Saturday, April 24, 2010

Distribution - April 25, 2010

Well my friends, it is here, our last share of the season, and the one year birthday of wintergreens. It's been a honor working for you! Here's what today's distribution brings:

- frozen paletas, Zora Dora's
- fresh tofu, Local Tofu
- fresh sunchokes, wintergreens garden
- basil seedlings, Hudson Valley Seed Library
- black walnuts from the streets of Beacon, optional
- season "leftovers" including: sugar free applesauce, frozen carrot pulp, pickled cauliflower, fresh chives, fresh garlic, granola, pear honey, green and black kombucha, a kombucha mother, frozen red peppers, frozen pesto, fermented garlic pickles, fermented ruby kraut, dried red beans, dried wheatberries, and more.

Our featured businesses are Zora Dora's and Local Tofu. Our friend Steve of Zora Dora's works right on Main St., Beacon, making paletas from the freshest ingredients possible, and incorporating a lot of local produce in flavors: cucumber, tarragon, mint, beets, pears, rhubarb, strawberries, etc. He and I have chatted about creating pickle popsicles, and also getting pawpaws into his skilled hands this year. Yum.

Local Tofu is our trustworthy source for organic, locally made, bulk tofu. Many of our customers comment that it tastes completely different than what they can get in the grocery, and I attribute a lot of that to freshness. We love Local Tofu because of its counter-culture roots, their commitment to a quality product, our ability to get it without packaging, and because of its beautiful, beany taste.

If you haven't heard me rave before, you should know that sunchokes are pretty amazing: they grow tall easily along sunny borders, and have sunflower like blossoms. Their roots taste like nutty potatoes. These particular roots are from last year's plants, and they overwintered underground, in the soil. Yep, these roots are from last year's plants, and I just dug them up now, tasting sweeter than they did in fall. When something stores so well with even less effort and energy than root cellaring, it's a veggie to be embraced! Cut anything that looks like an eye or a sprouting bit off before eating, and plant in shallow soil if you're interested in having some of these grow (& reproduce!) in your yard. If you haven't eaten sunchokes before, go easy, because they can upset your stomach.

Hudson Valley Seed Library is offering a valuable service to us: local seeds. Before local veggies and local fruit comes local seed, accomplished by seed saving and tracking. These tiny seedlings are from local basil seed. That means not only that they haven't traveled, but also that they're perfectly suited to growing conditions in the Hudson Valley. So we've planted some basil plants. They are TINY, since I never found a spot for them that was both warm and light this spring. But, they are grown from local plants, and mine, last year, turned into big, bushy, productive things. When they're a couple of inches high, plant them in plenty of soil and enjoy fresh basil all summer.

Black walnuts, pictured here in their husks when first gathered, are a perennial local resource, and one we should learn to use. They are very tasty, strong even, and suited more for baking than for fresh eating. I say that they're an optional part of your share because of this: I didn't crack or shell the nuts for you. I apologize, but when dealing with tight finances, some things have to give, and one was that we never ponied up for the fancy black walnut cracker. That said, I think it's worth it to do so, so that you can collect and eat these nuts with ease every year, for free. It's still on the list of equipment to buy. In the meantime, you can make quick work of a handful of nuts with a hammer and a cloth bag, or with a table mounted vice. Here's the thing about black walnuts: after peeling the husks off in fall, it is important that they cure for several months in a dry place. These got a little too dry, it seems, so the nutmeat is a little shriveled and wrinkly. Since you're not popping them into your mouth raw, but chopping them into bread (mmmmm!) or sweets, they'll work just fine. Next year, though, I'd crack the nuts and use them (or freeze them) around February.

Leftovers can be a bummer, or they can be an excuse to eat pie for breakfast. We've got quite a little stock of items left from the season. If you come early you get the choice of the lot, and the grab-bag style of this last distribution will be a boon to you!

Thank goodness I know you'll be in good hands with Common Ground and Fishkill Farms—happy summer of plushness.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mystery Trees of Rio

If you live in Rio de Janeiro, or a climate like it, and recognize either of these trees, please let us know in comments what they are! Both have large rust and creme colored blooms. The first is all over the city. The second, spiny one I only saw in the small jungle atop Pão de Açúcar.

Are these "fruits" edible? Inquiring minds want to know!
Click on the pictures twice for a closer look.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sick & Cilantro

What do your tastebuds want when you're sick?

People talk about not being to taste anything, or everything tasting like metal when they're sick. Flavors definitely change for me, but I can definitely still identify flavor, and crave specific foods to satisfy what tastes good when I'm sick and stuffy.

For instance, to me, salt becomes sharper, to the point that I can't take much without foods tasting crazily oversalted. I know this specific taste change is the opposite for others, who I watch go wild salting, trying to be able to taste something, anything. Instead, I overdo the spiciness, pleased to sniffle and hoot and blow my nose a lot. I swear that hot chilies de-pressurize one's head for as long as the burning lasts. (I accidently typed "sweat" instead of "swear." Yeah, that's part of the scenario, too.)

A beverage that hits the spot when I'm sick is bubble juice. A toddler friend introduced me to this tickley throat remedy: spike your juice (orange, cranberry, whatever) with a healthy portion of seltzer, add lots of crushed ice, and let the freezing cold carbonation scratch and numb your throat.

Sharp fresh herbs are appealing to a sick me: tons of basil in garlicky bruschetta, tabouli ruled by parsley. Since I am currently yukky stuffy sick and there are no tomatoes yet, my craving has focused on an old favorite recipe: poblano cilantro pesto.

I've dug out my recipe notebook from college, when I went vegan and was learning how to put food together. Though the handwriting no longer looks like mine, it definitely is, with notes about vinegar cukes, green and yellow curry pastes, peanut dressing, cashew cheese, various veg patés and caviars, avocado cucumber soup, and that shredded veggie salad with lemon tahini and kelp powder that I ate constantly on toast. My book doesn't look like anyone's grandma's carefully preserved handwritten recipes, but it's got some treasures.

The poblano pesto recipe was passed along from a New Mexican friend who said it was from the 1989 Coyote Cafe Cookbook—all the rage in the southwest at that time. If you're not sick, but have the chemical makeup of a cilantro hater, the Times food section this week suggested that cilantro pestos may surprise you by not tasting soapy.
Poblano Pesto
  • 6 T pine nuts, roasted in a dry skillet
  • 6 green chiles, roasted and peeled
  • 4 to 6 T olive oil
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, washed very thoroughly
  • salt to taste
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes
  • 1 sweet red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded, and diced.
Blend everything but red pepper chunks to a paste in a food processor. Gently fold in red peppers.
This can be used to flavor up anything you're eating. It's amazing with cucumbers, for some reason. But the best way to serve it to the uninitiated is folded into pasta, and served at room temperature.

Let me know if any cilantro conversions occur.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mango Pickle (and a way to use some of your mustard)

I dig relishes and pickles, and one of my favorite things we made from local produce last summer was Indian Peach Pickle. It was super spicy, went through a panorama of spices on your tongue, and finished with the gorgeousness of the sweetest fresh peach.

Inspired by the beautiful fruit of Brazil, I tried this mango pickle recipe, and am now keeping a jar of it going at all time, just adding new ingredients as the old are depleted. If I were invited somewhere that I wanted to be sure to be invited back, I'd take along a batch of these pickles. They're that tasty.

Mango Pickle with Scorched Mustard Seed
  • 3 firm, unripe mangos. peeled, pitted, and cut into thin wedges
  • Juice and grated zest of 2 limes
  • 1/2 c peeled, grated fresh ginger
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grainy mustard
  • 1 or 2 jalepeños cut into thin slices
  • 2 t kosher or coarse sea salt
  • Dash of your favorite hot pepper relish or hot sauce
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 T black mustard seed
  • 1/2 c canola or sunflower oil
In a medium nonreactive bowl, combine the mangos with the lime juice and mix well. Set aside for one hour, tossing occasionally to coat. Drain the mangos and add the lime zest, ginger, garlic, mustard, jalapeños, salt, hot pepper relish, and black pepper to taste, mixing well. In a dry sauté pan over medium-high heat, cook the mustard seed, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds crackle and jump and color of the seeds fades to an ashen gray, about or three minutes past the initial crackling. Add oil to the pan and cook for another minute. Remove from the heat, pour over the mangoes, and mix well. Mango pickles are ready to eat immediately, but the flavors will deepen and mellow significantly after a few weeks. Store them for 3 to 4 months, covered, in the refrigerator. From Quick Pickles by Schlesinger, Willoughby, and George.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Beacon Live

Easing the transition from Northeast of Brazil to Northeast U.S. is the brand spanking new raw restaurant that opened last weekend in Beacon!

I've already had juices, a wrap, and a truffle, and plan to frequent this place. Back in its day, Juicy tried to feed Beacon's vegetarians and health conscious folk, and since it closed, left us with years of carnivorous-only restaurants. Welcome to town Superfood Citizen Cafe! We've been waiting for you...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tropical Fruit

I'm sorry to be a wimp, but, it's cold here in the mornings. I know it's all springy and pretty and the cherry trees are blossoming early and you can get away with leaving a window cracked over night. But when you've just come from a praia next to a turquoise ocean in América do Sul, forty five degrees is downright frosty. Um, and where's my fruit? With Brazil's delicious heat comes delicious food, and now I am very spoiled. Blog readers will know there's a slight fruit obsession round these parts.

Mornings in the Northeast of Brazil went something like this:
  • Wake to sounds of saguim whistling and carambola hitting the ground.
  • Open shutters and gaze at mamão tree to see if any are ripe yet.
  • Pull on shorts and put coffee on to brew. Wander out in bare feet to say good morning to monkeys.
  • Putter through the neighborhood chatting with said monkeys, picking and eating azeitona, pitanga, and acerola.
  • Marvel at the size of the jaca fruit. Some are as big as toddlers, I swear!
  • Imagine I might actually see a sloth someday (preguiça).
  • Pick and take home huge abacate that needs time off the tree to ripen, and pick up small, fallen manga for a snack later.
  • Collect carambola that have dropped overnight, and eat them whole on the porch with a cup of coffee.
  • Decide to go to the beach.
  • Curse at yet another truck that says "100% Jesus." Declare yourself 100% pansy, 100% monkey-lover, 100% bummed that evangelicalism has colonized the Brazilian mind.
  • Smell roasting castanha along the road, slam on brakes and buy a bag.
  • Swim and lounge. Buy abacaxi and boiled amendoim from vendors when hungry. Drink coco, which is a fresh coconut with a straw in it. No container necessary.
  • Visit farmers market on the way home.
You can see why waking up without access to bananas, to graviolas, to maracujá, would feel like a morning lived, well, not quite as well. Yes, there are down sides: my gringa skin is peeling off in great sheets and....that's all I can come up with for downsides. I'm making an effort to get back into the rhythm here. I'll do what we do in the Northeast of the U.S. in spring: wear flip flops with sweaters, enjoy flowers and seedlings and the appearance of leaves, eat the first edible weeds of the year (dandelions, garlic mustard, spring onions, fiddleheads), and watch for the emergence of all the pawpaw trees planted last summer. Soon we'll be ankle deep in juneberries and mulberries, and I'll wander around the yard barefooted talking with the cats and eating off the trees. I can't wait!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Distribution - April 11, 2010

As promised, today's share features dulse from a great worker owned company: Ironbound Island.

Okay, so Maine isn't local, but it's not that far away either. These guys paddle out in the early morning, spend hours in the waves, and then dry their seaweeds either on a porch, or, when it's foggy, in a shed with a wood burning stove. They prefer to sell their seaweeds in bulk and eschew packaging. The gorgeous pictures on their site make me dream of getting to go try out seaweed harvesting and sleeping in a hammock. Check out the pretty photos and videos. Also, read Sandor Katz's story of harvesting with Ironbound Island, tucked into this miso recipe.

Then I come to reality and remember that, having just gotten back from Brazil, I was cold today in seventy degree weather. Probably the icy Atlantic off the coast of Maine at sunrise isn't the place for me. Thank goodness they're there to harvest, clean, dry, and ship!

Without more dilly dally, the official list of of items in today's share:
- dehydrated dulse from Ironbound Island
- dried wheatberries from Wild Hive Farm
- the end of the 2009 potato crop from the root cellar, Huguenot Street Farm.
- frozen carrot pulp, Huguenot Street Farm
- frozen peaches, Glorie Farm
- frozen blueberries, mulberries, or concord grapes. The blues and grapes were from Glorie Farm, and the mulberries grew wild on the not-so-wild streets of Beacon.
- frozen green beans, zucchini, kale, or choi, all from Huguenot Street Farm.

If you adore salt, this beautiful purple dulse makes a good snack straight up. Also tossed with a tiny bit of oil and oven baked for a few minutes (a la kale chips), since it turns into a crispy sea chip. Traditionally it's used in soups and chowders. It's incredibly high in protein and vitamins, so consider baking some and getting creative with where you use it: on sandwiches, crumbled over popcorn or salads or grains.

Some of you have been baking bread with your whole wheat (ground, of course), which is great news. I haven't gotten around to baking bread lately, but feel free to invite me over for a slice of yours!

I realize this is a lot of potatoes in a short time, but there have been days warm enough to call for potato salad... Cut the sprouting bits of these and plant them, then eat the rest! There's nothing like digging up your own fresh potatoes.

And carrot pulp. You didn't think I could throw away ten+ gallons of carrot pulp, did you? This stuff is also great for baking, for sauces and dressings, or for yummy creations like carrot rice. Even after freezing much of it, some still went into the compost, where deer enjoyed a carrot-y snack before it ever had time to break down.

If you're craving fresh greens, the year's first "weeds" are available for fresh eating and you won't have to look far to find them. Watch for the ubiquitous garlic mustard and wild onions, both currently running rampant through my yard, and probably yours too.