Farm to School Forum: King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

Join Upper Valley Farm to School Network as we learn how to make the dough!

 

 

KAFBFG

King Arthur Flour Bake for Good Kids Program

  • Kids LEARN to make bread from scratch. Math + science + reading + baking know-how = something delicious!
  • Kids BAKE. They practice their new skills and use ingredients we provide to bake bread or rolls.
  • Kids SHARE within the community, and give part of their baked goods to those in need. (They keep some to enjoy!)

How does BFGK Self-Directed Group Baking work? 

  • 5-50 kids, grades 4-12
  • Kids watch BFGK video with you
  • KAF provides flour, yeast, recipe booklets, dough scrapers, video lesson, and more
  • Kids work in teams, bake together with you, and donate rolls

Learn how easy (and fun!) it is to bring our very popular free BFGK Self-Directed Program to YOUR students. We’ll show you how it works, how to access helpful information, and practice some roll shaping skills! Take home BFGK Program materials and enjoy some homemade pizza!

Instructor: Paula Gray, is the Manager of the Bake for Good Kids Program. She has been an educator/presenter for over 30 years, and is an employee owner of the King Arthur Flour Company in Norwich, VT

When: Monday May 8, 2017, 4-5:30 pm

Where: Hartford Area Career and Technical Center

Fee: FREE!

Register: Contact Beth Roy at Beth@VitalCommunities.org or (802)291-9100 x105

Vital Communities Feb2016 SMALL-20

Take Stock

Stock – essentially a long-cooked infusion of bones, meat scraps, or vegetables – embodies several of my favorite qualities: thrifty, healthy, old-fashioned, and delicious.

Thrifty: Stock is made with leftovers and scraps. Most of us in America have gotten used to throwing away bones, onion ends, and carrot peelings, but these have an important second life.

Have picked-over roast chicken bones? Or slimy raw bones and skin after cutting up thighs for a stir-fry? Save them all in a plastic bag in the freezer. Peeling carrots or cutting up celery for your kids’ lunches? Save the scraps, and put them in another plastic bag in the freezer.

Make stock when you have time and enough scraps saved. Then freeze it until you need it. I freeze mine in old quart yogurt containers – it’s the right amount for a batch of soup.

Healthy: Stock is touted for its health benefits since the slow cooking of bones extracts nutrients from the connective tissue and bone marrow. When it’s cool, stock should be somewhat gelatinous.

Called “Jewish penicillin” by some, the comforting and healing properties of chicken soup – and indeed any soup made with bones – are recognized around the world. Once a barista in San Francisco recommended his native Iran’s home remedy for my torn knee meniscus: a stock from chicken feet (for maximum gelatin and connective tissue). I still make that from time to time, and I make regular chicken stock and other meat stock to heal colds and flu.

Vital Communities Feb2016 SMALL-62Old-fashioned: My Jewish grandmother made chicken soup full of matzo balls, giblets, and lots of yellow chicken fat on top. My Scandinavian/German grandmother made all sorts of amazing soup from chicken, pork, or beef bones. No matter where you’re from, you likely know older folks who make soup this way. Use the knowledge of the ancestors.

Delicious: Stock can be used for the base of a soup broth or for various sauces. It makes things rich and tasty. Use it if you can, and you’ll notice a subtle but real difference. Chicken soup made with long-cooked roasted bones and plenty of onion is perfect food.

The Recipes:

Meat stock

Use cooked or raw bones, or a combination. Skin is good too. Raw bones will make lighter stock with a more delicate flavor. Cooked – particularly roasted – bones will make a darker richer stock. There are all kinds of subtleties, rules, and small steps that you can take to make a restaurant-worthy stock, but we’re just at home and making normal people stock.

  1. By weight (roughly) combine one part bone, skin, and meat scraps and two parts cold water in a stockpot.
  2. Put the pot on very low heat, and cook uncovered for hours. Overnight is good if you feel comfortable doing that. Otherwise 4-6 hours is fine. Add more water anytime if needed.
  3. Ideally, the heat should be low enough that the stock only bubbles every couple of seconds. Higher heat is okay but your stock will be cloudy.
  4. If you’re adding vegetables, do so only during the last 20-30 minutes of cooking. They will lose their flavor if cooked longer than that.
  5. Skim off foam as it’s cooking.
  6. When it’s done, strain, cool, and skim off the fat (you can save this for cooking).Vital Communities Feb2016 SMALL-70

Vegetable stock

  1. By weight (roughly) combine one part vegetable scraps and two parts cold water.
  2. Simmer uncovered for 30-60 minutes, then strain, cool, and you’re done!

It’s important to choose your vegetables wisely. I said scraps, but don’t use rotting or moldy pieces. Use the bits that are just too tough to chew or are less pretty – like the tough outer layer of a peeled onion.

Vegetables to add to stock/broth for delicious flavor:
– onion and garlic scraps
– carrot ends and peels
– celery leaves and tough outer stalks

– fennel scraps, stems, and fronds
– corn cobs
– mushroom stems
– leek and scallion scraps
– tomatoes
– parsley stems

Things NOT to add unless you specifically want these attributes:
– beets – weird color and flavor
– cabbage, kale, broccoli, etc. – yuck, cabbage tea!
– strongly flavored herbs
– people say you can add onion skins to stock. I tried it for the photo here, and it gives a nice dark color, but I found it made the stock bitter.

By Bethany Fleishman

Photo credit: Julia A. Reed

kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)

Kale, Caesar!

kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (9)My favorite way to eat kale is not new or trendy – I like it cooked tender and until it’s ​no longer bright green. But on a hot day or for company or a potluck, kale Caesar is refreshing and a little fancy.

Kale salad is trendy right now, and kale Caesar, specifically, is very Vermont chic.

Raw kale is a nice alternative or addition to lettuce in a salad – especially if you already have kale and don’t want to buy lettuce or salad greens. Plus, making croutons for Caesar salad is a good way to use up stale bread.

For eating raw in salads, choose fresh kale with smaller leaves. The flavor tends to get stronger as the leaves mature on the plant or in your fridge. Have a lot of older kale sitting around? Rip off a piece and see what it tastes like. A braise with plenty of salt, garlic, bacon fat,​ and a splash of leftover wine might be a better choice than a salad.

To prepare kale for any salad, pull the stems off and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle them with a little salt and oil and squeeze them with your fists until the leaves get wilted and soft. People call this “massaging” the kale but I think that sounds weird. Add dressing and other ingredients and serve!

Here, we’re going to make Caesar salad with dressing and croutons from scratch. If you prefer, you can always use store bought croutons and/or Caesar dressing, but don’t be put off by the fairly straightforward  process of making your own. You’ll build kitchen skills and have a better end product.

–Bethany Fleishman, Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this summer for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Photo credits: Julia A. Reed

Kale Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
Recipes adapted from Tyler Florence and from Natasha’s Kitchen

Ingredients

1-2 bunches green or lacinato/dinosaur kale

freshly grated Parmesan, or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm

Croutons
2 cups of stale bread, cubed or torn into chunks, crusts left on

2 T unsalted butter

2 T extra virgin olive oil

2 medium garlic cloves, smashed or minced

1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped, or 1 t dried thyme

1/4 t salt

1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

Dressing
4 anchovy fillets or 2 t anchovy pasteblueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (5)

1 clove garlic, smashed or minced

1 lemon, very well squeezed

1 yolk from a fresh local egg (save the white in the freezer to add to scrambled eggs or to make cakes or meringues)

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (or any hard sharp cheese from a local farm)

freshly ground black pepper

salt

Make the croutons first:butter herbs cooking credit Julia A Reed
1. In a small saucepan, heat the butter, olive oil, garlic cloves, thyme, and pepper over medium heat until butter is melted and bubbly. Set aside and let the flavors infuse into the oil. (Wash the kale and pat dry while you wait.)
2. Drizzle the butter/olive oil mixture evenly ocroutons kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (1)ver the bread cubes and toss until they have an even coating of oil.
3. Spread the croutons in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 375˚F for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown and crunchy. Set aside to let cool.

Make the dressing next:
Blend the anchovies, garlic, egg yolk, and lemon juice for 30 seconds until the mixture is smooth (use an immersion blender in a tall mug or wide-mouth canning jar). With the blender running, pour the olive oil in slowly for the dressing to emulsify it. Stir in the Parmesan and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Season, to taste, with salt and set aside. Refrigerate the dressing if you will not be using it right away.blueberry fool credit Julia A Reed (13)

Assemble the salad:
Pull off the kale stems and break leaves into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle a little salt and olive oil/salad oil over the leaves and squeeze them with your fists until the kale gets
somewhat wilted and soft. Add enough dressing to coat the salad to your liking. Add the croutons and some extra Parmesan and toss the salad well.kale caesar credit Julia A Reed (7)

Eat it now or eat it tomorrow. The kale holds up well with dressing and a night in the fridge, but leave off the croutons until serving.

MWC: Recommended Recipes & Blogs

The Beeroness: Baking and Cooking with Beer

Grilled-Beer-Cheese-Stuffed-Bacon-Wrapped-Jalapenos2

From TheBeeroness.com:

Jackie Dodd’s beer infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015. The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade MagazineDraft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. She is also the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and the newly released Craft Beer Bites Cookbook.


Smitten Kitchen: Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York

spiced-roasted-carrots-with-avocado-and-yogurt

From SmittenKitchen.com:

What you’ll see here is: A lot of comfort foods stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything from how to poach an eggto how to make tart doughs that don’t shrink up on you, but also a favorite side dish (zucchini and almonds) that takes less than five minutes to make.

What I’m wary of is: Excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients. I don’t do truffle oil, Himalayan pink salt at $10 per quarter-ounce or single-origin chocolate that can only be found through Posh Nosh-approved purveyors. I think food should be accessible, and am certain that you don’t need any of these things to cook fantastically.


Food Republic

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From FoodRepublic.com:

Food Republic was founded in 2010 by chef Marcus Samuelsson and the Samuelsson Group, and launched in April 2011 under the direction of Editorial Director Richard Martin. In a short time, it has become one of the foremost sources for news and commentary on food, drink, design, travel and more, published to a wide audience in the United States and abroad.

The site features a daily lineup of interviews with prominent chefs and personalities, stories about the lifestyle around food and drink, and recipes drawn from the Food Republic Test Kitchen, as well as from acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors. Most of the content is original and produced exclusively for the website by its staff and contributors around the world.


Fit Men Cook

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From FitMenCook.com:

Fitness is a lifelong journey and I could not imagine a life of eating boring, bland food just to be healthy.  Now more than ever, I firmly believe that healthier food options do not have to be boring. Ever. In fact, they are pretty tasty.  And even better, the lifestyle changed worked. As I saw my physique begin to change, I was motivated to push harder and set more aggressive goals.  Not only did I learn how to lose weight, but also I learned how to gain muscle, with small tweaks in both my diet and training.


The Kitchn

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From TheKitchn.com:

Helping everyone live happier, healthier lives at home through their kitchen. The Kitchn is a daily food magazine on the Web celebrating life in the kitchen through home cooking and kitchen intelligence. This is a site for people who like to get their hands dirty while they cook. It is for those who care about the quality of their food, and how it affects the health of themselves and the planet. It is for cooks who care about design and want to create a beautiful kitchen. It’s a place to dive in deep, and embrace the joy of one of our basic needs: Food, cooked at home, nourishing ourselves and our households.

 

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Spring Salad Made From Anything

I made this colorful crunchy salad on the fly on Memorial Day when the grocery stores were closed for the holiday and my parents, siblings, and out-of-town cousin were on their way over for dinner. I wanted a salad but only had asparagus, broccolini, scallions, and radishes from Cedar Circle Farm plus a few carrots in the fridge and herbs in the garden. And thus this salad put itself together with a little thoughtful slicing and a lemon dressing.

Thoughtful slicing? By that I mean thinking about the best way to slice each vegetable to make the salad both beautiful AND to make each bite make sense in your mouth.

For example, radishes are pungent and spicy, so I sliced some of them into paper-thin rounds and the rest into thin wedges – both shapes ensure a huge chunk of radish won’t ruin a bite. 

Similarly, raw carrots are great, but I don’t love them shredded and neither do I want huge carrot sticks. So I cut them in thinIMG_1127 irregular slices on the diagonal that are easy to pick up with a fork without too much crunching and drama. I prefer my broccoli cooked, so I did that before slicing it into long strips.

You get the idea. Give each vegetable a moment of thought to optimize its good qualities and make it pretty and easy to eat. Mix up colors and flavors, shapes and textures.

This salad can be made with any spring vegetable you like eating. Keep a vegetable raw if it tastes good raw (like scallions, kholrabi, peas, and radishes). Briefly steam, saute, or roast it if it’s better cooked (like broccoli, fiddleheads, or bok choy) and then cool before adding. Don’t forget the fresh herbs! I mixed dill, cilantro, basil, and marjoram, all from my backyard. In my opinion, any combination of fresh herbs is good in a salad.

(I used a lemon dressing, but you can use any dressing you have and like. Optional additions are grated, crumbled, or shaved cheese of your choosing, a cooked grain or pasta, beans, or pieces of chicken.)

–Bethany Fleishman,Vital Communities’ Transportation Program Assistant and former pastry chef, is contributing recipes this spring for our Valley Food & Farm program.

Here’s my recipe; adapt as needed:

Spring Salad Made From Anything

Ingredients

one bunch asparagus – kept raw and shaved into ribbons with a peeler (or if you prefer it cooked, steam, cool, and slice)

4-6 radishes, some thinly sliced into rounds, the rest sliced into thin wedges (you can keep the root and a little of the green intact)

3-5 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thinly on the diagonal (extra pretty that way)

2-4 carrots, sliced into thin and irregular spears on the diagonal

2-3 stalks broccolini or one head of broccoli, briefly steamed, cooled, then sliced into long thin pieces

a handful of fresh herbs – basil, cilantro, parsley, marjoram, dill, chives, etc.

salt

Mix everything together in a salad bowl with a little salt (these vegetable chunks will soak up more salt than a plain salad of greens, so don’t be shy with the salt).IMG_1129

Make a lemon vinaigrette with:

half a lemon, juice & grated rind 

one clove garlic, sliced, mashed, or grated

salt & pepper

1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk this all together until smooth and creamy. Toss with the salad and serve immediately.

*Also on the family Memorial day supper menu:
– delicious juicy hamburgers with beef from Back Beyond Farm in Chelsea, Vermont, covered in fried onions and spicy sauerkraut.
– A grain salad my mom made
– Vermont ice cream with chocolate sauce.

**Thank you to my brother Ben for the photos.

Newbury apple joy

Quick & Healthy Family Lunches

There are several options for providing mid-day sustenance for your school-aged children. Many schools have excellent school lunches, but packing a lunch to send to school is sometimes necessary. If packing an exciting, healthy brown bag lunch that comes home empty at the end of the day is one of your New Year’s resolutions – here’s some help. This blog post is from our Everyday chef partner, Elena Gustavson from RAFFL, and is filled with tips to becoming a better “lunch crafter”.

 

Lunch

The dreaded brown bag lunch of yesteryear, filled with bologna sandwiches and mealy apples is a thing of the past! There are blogs and articles everywhere filled with recipes for creative, healthy lunches and a booming retail industry that has cropped up around lunch bags and bento boxes. Nowadays, even the school lunch line looks different from 10 years ago, where Farm to School programs abound in Vermont and National School Lunch Program Standards have transformed frozen tater tots and cardboard pizza into vibrant salad bars and balanced main courses carried by smiling children.

 

Or has it?

 

Let’s face it. Nothing is perfect. As a nation, we are making strides in nutrition and health, but the strides are still uneven. Headlines have abounded in the last few years about children tossing their fresh fruits and veggies under the noses of their teachers or studies showing home packed lunches being less nutritious than the school. Add to this the time deficit that most of us seem to be working under and it seems no matter our good intentions, many of us struggle to model healthy eating for our children. Case in point, my kids have found a cold slice of cheese pizza in their lunch bags more than once this year.

 

And I would like to remind you that I am a professional cook.

 

So, in the spirit of “been there”, I offer a few tips that make “lunch crafting” easier on most days along with a tried and true recipe for a creamy chicken salad that with even a reluctant eater, won’t find its way to the bottom of a compost bin.

 

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

 

Tips:

  • Plan Meals: Yep, you know it’s true and I am here to tell you that it works. Nevermind that I am a menu nerd or that I have been known to make up fantasy meals for fun. Spending a bit of time in the beginning of each week to plan out lunches (and supper for that matter) is very helpful with time management, using up leftovers, creating balanced diets and saving money. There are millions and trillions (that is only a slight exaggeration) of free planners on the internet, from adorable printables to dense recipe databases on favorite food sites. And, when you are taking the long view of what your family is eating each week, the stress that can accompany serving a balanced meal 3 times a day, becomes less if your family is eating healthy over the course of several days instead.
  • Be Prepared: It is very difficult to make home lunches if your pantry is bare and there isn’t a container in site. Take the time to purchase the ingredients you need, stock your cupboards or shelves with containers and bags for carry-in lunches and send your family off with what they need to eat well. If you can, carve out a space where you can make lunches with relative ease because it is easily accessible and well stocked. In our house, there is a 2X2 foot counter sandwiched between a drawer with my containers, jars and baggies and a shelf with our lunch bags, napkins and non-perishable snacks.
  • Eat Seasonally: Even here in Zone 4 Vermont, there is a lot of fresh eating food available that is at the peak of its flavor (translating into “delicious”) and is less expensive than when you try to hunt it down out of season, (say, like, strawberries in January). Use the Vermont Department of Agriculture’s harvest calendar to help you know what is available locally.
  • Create a Habit: Get into a rhythm of planning and making lunches so that it becomes a part of your routine. Are the mornings usually hectic, then carve out a few minutes in the evening to start thinking about and setting up lunches for the next day. Are you an early bird? Take the quiet time in the morning to get lunches started and have them ready by the door before the kids head out for school. No matter how you do it, there are bound to be bumps along the way, but stick with it and before you know it, your consistency will give birth to a healthy habit!
  • Lean Protein + Whole Grain + Fresh Vegetable + Sensible Sweet. Pair a healthy protein with a whole grain option, using fresh from the garden veggies and add a bit of sensible, satisfying sweet to ward off less sensible choices. with a whole grain and fresh garden treats with a sensible sweet. Some quick ideas: +
    • Egg salad + whole grain crackers + chopped romaine lettuce + 2 chocolate kisses
    • Turkey breast + whole wheat wrap + mashed butternut squash + apple slices
    • Black beans + brown rice + pico de gallo salsa and/or guacamole + popcorn with cinnamon and maple sugar
  • Think Outside the Box: You do not have to eat a sandwich to have lunch. I have packed up meals that were re-purposed from supper two nights before or a very basic mix of cheddar cheese squares, sliced apples, roasted pumpkin seeds and whole grain crackers. It is easy to get caught up in the mundane of day to day, but try mixing things up a bit and offer your family some unusual choices. Their interest and desire to try new things just might surprise you!

rutabags HS Oct. 15 for website

Does all this mean that you will put together elegant, healthy AND delicious lunches five days a week, receiving rave reviews from friends and family?  Eh, probably not, but you can inch closer to lunch stardom if you plan ahead, create habits and persevere, even when you hit a bump in the road.

 

Helpful Links:

Lunch Planner Printable on Living Locurto: http://cf.livinglocurto.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Free-Printable-Weekly-Lunch-Planner.pdf

 

Eating Well, Healthy Lunches: http://www.eatingwell.com/search/apachesolr_search/healthy%20lunches

 

VT Dept of Ag, Harvest Calendar:

http://agriculture.vermont.gov/buy_local/harvest_calendar

 

18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick, from LifeHack.Org: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/18-tricks-to-make-new-habits-stick.html

Newbury apple joy

Recipe:

Creamy Dreamy Chicken Salad
Approximately 6 servings

Cook’s Notes: Including yogurt in the dressing, gives this chicken the slightest bit of tang, making the salad more interesting. The lower calories from the light mayo and yogurt means this is all about the chicken, the protein and the vegetables rather than the dressing. Pairs well as a sandwich filling or on top of greens or both!

Feel free to omit the nuts and dried fruit if you have a finicky eater and if you prefer a drier chicken salad, start with just a third of the dressing and add more as you like. Excellent recipe to make ahead and keep refrigerated for a few days. No time to poach chicken? No problem. Leftover chicken works fantastic!

Ingredients:

2lbs chicken breasts or chicken tenders (can substitute with two 10 oz cans of chicken, drained)

⅓ cup chopped celery

⅓ cup chopped bell pepper, green

2 tablespoons of red onion, minced

4 to 7 tablespoons of sliced almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

¼ to ⅓ cup of dried fruit (cranberries and apricots are delicious)

 

Dressing:

⅓ cup of light mayonnaise

⅓  cup of plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon of dijon or whole grain mustard (can substitute yellow mustard)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of cider vinegar

1 teaspoon or less of maple syrup or honey (optional)

½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

½ teaspoon of ground black pepper (can substitute ground white pepper to give it less “bite”)

 

Directions:

Fill a large pot ⅔ full of water and bring to a boil. Carefully add the chicken breast or tenders and bring back to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes (breasts) or 15 minutes (tenders) or until a thermometer reads 165 f. Remove chicken from pot and let sit for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Shred the meat with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cooled.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and maple syrup. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, pile the shredded chicken, celery, bell pepper, onion, nuts/seeds and dried fruit. Pour on the dressing and gently fold together until mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL

curried squash apple soup2

Curried Squash Apple Soup

This is the start of soup season at my house. Soups are comforting and can be super easy, like this amazingly delicious 3 ingredient soup (there are 3 main ingredients, but there are some spices and cider that you’ll need, too).

The original recipe is from Ina Garten, but I’ve made a few adjustments to reduce the spice level. A trick I use to make this a 15 minute soup is to pre-cook the squash. When I have too many squash rolling around the kitchen counter (CSA share back log, irresistible sale at the farm stand, garden abundance, etc.), I cook all the squash at once and then freeze what I don’t need. That way I can just pull the pre-cooked squash from the freezer and add it right into the soup.

(Easy tip for cooking winter squash and pumpkins: Cut whole squash in half, scrape out the seeds and place cut side down on a baking sheet (lined with foil if you want to make clean up really easy). Add a little water to the pan and cook in pre-heated 350 degree oven until tender. Scoop flesh from the skin and freeze in pre-portioned amounts.)

curried squash apple soup


Curried Squash and Apple Soup
courtesy of Ina Garten, The Food Network

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp each butter & olive oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large butternut squash, peeled, cleaned, and cubed
2 apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1/2 -1 tsp curry powder (adds heat & flavor)
1 1/2 tsp Garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 cup apple cider, juice, or water

(Garam masala is a traditional Indian blend of spices including clove, cinnamon, pepper, cumin, and cardamon.  You can find it in most grocery stores or co-ops.)

Squash apples
Directions:
Heat butter, olive oil, onion, and curry powder in a soup pot on low heat for 10-15 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Add squash, apple, salt, Garam masala, cider or water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and cook over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until very tender.

Remove from heat. Puree with blender, food processor, or immersion blender. Return to heat and thin with cider to desired thickness. Serve and enjoy!

 

Kale

Five Ways to Stretch Your LOCAL Food Dollar

We know that spending our dollars in local businesses has a big and positive impact, both economically, environmentally and directly within our communities. We also know that those same benefits can be applied when we spend our food dollars with local farmers, which in turn have local cultural impacts as well.

This does not change the fact that local food can often be more expensive, or at least perceived as such, and for most of us, that means making every penny count.

  1. Purchase in Season. Vermont has become almost famous for its season extension techniques, as evidence of the gleaming hoop houses dotting our landscape. Although this is fantastic and beneficial, if you can stand to wait until July for your basil and August for your tomatoes, then you will find that because there is more product being produced, you will find a good price almost anywhere you decide to shop for your local food. Check out the Department of Agriculture’s Harvest Calendar to get a good idea of when food is typically being harvested in Vermont throughout the seasons.
  2. Take advantage of direct to consumer sales. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), farmers’ markets, farm stands and pick-your-own crops are fantastic ways to get fresh, local produce at a price that works for you AND the farmer. The challenge is that it isn’t as easy as one-stop shopping at the supermarket, but a great way to know your farmer and your food. Go ahead. Compare the prices of a CSA to what you would purchase in the grocery store and you could see a savings of 10% to 25%.
  3. Support local cooperatives, buying clubs/bulk purchasing and online markets. If purchasing directly from the farmer is a little too much running around for a Saturday or you prefer to have more control over what you might get in a CSA box, explore your local co-op and buying clubs for better deals than the supermarket can get you. If you are interested in buying in quantity, either on your own or with friends, many farms are able and willing to give you a discount for a minimum purchase, even if it is just the one time. More recently, online farmers’ markets make purchasing from your local farmer nothing more than a click away and although a bit more expensive than purchasing directly at the farmers’ market, usually less expensive than picking it up from the local supermarket.

frozen chix header

  1. Go whole hog. Or chicken. Or cow. Or carrot. Unlike say, the rest of the world, Americans seem adverse (okay, squeamish) to using certain parts of an animal. Lengua or beef tongue, is delicious and easy to cook for a flavorful filling in a tacos, stew or chili. It is also just a few dollars per pound when compared to a sirloin steak. The same could be said for oxtail or shin steaks, parts of the cow that are both unfamiliar to many eaters as well as cooks, but make the most amazing and flavorful additions to a braising pot. Buy a chicken whole, roast it and after you pick the carcass clean of its meat, pop what is left, bones and all, into a big pot with cold water, a few carrot tops, some onion skin and herbs and make a broth that can be frozen into bags or freezer proof jars. Use the roasted meat for sandwiches, salads, in pot pies and casseroles as well as soup and stews. For my family of seven (of which four are active teens), I can feed several lunches and dinner at least twice in a week with two, 6 lb birds. At $4/lb, it comes to approximately $2.15 per person TOTAL, not including the 4 to 6 cups of broth still in the freezer for future meals. And I haven’t even mentioned carrot top pesto, or roasted broccoli stems or sauteed chard stems or fried green tomatoes or vegetable stock…
  2. Plan. Plan. Plan. Let’s face it. We waste food. Whether it is because we live in a throwaway culture, have eyes bigger than our stomachs or just let things rot in the back of the fridge, Americans waste approximately 30% to 40% of our food supply, which equates to 20 lbs of food per person per month. Twenty. Pounds. So, if you are going to spend your hard earned dollars on local food, try to spend a half hour or so each week, making a simple plan of how to use that food. Make menus, get comfortable with cooking a few key dishes and don’t be afraid to preserve food, turn it into stocks or create make-ahead meals for the freezer. Check the end of this post for some helpful links.

Resources:

  1. Huffington Post: Why Buying Local is Worth Every Cent, Michael Saguero
  2. University of Vermont: Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food, Vern Grubinger
  3. North Carolina Cooperative Extension: Research Based Support and Extension Outreach for Local Food Systems
  4. Forbes Magazine: If You Buy Local, You’ll Have Less Money to Spend Locally, Eric Kain
  5. Vermont Department of Agriculture, Harvest Calendar
  6. Vital Communities
  7. Rutland Farm and Food Link, Farm Fresh Connect
  8. World Food Day USA

by Elena Gustavson, Rutland Area Farm & Food Link Everyday Chef

herb starts

Herbs: Bring on the Fresh

Cooking with herbs lends a bright, fresh note to food and whether used sparingly or with gusto, can completely transform a dish.

Easy to grow (many tend to benefit from benign neglect), herbs can live on a sunny windowsill or outside in a garden, making it fairly easy for most cooks to keep on hand. Read on for five different ways to use fresh herbs in your everyday cooking.

Herbs

Salad Dressings and Marinades

Herbs like parsley, thyme and cilantro, can play a starring role when it comes to salad dressing and marinade. Combine vinegar or lemon juice, a heart healthy oil like olive, safflower or canola oil, salt and pepper with your favorite, readily available herbs. Don’t be afraid to really pack in the green! Stem woody herbs like thyme or oregano, and roughly chop the stems and leaves of softer herbs like basil, parsley, cilantro and chives. If you decide to stem all of your herbs, throw the stems into a favorite oil to infuse overnight or bring a pot of vinegar to a simmer, add the herbal discards, cover and let steep for an hour or two. Strain out the solids, bottle and use on anything you like!

parsley

Herb Pastes: Pesto, Pistou & Sofrito
Combining fresh herbs with olive oil and garlic is used throughout many regions in the world. Many of us are familiar with pesto – a sauce made by processing basil with olive oil and garlic, along with pine nuts (or pignolas) and parmesan cheese – but there are variations of this sauce throughout the world. Pistou, originating in the Provencal region of France, processes basil with sea salt, olive oil and garlic – no cheese or nuts. Sofrito uses cilantro, garlic and olive oil, adding peppers and paprika to the mix.

My favorite is a very basic paste of herbs (basil, parsley, cilantro or a combination thereof), garlic, olive oil and a pinch of kosher or sea salt, frozen in 1 1/2 inch logs wrapped in parchment, wax or freezer paper. I then pop the logs in a plastic bag and freeze. Whenever I need a bit of fresh herb flavor for sauces, butters, marinades, etc, I take a sharp knife and slice off what I need – no thawing necessary – and pop everything right back in the freezer for next time.

cilantro

Herb Salad
Nothing says summer than a fresh herb salad. Mix mints with basil, lemon balm with oregeno, cilantro with garlic chives or any other combination you can think of. For a quick salad, mix your favorite herbs with shredded greens like chard or spinach. Sprinkle with sea salt, ground black pepper, minced garlic, a sprinkle of your favorite vinegar or squeeze of something citrus and a heart healthy oil like olive or safflower. If you had a few edible flowers to include like nasturiums, borage, or violets, all the better.

Tea
When you have more herbs than you know what to do with, make tea! Mint, an easy to grow herb, can be used fresh by either pouring boiling water over leaves or allowing them to soak for a couple of hours in cold water. Also try basil or parsley with lemon, chamomile and thyme with a slice of cucumber. You can also gather herbs and dry on paper towels or by hanging in a dry, breezy spot, out of direct sun. Store in an airtight container and enjoy all winter long.

 

Preserving Summer Herbs
Most of us know that herbs can be preserved by drying or by processing into oil (like the herb pastes above) and freezing, but you can also preserve herbs in butter and vinegar.

For butter, add one part minced herbs to two parts softened butter and mix. Shape into a 1 1/2 inch log, wrap in paper and freeze. Slice what you need when you need it, straight out of the freezer!

For vinegars, you will need glass bottles with cork stoppers or plastic lids (vinegar eats away at metal). Fill the bottle(s) with cider vinegar for more robust herbs like rosemary or white wine vinegar for more delicate tasting herbs like lemon balm or thyme. Add fresh or dried herbs, pushing into the bottles with a chopstick or wooden skewer, and close the bottle tightly. Use 1/2 cup of herbs to 2 cups of vinegar, but feel free to experiment with ratios. Store in a cool, dry place.

 

by Elena Gustavson, Everyday Chef

Garlic scapes

Scape Season

When a garlic bulb matures and sends up a stalk for a flower with the goal of reproducing, the flavorful shoot is called the scape. Garlic scapes are abundant this time of year, but have a very short season. So when you’ve had enough of adding them to your stir-fries, a quick way to preserve the scape season is to freeze pureed scapes. The frozen paste can be thawed to make a delicious scape pesto, used as a rub for a roast, or as the base for a sauce for pasta or potatoes. Substituting garlic scape puree for garlic can add a little zing to any dish.

Puree scapes in food processor

Making the puree is super easy. Chop of the flower head from the scapes and puree the stalks in a food processor until smooth. Spoon puree into small to medium size containers. Fill containers to the top because you don’t want any air to cause freezer-burn. Date and freeze.

Last week when I was in a rush to get dinner on the table, I substituted the scape puree for basil pesto on a pizza. I drizzled the pre-cooked pizza crust with olive oil and spread the puree over the crust. Then I added chopped sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese and heated it up for about 10 minutes. Everyone loved the unique flavor combination, and the garlic had enough zip to be interesting.

final scape2

You can take it one step further and make pesto by adding nuts and cheese to the food processor. You can find an Everyday Chef post about Garlic Scape Pesto here.

 

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