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Yes, You Should Brine Your Farm-Raised Turkey. Here’s How.

21 Nov

“Why don’t you just get a Butterball and be done with it?” says my brother, or my sister-in-law, or my mother at some point every Thanksgiving or Christmas. “Why do you have to make everything so complicated?”

Indeed.

My immediate family – not unreasonably – often finds my and my dad’s insistence on getting a farm-raised bird expensive, unneccessary and annoying. They are probably right. You have to order ahead. You have to spend $3 or $4 a pound more. You have to go pick it up (although turkey pick-up at Restoration Farm involves seasonal festivities that some people need a designated driver for). And yes, you really need to brine it. Continue reading

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Kids in the Kitchen (6 ways to get them involved)

11 Nov

I am lucky in that my son is healthy and bright and a regular kid in most ways.

I am not lucky, as in: “You are lucky your son eats so well.”

Planting garlic (photo by Marianne Goralski)

In the food department, my son does eat quite well, but my “luck” is — as much of what we call luck is — the result of a lot of effort.

It’s not just that I cook and that I come from a family that has always cooked and eaten well. There are a number of things I do to get Leandro involved in the kitchen and in the food he eats; it doesn’t always lead to direct consumption of say, raw carrots, but over time it has made him a kid who knows where his food comes from and who is willing to give things a try. So I thought I’d share a few with you! Continue reading

Sopa de pollo y fideos (pre-Sandy Chicken Noodle Soup)

4 Nov

Thanks to all those who sent messages of support before, during and after the storm. You are reading the words of someone who feels incredibly blessed; aside from losing power for a few days and a big branch down in the backyard, we came through pretty well. I was even able to attend a teaching conference in Albany (the capital of NYS) which was not affected by the storm, and present successfully with my colleagues from Thursday to Saturday; we were among the few who made it from downstate.

Big tree down in the backyard

Please lend a thought or prayer to the many who have lost lives, or homes, or peace of mind, who are still without power as the temperature drops, or don’t have clean water  or food to eat.

I go back to teaching tomorrow. We already know of one student in our program who lost his life. I am praying for him and his family, as well as hoping that none of our other students were so fatally affected.  I have only heard from three out of my nineteen students and am very anxious for their well-being. We’ll now see how we can help. Our students are immigrants and international students; certainly we will have to help the boy’s family raise the funds to send his body home. Continue reading

Chicken Feet Stock (not for the squeamish, so don’t say I didn’t warn you)

19 Oct

It’s not every day that someone swings a plastic bag of severed extremities at you by way of “hello.”

My Precioussssssssss

But when that day comes and if the swinger happens to be Caroline Fanning, one of the growers at Restoration Farm, and she happens to follow her swing by saying, “Hey do you want some chicken feet?” then you should most definitely say “YEAH!” Continue reading

Lasagna Latina: Tortillas, Beans, and Shredded Chicken

4 Oct

The start of the semester for me and kindergarten for Leandro has me in a tizzy.

One month in, the days seem never-ending and yet never long enough. I am up at 5:30 a.m. every day. Eighteen hours later, I still find myself vertical, eyes open, preparing food, washing dishes, cleaning the bathroom (!), folding clothes, laying out everything for the morning in a semi-headachy fog, wrinkling my nose and wondering, in the words of David Byrne, “How Did I Get Here?”

Scenes from the Farm

So when — oh s**t! — the Restoration Farm End-of-Summer-Potluck came roaring up, I was sort of astonished, and not a little dismayed. Continue reading

Zucchini Fritters, with Manchego, Rosemary, and Thyme

1 Oct

What am I gonna do with this!?! Basta, ya! As enormous bats of zucchini continue to be a big part of our C.S.A. pick-up this summer-into-fall, we start to get desperate for different ways to prepare them. I generally grate them into salads (I dislike raw zucchini, but grated into a salad makes it much more texturally appealing for me!), my dad grills them with just a bit of oil, or we roast them.

Grated zucchini

As much as I adore absolute simplicity in food — from both a preparation and a consumption standpoint — enough is enough. One does need to mix it up a bit, and try new techniques, too. So it was time to be inspired by a recipe for zucchini fritters I saw recently at Emmy Cooks, and another one for zucchini latkes at Deborah Rivera Pittorino’s chef’s blog, Seasoned Fork (full disclosure – you will find book reviews I have written there; The Big Oyster is my favorite). Both recipes seemed simple enough, a lovely change for us over here, and as they are pan-fried, I thought I was in with a chance at getting Leandro to try veggies this way. Continue reading

Roasted Green Beans (Salvaging and Sweetening When Less than Farm Fresh)

27 Sep

We’ve had piles of green beans this season, both from Restoration Farm and from our own little beds. This means that sometimes they stay in the fridge longer than we meant them too.

Then, when the season is over, we’ll probably buy from the supermarket (ssshhhhhh – not particularly seasonally virtuous, but I am working on it) and they won’t have that snappy-sweet farm freshness that we have become used to in late summer. But now I have a new way to make them taste much, much better. Continue reading

Party Snacks: Spanish-Style Tortilla (omelette) with leeks, potatoes, and peas

18 Sep

You say party, I say tortilla. I have loved Spanish tortillas since I tried them on my first trip to Spain a million years ago and have been making them just about as long.

Let us be clear. I am not talking about the bread-like Mexican tortillas that are used for wrapping burritos and quesadillas. I am now talking about Spain, where tortilla means a stove top egg cake, a thick omelette, a frittata. Many are vegetarian (and many are not). All of them allow you to play with ingredients!

Continue reading

Stuffed and Roasted Patty Pan Squash (Yes, you can eat the rind!)

6 Sep

Yes! Those adorable yellow Madeleine berets next to the zucchini and yellow squash are edible! You can even eat the rind!

I really need a steamer. And after this little experiment, I also need a new strainer. it went kaput!

Pattypan squash is the single most searched for recipe on this blog, so I know many readers are out there trying to figure out whatever to do with them. I was equally mystified when we first started getting them at our weekly CSA pick-up. But a little experimenting later, now I know they are loads of fun.

Continue reading

Green Tomato and Tomatillo Bisque (Life-Goes-On-Lessons from the Garden)

4 Sep

I got my first inkling of disaster from the Blogosphere.

The fabulous Karen of Backroad Journal chronicled her battle with late blight in a recent post about her tomatoes. I gasped. In my myopic focus on avoiding the blossom end rot that plagued my tomatoes last year – a result of uneven watering while we were gallivanting about the island keeping the boy on the hop and too busy/tired to cause trouble — I had neglected to consider the possibility of late blight. After all, wasn’t that all done with in the catastrophic 2009 season? (It should have been done with after the Irish Potato Famine of 1845, but apparently not). Continue reading

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