Spring in Full Swing

April 22, 2010 § 2 Comments

Happy Earth Day!

I have received my first bunch of asparagus from Star Hollow, and this means one thing only to me- SPRING IS HERE!!

Despite the cold snaps and off and on rain and sunshine, I am fully optimistic for the coming season.  I like to think all that snow has nourished and moisturized the sleeping soil, and that it is now awake and ready to start producing all kinds of delicious bounty.

It’s still a bit early, yes… but many of the markets are open again, and the presence of lilacs at Spring Valley (Dupont) makes me positively giddy.  Strawberries should be in around Mother’s Day, and I plan on buying every single one I can find and staining my face and hands in red as I preserve, can, freeze, bake, and eat them raw and naked straight from the pint.  I’ll be getting tons into Sweetgreen and daily piling them high on top of a creamy swirl of tart Sweetflow, our signature organic frozen yogurt and my favorite daily indulgence.  I visited the beautiful farm where we get most of our local berries recently, Westmoreland Berry Farm, and was able to snap a picture (above) of strawberries in bloom.  They say once the whole field is covered in white blooms, get the buckets ready for picking!

My new Spring Salad is hitting the Sweetgreen restaurants today, and it’s chock full of raw local asparagus- my new favorite way to eat it.  I was inspired by scanning through vegetarian blogs like 101 Cookbooks, where she clearly has the same enthusiasm for Spring food that I do!

Here is a list of markets that are open now, where you can start stalking up on early spring food:

FRESHFARM Dupont Circle– 20th and Q St NW, Sundays 9am-1pm

FRESHFARM Foggy Bottom– Eye St. b/w New Hampshire and 24th St NW, Wednesdays 3-7pm

FRESHFARM Penn Quarter– 8th St. b/w D and E Sts, Thursdays 3-7pm

Eastern Market– 7th St. and North Carolina Ave SE, Sat and Sun 7am-4pm

Palisades Farmers Market– 48th Place and MacArthur Blvd NW, Sundays 9am-1pm

Coming Soon:

FRESHFARM H Street– 625 H St. NE, Saturdays 9am-noon (Opens May 1)

Mt. Pleasant– 17th and Lamont St. NW, Saturdays 9am-1pm (Opens May 1)

U Street– 14th and U St NW, Saturdays 9am-1pm (Opens May 1)

FRESHFARM By the White House– 810 Vermont Ave NW, Thursdays 3-7pm (Opens May 6)

Glover Park-Burleith– Wisconsin Ave and 34th St. NW, Saturdays 9am-1pm (Opens May 8)

Bloomingdale– 1st and R St NW, Sundays 10am-2pm (Opens May 16)

*NEW! Columbia Heights– 14th and Kenyon St. NW, Saturdays 9am-2pm (Opens June 5)

This list was complied by Amy Cavanaugh in today’s Washington Post Express. She also did a fun Q&A with me about eating local foods in DC… should you be so inclined to read it, here is the link 😉

A Word from New Zealand

March 15, 2010 § 4 Comments

Sincere apologies for not updating on my trip to Kiwiland… but quite frankly, i just couldn’t bring myself to spend too much time online in this incredible place.  Once I’m back in the States (very early on Monday morning) I’ll get crackin on a full update of my amazing visit to this nearly fully sustainable country.  

In the meantime… here’s a quick recap. While in NZ, I…

Drove  on the wrong side of the road, and the wrong side of the car. And didn’t die. 

Stayed with a couple who both, separately, received medals from the Queen of England for saving vast parts of NZ wildlife from the governments’ efforts to destroy it. 

Ate butterfish, pulled from the ocean an hour earlier, with the man who speared it (yes, SPEARED it).

Learned how to clean and prepare fresh abalone.

Hugged an avocado tree out of shear joy at being near one. 

Ate no less than 15lbs of fresh-from-the-tree Omega Plums. 

Whitewater rafted over a waterfall.

Attended a traditional Maori hangi (feast), for which they slow roasted meat and vegetables in the ground all day. 

Watched the world’s first sunrise on my 26th birthday.

Drove along The Forgotten Highway for 5 hours, and quickly realized why we were the only ones driving it. 

Devoured New Zealand lamb, venison, mussels, fish, beef and stone fruit like it was going out of style. 

Got my first tattoo. 

Drank incredible pinot noir at cult vineyard Mt. Difficulty in Central Otago… and then decided to go bungy jumping immediately after. 

Bungy jumped off a bridge in Central Otago.

Ate the freshest, cleanest, most ethical and delicious food of my life without even trying. 

*I promise a full recap with pictures once I have better access… thanks everyone for putting up with my 2 week blog break! Im back on with a vengeance, starting Monday 🙂

15 Minutes, 5 Ingredients: Squash Pasta with Pancetta Tomato Sauce

January 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

I ran in the door at 5:20pm, let the dog out, and put some water on to boil.  I pulled some half eaten things out of the fridge and through them together for dinner. I’m trying to make a 6pm drinks meeting.

Here’s how it turned out.  Proof that with good ingredients and 15 minutes you can make a absolutely delicious meal (and still have time to blog about it).

Ingredients:

Leftover Nutmeg Squash Pasta (fresh pasta from Smith Meadows Kitchen)

leftover Quaker Valley tomato sauce

Homecured pancetta 

a slightly squishy yellow tomato

Cherry Glen Crottin goat cheese

*Cube pancetta, put in pan to render fat and crisp up.  When crisp, throw in tomato sauce and diced tomato. Boil fresh pasta in salted water for 3 minutes. Pull out and toss into pan. Toss all together to warm, put into bowl, grate cheese on top.

Eat. Moan with pleasure for your tastebuds and full belly. Run right back out the door.

It’s 5:55pm. Gotta run!

A Philosophical Lunch

January 5, 2010 § 4 Comments

This was my lunch yesterday. 

– Pink Lady apple from Star Hollow (hands down best kind of apple),

Blue Ridge Dairy yogurt with peach blossom honey (actually supposed to be breakfast, but was too busy to eat it until lunch)

– Sandwich with : Meadow Creek Dairy Appalachian Tomme cheese (Whole Foods labeled it as local, just found out it is like 350 miles away. Arg! Will post later on virtues and FAIL of Whole Foods), homemade brown bread from my new friend Dan (who I met at a Slow Food DC event- which was catastrophe. But meeting Dan and Cathy was not. They are great. and Dan home brews BEER!  He is my new favorite person.) and lettuce from my CSA.

Todays lunch was much the same but included a hard-boiled egg, a rosemary roll from Atwater’s Bread, and half of an EcoFriendly Foods poussin that DCCK put out for lunch.

Yes, that’s right, I am sourcing the happiest, most sustainably raised chickens on earth for DC Central Kitchen, and we serve them to our clients in shelters, half way houses, job training programs, and schools.   Because sustainable, local, healthy food is for EVERYONE.  It can be done, and we are doing it.   Good food is for the poor, the middle class (aka Me), and the wealthy. 

Knowing where your food comes from is a basic right, but for too long we have been assured that it’s not.  Don’t ask questions, eat your vegetables.  No cameras in the slaughterhouses, and if you start raising your voice about Monsanto you will be sued.  It’s unethical, it’s unhealthy, and it’s ripping apart the agricultural foundation of this country.  So if you want to know why I am really doing this year of local eating- that’s why.   Because I’m sick and tired of Big Ag influencing national policy and genetically modifying my food.  I’m sick and tired of being lied to. And by sick and tired, I am hardly being figurative. 

I started eating only local, sustainable food on Friday, and as of today, I have never had more energy or felt better in my entire life.  I assumed something like this would happen, but I had no idea it would happen so quickly.  Yesterday was the most productive work day maybe ever, and I slept well and woke up this morning feeling positively radiant.  That does not happen for me.  I get up and drag my ass out of bed to the coffee pot and finally wake up around 10am, only to eat lunch and feel drained again by 2:30pm.  I come home and need a nap at 5pm.  I figured it was the weather, the lack of sunlight in the winter.  But it turns out it’s not.  It’s my food. My body doesn’t feel weighed down by chemicals or sugar.  I lost 2 lbs in 4 days by thinking about food nonstop and eating the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. 

Last night I roasted a Grass Kickin Chicken from my dear friend Bev and it was by far the best I’ve had (with an apple cider glaze and roasted root veg- incredible).  I feel honored to be cooking and eating this kind of food. My meals have returned to that sacred place where I feel compelled to say a blessing before taking a bite, to thank the Creator and the farmer for this feast.  I’m having a spiritual awakening from a simple cheese sandwich.

If you are looking for a way to change your outlook on life, to be more grateful, more conscious, a more active and alive human being… I think I may have found the secret.  It starts with your most basic of needs, and you already do it 3 times a day. 

Eat this free-range chicken, its body has been broken for you.  Drink this creamline milk, it is the sustainer of life.

Chicken Liver Mousse

January 4, 2010 § 1 Comment

 

Some chicken liver mousse I did not make- but is very pretty!

Chicken livers have rarely excited the average shopper.  They don’t look particularly appetizing- soft, slimy dark pink lobes– and most people haven’t the slightest clue what to do with them.  I was once, not long ago, one of those people.  

I had eaten chicken liver mousse in restaurants a few times and really enjoyed it, but it was always so expensive.  $11 for a little ramekin and a few slices of baguette!  So when I saw chicken livers at the Pecan Meadows stand at the 14th and U market this summer for a crazy good deal at $2 for a half pound (TWO dollars!), I wondered if I might muster up the skill to make it at home.  

As it turns out, it hardly took any mustering at all. In fact, it is embarrassingly easy.  So easy that I threw it together at 9:45pm this evening, and I’m one of those people who like to go to bed no later than 10:30pm (yes, I am aware that I’m an old lady at 25).  

It’s one of those dishes you can take to a party and seriously impress people, especially if you package it in some adorably chic little jar.  Or just stay at home and eat the whole thing yourself.  Plus, it is sooo delicious.  Even people who turn up their nose at foods that include the word “liver” will love this if they give it a try.  I promise you won’t be disappointed. And its hard to say no to a recipe that goes something like “whiz all ingredients in food processor. Pour into container and put in oven. Done.”

Even with local butter and egg, this rather large amount will cost you around $5.  

This recipe comes from The Balthazar Cookbook, one of my all-time favorites, especially for French bistro food like this.  I will include the full recipe here, but I usually only make half (and it still makes quite a lot).

Chicken Liver Mousse

Ingredients:

1/2 lb unsalted butter, melted

1 lb chicken livers

1 large egg

2 tsp salt

Pinch of quatre-épices (nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, and allspice- basically apple pie spice plus clove)

Pinch freshly ground white pepper (or whatever pepper you have, i usually don’t have white)

2 tbsp Cognac (ok, not local. but i have a tiny bottle that I use only for this. you could use local whiskey if you have it.)

Preheat oven to 300. 

Put all ingredients except butter into a food processor and blend until smooth, about 20 seconds. While blender is still running, pour in melted butter and continue blending 15 seconds. Pour the mixture into 6 ramekins until 3/4 full.  Place ramekins in baking dish and fill with warm water to half the height of the ramekins.

Carefully transfer to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. When it is done it will be lightly brown on top and will have puffed up a bit in the middle.  

Spread on toasted baguette and enjoy!

*My Note:  you can use almost any glass or ceramic container. just something that can go in the oven.  sometimes I use one large dish instead of so many- as pictured- just increase cooking time by about 5-7 minutes, or until the top is just browned and cracked.

*Balthazar recommends buttering the ramekins first and then turning the mousse out onto a plate so you have a pretty little plateau of mousse.  Personally I can’t be bothered with that kind of formality and prefer to leave it in the ramekin or jar.  It keeps much easier this way as well.  A good (and traditional) way of keeping the mousse is to, once the mousse is out of the oven, melt some butter and pour it over the top  until it completely covers the mousse and you have a thick layer.  Once it cools it will form a nice smooth shell on top.  The fat will keep the air out, and covers up the admittedly unattractive top of the mousse (though the inside is very pretty and pink!).

OMG THIS YOGURT IS AMAZING

January 3, 2010 § Leave a comment

Go out to Whole Foods or the Dupont Market and immediately buy Blue Ridge Dairy Co‘s YoFresh. Eat straight from the carton. Or with honey and Pink Lady apples!! This is a revelation in yogurt.  

 The last time I had yogurt like this was when I studied in Paris in college and the woman I lived with, Stefana, would bring out plain yogurt and sugar every night for dessert.  This has the exact same thick texture and slight tang.  Ah, nostalgia. 

Ok, less typing, more eating.

Star Hollow Farm is My New Best Friend

January 2, 2010 § 3 Comments

Check out this haul from my Star Hollow CSA!!! (Not shown:  a stock chicken that is currently in the pot)

Their drop point in Adams Morgan is closer than any grocery store (well, ok, except the sketchy Metro K, but it hardly counts), the food is gorgeous, I can order online in about 5 minutes, and it’s the same or less expensive than Safeway or Harris Teeter.  So far I see absolutely no down sides to this arrangement.  They don’t even have minimum order requirements, and you don’t have to order each week if you don’t want to.

My recommendation based on this one experience: All CSAs should be like this, and everyone should be a part of one.  This was the easiest and best grocery shopping experience ever.  

The most exciting parts are the oyster and portobella mushrooms, and the butter, and the little yellow tomatoes.  Tomatoes! In JANUARY!!

It’s freezing outside in DC today and I can hear the wind howling down my alleyway.  I believe the best use of my Saturday is staying in and making stock. And perhaps some chicken liver paté now that I have butter (lovely livers from Daniel at Pecan Meadow Farm in PA). And making…. something else probably . I’m just so excited to cook now that I have food!!!

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