Archive for ‘Farms’

October 24, 2011

Final Harvest | Corn Milk Soup

It’s simply the best of the last of the garden.  Eight ears of the last of the sweet corn.  Cobs scraped completely clean, releasing all that sweet corn “milk.”  I think it’s what makes this soup special.

But perhaps, too, it’s that I added in the last few peppers still standing on my counter.  Another handful of tomatoes that were picked green in the back garden, but managed to ripen despite that deep insult.  And green onions picked up at the farmer’s market.  Plus two palmfuls of teeny purple potatoes (that were a growing experiment by me) from a more experienced gardener friend.  Generous pinches of fresh thyme from the terracotta pot on the patio.  Twists of pepper.  A blessing of salt.

Poach a few shrimp in the hot soup to make it more substantial.  Or some smoked haddock would be perfectly at home.  Or if you have leftovers, top bowls of soup with a crumbled a link of andouille and some sauteed shrimp for a take on a gumbo.  That’s what I’m going to do.

Corn Milk Soup, serves 6 to 8

4 strips bacon, sliced

2 green onions, thinly sliced

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October 2, 2011

Local Foods Week | Brining Two Kinds of Pork

I haven’t made a whole lot of pork lately.  I’ve been swooning over spice-rubbed chicken, braising all manner of cuts beef, and grilling plenty of fish.  I think pork needs its due.  I am a big fan, particularly of bacon and pork belly.  It must be the fat.  But what about the old standby favorites?  I think I’ve been shying away from cuts like pork chops and fresh hams simply because, at first blush, seem kind of mundane.

Enter brining.  A great primer, including a simple ratio, from Cooks Illustrated can be found here.  But in a nutshell, this technique of soaking in a salt, sugar and spice “stock,” really livens up the flavor of the more lean cuts of pork and bumps up the much needed moisture.  It doesn’t require any silly flavor injectors and it’s foolproof.   Adjust the flavors and seasonings as you wish and you’ll have a dinner either as familiar or exotic as you want it to be.  Add in some locally and thoughtfully raised pork, mine was from Curly Tail Organic Farm, and the noble pig doesn’t get much better than this.

Basic Brine, make 1 quart per pound of meat

1 qt water

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September 26, 2011

Things I Like | Green B.E.A.N. Delivery

I love local businesses.  I love local produce and groceries.  I love this idea.

Green B.E.A.N. Delivery (the BEAN stands for Biodiversity, Education, Agriculture and Nutrition) is a grocery delivery company that serves Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky.  I truly admire their dedication to support local farmers and artisans in the area.  Their produce bins are chock full of local stuff from local folks (now realize, we do have a winter around here and the bins do reflect that come December).  Most recently they featured a really fantastic farm, Rock Dove.  And I have, quite honestly, had some of the best bacon in my life from these guys.

The small produce bin that landed so cheerily on my doorstep recently included plenty of fruits and veggies for our family for a week or so.  Heirloom tomatoes from Northridge Organic farm, a lovely bag of clearly organic greens, jalapenos, green beans, carrots, onions and plenty of fruit.  A lot of it local, but some from further away (I’m almost sure that we just can’t manage a great crop of flame red grapes here in Ohio).

I really loved how most all the fruits and veg were contained in brown paper lunch bags instead of plastic ones.  It gave me the feeling that everything was carefully hand packed with thought given to how things would best travel.  And I know, it’s better for the environment, too, isn’t it?  Bonus points.

Minimum orders start at $35, although you can order a $28 bin and supplement it with groceries like Snowville milk and that fantastic bacon to get it up to $35.  Just about any staple you could need you can find in their virtual aisles.  And orders can be made as rarely as every two weeks.

I can see giving this as gift to new parents, or people that perhaps just need the gift of time.  It’s certainly something that made my (much busier than usual) week easier.

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Playlist included Listen to Your Love, by Mona.

**Green B.E.A.N. Delivery gave me a free bin to review.   But of course you know that Persephone always says what she thinks, even if she’s been given something for free.  My opinions are, as always, my own.

August 12, 2011

Sharing History | Gigot d’Agneau

Sometimes a memorable meal transcends your kitchen tools and cooking techniques.  Instead, it’s a celebration that connects you to your friends, family, and culture.  That’s what happens when you cook a leg of lamb.  It isn’t particularly complicated, but the result is magical.  If you appreciate the cut and revere the process, history will carry you along.

Lamb is the centerpiece of celebrations on every continent.  And the leg of lamb is the most sought after cut.  It’s lean, forgiving, and can take on flavors through marinading, grilling, roasting, or braising.  Most importantly, though, its sublimely delicious and it makes enough to share.

I simply scored the fat in a crisscrossed pattern and arranged a handful of garlic cloves in the cuts.  After seasoning quite generously with salt and pepper, I placed it in a roasting pan with diced carrots, onions, peppers and tomatoes.  About an inch of water and a bouquet garni later and the hard part was done.  Cover it tightly with foil, then its into the oven at 300F for five hours or so, checking the liquid level at the halfway point.  Then invite friends, family or both, and serve it with white beans and white wine.

But really, you should let your imagination be your guide.  It’s not everyday that you find yourself in possession of such beautiful meat (thank you dearly, Kate), so use the opportunity to celebrate and share your life.

Playlist included Rue St. Vincent, par Yves Montand.

August 9, 2011

Summer’s Gone | Flying J Dinner

I had a lovely summer vacation.  Complete with my adorable parents (Zeus and Demeter) and my sweetest nephew visiting and plenty of fantastic time outdoors, with good food, sunshine and heat.

The apex of all this fun was Slow Food Columbus‘s Shake the Hand that Feeds You out at Flying J Farm.  Longtime readers of this blog will know that I dearly love the farmer, Dick Jensen, and his organic, grass-fed cattle in Johnstown, Ohio.  And the dinner that the Slow Food Chapter plans every year out there is truly the best food event in the city, bar none.  It was, in fact, one of the main catalysts for me starting this blog.

This year, the Caskey family from Skillet commandeered the farm kitchen to turn out mouth-wateringly delicious courses.  Sous vide beef tongue, anyone?  Please, sir, I want some more.  Demeter managed to score seconds.  Lucky.   Nicolene Schwartz custom created the Flying J, an OYO vodka based cocktail with quick pickled peppers and tomatoes from the farm.  All the vegetables for the dinner were harvested earlier that day, from the fields at the farm, by wonderful SFC volunteers.

The tables groaned under wildflower bouquets, homemade pickles of all kinds (wasabi green beans, dill pickles, chow chow), candles, oodles of wine and chilly Columbus Brewing Company beers.  We even had a buttery, whole-roasted, whey-fed pig course.  Did you know that comes right after dinner?  Right before dessert.  Of hand cranked Snowville Creamery ice cream with roasted peaches and balsamic.  Ice cream churned by happy children that spent the rest of their time playing chase in the meadows, petting ponies and the donkey, messing with a farm cat and feeding the farm dog under the table.

There wasn’t an unhappy creature in the whole bunch.  Laughter spilled over the hill and up to the barns.  Friends crowded around the table to share a meal, a laugh and a glass (or two?) of wine, a sip (or three?) of pawpaw-cello and connect over the importance of food in our lives.  It is what not only feeds us, but sustains us and connects us all.

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Not to put too fine a point on it, but it was perfect.

For more pictures of the lovely evening check out Hungry Woolf’s flikr stream or add Ely Brothers as a friend on Facebook.

Playlist included Summer, by Buffalo Tom.

June 24, 2011

Strawberry Week | Strawberries in Pimm’s with Basil Cream

This is PK’s contribution to Breakfast at Wimbledon.  The Championships are perfectly situated at the dawn of summer, and so strawberries and their best friend cream have become as important as the tennis.  It’s a very simple version of a late-June favorite, but with some lovely refinements.  Just drown the berries in Pimm’s, a handful of sugar, and a whisper of ginger.  Then steep the cream with freshly-snipped basil leaves, whip it lightly, and you’ve re-made an old favourite.

Henman Hill* Strawberries and Cream, Serves 4

4 c strawberries, halved or quartered or left whole if they’re lovely and small

handful of sugar

12 scrapes of a fresh knob of ginger (I used a microplane to get it very fine)

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June 22, 2011

Strawberry Week | Jam, Two Ways

As you might remember if you read this blog with regularity, I picked ten pounds of strawberries over the weekend.  This left me with plenty to jam.  Plenty.  Especially since I’m (gasp!) kind of a novice canner.   Between picking and managing a boisterous Cherub, I chatted with a very sweet friend, Jenn (editor of the tremendous Greener Grocer newsletter) and she told me she had recently made some great strawberry balsamic jam.  Well, that’s right up my alley.

She kindly forwarded me the recipe.  I decided I’d do that (a recipe that is pectin-free – Demeter is convinced I don’t need it) and a strawberry rhubarb jam using pectin (I’ve been told by Rachel at Hounds in the Kitchen that Pomona’s is the best kind to use).

The strawberry balsamic with pepper is a jam purist’s dream.  Lots of low simmering, pleasurable skimming, and

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