their work projects based on their interests and skills. This is a great opportunity for an intern to build a portfolio of work and have a large impact on an organization.

To apply: email a resume, cover letter and two references to Jillian Hall, Director of Programs at jill@seacoasteatlocal.org

Summer Intern Position: Mobile Farmers’ Market

Samm at SeabrookJoin New Hampshire’s first and only mobile farmers’ market for its summer operating season!

SAMM (The Seacoast Area Mobile Market) will be hitting the road in June to serve Seacoast communities in Strafford, Rockingham and York Counties that have restricted access to fresh, local, healthy foods.

SAMM is a mobile farmers’ market that provides fresh, locally sourced foods from vegetables to fruits, dairy, eggs and meats and local products such as honey, maple syrup and dry beans. SAMM serves elderly and low-income communities as well as local employers and towns without consistently operating farmers’ markets. Learn more at www.seacoasteatlocal.org

Interns with SAMM will ride along 1-2 days per week for that days’ stop schedule. Timing and duration will vary, so please speak with a staff person regarding your interest. Generally, SAMM operates full days Tuesday-Friday.

Interns will assist with all aspects of the market. This may include set up/break down of the market, stocking product, completing customer sales, produce pickups, and providing basic food and nutrition information (with training). Interns with interest may also be asked to help spread SAMM through social media with twitter, instagram and facebook posts. This can be a physical job and SAMM operates in the summer. Interns should have reasonable physical stamina, be able to lift up to 40lbs and feel comfortable in summer conditions.

This is an innovative, landmark program in our State and interns with this position have the opportunity to work as part of a dynamic team and to shape our work and operations.

To apply: send cover letter, resume and two references to Jillian Hall, Director of Programs at jill@seacoasteatlocal.org