Thursday, December 22, 2011

WEEKEND FORAGER: Wine, Wenches & Whole Foods

Recently my mother
lost the whole notion of a yearly, holiday 'cookie party' and replaced it with something entirely different.

Instead of women from the neighborhood coming over in the late afternoon bearing shortbread and chocolate kiss peanut butter cookies in metal tins, there will be only wine. No food, just wine.

Since my father died, she hasn't been the same. After a few weeks of mourning, she moved into hyperactivity. Things were being eliminated. Old clothes, papers and now the cookie party, out the window. The idea for "Wenches and Wine" came from her sister in New York. So now, typical mom gifts such as a scarf, a nice book or a tasteful print are out the window. This year mom is getting booze for X-mas. Her favorite is "chard" of the Three Buck Chuck variety.

A trip to Whole Foods in Hadley (no wine at this Trader Joe's) to test the latest holiday samples revealed two surprises: Wine fit for a discerning wench and Veggies (some) fit for a locavore.


Marqulela Stevenson (pictured above) offered shoppers endive boats last week at Whole Foods. Parked just inside the front doors, Marqulela offered samples of the veggie with a dipping sauce. It was a rainy night. Many shoppers came by and devoured bits of endive boats that contained tofu from Connecticut, and watermelon radish from Vermont and carrots from Winter Moon farm in Hadley. Oh, holy night. I learned from Marqulela that the carrots, 500 lbs of them, are periodically hauled to the store on a bicycle from Winter Moon Farm on Bay Road to Rt. 5. Dipping sauce: peanut butter, rice vinegar, lime, soy, sesame oil, none local, delicious and might be replicated with maple syrup, rhubarb reduction, sea salt from the Cape and melted butter. But that is for purists.


In the wine department a is guy giving out samples of Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot which sells for $35.88 per case. Called "Three Wishes" the wine comes from California vineyards with wine to spare. According to Don Williams, head of the wine team at Whole Foods Hadley, this is not just extra wine with a Whole Foods private label, it is quite "quaffable." Two reasons: recent years in California have produced consistently good vintages; and vineyards have made quite a bit of it. The wenches found "Three Wishes" to their liking. Responses ranged from "lighter" to "maybe just a third glass." Patsy will give a case to her sister who will share it with New York wenches.

The California wine isn't local but the negative carbon footprint carrots from Hadley are a plus.

Have I got a brisket for you!!!!

Stevie Pierson, author of "Brisket, a Love Story"

At Stone Barns in NY, a woman talking and gesturing and signing books shared her concept for happiness and love: Brisket. If you have a chart that shows what the cuts of beef are on a cow, you will see that the chest of the animal, No. 7,  is known as "Brisket." Next to the word "Brisket" on the cuts of beef chart is the explanation, "Jewish Pot Roast." If you have a meat share, ask for brisket and if you go to the grocery store, pot roast or brisket will buy you an economical cut of meat for a song.  But it is protein plus sugar that really nails it. According to Pierson, brisket + onions is the perfect combination. The book "Brisket, a Love Story," outlines many, many other ways to attack the chest of a cow. They include comment and recipes by a constellation of foodie super stars including the doyenne of Jewish Cooking, Joan Nathan, the dynamo of Italian cooking Mario Batali and many others, some just regular people.    

Brisket Recipe: via Joan Nathan, via "Brisket, a Love Story"


My Favorite Brisket (Not Too Gedempte Fleysch) Adapted from Jewish Cooking in America, by Joan Nathan
Serves 10

Basically, this is what you'd offer your future in-laws to ensure their undying affection. This is a taste-great, feel-good classic Jewish brisket, but while the recipe has been in the family for years, Joan is not averse to a new tweak or twist: Add a jar of sun-dried
tomatoes, dry or packed in oil, for a more intense flavor. Or add a 2-inch knob of ginger and a few large strips of lemon zest to the pot. Remove them before serving. Note: Not Too Gedempte Fleysch  means "Not too well stewed." I didn't know either. - Stevie Pierson, author, Brisket, a Love Story

2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 (5-pound) brisket of beef
1 clove garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 onions, peeled and diced
1 (10-ounce) can tomatoes
2 cups red wine
2 stalks celery with the leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1/4 cup chopped parsley
6 to 8 carrots, peeled and sliced on the diagonal

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Sprinkle the salt and pepper to taste over the brisket and rub with
the garlic. Sear the brisket in the oil and then place, fat side up,
on top of the onions in a large casserole. Cover with the tomatoes,
red wine, celery, bay leaf, thyme, and rosemary.

Cover and bake in the oven for about 3 hours, basting often with the
pan juices.

Add the parsley and carrots and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes more,
or until the carrots are cooked. To test for doneness, stick a fork in
the brisket. When there is a light pull on the fork as it is removed
from the meat, it is fork tender.

This dish is best prepared in advance and refrigerated so that the fat
can be easily skimmed from the surface of the gravy. When ready to
serve, preheat the oven to 350°F. Reheat the gravy in a pan on the
stove. Some people like to strain the gravy, but Joan prefers to keep
the onions because they are so delicious.

Trim off all the visible fat from the cold brisket. Then place the
brisket, on what was the fat side down, on a cutting board. Look for
the grain (that is, the muscle lines of the brisket) and with a sharp
knife, cut across the grain.

Put the sliced brisket in a roasting pan. Pour the hot gravy on the
meat, cover, and reheat in the oven for about 30 minutes.

Friday, December 16, 2011

WEEKEND FORAGER: Chocolate Under Glass

Pop-Up Heavenly Chocolate

At his permanent pop-up shop on the first floors of Thorn's, chocolate mogul Bud Stockwell is celebrating beauty, the holidays and his new digs with rows and rows of hand made chocolates festooned in crystallized ephemera. At the new pop-up (yet permanent) Heavenly Chocolate, candy resides under glass in the prow of a curved wooden counter that is manned by pretty women.  They are expensive, (the chocolate) they are sophisticated, they come wrapped in gold and they never disappoint.  Most of the chocolates are hand made, mostly by Bud, who spends lots of his time bent over a boiling vat of molten cocoa, dipping and carefully rolling -- that is just for the truffles. Other varieties of perfection include a rosemary flavored caramel and an edible little Santa Claus. Locavores will appreciate that rosemary, mint and pear flavorings come from Bud's garden. This claim can only be substantiated by tasting the stuff.

If you are in the mood to shop and nibble, check out the new Heavenly Chocolate on the first floor of Thorn's. Just walk in the front door and list to the left toward the stairwell at the back. The chocolate will be there, under glass waiting to jump ship.


Friday, December 9, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Forager Look No Farther: Barn in Hadley Has it All

Dear Friends,

Please join us next week for our annual Thanksgiving store extravaganza!

The farm will be open to the public on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving with a wide array of fresh, locally-grown items to make your holiday feast abundant.

Our own organic veggies...
We will have available: carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, leeks, parsnips, onions, rutabaga, winter squash, cabbage, turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, lettuce, mixed salad greens and more!

We will be selling our vegetables individually by the pound.

We are also offering a special pre-order bulk-rate of over 55lbs of mixed veggies for $65. We do still have a limited number of shares available. If you'd like to buy one, please send an email with your contact information to and mail a check to Next Barn Over Farm, P.O. Box 92, Hadley, MA. 01035. 

Farm Fresh Thanksgiving Pies...
What's November without a mad dash of pie-making? We are continuing the pie tradition from last year and many years previous at Food Bank Farm (thanks to the lovely folks at Hillside Organic Pizza who are once again letting us use their incredible kitchen). This year we will have our standards: apple, apple-cranberry, wild blueberry, pumpkin, maple-walnut, pecan, and take-and-bake apple and apple-cranberry.  New this year: sweet potato, german chocolate pecan, and a gluten-free crustless pumpkin. We make these pies with many local and organic ingredients including our own pumpkin and sweet potatoes, apples from Cold Spring Orchards, wild organic blueberries from Burke Hill Farm in Maine,  organic cranberries from Cape Cod, maple syrup from Dufresne sugar shack in Williamsburg, Mapleline Farm milk and cream, and Diemand Farm eggs. Our crusts are made with organic flour, cabot butter, and non-hydrogenated organic oils.

Additional items for your holiday meal...
Fresh, organic cranberries from our friend Monica in Buzzard's Bay on the Cape, fresh apples and cider from Cold Spring Orchards in Belchertown, heavy cream from Mapleline Farm in Hadley (whipped cream for the pie!), farm-made garlic thyme butter, homemade ready-to-fill pie crusts, Hadley chestnuts, our own popcorn, Donavan Farm potatoes from Charlemont, and other treats. We will also have our standard farmstore items: goat cheese from Westfield farm, Cabot cheddar, El Jardin's delicious bread, Sidehill yogurt  and eggs from Lynn's Laughing Layers.

The Thanksgiving store will be open:
Tuesday 11/22, 2-6 pm 
Wednesday 11/23, 10-2 pm 

Come join us!
-Ray and Tory at Next Barn Over Farm

Friday, November 11, 2011

Thanksgiving Stuffing: Local Chestnuts - Local Apples - Local Everything

Thanksgiving stuffing with local chestnuts, winter apples, kale and sausage.

This dish is made from local ingredients. Chestnuts provided by Sunset Farms of Amherst, MA and apples and cider were grown and made at Bashista Farms in Southampton, MA. Bread from Berkshire Bakery.


1- 7" length of sausage
1- onion, diced
2- C crusty bread, cut into pieces and toasted individually
1- bunch kale, remove stems and slice thinly. If kale is very tough, blanch for 5 minutes to tenderize
1- Baldwin Apple (a tart, heritage variety, propagated in Lowell MA by Colonel Baldwin in 1740) cored, peeled and cut into small cubes
2- C chestnuts, roasted (to roast, score with “X” on flat side of nut, roast on baking sheet cut side up in 425 oven for 20 min and peel immediately) peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 C apple cider


In generous frying pan or cast iron stockpot, brown sausage, (in butter if necessary) remove, quarter length-wise and slice thin.
Add chopped onion to sausage fat. If additional fat is required to season pan, add butter.
Cook onion until translucent.
Add cubes of bread, chestnuts and slowly brown.
Add sage and apple browning slowly to meld flavors.  
Add remainder of cider and cook down until stuffing is moist but not soggy.
If cooking stuffing inside of bird, add only 1/2C cider and remove from heat.
Finish with 1T of chopped sage and stir over low heat until incorporated.

Vegan Thanksgiving Stuffing: Eliminate sausage or replace with 3 C Chanterelle or oyster mushrooms.
Gluten Intolerant Stuffing: Substitute bread with rice cakes.   

Serves 6

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Guest Blogger Gig -- Farmers Market "Locals buying from Locals"

October 11, 2011

Peach Pop, Peach Sparkler
Small towns make for small communities. It is October and I am my coffee place in Northampton Coffee place. It is so hot out!

Just saw anti-sugar guy, Craig Fear. What a name! Thin guy, used to be vegan, now not vegan, used to live in Long Island, now lives here. He is a food coach. Parents with overly chubby children come to him for advice. He tells the whole family to stop drinking soda first, then pizza goes, then pasta, then everything that is processed and before you know it, a family of five has lost a collective 100 lbs. Exercise is also involved.

Because in almost all processed food there is corn syrup because everything is a little bit sweet. This is of course not local and nothing gets on the nerves and puts on the pounds like white sugar. Ask anybody, not just Craig blames obesity on this stuff. Sugar isn't hard to stop eating. You just have to kick it to the curb.

But how, locavore, you say, is it possible to do no sugar in New England? Honey is a good source of sugar. It is indigenous, it is as local as the flowers around it, and as a special bonus, honey in the pure or honey comb state can stop you from sneezing.

Due to the fact that the bees in your community are interacting quite intimately with the flowers in your community, the pollen that flies around contains stuff from the local bees that prevents allergies from setting in. The bees and the people are intertwined. Eat the honey of the bee that pollinates the flower. That way the pollen won't be a stranger to your body. You will not be allergic. And you won't be fat. Nothing to fear.

Simple honey is easy to make. Buy local honey that is in a raw a state as possible. That means honey comb or at least honey that is raw in a jar. Follow the recipe below and keep around in a jar and use where sweetness is required. I put it with local peaches, picked over the weekend at Clarkdale, a fourth generation orchard up in Deerfield where the river runs through it.....Ben Clark is the go-to guy and his fruits, apples, peaches, grapes and cherries, can be had for canning, for eating and for infusing all things good and liquid. 

1 C Honey
3 C Water
Dissolve honey in hot water and allow to cool. Put into jar and place liquid in fridge. Keep on hand for use where sweetness is needed such as in the following recipes.

5 C fresh peach flesh or canned peaches
1/4 C honey water
1 sprig fresh rosemary
Club Soda or Champagne

Bring peaches, rosemary and 1 C water to a slow boil. Add 1 T honey water, as desired.
Set over low heat and bring to just below boiling point. Simmer for 20 minutes, then leave to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes. Remove rosemary and puree the contents of the pan in a blender for about 2 minutes. Strain and keep in a cool place.
To serve, club soda or Champagne into glass. Add a teaspoon of Pureed Peach and serve with sprig of rosemary.

Warm Colors Apiary
Bonita & Dan Conlon
2 South Mill River Road South
Deerfield, MA 01373

Clarkdale Fruit Farms
303 Upper Road
Deerfield, MA 01342

Pioneer Valley Nutritional Therapy
Northampton, MA

Monday, October 10, 2011

Wendell Berry, environmental activist and poet to receive award next week in Cambridge.....

painting by Robert Shetterly, 2003

How To Be a Poet
by Wendell Berry
(to remind myself)

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill—more of each
than you have—inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.

Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.

Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Preservation Nation: Peaches

Well, due to time constraints and fruit flies, my man didn't get to help with the peaches. In the end, I processed only six jars worth of and froze the rest. For two reasons: a) processing is a hot, sweaty, labor of love and slime. If you don't jump on it when the peaches are on the counter, right in from the orchard, you get a house full of guests in the shape of small winged insects. b) freezing is fast. My man, although interested in canning, is like most. He is attracted to canning the way people are attracted to arcane old ways such as caning chairs or whittling an apple into a figure of the last supper. Interesting in theory.

We didn't have time for 'processing' five bushels of rotting peaches together but I did and now the two of us will enjoy the bounty of summer and fall in the form of fifty gleaming jars of tomatoes and peaches  lined up on the top of our cabinets in the kitchen. Many of the peaches had to be frozen rather than canned. Canning is more beautiful and takes less space in the freezer but as Tim Wilcox recommended on his blog you really can get away with halving them and throwing them in a zip lock for a deep freeze. To can peaches, meaning skin, core, cut out nasty bits, shove in clean jar and 'process' in a massive canner, take a certain amount of focus and man power. Also peaches are so fragile they wither before your very eyes. In the nation of preservation, time is of the essence. Nature and peaches as well as tomatoes and cukes wait for no one. If you don't act fast, it is humans zero, fruit flies one.

Two years ago I canned maybe 12 jars of tomatoes which lasted me until Christmas. Last year I did 24 which lasted me until February. This year I have 42 which is ten less than on can per week which is about what you need if you figure tomatoes won't be in season again till August and then you have only about eight weeks. Obsessive? Well, see what you have to eat in January when a winter share produces bunches of kale, potatoes, maybe a leek or two and enough cabbage to feed all the Russians in West Springfield. Cost? About $2 per jar not including the jar. Time? I won't lie to you. It takes lots of time. Maybe a couple or four full days?

This year we have captured and put up the following for winter: 10 bags of frozen oven roasted tomatoes, good for making ketchup, 15 bags frozen blueberries, good for any winter repast requiring fruit, pickles in a crock fermenting away, a gallon of cider that will get hard as the fall progresses, good for getting drunk, and, thinking about all this conjures the picture of a housewife on the cover of Life Magazine from around 1962 where she is sitting on her front lawn with all of her possessions strewn around her. That is what it is like putting up food for winter. All of your food is just there, in front of you, lined up and ready for the coming of winter and whatever else nature might have in store this year.

Photo by William Eggleston


Monday, September 19, 2011

Preservation Nation: Oven Roasted Tomatoes in Your Sleep

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

Saying that this procedure of shape changing tomatoes is easy is like saying there is nothing better in summer than a fresh off the vine tomato, especially if you get to pick it yourself. So easy, this recipe can be done in your sleep. Great on their own or as a bit of awesomeness in salad…or when you find them in the freezer in May, with asparagus.

a) buy a bushel of plum or cherry tomatoes.
b) pre-heat oven to 525 for plum, 425 for cherry.
c) line one baking sheet with parchment paper....(only if pan is aluminum)
d) slice lengthwise and remove cores
e) place on baking sheet, skin side down
f) sprinkle with olive oil and kosher or sea salt. about 2 T of each
g) roast in middle of oven for 1 hour
g) turn off oven and go to bed
h) do not open oven till morning
i) eat several, place in jar for refrigeration or freeze in freezer bags.

Recipe complements of Chef Donna Fisher

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Is eating corn in public an act of of civil disobedience?

Food from the littlest farm up in Heath  
to a volume potato operation in Hatfield was offered to all who came. Families of all stripe, the poor, the rich, the dentists, the church sexton, the two politicians. Those who carry water and chop wood broke stride to attend.  

The sun came out after a flash of rain. Up in Greenfield under the trees on the common, people queued up, plates and utensils in hand. At the end of the line were tow rows of tables laid out with food. Pizza made with local wheat with heirloom tomatoes was passed as an appetizer. Along two rows of tables, plates and bowls set forth the fruits of this summer’s bounty. Eggplant with feta, corn on the cob, a wheatberry salad with blueberries, and peaches as well, in slices, served with turkey breast from a farm up in Wendell. 

This feast, also known as Free Harvest Supper, is the ultimate local food challenge. Every year a small group gets together to plan the supper. They meet in the upstairs of the Greenfield Co-op early in the year when they begin dividing up chores. The chefs coordinating the event (Of Hope and Olive and Magpie in Greenfield) never knows what they will get in but as the bushels and boxes come in overflowing with produce, some how they figure it out.

Now in its seventh year, the supper came together this summer on Sunday, August 21. The tables were set out, serving and eating tables were set up, and the line for supper snaked around the block. It was a diverse crowd, as always.

She was pretty quiet sitting there, under the trees. But that is her usual demeanor. Although the 700 or people around here did not know it, the Free Harvest Supper was Juanita's idea. It all came about around eight years ago when Juanita said to friends, "Wouldn't it be great, if everyone in this town could just sit down to supper together?" Juanita grows her own food. She believes that sharing food with neighbors is not only nice but is a way to avoid violence. “You wouldn’t fight with someone if you needed their food, would you?”

Juanita Nelson, widow of Wally Nelson, knows about violence. Her husband was a freedom rider in the early sixties when he and eight other guys boarded a bus bound for Montgomery Alabama and rode into a shit storm that made history. Violence against blacks, long standing in the south, was writ large during this confrontation once news photos that circulated. The pictures showed the protesters being beaten and attacked with fire hoses and dogs. Old habits of racial hatred were broken and so were bones.

In the sixties while Wally and Juanita were civil rights activists and non-violent peace protesters. They continued their activism in various forms here in western Mass for several decades. The lived in a cabin without electricity, they protested military expenditures by refusing to pay taxes and lived simply, like Buddhists or activists but their lifestyle defies labels because it is an object lesson.

Wally’s early efforts against segregation had an international impact. Five years after the Freedom Riders trip Montgomery Robert F. Kennedy was invited to South Africa by an anti-apartheid group to speak about racial inequity. In 1966 at the University of Cape Town he made a speech with the now- famous "ripple of hope" paragraph:

 "Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." 

Now the speech and the event are famous although the individual who invited RFK was put under house arrest and not allowed to attend the speech and a photographer recording the event was ordered by police to pull the film out his camera.

Juanita's tiny ripple of hope continues to sweep along the Connecticut River Valley in the form of Free Harvest Supper and in other ways. Her husband Wally died several years ago at 93 and Juanita is now in her 80’s. She continues to grow her own food but now with lots of help from friends. As much as she can, Juanita continues to live off the grid in a community that shares what it has with one another. 

At Free Harvest Supper, I was taking pictures of this community, of Shenandoah from “Whole Lotta a Hoop” who was dancing in front of the tables at one point, along with the a guy from the Greenfield Recorder. After he got his shot, I continued to photograph the scene. Each shot seemed better than the one before. A man appeared in the frame. I continued shooting because he wore a scarf imprinted with the American flag. As he got closer, I noticed his face was extremely angry. Then his angry face filled the frame. I put down my camera.  “Do not take my picture,” he shouted. Buddhists breaking stride in their routine of carrying water and chopping wood looked on with interest. “I did not give you permission to take my picture. You can’t take my picture, you can take her picture,” he said gesturing to Shenandoah, “and you can’t take anybody’s picture without permission.”

“Ok,” I said.

“You cannot take picture without people’s permission,” he said, still shouting.

“But this is a public event,” I offered. After all I wasn’t doing this for money or for a newspaper….it is legal to shoot pictures in a public setting.

He began to walk away and I picked up my camera again relived. He turned around and lunged into my small footprint and said, “erase that picture, in fact, erase all of those pictures.”

I said, “sure” and picked up the camera, looking him in the eye, and pressed a tiny button. It was a fake gesture. He walked away. I looked around and people seated nearby were munching on ears of corn, contemplating whether or not to continue shooting. Then the guy with the American flag scarf came back. “All of them,” he said. “Delete all of them!”

I looked up to where Juanita was sitting under the trees, looking calm and at peace with the universe. I looked back the guy and said, “Will you forgive me?”

He forgave me and walked away.

It was winding up at Free Harvest Supper around 6:30 and the food was being put away. I approached Juanita to chat and requested with respect that I take her picture, "Well, no," she said after I had taken several.

There was still some food left on her plate--some of the yogurt from a farm in Colrain and several slices of tomato from one of five farms, from the look of it, exotic, maybe Danny Botkin's in Gill.  She looked at the crowd, heading home in the fading light and said "Wouldn't it be great if other towns could do this?" 


Monday, August 22, 2011

Preservation Nation: Frozen Blue Ice

My man wants to learn to can.  Really! So we're starting with the easy stuff. 

Blueberries a) because they can be frozen, b) because first you turn them into tiny blue frozen ice cubes by spreading them all out on a cookie sheet and then into freezer for only a bit of time c) before dipping the cookie sheet into a bag, frozen blue ice an be consumed right now (or in January with Prosecco) and finally e) no messy clean up. 

So far we have 11 bags of the things, stuffed into zip lock bags, stuffed into the freezer, ready to be launched. 

Total time: around 15 minutes, not all at once, not counting buying flats of them, not including shopping around for the best price, not including regret that we are a bit past the season, not including glee and thanks that we finally did score some grown in Westfield, big, beautiful, plenty to last us a year.

This is not canning but we are 'putting up' food for later. Not much later but later, all the same. Next we will do Peaches.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Restaurant of the Week: Magpie

Evelyn Whitbeck-Poorbaught.... is on a tear.

This weekend, Magpie, her pizza place, will be inundated with the spillover of the 1000 or so of people who show up on the Green in Greenfield for Free Harvest Supper. But this is a good thing, for us, anyway.

Evelyn's pizza is sublime - cooked in a wood fired oven making for a flat, bubbly crust that takes the beauty of summer tomatoes one step further to nirvana.

A better thing, if it is possible, is that that self same pizza will be offered in the food line for free at Free Harvest Supper. The pizza shown above was served in Evelyn's restaurant on Bank Row as the Tuesday Night Special this week. It consisted of feta, artichoke hearts, red onion, sungold cherry tomatos and fennel. Need I say more?

This Sunday, August 21, at Free Harvest Supper, the Evelyn's pass-around-to-the-crowd pizza will be in keeping with the theme of the event. The crust will be baked from local wheat and it will be topped with local feta, crazy-fresh area tomatoes and basil, among other things.

Free Harvest Supper chefs create the meal with food that comes in a day or two before the event. All from the fields of area farms, all quite fresh and if I didn't mention it, left over from the harvest. Pizza handed out on Sunday between 5 and 7 will be featuring tomatoes and cheese but to see what else, better show up and don't forget a plate and utensils. This event is zero waste.

Magpie, if you happen over there on Sunday, is located across the green on Bank Row and will be open during Free Harvest Supper, thus Evelyn's tear. I do believe she will be ready though. Her background as a conspirator chef in Free Harvest Supper for years makes her event-ready for anything. The pizza menu at Magpie on Sunday will feature the special pictured above as well as house-made sausage and broccoli rabe, fennel, arugula and goat cheese and perrenials such as meatball and peperroni and mushroom.

Magpie has a nice wine and beer list as well as other things featuring local food besides pizza.

Magpie Restaurant
21 Bank Row
Greenfield MA

Restaurant Hours
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday 4 to 9
Friday and Saturday 4 to 10

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Farmer Software-of-the-week

Small Farm Central-Your Friend in the Cloud

The infrastructure of a city or town say, Pittsburgh, PA or Hadley, MA, greatly depends on raw materials. In the case of Pittsburgh, available steel makes for structures of a solid state and in Hadley, the very fertile river valley irrigates our soil.

But the digital infrastructure is yet another thing. In the City of Steel, Simon Huntley brings the computing cloud to those working under real clouds, the very clouds that make farming as volatile as the stock market.

Today Simon' farming is limited to a small back yard plot but his extensive experience on a farm in Colorado gave him a good look at what it takes to plant, nurture and harvest as well as doing it all over again. Selling the stuff is yet another chore. Simon is also an information technology grad. He formed Small Farm Central four years ago to marry farming with computing. "I'm not in this to make a million dollars, obviously," he said. "We are self-funded and we really just want to make life easier for farmers with direct marketing and web services."

Small Farm Central has four employees and has grown organically. The company now has over 400 customers across the country and in Canada. Services range from a web presence, hosting, e-commerce and mailing list options, all for a monthly fee. "We have a designer on staff. The sites are run on templates so they are easy to create but people still manage to make them look different," said Simon adding that technical support in the form of a person is also provided.
Typically, farmers will use the e-commerce functionality to manage buying clubs, inventory and track wholesale account.  "Typically people will use us for inventory and tracking specialty food like honey and flowers. Inventory capabilities help prevent people from selling out," says Simon. In addition, the company designs websites and provides templates. Locally, Town Farm of Northampton and the Tuesday Farmers' Market are both represented by Small Farm Central websites.

The latest of the company's offerings is a free mapping site for farmers' markets and other groups called "Farmers Faces." Farms are referenced on a map with a link to farms' websites. The map is populated by individuals who run it such as farmers market managers or advocacy groups and others. "We're doing this so that people only have to update their information once," says Simon. "People have a presence online all over the place. They can be a member of a specialty group and selling at a farmers market and through a CSA. With a profile on Farming Faces, users won't have to constantly update their profiles," he said.

The volatility of weather is a big factor in selling fresh food. Getting the word out about late breaking crop news like having lots of melons to move, for example, or increasing awareness about winter shares where direct marketing can come in handy. Social media provides myriad ways to communicate a the rise and fall of food ranging from Twitter to Facebook in a world where everyone seems to be looking at hand held devices. Farmers in the fields checking rain patterns on their Blackberries less than a mile from people driving in cars checking for the nearest farm stand. Simon takes a broad view of social media. "We can provide help with the web side of things," he says. "A good site is the bedrock any marketing plan. We don't do a ton of social media but we will be looking to more integration where necessary."

When asked where he sees the web marketing scene ten years from now Simon responded, "I was just talking to a friend of mine the other day about this," he said. "Ten years ago was just 2001 so I guess my answer to that is that things will be the same only different." Kind of like the weather.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Free Harvest Supper Menu for Sunday 8-21-11

Serious food.....
This Sunday at Free Harvest Supper where the food is free and the really really free market offers more free food, chefs Maggie and Evelyn will serving the menu below. All food local, donated and being served on the Green in Greenfield to one and all after 5 pm this Sunday on August 21.  Meuu will feature 100% local pizza with in season cheese, tomato and pesto, among other local stuff. 

Politically correct pizza! How great is this country?

Free Harvest Supper Menu

TURKEY PEACH SALAD (local turkey)
KAPUSTA (Cabbage)

Really, Really Free Harvest Supper Needs You!

Many Hands Make Light Work: Volunteers Needed for Free Harvest Supper
For more information: contact

           All are welcome to be part of this great community event which features a free bountiful meal of locally grown food donated by local farmers and prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays, and a Really, Really Free Market. The Supper organizers are planning an event that includes recycling and composting and produces very little trash. Help conserve resources and reduce trash by bringing your own reusable place setting (plate, cup, fork, spoon) and napkin. 

(MC this year is Garth Shaneyfelt pictured above)

Organized by MANY volunteers, inspired by Juanita Nelson, enjoyed by hundreds of community members each year, the Free Harvest Supper has three goals: to encourage everyone to eat locally grown food, to support local agriculture, and to raise money for Greenfield Farmers’ Market coupons distributed by the Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry. The supper, entertainment, displays, and the Really, Really Free Market are all free for everyone. . .and the organizers welcome donations to support the Greenfield Farmers’ Market Coupon Program.

Many hands make light work and great community events! The organizers of the Free Harvest Supper are looking for more willing hands to help at the Supper. Volunteers are needed the day of the Supper for set-up, food preparation, serving, recycling and composting, clean-up, and other tasks. The Supper will be held this Sunday, August 21, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. on the Greenfield Town Common/Court Square. To volunteer to help at the Free Harvest Supper, contact Jennifer at (413) 774-3179 or For more information about the Free Harvest Supper, and to see pictures of past Suppers, visit (chefs Maggie & Evelyn from Hope & Olive and Magpie of Greenfield)
All are welcome to be part of this great community event which features a free bountiful meal of locally grown food donated by local farmers and prepared by local chefs, live music, children’s activities, educational displays, and a Really, Really Free Market. The Supper organizers are planning an event that includes recycling and composting and produces very little trash. Help conserve resources and reduce trash by bringing your own reusable place setting (plate, cup, fork, spoon) and napkin.

Last year, $4,000 was raised from donations, raffle ticket sales, and fundraisers. The Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry distributes Farmers’ Market coupons to folks who are hungry, they use the coupons to buy food at the Greenfield Farmers’ Market, and the farmers who accept the coupons are paid by the Food Pantry. In a cycle of local generosity and abundance, folks at the Free Harvest Supper enjoy a free meal, hungry families use the coupons and enjoy great food, and farmers are paid for their produce. (Pictured above Barts Ice Cream scooper and to left Dan Botkin, farmer and contributor.)
To make financial donations to the Free Harvest Supper: Send checks made out to Center for Self-Reliance to Dino Schnelle, Center for Self-Reliance Food Pantry, 3½ Osgood Street, Greenfield, MA 01301. Please note “Free Harvest Supper” on the check. For more information about the Center for Self-Reliance and the Greenfield Farmers’ Market Coupon project, please call (413) 773-5029.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Art in the Orchard - Sculpture Park Hill Orchard

1st Public Sculpture at Park Hill Orchard in Easthampton, MA, where Culture meets Horticulture: 22 sculptures and installations by 16 local and regional Artists displayed along a path meandering through apple and pear trees, raspberry and blueberry bushes.

GRAND OPENING: August 13, 2-5pm. Then open every day from dawn to dusk until October 30th.

Art and nature overlooking the Pioneer Valley in the light shadow of Mt Tom as backdrop.

Art in the Orchard is funded in part by a grant from the Easthampton Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency. 

Artist nameMedium
Tim de Christopher (website)Stone
Piper Foreso (website)Steel, plate glass, dichroic glass
Laurie FrazerMosaics
Susan Halls (website)High fired terracotta
Matt Evald Johnson (website)Forged and fabricated Steel
John LandinoSteel
Marty Klein (website)Wrought Iron
Robert Markey (website)Ferrocement, Mosaics (mirror, marble, smalti, gold)
Chris Millette (website)Wood
Lauren Mills (website)Cast Bronze
Maggie Nowinski (website)Mixed media installation
Kamil Peters (website)Reclaimed metal
Karen Rossi (website)Steel, Aluminum, Steel and Paint
Brace Thompson (website)Steel
Bob Turan (website)Welded Painted Steel, stainless steel, polished concrete
Chris WoodmanRepurposed Steel Saw blades, clock springs

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Recipe of the Weekend: Lobster Deja Vu

Lobster Bisque

Lobster was considered "trash fish" by New Englanders back in the colonial days. Fishermen kept them for their families and employees fed them to the help. Lobster was plentiful, back when we had more fish when we knew what to do with, and cod was king. Now lobster has risen in the ranks and become plentiful again in the recent years. Pricing remains high but if you find yourself at the shore, splurge. There is nothing like lobster for a bite of summer, a swallow of the past and after the feast, lobster deja vu in the form of a bisque.

The easiest manner in which to kill a lobster, let's face, that is what you are doing, is to steam or boil. Chef say that poking it between the eyes with a sharp object is best since it is a swift death but think of what it does the one killing it?

When lobster is cooked, and then cracked open, inside is a goodly amount of pinkish flesh like velvet in certain spots, begging to be eaten. There is also a green substance, known as tamale, and if the animal is female, a pink substance, known as coral. The tamale is the lobster's liver and the coral is is the reproductive bits. Both are excellent on their own or on crackers.

Lobster Deja Vu

If you are so motivated, save the shells, and the tamale and coral to make fish stock. If you like playing with your food, there is nothing like the day-long, many stepped process of lobster bisque! Lobster bisque relies on a good stock which means cooking down the shells. If there are clam shells left over from a lobster feast, or even corn, throw those in there too. The more the merrier.

how to cook lobster


1- stock pot with lid, large enough to fit either two or one lobster in for steaming
2 lobsters, or however many you need
water or sea water
2 sticks salted butter (optional)


put about 2 inches of sea or regular water to boil
put in from 1 to 4 lobsters
cover and cook about 6 minutes per pound
melt butter
scrape solids off top (to clarify)

serve whole lobsters, shell on, with lobster tools
small dishes of melted butter

lobster bisque or "deja vu"

one full day
lobster leavings from feast
(this can include clam shells, tamale, coral, tomato, corn, but not lettuce or hot dogs)
left over lobster meat, a cup will do

note: all of the steps below may need to be done in stages, based on how many lobsters and other shells are used to make the bisque.

cook down all shells and other remnants of the meal in stock pot
wait for one to two hours - play cards
strain reduction from shells - set aside*
remove the shells from the rest off the left over stock
bake shells in 400 oven for fifteen minutes
remove shells from oven
allow to cool - read the paper
take shells and place in paper bag
take bag outside to porch, deck or driveway or stoop
hit shells in bag with hammer until all shells are splintered
melt one stick of butter in large fry pan
slowly cook shells splinters until they have infused the butter with all of the flavor that they have left. do not let butter burn or brown too much. this must be watched carefully. no card playing or reading the paper
once the shells are cooked in butter, go get some cheese cloth.
if you don't have cheese cloth, either a thin dishtowel or old nightgown will do
shells and butter are squeezed in cloth to extract lobster infused butter
now combine lobster infused butter with stock
bring stock to simmer
add 2 T fresh tarragon, 2 T fresh thyme
add enough cream to provide proper texture; not to thick, not too thin
add sherry, judicious amount
after adding the sherry and taste seems about right, add lobster meat, salt and pepper

*stock alert: if, after combining your stock with lobster shell leavings, the soup still doesn't seem flavorful enough, add about four cut up tomatoes and cook for another half an hour before adding cream and sherry.

this will provide a wonderful creamy deja vu lunch for last nights meal.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Farm to School Workshop

Something new for school...... Those teachers, administrators and others interested in  starting or enhancing a garden at your school can sign up for a workshop with the teaching farm Seeds of Solidarity taking place on August 12, 2011.

Also welcome are community organization that partner with schools as well as parent groups excited about school garden. 

This popular workshop featuring school garden and greenhouse techniques, curriculum connections, and service learning, is held amidst the abundant gardens at Seeds of Solidarity ( in Orange, MA. 

Participants will leave with great ideas that can be cultivated as soon as school starts and throughout the year. Registration required.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Recipe of the Week: EAT A PEACH

Recipe of the Week: Peach crisp

Bashista peaches from the orchard in Southampton were picked a bit early, the owner allowed. after ripening and a photo session, they were ready to eat. 

the best way to eat a peach is raw and the second best way to eat a peach is in a crisp, merely because if it isn't exactly as ripe as it might be, liquid spurting out of it so why not cook it with another fruit in season such as blueberries so the fruits can do a co-mingle in the heat under a nutty blanket of granola. Here is the recipe. Be sure to bake during dinner.

6 peaches
1 box blueberries
1 C. granola, your choice, the more local, the better, lots of people make it, you can too. This recipe is by Alton Brown and uses non-local ingredients such. Standby for the locavore version as soon as I can find some local oats, a substitute for raisins and get started next month when the chestnuts are in season.

Peel peaches, slice and toss into glass baking dish. Add blueberries. Top with granola. Cook at 380 for 45 min. Serve with local yogurt or some other creamy substance to offset the tartness of the berries. If that isn't sweet enough for you, dilute some honey with hot water and throw that in with the berries and Bob is your uncle.

Restaurant of the Week: Magpie

Monday, July 4, 2011

Peace, love and dinner for 1000

bust a move, lend a hand.... 

Summer of Love in Greenfield

It takes a whole community to make a great community event. Free Harvest Supper requires a dozen organizers, 100 volunteers, 45 farms, a dozen organizations, and countless home gardeners (along with over 500-700 hungry diners) for the event on the green in Greenfield. We're looking for volunteers, food donations and helper types for the day of the event, Sunday August 21, 2011 from 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm.  Share the, drink and help out. Visit Free Harvest Supper, contact or call 877-925-2999.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Homesteading on a hot summer night.....but will there be wine?

Meet Author Rachael Kaplan on Thursday nite, July 28, 2011 at 7 pm in Amherst at Food for Thought Books Collective.

Readers will find concise how-to information that they can immediately set into practice, from 

making solar cookers to growing tomatoes in a pot 

to raising chickens on a tiny plot to 

maintaining the mental serenity of country life in the fast-paced city environment. 

Homesteading on a hot summer night. Maybe there will be wine.

What is it? Farm Share Dilemma

Why do they grow things? What is it?

Kohlrabi (German turnip) (Brassica oleracea Gongylodes group) is a low, stout cultivar of the cabbage that will grow almost anywhere.  

A Kashmiri household may have this on their dinner or lunch plates three to four times a week. 

Weight Watchers One Point.

But how to cook? Tried the turnip route which is mash or roast.  Trimmed the thing, cubed it, slathered in olive, amped up the toaster oven and walked away. Then it burned. Poor forgotten Kohlrabi. Surviving remains, not so hot. Forgot the garlic also. Bet that wouldn't happen in Kashmir.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Friday I'm in Love: Lunch in the Valley

Two surfs and a turf.....nice lunch if you can get it.

Lobster Roll: No Mayo, No Hot Dog Roll, No Beach, the lobster roll at Green St. is a contrarian, like the restaurant’s owners, but in keeping with the very high standards that Jim and John have for the food. As everyone knows, fresh herbs (in most everything) is the sign of a good restaurant. This restaurant has chervil growing in the trunk of a vintage car out in back. Chervil, tarragon, basil, rosemary … all of that can be found in their food, even in the lobster roll where chervil mingles with crème fraiche and fresh lobster meat. Cooked right there. Not canned. Ask them if you don't believe it. Outdoor seating.

Hamburger: Walk over to Serio’s not far away from Green Street, across the street to Forbes and down to the light and then over to State Street where there are burgers on a grill out in front of the grocery store most Fridays. The smell alone is enough of a reason to eat lunch twice. Expect a synesthetic response....outdoor city pool and brown skin slathered with coconut oil. Fork over a fiver for a little memory of summer when SPF was just a spark in the eye of the kid next door with the chemistry set…the kid with no tan.

Fish n' Chips: Then there is the fish and chips over at Sole Proprietor on King St. across from what used to be the Honda place. Every Friday, Sole Proprietor fries up some fish and chips, hangs out a sign and the place is like a herring run.  Fish and chips, the second national past time,  are sold under the strict supervision of the owner. But....don't forget they don't take credit cards, only checks and cash and don’t even think about coming late or early. Business as usual. If you haven’t had fish and chips lately because of weird weight restrictions or pesky concerns about fat or salt or trying to save the cod or save the potato, give it up at least one Friday for this fish ‘n chips. Worth every deadly bite.

What I am eating....

Strawberries can be eaten with wine, red, the way the Italians do. Just slice, slather with a bit of nice red, let it sit for 10 minutes or so and consume on its own or with ricotta. Make you own ricotta with raw milk. A lesson in cheese making can be had in Deerfield and as for raw milk, you have to know somebody.

Contrary to popular belief, rhubarb is available all summer. Just ask the people how have it growing in their yard. Rhubarb in something besides a crisp or a pie might be the famous Rhubarb Gastrique! Which is rhubarb cooked down with some red wine. Very nice with duck or chicken.