Archive for the ‘Farm Stands and Farmers Markets’ Category

Kritters!

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

okraweb

Most of us up here in Yankeeland have very few opportunities to eat fresh okra since this vegetable prefers temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. It has begun creeping into farm stands just south of me in the Connecticut Valley in the last couple of years. The Valley is sunny and warm (well, warm for New England!).

I purchase okra at the Bars Farmstand in Deerfield, Massachusetts. Although it’s a bit of a drive for me, I love the Bars Farm. It has the most extensive variety of sweet and hot peppers anywhere around. And like many other local farms it practices integrated pest management; its owners are responsible stewards of their land.

Many people object to the “slime” component of okra. I have found that when it is fried it doesn’t emit much slime. My friend Michael Collins grills it, and I hope to try that method soon. Meanwhile, here I share the recipe for the okra fritters (a.k.a. kritters) I have made twice now.

The size of the kritter depends on your taste. The kritters are crunchier (and of course more fattening) if you cut the okra into tiny pieces—say, 1/3 inch long. When I made them earlier this week, I just cut each piece of okra in half after snipping off the ends. This method results in a little more okra flavor.

Either way you make them, you will doubtless convert non-okra lovers with these treats.

Okra Fritters

Ingredients:

10 pieces of okra, with the ends trimmed off, sliced either in half or into several smaller pieces
enough buttermilk to cover the okra
1/2 cup cornmeal (this is approximate; just dump some cornmeal into a bowl)
2 tablespoons flour (ditto)
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning
canola oil as needed for frying
salt (if needed)

Instructions:

Wash and dry the okra. Place it in a bowl, and cover it with buttermilk.

In a flat bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, flour, and Creole seasoning. Dip each damp piece of okra in this mixture.

Cover the bottom of a heavy skillet with oil. Heat the skillet until the oil is quite hot. Quickly fry the okra pieces in the oil, turning once.

Remove the okra pieces to a paper-towel-covered plate. Taste one. (Try to stick to ONLY one!) If the kritters need salt, sprinkle a little on top.

Serves 2 copiously as an appetizer or side dish.

kirttersweb

A Family Meal at Diemand Farm (try it for Rosh Hashanah!)

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

It would be hard to imagine a more beautiful or serene location than that of Diemand Farm. A gently sloping 175-acre property on Mormon Hollow Road in Wendell, Massachusetts, the farm sells chickens, turkeys, and prepared foods. It also offers seating for a few lucky customers.

When I visited the farm a few weeks ago, co-owner Annie Diemand was getting ready for her wedding three days later.

Nevertheless, she took the time to give me a tour of the property and to share a meal with me. That meal, prepared by part-time cook Doreen Stevens, featured a simple yet elegant chicken dish that mingled sweet and sour flavors. Family members, neighbors, and farm hands stopped in to share the feast.

Diemand shares ownership of the farm with her siblings Faith and Peter. Each has an area in which he or she makes decisions, although all three pitch in to help the others whenever needed. Annie Diemand is in charge of the kitchen.

The farm first came into the family in 1936 when the Diemands’ grandfather purchased the property. The Diemand siblings’ parents married in 1940. Their father worked in area factories for several years to supplement the farm income until around 1950, when the farm started to sustain the couple and what eventually proved to be 11 children.

The family began by raising meat chickens. “I remember standing next to my mother cleaning out the gizzards,” Annie Diemand told me as we ate. “That was my job.”

In the mid-1960s the economics of chicken raising made the family change over from meat hens to laying hens. As time went by the Diemands expanded into selling hay and raising a small number of cattle for beef.

In 1989 they tried raising turkeys, starting with 500 birds. This year they plan to raise over 5000 turkeys. I myself have ordered a Diemand turkey for my Thanksgiving table, and I know I’m not alone in my area.

Customers began to ask about purchasing chickens to cook, and the family returned to meat chickens, although the Diemands continue to sell eggs. They also continue to diversify.

Baby Chicks at Diemand Farm

Faith Diemand has added sheep (for food and for wool) to the farm. Peter Diemand is working on a sawmill. Another sibling a few miles away has begun raising pigs and strawberries. A wind turbine is in the works to help power the farm.

Until three years ago the farm’s official store was a self-service enterprise. Now it has regular hours, a cash register, and tables for eating. Popular items to take out and/or eat on the spot include beef shepherd’s pie, pot pies, a variety of soups, and baked goods.

“We have individuals who come every single morning for a cup of coffee and a muffin,” said Annie Diemand. She estimated that from ten to 30 parties stop in each day for food.

Doreen Stevens, who has been working for the Diemands for over a decade, acts and clearly feels like family. She cooks in the roomy farm kitchen three times a week. A former chef at the local technical school comes in one or two days a week to supplement her culinary efforts and those of the Diemand family, who pitch in as needed.

The food is hearty, relying in general on the natural flavors of the Diemands’ poultry and herbs from the garden. “My theory in the kitchen is that nine out of ten times simpler is better,” Stevens told me. The chicken dish below reflects that philosophy. It features few ingredients but packs in a lot of flavor. It would be delicious for Rosh Hashanah, when honey chicken is a perennial menu item–but it’s delicious at any time.

Annie Diemand (left) and Doreen Stevens in the Diemand Farm Kitchen

Diemand Farm Honey Ginger Chicken

Ingredients:

1/2 cup grated fresh ginger (watch your knuckles as you grate!)
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 cup native honey (Doreen Stevens uses Warm Colors Apiary’s Deerfield Wildflower flavor)
5 to 6 pounds Diemand Farm fresh chicken pieces
chopped herbs as needed for garnish (parsley, chives, and a little thyme)

Instructions:

Place the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, water, and honey in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture just enough to melt the honey and combine all the ingredients. Cool the liquid briefly; then put it in a bowl with the chicken pieces. Marinate the chicken in this liquid in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight if possible.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken, skin-side down, in a large roasting pan. Pour the marinade over it, and cover the pan with foil. Bake the chicken for 3/4 hour.

Remove the foil, turn the chicken over, re-cover the pan with foil, and roast for another 3/4 hour. Remove the foil, and put the pan back in the oven. Brown the chicken for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a platter, and cover it to keep it warm. Strain the pan drippings through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the drippings are reduced in half to make a sauce. (When I tried the dish I didn’t bother reducing the sauce, and it had plenty of flavor!)

Pour half of the sauce over the chicken and serve the rest on the side.

Sprinkle the chopped herbs over the chicken just before serving. At Diemand Farm this dish is usually served with barley (boiled and tossed with butter and herbs) or brown rice. Buttered noodles would work well, too.

Serves 6 to 8 farmers. (Diemand Farm portions are large!)

Easier Than Pie Chicken

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

 
The phrase “easy as pie” sometimes bothers me. I don’t think pie is super difficult to prepare. It does take some time, however, to make, chill, and roll out a pie crust. So I don’t think pie should be the standard for ease.
 
And I do love ease. As readers who follow other my blog, Pulling Taffy, know, most of my time these days is taken up with care for my elderly mother, who suffers from dementia.
 
One of Taffy’s quirks at this point in her life is that she really HATES to be alone, even for a few minutes. So my dinner-prep time is limited.
 
This chicken casserole suits me perfectly. I can chop the onion while chatting with her. The only time I have to be in the kitchen is the five minutes or so it takes to brown the chicken, a task I try to accomplish while my mother naps.
 
The recipe was suggested by a vendor I met at the farmer’s market near mein Alexandria, Virginia, last week. Lily Castaño is the creator of Salsa Las Glorias, a range of salsas that are in indeed glorious. I bought way too many of them!
 
Perhaps I should feel guilty about cooking with a pre-made product. When tomatillos come into season, I can always make my own salsa verde as I did in a previous recipe for Salsa Verde Pie.
 
Meanwhile, Lily’s super-fresh salsa is a far cry from a can of soup. And her chicken idea (roughly translated by me) is delicately flavored yet satisfying. The sour cream adds just a little extra smoothness.
 
The dish is highly flexible. Use leftover chicken if you like, and/or make it with unboned unskinned chicken for extra moisture. (Just make sure you cook the chicken through!) I seem to remember Lily sometimes used herbes de Provence; I might try a little cumin next time. And when I heated up leftovers the other day I threw in some ripe olives, which added color (yes, black is a color!) and flavor.
 
Please note that although this recipe served my mother and me plus our dog you may want to add more chicken. Only you know whether your family members routinely eat a whole or a half chicken breast for dinner.
 
Lily’s Salsa Verde Chicken
 
Ingredients:
 
1 boned, skinned chicken breast
a small amount of olive oil for browning
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup salsa verde
1/2 medium onion (a sweet onion is particularly nice in this), chopped
sour cream as needed
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
 
Slice the chicken breast in half along the vertical edge so that you have two thin cutlets with the same shape as the original breast.
 
In a medium pan over a medium-high flame heat the oil until it shimmers. Brown the cutlets briefly on both sides, adding a light amount of salt and pepper.
 
Transfer the cutlets to a baking dish. Cover with the salsa and then the onion pieces.
 
Cover the baking dish and bake for 45 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with sour cream. 

Serves 1 to 2.

Peachy Keen

Friday, August 21st, 2009
Jan likes to think about what she's going to do with orchard-fresh peaches.

Jan likes to think about what she's going to do with orchard-fresh peaches.

 
I can’t stop eating peaches!
 
These gorgeous fruits symbolize the color of this time of year. In August everything around us takes on a golden hue. The light seems deeper and more yellow. Black-eyed susans, sunflowers, and goldenrod fill the fields.
 
Lush yellow peaches give us a literal taste of that glow. It’s not just their color that puts summer’s gold into our mouths. Their juice and their texture–not soft but not hard, just yielding–help our teeth sink into the season.
 
A couple of years ago a frost hit just as peach blossoms came out. It ruined the peach crop in local orchards. I remember feeling as though summer hadn’t really taken place that year. (I’m sure our peach growers felt this lack even more strongly!) Since then I’ve never been able to take peaches for granted. They are a special summer gift.
 
We are lucky enough to have several peach orchards in Franklin County, Massachusetts. I bought the peaches for this recipe at Clarkdale Fruit Farms in South Deerfield, where Tom and Becky Clark were proudly displaying photos of their sojourn at Woodstock40 years ago. The Clarks are wonderful orchardists–caring about their community and full of information about their fruit.
 
Of course, mostly I just eat the peaches (messy but SO GOOD). Company always provides an excuse to bake, however, so here is a simple cake that gently and richly enrobes the peaches.
 
Summer Peach Pound Cake
 
I gave some of this cake to a friend, Helen-Marie Goff. She reported that her children were disappointed that the cake had no frosting … up until the moment they took a bite of the buttery mixture! It is a lovely cake–rich, sweet, and very fruity.
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
2 cups chopped fresh peaches
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.
 
In a mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, and beat until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, followed by the vanilla. Beat in the baking powder and salt.
 
On a low speed blend in the flour until it is incorporated. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the fruit into the batter. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
 
Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for about 10 minutes. Then turn the cake out onto the rack and let it cool completely. Serves 10 to 12.
 
peach pound cake web

Farmers Market Week

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

Cauliflower from Bloody Brook Farmweb

 
This is National Farmers Market Week according to the United States Department of Agriculture. I’m celebrating not only by going to a farmers market and a farm stand or two but also by making another recipe from the Shelburne Falls Farmers Market Cookbook, which I introduced in an earlier post.
 
Bloody Brook Farm is a thriving farm in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. In addition to selling CSA shares, maintaining a farm cart with produce on the property, and doing wholesale work Bloody Brook has tents at several area Farmers Markets. During my most recent visit to the Farmers Market in Shelburne Falls, Steven Kelley of Bloody Brook was hefting some of the gorgeous heads of cauliflower that inspired him to create this hearty soup.
 
I have adapted the recipe a little. It originally called for cooking the soup even longer after it was blended, but I felt that the flavors had had plenty of time to meld! I have also altered it by suggesting that one could add a little milk and cheese to offset the strength of the cauliflower (I might even try a bit more stock next time as my soup was ultra thick). Without them and with vegetable stock it would be an ideal food for vegans, however, so if you’re serving them please feel free to ignore my suggestions!
 
roastedcaulsoupebv
 
Bloody Brook Farm Roasted Cauliflower Soup
 
Ingredients:
 
1 cauliflower, cut into florets
vegetable oil as needed
1 onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, peeled
olive oil as needed
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
salt and pepper to taste
2 splashes of milk
smoked Spanish paprika to taste
grated cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
 
Instructions:
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly coat the cauliflower in oil, and place it in a large baking dish also coated with oil. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring at least once.
 
Toss the onion wedges and garlic with olive oil, and sprinkle them on top of the cauliflower. Return the vegetables to the oven and cook for 20 to 25 more minutes, stirring once halfway through.
 
While the vegetables are roasting, heat the vegetable stock and add the chopped potato. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cook, covered, over very low heat until the potato pieces are soft.
 
Add the cauliflower mixture to the broth. Puree it until it is smooth. Return it to the pot, and add salt and pepper to taste. Splash in the milk and heat the soup until it is warm. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkle of paprika on top, plus a little cheese if you like.  Serves 4 to 6.
 
 
Steven Kelley of Bloody Brook Farm

Steven Kelley of Bloody Brook Farm