Eat Local: Shrimp and Cabbage Fritters + Winter Salad

Eat Local

I was going to call this post, “Not just potatoes.” This is for one of my cooking students who asked what could there possibly be to eat during winter that’s local. When I described what farmers were bringing to our Winter Farmers’ Market, I don’t think she believed me. Though, sometimes even I can’t believe it. Here’s how easy it’s become to eat locally all year long.

Winter Salad: Lettuce – Riverside Farm; watermelon radish – Garen’s Greens; carrots – Meadow’s Mirth; red onion – Wake Robin Farm.

Miso Vinaigrette: 1½ tablespoons cider vinegar – Sewall Organic Orchard; 3 tablespoons canola oil – Coppal House Farm; 1 tablespoon white miso – South River Miso, 1 teaspoon honey – Victory Bees.

Eat Local

Okonomiyaki (Shrimp and Cabbage Fritters): Eggs – Mona Farm; whole wheat pastry flour – Brookford Farm; Savoy cabbage – Stout Oak Farm; red onions (in place of scallions) – Wake Robin Farm; Northern shrimp – FV Rimrack; canola oil – Coppal House Farm; salt – Maine Sea Salt.

The recipe for Okonomiyaki, a kind of Japanese fritter, is from the Cabbage board on our Pinterest site. Don’t know what to do with some of the things you find at the farmers’ market? Check it out — we’re constantly adding new recipes, listed by ingredient.

Eat Local:

Kate at Stout Oak Farm was the first to try these little savory pancakes out. She made them vegetarian by leaving out the shrimp, and declared them delicious. We made them with the shrimp, and hardily agree with her.

Farmers vs. Monsanto, January 31st in NYC

“Farmers are being sued for having GMOs on their property that they did not buy, do not want, will not use and cannot sell.”
— Tom Wiley, North Dakota farmer

With thoughts on future harvests, January is usually the time we finalize our seed orders. Since we began growing them, our seed potatoes have always come from Wood Prairie Farm, a family farm owned by Jim and Megan Gerritsen in Bridgewater, Maine. So when Jim, as president of the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA), became the lead plaintiff in a suit against Monsanto, we couldn’t help but feel we had a personal stake in it.

On January 31st, family farmers will take part in the first phase of a court case filed to protect farmers from genetic trespass by Monsanto’s GMO seed, which contaminates organic and non-GMO farmer’s crops and opens them up to abusive lawsuits. OSGATA is joined by a coalition that has grown to include 83 family farmers, seed businesses, and organic agricultural organizations, including NOFA-NH and other NOFA Chapters and MOFGA, as parties to the lawsuit.

Farmers and concerned citizens are encouraged to attend the the Citizen’s Assembly outside the court hearing, and to sign a petition in support of small farmers everywhere.

In the past two decades, Monsanto’s seed monopoly has grown so powerful that they control the genetics of nearly 90% of five major commodity crops including corn, soybeans, cotton, canola and sugar beets. In many cases farmers are forced to stop growing certain crops to avoid genetic contamination and potential lawsuits. Between 1997 and 2010, Monsanto admits to filing 144 lawsuits against America’s family farmers, while settling another 700 out of court for undisclosed amounts. Due to these aggressive lawsuits, Monsanto has created an atmosphere of fear in rural America and driven dozens of farmers into bankruptcy.

In a comment to the court, Dan Ravicher, Executive Director and lead attorney for the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) said, “This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto’s transgenic seed should land on their property. It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients.”

For more information:
• Food Democracy Now!, www.fooddemoncraynow.org
• Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, www.osgata.org
• Public Patent Foundation, www.pubpat.org

Market Notes: Apple Dumpling Pie

A couple of years ago we took some of our apples to Great Maine Apple Day, MOFGA’s annual event in Unity, to get them identified. We were told they were Priscillas, a late-season variety sought after for its sweetness, and one that stores well. Normally, our tree gives us just enough to provide us with pies throughout the winter. This month, though, we came home from vacation to find our tree stripped bare of apples. Not a one was left, not even drops. I can only assume it was the work of the same deer that mauled our garden while we were gone. I was bereft from the loss, but it gave me a chance to seek out some of the other wonderful varieties available here.

A visit to the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market yielded three bags full of some locally grown varieties — MacounNorthern Spy, and Wolf River. The Macoun was chosen for eating and the Northern Spy for baking, but the Wolf River apple, an heirloom from White Gate Farm, was new to me. Averaging at well over a pound each, they were hard to miss. We selected a couple of the smaller ones and, though it didn’t seem as if it would be enough, two were really all we needed to make a pie.

This freeform pie goes by fancier names such as Apple Crostada or Apple Galette, but I like calling it by its cozier one, Apple Dumpling Pie. It’s originally from a recipe by Annie Dimock and, though I’ve made slight changes over the years, it’s the one I rely on most. Also known as “The ‘No Excuse for Not Making a Pie’ Pie,” Dimock explains why in her book, Humble Pie:

There are those among you who could enjoy the pleasures of a homemade pie with greater frequency if you could be persuaded to try to make one. This recipe is for you, the timid soul who frets about pie dough sticking to the rolling pin. it is a forgiving pie—let it embolden you to greater efforts. It is also for you, the busy, accomplished cook, running out of time and about to sacrifice the dessert course in favor of a shower. Let this pie amuse you with its simplicity and rustic style. No less of a pie because it is easy, it will do everything its big brothers and sisters do, and will do it more often.


All apple pie makers have favorite apples they like to use, with taste and texture determining characteristics. Other than looking for an apple that will hold its shape, however, a preference for sweet or tart, or even a mix of the two, is entirely up to its maker. Some other firm varieties to look for are BaldwinGravensteinJonagold, or Newtown Pippin. As for the Wolf River apples, they bake up beautifully, hold their shape well, and have a sweet, classic apple flavor. The fact that you need to peel only two of them is an added delight.

Apple Dumpling Pie

Crust
1 1/2 cups flour (I use a mix of all purpose and local whole wheat pastry)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces or 1 stick butter
1/4 cup cold water + 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, mixed together

Filling
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
4 apples
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Milk

– To make crust: Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl. Cut in the butter until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle in the cold water and vinegar mixture a tablespoon at a time, and toss with a fork to mix. Gather up the dough into a ball, and flatten into a disk. Place in a covered container, and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– To make filling: Toss the cinnamon and sugar together to mix, and set aside. Peel, core and slice the apples. In a separate bowl, toss the apple pieces with the lemon juice. When ready to assemble the pie, reserve a tablespoon of the cinnamon sugar, and stir in the rest with the apples.

– To assemble the pie: Roll out dough until it is a rough circle, about 14 inches in diameter. Place the crust onto a round pizza pan, and mound the apples in the center, leaving about 3 inches of crust around the filling uncovered. Working your way around the pie, pull the crust over the filling, leaving a gap of about 4 inches in the center. Let the pie rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– To bake the pie: Heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the pie from the fridge and lightly brush the edges with some milk. Sprinkle the edges with the remaining tablespoon of cinnamon sugar. Bake at 425°F for 20 minutes, then rotate the pie around, front to back. Turn the oven down to 350°F, and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, until apples are tender and crust has begun to brown. Remove and let cool slightly before serving.

Adapted from “Humble Pie” by Annie Dimock.

This year’s Great Maine Apple Day is happening Sunday, October 23rd, from 12 to 4 p.m. at MOFGA in Unity, ME. Admission is $4. For more information: www.mofga.org.

Just Label It: We Have the Right to Know What’s in Our Food!

93% of Americans think genetically engineered food should be labeled. What’s surprising is that it isn’t. Meanwhile much of the rest of the world — including Japan, Australia, the European Union and China — already requires genetically engineered foods to be clearly labeled. With the backing of more than 350 partner organizations, the “Just Label It: We Have A Right to Know” campaign is petitioning the FDA to require labeling of genetically engineered food.

There are many reasons to want labeling of genetically engineered foods but above all, we all want to make informed choices about the food we eat and feed our families. We have a right to know if what we are eating has been genetically engineered.

Tell the FDA that you want to know what’s in your food and sign the petition!

To avoid GE foods, buy USDA certified organic (organic standards prohibit the use of GE ingredients), look for Non-GMO Project Verified Non-GMO products, and avoid packaged food, much of which contains GE ingredients. The best way, of course, is to buy unprocessed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, and talk to your local farmer!

For more information: www.justlabelit.org

2011 Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner — A Gathering of Community

This year’s Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner left lasting memories of a glowing evening full of scrumptious food, lively conversation, and warm company. A collaboration of the Heirloom Harvest Project, Seacoast Eat Local, and Slow Food Seacoast, this celebratory event is the result of a growing community dedicated to local food. Many thanks to all who helped make it happen, we truly could not have done it without you. Volunteers came from far and wide, and over several days to clean, set up, serve, and break down, lending a helping hand wherever it was needed. We are grateful for the thousand and one tasks that were accomplished through your invaluable contributions of time, effort and good cheer.

Once things were set up, the participating chefs went to work — many thanks to Chefs Brandon Blethen of Robert’s Maine Grill, Lauren Crosby of Black Trumpet Bistro, Evan Hennessey of Flavor Concepts, Robert Martin of Zampa, Ted McCormack of Blue Moon Evolution, John Medlin of Popper’s Sausage Kitchen, Mike Prete and Matt Greco of The Kitchen, Mariah Roberts of Beach Pea Baking Co., and Mark Segal of The 100 Club, for your delicious creations. Each course was a sublime showcase for local food, with ingredients provided by Applegard Farm, Birch Hill Farm, Black Kettle Farm, Brookford Farm, Heron Pond Farm, Maria Southworth, Meadow’s Mirth, New Roots Farm, Stout Oak Farm, Strawbery Banke, Touching Earth Farm, Tuckaway Farm, and White Gate Farm.

An event like this is only made possible through the generous and distinctive contributions of its sponsors — thank-you to Dole & Bailey, Chamberlain Springs, Exeter Events & Tents, EcoMovement, Farnum Hill Cider, Flag Hill Winery, Flatbread Company, General Linen, Maine Shellfish Co., M.S. Walker, Pete & Gerry’s Eggs, Salmon Falls Winery, Smuttynose Brewing Co., Throwback Brewery, and Vermont Butter & Cheese.

Very special thanks go to the Robinson Family of Berry Hill, and Josh and Jean Jennings of Meadow’s Mirth for once again graciously hosting this event. I like to think we’re adding to the good karma already residing in the barn. Alyson Tully transformed it with her magical touch, Mary Dellea and her band filled the space with their sparkling music, while Enna Grazier captured it all with her incredible eye. To my fellow members of the Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner Steering Committee — Briana Cribeyer, John Forti, Jean Jennings, Josh Jennings, and Denise Mallett, fervently led by Evan Mallett — it was an honor to work with you.

Lastly, the evening would not have been complete without those of you, our guests, who came to spend the evening with us. Thank-you for making this a sold-out event, we remain overwhelmed by your enthusiastic support. It was wonderful to see so many smiling faces at table, and hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

— Debra Kam, Seacoast Eat Local, Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner Steering Committee

*Here’s a copy of the menu from the 2011 Heirloom Harvest Barn Dinner. More photographs are available online from Enna Grazier, Jill Minnick Jennings, and also here.

Is Junk Food Really Cheaper?

Mark Bittman addresses the question “Is junk food really cheaper?” with graphic clarity in his op-ed column for the New York Times. Click on the image to see the comparison between the cost of a meal at McDonald’s for four and two home-cooked options. In comparing real food with fast food, Bittman used supermarket ingredients — taste the real difference by swapping out at least one of these ingredients with something fresh from the farmers’ market!

“Anything that you do that’s not fast food is terrific; cooking once a week is far better than not cooking at all,” says Marion Nestle, professor of food studies at New York University and author of “What to Eat.” “It’s the same argument as exercise: more is better than less and some is a lot better than none.” Read more…

Market Notes: A Pepper Primer

 

Glorious peppers are here! Now that this season’s tomatoes are put up, it’s time to focus on the irresistible array of peppers to be found at Seacoast farmers’ markets. Give in to temptation and fill your basket full of them to enjoy now, as well as into the depths of winter. From roasting to drying, and even canning, here’s a quick primer on preparing and preserving peppers:

Cutting peppers: Unless you want rings, I find the conventional way of cutting peppers awkward and slippery. Instead, I fillet the pepper by slicing the sides away from the core, lengthwise. Not only is it safer, it seeds and cores the pepper, and removes most of the white membrane, all at the same time. For more control while slicing or dicing the pepper pieces, cut with the skin side down.

Freezing peppers: One of the easiest vegetables to freeze. Wash; remove stem, seeds, and white membrane. Cut into large pieces, slices or diced. Tray-freeze, then package and store in freezer. Peppers can also be frozen whole, especially useful for smaller peppers like jalapenos. Whole or half peppers can be stuffed or baked; or sliced, diced or ground while still frozen, as needed.

Drying peppers: Wash; remove stem, seeds, and white membrane. Leave in large pieces or cut up. Dry in a dehydrator or oven at 120°F for 8 to 12 hours, until leathery with completely dry. When drying hot peppers this way, and make sure there’s ventilation for the fumes. Peppers may also be sun or air-dried by hanging. Thin walled ones like Jimmy Nardellos, a sweet red pepper, are particularly suitable for this — make your own ristra!

Roasting peppers: There are many ways to roast peppers. Make quick work of them by using an oven rather than a grill, especially when roasting peppers in quantity for canning. Lay washed peppers on a sheet pan, and roast in a 450°F oven for 45 minutes, turning once midway, until the skins have blistered. Place in a bowl and cover, and let steam until cool enough to handle. Skin will be loose; peel and remove core and seeds.

Canning peppers: Hot or sweet, peppers may be canned plain, pickled or marinated. Note: some of the recipes for canning peppers require a pressure canner for processing.

Peppers, basic canning instructions from The National Center for Home Food Preservation; requires a pressure canner for processing.

Let’s Preserve Peppers, a downloadable leaflet from the UNH Cooperative Extension’s downloadable leaflet with recipes for Pickled Sweet or Hot Peppers, Pickled Corn-Pepper Relish, and Marinated Peppers.

Marinated Roasted Red Bell Peppers, from Simply Recipes; much like this one and the one mentioned above, with photographs. May be stored in the fridge for several weeks, or processed in a hot water bath. Tip: To ensure proper seal when processing food containing oil, wipe the rim of the jar with vinegar.

Making and Canning Roasted Red Bell Pepper Sauce, from Canning USA. Quantities will depend on the kind of pepper you use; I measured the amount of roasted peppers to determine the proportion of olive oil and lemon juice to add. My first batch had problems with siphoning during processing — make sure to hot pack the jars by bringing sauce to a boil before filling, and to remove all air bubbles. Requires a pressure canner.

Volunteer Work Day at Daryl’s

This recent storm has me thinking about community more than usual lately. There are many components in building a sustainable food system, but the most important aspect is social, what used to be known as neighbors helping neighbors. Gilmanton, NH, is a little outside our range, but I thought it worth posting this recent appeal from the NH Herbal Network, part of NOFA-NH:

Hi All,

We’ve set our day! Anyone who is interested is encouraged and welcome to help out for a work day weeding and doing other small garden tasks for Daryl Hoitt at Red Fox Farm in Gilamton. Monday, September 12, 9:30 am until about noon, followed by a optional potluck lunch. Please bring your favorite hand tools and whatever else for weeding.

As mentioned in a previous email, Daryl has spent the last year caring for her husband who has been ailing from cancer and passed away about two weeks ago, as well as other family-related struggles, and really could use a hand at her small organic herb and veggie farm. She’s been incredibly generous with her time and supportive of NOFA-NH and NHHN activities, so this will be a great way to help her out in turn.

Please email me to RSVP just so we have an idea of who is coming in case there are any changes/weather issues.

Daryl is very appreciative of our help and camaraderie during these difficult days and suggested that we nominate a local herbalist or farmer/gardener each year who could use the extra help and support with a “work day.” Seems like a great way to support herbalism (and organics) in the state and create community to me!

Thank you so much!!

Maria Noel Groves, Clinical Herbalist & Coordinator
New Hampshire Herbal Network, Part of NOFA-NH
nhhn@nofanh.org
603-340-5161 Maria’s cell
603-224-5022 NOFA-NH office
www.nofanh.org/herbs
http://nhherbalnetwork.wordpress.com/

Market Notes: On Canning Tomatoes

As the days grow noticeably shorter, now is the time to start stocking up, and canning tomatoes is high on my list. This week’s haul from the farmers’ market included just a few from the extraordinary variety available, each as inspiring as the next:

Small plum tomatoes (bottom): Principe Borghese for making into a rich, homemade ketchup; also good for sauces, drying, and roasting.

Yellow tomatoes: three kinds—yellow peach, yellow blush plum, and sungolds—to be made into a sunny tomato sauce or winter soup.

Large plum tomatoes (upper left corner): meaty San Marzanos for piling into jars and canning whole.

Amounts will vary, depending on the characteristic of the tomato. Once cooked and run through a mill to separate out the seeds and peels, 8 pounds of the small plum tomatoes resulted in 1 gallon of tomato puree. 10 pounds of  the larger plum tomatoes gave me 6 quarts of peeled, whole tomatoes, and the three varieties of yellow tomatoes resulted in 3½ quarts of lightly reduced sauce.

To help you stock your own pantry full of summer’s tomatoes:

Resources for Home Preserving Tomatoes, National Center for Home Food Preservation
• Instructions for canning, freezing, drying, and pickling tomatoes, also making tomato preserves.

Let’s Preserve: Tomatoes and Canning and Freezing Tomatoes and Making Salsa
• Guidelines from the Extension Service on quantities, processing times and temperature, and recipes in handy downloadable leaflets.

Freezer Tomato Sauce, Leite’s Culinaria
• If you have the freezer space, a quick alternative to canning.

Canning 101: Tomato Float, Sauce Separation and Loss of Liquid, Food in Jars
• Because it happens.

Also check our new Food Preservation resource page as we continue to add links!

Flood Damage Puts Farms at Risk

Part of eating locally is being aware of the impact weather events such as Irene can have on our farming community. Many of our local farmers have been spending sleepless nights anxiously worrying about their crops, their fields, and the wind effects on their high tunnels and greenhouses. Fortunately, it appears Seacoast farms have weathered the storm relatively unscathed. The same cannot be said of our neighbors in Vermont, where they’ve suffered widespread catastrophic damage.

From the scattered reports available, the destruction of flooding on Vermont farms is overwhelming —  loss of carefully tended crops and cared for livestock, erosion of fertile soil conscientiously built up through the years, damage to sheltering farm buildings and valuable equipment. To make matters worse, crops that may seem salvageable are now unsaleable according to the UVM Extension for Sustainable Agriculture: “As painful as it may be to do, all crops with edible portions that have come in contact with flood waters should be destroyed or discarded.” Even if a farm were to recover, flooded fields are condemned from planting food for human consumption for 60 days. This is the time when season extension crops should be going in. Imagine our Winter Farmers’ Market without any salad, cooking greens, or other fall planted crops. As one Vermont farmer stated, “Thus, we are unable to sow our high tunnels to late fall/winter greens (rendering them economically useless to us for the next 7 months).” And for organic growers, soils contaminated by flood waters carrying residues of prohibited substances may threaten certification for years to come.

When we choose to eat locally, we share in the bounty when the season goes well, but it also means sharing the impact when it doesn’t. Now, in what should be the peak of the growing season, the forthcoming losses to our regional farming community are especially heartbreaking. Help in any way you can, for farmers in need here and elsewhere.

The following from the Mad River Valley Localvore Project in Vermont offers flood information for consumers and farmers:

For Consumers

Farmers have had SUBSTANTIAL losses due to flooding. We fear the losses could put some farms out of business. At the peak of the season when the BIG MONEY crops are just coming in, much of the produce that farmers have been nurturing since the spring is either destroyed or contaminated and therefore unsalable.

How You Can Help Farmers

1.  Offer your service to help farmers clean their fields and barns.

Here is a list of farmers in the Mad River Valley. There is contact info for most. If there isn’t contact info, use our map to locate the farm and go there to offer your services.

2.  Buy whatever the farms have available for sale.  Pay them more than what they are asking.

The money that you give farmers now is likely the money that they will have to live on until they have salable crops in the future. Many farms have not only lost crops this year, but they have also lost valuable land and soil that will make it difficult for them recover fully next year or possibly even in the next several years.

If you are a CSA member, don’t expect to receive any more food for this year. Don’t ask for a refund from your CSA farmer. The idea of a CSA is that shareholders share in both the bounty and losses with the farmer. If you have financial need and depend on the CSA, please contact the Mad River Valley Localvore Project [info@vermontlocalvore.org] — we may be able to provide you with a partial refund.

3.  Make a financial donation to the Mad River Valley Community Fund.

The Mad River Valley Community Fund has reopened their Flood Relief fund that was initially established after the 1998 flood. They is set up to receive your tax deductible donations either by check or via paypal.

Tax deductible contributions via Paypal can be made at http://mrvcommunityfund.org or mailed to POB 353, Waitsfield, VT 05673. The Mad River Valley Community is a 501c3 that has been serving the Mad River Valley since 1989 and distributed over $100,000 in flood relief after the 1998 Warren Flood.

4.  Call congressional representatives and ask for grant money (not low interest loans) to help out the farmers.

For Farmers

1.  Financial Assistance May Be Available.

Here is a press release from the VT Agency of Agriculture about what you need to do to apply for federal assistance.

2.  Important Information About Crops Affected By Flooding.

Here is information from Vern Grubinger of the UVM Extension Center for Sustainable Agriculture about Food Safety Advice regarding Flooded Crops.

For more information: www.VermontLocalvore.org; additional updates may be found on Facebook.