Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Winter Markets and CSAs Here to Save the Day!

It’s fall and the outdoor farmer’s markets are beginning to close up shop. Wah! Don’t fret, while the abundance of spring and summer may be coming to an end, there is still a ton of local fresh produce to be had. IF, that is, you know where to find it… Here are a few tips.

*Plagirism Disclaimer* Just so you know, I cut and pasted the descriptions for each of these markets and CSA shares directly from their respective websites! Oh, and just in case you aren't familiar with CSA, it is Community Supported Agriculture, you are basically paying it forward to the farmer's so that they can afford to grow food for you. 

First, remember, Pittsburgh is so darned lucky to have two great year-round indoor markets that feature local farmers and their products:

  • The Farmers' Market Cooperative of East Liberty: The Farmers' Market Cooperative of East Liberty is a permanent, indoor farmers' market open every Saturday year-round, from 5 am to 12 noon. We are located in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, making us the only year-round market operation in our fair city. We are one of the only sources of locally grown meat and fresh produce during Pittsburgh's winter months.
  • Pittsburgh Public Market: When visiting the Strip, you'll find a unique marriage of historic industrial architecture and modern retail and technical commerce... dozens of distinctive shops that exist nowhere but the Strip... the perfect cafĂ© to spend an afternoon engaged in spirited conversation with friends. But most of all, you’ll find the aroma of coffee, the scent of fresh baked bread and biscotti, the tang of seafood and the excitement of a festival.
  • Oh, and I should mention that our friends over at Chatham's Food Studies Eden Farm campus are known for having pop-up farmer's markets, selling produce and fair trade coffee, on their Squirrel Hill/Shadyside campus. Friend them on Facebook to get the latest updates!

Second, we are even more darned lucky to have a great selection of winter farms that are willing to bring fresh meat, produce and eggs directly to our neighborhood, some will even bring your order to your door! Could it be any easier???

  • Green Circle Farm: Weekly Buying Club. Green Circle Farm delivers products from our farm and other local farms to locations in Carnegie, Oakland, Squirrel Hill, Point Breeze, Churchill, Highland Park, Fox Chapel, the North Side, and Sewickley. Customers order by email. Products include local meats, eggs, dairy items, produce, prepared foods, and baked goods. We sell and deliver only locally-grown, sustainably-produced, and mostly organic meats, eggs, and vegetables. The prepared foods, baked goods, and dairy items we offer sometimes include conventional or non-local inputs — our product descriptions include complete information about each product’s ingredients and provenance. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions at all about how or where the foods we provide were raised, fed, grown, or produced.
  • Clarion River Organics: Clarion River Organics is a cooperative of 10 family farms working together from Sligo, Pennsylvania. All farms are certified organic and strive to maintain healthy soils as their main means of pest and disease control.  We believe this benefits our family’s health, the farms health and the health of the watershed. Since we have multiple farms working together, we are able to offer a good selection of produce over an extended season to our customers.
  • Penns Corner Farm Alliance: in 1999, Penn's Corner Farm Alliance is a farmer cooperative in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide high quality, farm-fresh products directly to customers while providing a sustainable rate of return to the farmer.  As a group of more than 30 members; we deliver fruits, vegetables, and other farm food products directly to customers in the Pittsburgh area through our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program.
  • Kretschmann Farm: Becky and I (plus many other helpers) have been providing Pittsburgh area customers with organically grown produce, fruits, and meats since 1971. Our 80 acre farm is located near Zelienople, about 35 miles north of the city. We also cooperate with several area farms, some close neighbors, and a wonderful group of Amish families to our north who have been farming organically. This assures an even steadier and more varied supply of produce while promoting the growth of organic production in western PA.
  • Northwest PA Growers Co-op: The  Northwest PA Growers Co-op is a cooperative of farmers from Butler, Mercer, Lawrence, Crawford, Erie, Clarion, and Venango counties, dedicated to bringing you fresh, naturally-raised, local produce all 52 weeks of the year.
  • Everblossom Farm: Everblossom Farm offers Certified Naturally Grown produce, and is dedicated to sustainability. We use the biointensive method of agriculture, using compost and only Certified Organic pest control.
  • Village Acres: For over thirteen years Village Acres has provided fresh organic produce using the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) model, with distribution at the farm in Mifflintown, Pennsylvania and in the nearby towns of State College, Burnham, and Selinsgrove.
Have I missed some? Let us all know!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sausage, Just for the Fun of It!

Fresh ground pork sausage, I like mine the best (and you'll like yours the best too)
Fall is here and, with the return of cooler weather, comes (for me) a renewed interest in food and food preservation. Sausages are a combination of both--a hands on activity better suited for cooler weather and an old timey technique for preserving meat. There are zillions of types of sausages (well, I haven't counted, but it seems like that anyway), some are safer to make at home than others. The history of sausage is long, and I'm not up for repeating it here, but suffice it to say that many of the very old fashioned methods relied on very particular climatic conditions in very specific locations to enable hunks of meat to cure (rather than rot). Today, since sausage is made in all sorts of places all over the world, we often see nitrates and other preservatives added to our meats. Nitrates are something I like to avoid, but sausage isn't, so every now and again I'll grind up a batch of everyday sausage to freeze.

Creamed Corn, Make the Most of the Last of the Season

Creamed corn, fresh peaches over a biscuit, thick sliced tomatoes...a taste of heaven.

I roll the East Coast way, with halfsy roots in the north and south (and grew up where the twain shall meet: Washington, D.C.). I've got great food memories up and down the coast, but there are few that beat the southern lunches I used to eat at my grandmother's house in North Carolina. Straight from the garden we would string green beans for boiling (with fat back in the older days), cantaloupe still warm from the sun, tomatoes for slicing, zucchini for frying and corn for my favoritest dish ever: creamed corn.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pop Tarts? Egads...Well, OK, but only if you let me make them myself...

House made "Pop Tarts" filled with chocolate hazelnut spread...wish you were here?
So, sometimes it's not easy being the kid of a mom who does everything she can to avoid junk food. I try very had not to be too extreme, but extreme is, of course, relative and my kids aren't too sure I'm trying too hard anyway. When my soon-to-be 11 year old requested delivery pizza, root beer and *gasp* ice cream cake, I silently sighed (I think it was silent) and said OK. Nevermind that I can make ALL of those things and that, in fact, my chocolate cake has won several awards (don't believe me? check out this sweep!), I understand that sometimes it is important to participate in pop culture. But when the request came for Pop Tarts I put my foot down. Luckily for me, I remembered a fabulous recipe from the LA Times, here they came to save the day! Pop Tarts, YES!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Why Not Make Some Mustard???

Soaked Seeds + Vinegar = Mustard
This weekend I had such fun with my friends over at Slow Food Pittsburgh and Crested Duck Charcuterie making mustard to demo at their Picklefest. It was a great crowd for such a dreary day, I definitely got the warm and fuzzies (mustard heat helps!).

Preserving the Seasons with Infused Vinegars

Vinegars: Cranberry Cider, Tarragon White Wine and Herbal Peach Champagne
As the summer growing season winds down we often find ourselves with a glut of herbal bounty. Really, how much pesto can any person eat? Actually, there are so many things to do with bushels of fresh herbs, infused vinegars are just one suggestion.