Tag Archives: CSA

Food and NCC: Oran Hesterman, Fair Food, and a Trip to Restoration Farm

22 Apr
(Update from Natalia: please see comments for a response from Dr. Hesterman!)

Spring has sprung upon me with flurry of all good things. Reunions, gardening, visits from family, coursework, channeling my inner drama queen for my film student cousin’s movies (!), learning opportunities, parties…It has been a terrific few weeks. However, it has left my blog community rather neglected! I have missed you too.

Dr. Hesterman and students (and me, bottom left)

Dr. Hesterman and students (and me, bottom left)

Mind you, I have been cooking, but some of it has been experimentation that hasn’t quite worked out yet (falafel comes to mind). Other stuff has been tried and true recipes that you have read about before. And well, yes, I have been out to eat, ordered in, skipped meals, eaten a lot of salad (in anticipation of the shorts and T-shirt season), fed my son pizza (even for breakfast! oh, the shame…) and scavenged from my parent’s leftovers. So I don’t have as much as usual to report on the actual making-of-food front.

I do, however, want to share a few tidbits with you and happily, they involve a unification of my food world and my teaching world! (But if my students tell you I made them shovel shit, it is simply not true! Well, not entirely. Read on for details) 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

French Chicken in a Pot

20 Dec

In case you were wondering (TW, Donna, Lesly, Trish, and Steve in particular!) what I did with the last two pastured birds from the Restoration Farm Chicken Project…well let me catch you up!

Those new to the blog should know that we participated in a pilot pastured chicken share at our C.S.A. initiated by Trisha Hardgrove. The birds, five in all, were raised out on the farm, grazing and eating organic feed and processed right on-site. They were extraordinarily tasty and the texture was beautiful. So far I’ve done a traditional Asopao de Pollo (Soupy Chicken and Rice), a Rosemary-Lemon Roasted Chicken, and a Tandoori-Style Roast Chicken . My dad did the fourth in a lovely and warming chicken noodle soup, but I don’t have the recipe for that.

For the fifth and final bird of the season I went with another Cook’s Illustrated recipe, with, once again, only the very slightest modifications (a bit more rosemary, for example). The skin wasn’t crispy, but O.M.G. the tender savory chicken and the PAN JUICES. Wow. The secret is the Dutch Oven and not roasting your side vegetables in the same container, as they release a lot of liquid and dilute the chicken juices.

The instructions may look a bit long, but it is really easy – prep and forget. Effortless excellence!

I did oven-fried sweet potatoes separately for this one.

French Chicken in a Pot

You need a 6-quart Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid for this recipe

One 4.5-5 lb chicken, giblets removed

Salt and pepper

1 Tbs olive oil

1 small onion, chopped roughly

1 small rib celery, chopped roughly

6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 bay leaf

2 sprigs fresh rosemary (if desired)

½ – 2 tsp fresh lemon juice

  1. Place oven rack on lowest position and hear oven to 250°. Pat chicken dry with paper towels, season generously with salt and as much pepper as you see fit. Tuck wings behind back.
  2. On the stovetop, heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat until just smoking. Add chicken, breast side down; scatter onion, celery, garlic, bay leaf, and (optional) rosemary sprigs around chicken. Cook until breast is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Using wooden spoon inserted into cavity of bird, flip chicken breast side up and cook another 6-8 minutes, until you get nice browning on chicken and vegetables.
  3. Off heat, cover top of pot tightly with aluminum foil and cover with lid. Transfer pot to oven and cook chicken until breast registers 160° and thighs register 175°.
  4. Transfer chicken to carving board, cover loosely with foil and rest for 20 minutes. Strain chicken juices from pot through a strainer and discard the solids. Let juices settle for 5 minutes , then set over medium heat in a saucepan. Carve chicken, adding additional juices to saucepan. Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken, with the sauce passed around separately.

See My Article in Edible East End magazine

26 Oct

As regular readers know, I am a member of Restoration Farm CSA. This month you can read my article about the farm, On Good Land: Restoration Farm, in Edible East End magazine, either by clicking here, or by picking up a copy if you live in Eastern Long Island.

It’s a gorgeous magazine – Edible Communities family of magazines just won a James Beard Award for Publication of The Year 2011  — so I am quite pleased to be a part of what they do. If you do go and have a look, please comment on the article, as I believe that will encourage the publisher to continue recognizing and supporting good food efforts in my overpopulated part of NY!

A Breakfast-Induced Temporary Stay of Execution

13 Oct

This has been a rough week for blogging, for cooking, really for anything outside basic workweek survival – I’ve been so damn tired that I’ve been going to bed at the same time as my four-year-old and only waking up when the alarm jangles me most unwillingly back to my body.

I suspect it is due to some sort of vague mid-life angst, coupled with a pretty strenuous reality, what with full-time work and the whole single-mom-by-choice thing (in my darker moments I call it single-mom-no-child-support) and making three meals a day, dishes and laundry and the rest. Then the awful, dank, depressing nature of current events – if it isn’t the dismal economy, it is the petty irresponsible politicking, or any number of crimes against humanity and Mother Nature (and then of course when the nightly news focuses on something a bit less earth-shattering or relevant — like, say, the Michael Jackson murder trial — with the strange perversity of humankind and folks with graduate degrees in journalism, I rail against the infotainment that passes for news today….really, sometimes I can’t even stand myself! Lighten up, Frances, as they say).

Praying Mantis on my arm, Phillies Bridge Farm, New Paltz area

Then I heard a radio program today in which a scientist began ground-breaking studies of the Naked Mole Rat of East Africa because someone just happened to be talking about it at a dinner party and I wondered why I don’t go to dinner parties where incredibly smart and passionate people just happen to be talking about Naked Mole Rats of East Africa that turn out to hold the keys to curing cancer or some such incredibly important contribution to the betterment of our world. I do remember living in the world of ideas once; it was a very fun place of smoky rooms, lubricated with wine and heaps of good food — not always godly, but good just the same — and populated with all manner of interesting people doing interesting things (or perhaps just planning to do them, but it sounded marvellous and important and stimulating at the time).

So, obviously I am overtired and not at my rational best, but I considered giving up the blog today as a way to reduce the pressures, until I remembered that I had already uploaded the pictures for a new post, so it wouldn’t be too much work, since I am not even including a recipe. And I wanted to remind myself why I love food so much and why it is worth the effort to locate, grow or purchase good food, real food, meaningful food, sustainable and sustaining good food, regardless of whether I feel compelled to write about it (don’t even get me started on whether this blog is an act of exhibitionism, desperation, compulsion or flat out absurdity at this stage of my life).

So the meal.

Simple. Deceptively so.

Scrambled eggs. Smoky bacon. Sliced tomato.

Eggs. The eggs were from Donna’s laying hens at Restoration Farm and she gave me this dozen in a wonderful gesture of friendship and complicity in the sustainable food chain and because Leandro is one of her chickens’ biggest fans.

He was thrilled to get them and we made them together, me holding each egg while he cracked them open with a fork. We admired the vivid orange yolks from all the bugs and good stuff they eat. We added a tiny bit of milk, a grating of cheese and oregano from my container garden in the backyard.

Smoky Bacon from Old Ford Farm in New Paltz, where we had just spend three lovely days renewing my Seminar (Lang) College friendship with Hatti Langsford (the first vegetarian I had ever consciously met; I still remember her dogged — and somewhat bewildering — hunt for virtuous ingredients) and meeting her daughter, Emma, and husband, Chris. She is still a virtuous eater (though not a vegetarian) and we toured a number of local farms, as well as hiking around a lake. The bacon was from her CSA out of an old freezer in a trailer surrounded by mud from the recent floods. There was no one there to take the money; you just leave it in a little box and write your name on a list. And, as it happens, she gave a dinner party with smart and interesting people!

Picking up apples at Jenkins-Lueken Orchards, around New Paltz

Tomato. The last delicious ripe tomato of the season from our successful Earth Box, the one Leandro and I planted together and which brought us a lot of pleasure (and which I have to take down now, but nevermind thinking about all the shit I have to do).

So we had this monster breakfast me and him, and it was so honest and delicious and homey, and talked about Donna’s chickens: “You know why they laid these eggs, Mom? Because they want to say thank you for all the vegetables we gave them.”  And Emma’s house: “We have to go back there really soon. I want to hike that other trail. And Emma wants to play with me.” And the tomato: “You can have it, Mommy.”

So I did. And it was good.

Tandoori-Style Roasted Chicken (great hot or cold!)

26 Aug

We picked up another pastured bird from our share at Restoration Farm this week, which reminded me how delicious the last one turned out.

While I decide what to do with this one (as Hurricane Irene churns her diabolical way up the Eastern Seaboard in our direction and I am checking batteries, gathering candles and surveying our canned goods), let me share this easy and extremely tasty recipe that tasted great right out of the oven, but also made for an excellent quick-grab out of the fridge in the following days, re-heated as well as cold!

This tandoori-style chicken was a recipe for whole chicken that Leandro picked out from a magazine (EveryDay Food, from Martha Stewart). He thought the picture looked very tasty and we had everything we needed in the house, except maybe the ginger. Since I am encouraging him to start eating chicken off the bone, letting him select the recipe worked out very well. I just tweaked the original to our tastes (more garlic, more spice) and it was smooth sailing!

Tandoori-style oven-roasted chicken

1 whole chicken (4-4.5 lbs), rinsed, patted dry and quartered (skin on)

1 cup plain non- or low-fat yogurt

½ yellow onion, roughly chopped

2-inch piece ginger, peeled (with vegetable peeler) and sliced

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 Tbs fresh lemon juice

1 tsp ground cumin

1 – 1.5 tsp ground coriander

1 Tbs vegetable oil

Coarse salt and ground pepper

Place chicken pieces in a gallon-size zip-top bag. In a blender or food processor, blend all other ingredients until smooth and pour into bag. Seal and shake and refrigerate (4 hours to overnight).

Preheat oven to 500°F. Place a wire rack in a foil-lined baking sheet with sides. Place chicken parts on rack, skin side down, seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Roast until begins to char and flip for a total of about 35 minutes. Reduce heat to 450°F and roast until chicken is cooked through, 8-10 more minutes (insert meat thermometer into thickest part of thigh to check). Allow to rest 5 minutes before serving.

Roasted Beet Salad with Orange and Beet Greens

16 Jul

We’ve been away on a camping trip for a week, but starting back up with a bang….BEETS!

Wacked-out color, floppy texture, weird vegetable discs out of a can. Ick.

That about sums up what I knew about beets as a kid. Later I got into the occasional fresh carrot, beet and apple frappés at farmer’s markets in Puerto Rico, but that was more a Saturday morning hangover-helper type thing as I was shopping for vegetables than a real affection for beets themselves.

It wasn’t until many years later that I had a food revelation at Blue Hill restaurant in Greenwich Village. I was doing a story on Chef Dan Barber for Le Connoisseur, a Puerto Rico food and wine magazine. He is a locavore chef in the tradition of Alice Waters and even owns his own farm. His other Blue Hill is located at Stone Barns, the Rockefeller organic farm center right by Sleepy Hollow, north of New York City http://www.bluehillnyc.com/.

So the chef trotted out a number of tiny dishes, including a single square of beet on a skewer. It looked like a precious jewel and the flavor was giant: intense, concentrated, sweet. I was hooked in a single morsel.

However, it wasn’t until getting involved in CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that I actually had to figure out how to prepare them myself. Like, do you actually cook them? How? Do you peel them first? What about the greens?

Here are some short answers, followed by a showstopping roasted beet recipe.

Trim off the greens about an inch from the actual beet. You can eat them and they should be used within a day or two, taking out larger ribs before cooking. They can be used like most other leafy greens.

The unwashed beet roots will last about three weeks in the fridge. To use, scrub gently and do not remove the root. Do not peel before cooking. You can wrap in foil and roast at 400°F for 1-1.5 hours or simmer in salted boiling water for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Another option is to steam in a vegetable steamer for 30-45 minutes. the beets are done when a fork goes easily through the center. The skins will come off easily and should be removed while the beets are still warm. Use kitchen gloves or put your hands in plastic bags to handle them, as they will stain*. Flavor affinities include goat cheese, tarragon, herring and ham.

I have toyed around with this next recipe for several years now, and I think I have finally hit just the right balance of sweet and sharp. It also takes advantage of the beet greens. It is a gorgeous looking salad and the taste is, well, revelatory.

El amor entra por los ojos -- This dish is love at first sight!

Roasted Beet Salad with Orange and Beet Greens

6 medium beets with beet greens attached

1 large navel orange, peeled, separated into segments, pith and white removed

2 shallots, peeled and chopped fine

¼ -1/3 Cup red wine vinegar

¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 tsp grated orange peel

Preheat oven to 400°F. Trim greens from beets. Cut off and discard stems. Coarsely chop leaves and reserve.

Wrap each beet loosely in foil. Place on oven rack and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Cool, then peel beets (use gloves or small sandwich bags to protect fingers from stains. Cut into eight wedges and place in medium bowl.

Bowl four cups of water, then add beet greens and cook until tender, just 2-3 minutes. Drain, cool and squeeze out as much water as possible. Add greens to beet bowl. Add orange segments (you may break them up) and shallots to bowl. Whisk vinegar, oil, garlic and orange peel in a small bowl to blend well and add to beet mixture. Stir to coat, season with salt and vinegar and allow to stand for at least an hour at room temperature before serving.

*You may notice that beets add color to your subsequent bathroom visits. Do not be alarmed! And kids find it very amusing.

No-cook Cannellini and Garlic Scape Dip (fast and seasonal)

26 Jun

Garlic scapes are the gorgeous twisty tops of garlic plants as they begin to mature in late spring. They need to be removed from the plant so they don’t take growing power away from the bulbs still developing underground.

They are so good to look at that I actually stick them in vases and use as centerpieces when they are in season, but of course I pull them right out of their decorative function whenever I need garlic flavor, which is what garlic scapes give you. You top and tail them to remove the crown and any woodiness at the bottom of the stem, slice and voila! fresh tasting garlic. When I have had overabundance, I have diced and frozen them to good effect.

This is a recipe that Caroline Fanning, head grower at Restoration Farm, suggested I play around with, as the farm had just such an abundance this year. I added the oil and thyme; You can really experiment with whichever herbs you like. Basil, oregano, rosemary, parsley, savory, and sage all complement the nuttiness of cannellini beans.

You can use this as dip or spread on sandwiches or wraps, to add flavor and creaminess to other ingredients. Great party dip! I served them as an appetizer, using teacups for individual servings of dip with cut vegetable dippers stuck right in!

No-cook Cannellini and Garlic Scape Dip

4-5 garlic scapes, crown removed and stem trimmed of any woodiness at the bottom

2 15.5 oz cans cannellini (white) beans, rinsed and drained

1 generous Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp dried thyme (4 tsp fresh)

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth. Serve with baguette toasts, crackers or fresh vegetable sticks.

Farm and chicken update (and new poll!)

7 Jun



We headed over to Restoration Farm, our CSA, today to put in a little work and visit the chickens.

Leandro was a champion snap pea picker (he remembered his skills from last year) on this bright sunny day that showed hints of what a sweltering hazy, hot and humid Long Island summer can be.

Many peas didn’t make it to the basket, as they ended up in his mouth. He won’t yet eat the pods, preferring to open them up and eat the tiny peas inside, edamame-style. It’s a start. And at least he knows they grow on vines, not exclusively in the frozen food section! Mommy gets the pods, which are wonderfully crunchy and bright.

The boy was also introduced to the delights of picking strawberries, but won’t get a chance to pick his own quart until our pick-up day, later this week. Whether any berries he picks will actually end up getting home is doubtful. I will have to make sure he doesn’t get out of hand. He can devour a pound of strawberries at a sitting and since they are amongst the most chemical-laden of fruits when conventionally-grown (see http://ewg.org/) and very expensive to buy organic, I hope this is a good year for strawberries in our neighborhood!

We visited the chickens, of course. He still loves Donna’s future egg-layers and their roving chicken coop (now painted a proper barnyard red), but the now five-week-old eating birds, not so much.

“Ew! Stinky!” is all I got out of him today, as he ran away to see what he could spirit out of the berry patch. As we get closer to our first installment of locally pastured chickens, I am starting to think about what irresistible dish to concoct for him….


Earth Day: What are you planting?

22 Apr

We are getting into gear for summer bounty by starting some seedlings indoors.

We’ve got beans that Leandro started at a garden show, already big enough to require supports. We’ve started arugula and sweet peas that we hope to put in the ground after the last frost danger (April 30 in our Zone 6B, although I have alwaus thought it was Zone 7!?!) . Next up, we’ll start basil (Leandro loves pesto) and lettuces directly in the ground.

This makes me sound like I know what I am doing, but of course, I don’t. We have only recently had to take down or trim some of the many trees in our yard, so we are hoping that this will result in more sun for veggies…but this is purely experimental.

Our real vegetable source will be our CSA (Restoration Farm) in Old Bethpage where we will pick up organic vegetables each week. We just spent a great day helping out there, splitting dahlia bulbs and breathing fresh air.

I’d love to know what you are doing for Earth Day and whether you will be growing vegetables this year. I know some of my subscribers are fire escape gardeners, while others are real farmers and still others are herb kitchen gardeners like myself. Let’s hear about it! Please comment….

Happy Earth Day!

Natalia and Leandro

%d bloggers like this: