Posts Tagged ‘cheese’

Food waste? Thoughts for the New Year

January 1, 2014
It's what's for dinner

It’s what’s for dinner


I read somewhere along the way that Americans waste approximately 40% the food they bring into their homes (I’m not sure if the statistic is true but it brought home a point).  How much to we ‘over buy’ at the grocery if we have the luxury? One of my lame-ass New Year’s Day traditions is to clean out my refrigerator.  I was shocked to see what I tossed:  odds and ends of cheeses, a few science experiments, long ago expired milk (in defense, I did buy the smallest container available for one item and I just don’t drink the stuff).  I made a quasi-resolution.  I’m going to eat what is in my freezer, pantry, fridge before heading to the farmers market.  Yes, there will be some things that I need to buy but I was stunned what I had versus what I thought I needed to go buy.  Dinner/lunch for the reset of the week is above:  a pork roast done in the crock pot with balsamic vinegar, onions and honey.  Mashed potatoes.  I do need to pick up salad stuff (but trust me when I say that will wait until the snow has past!).  Also cooked for the week ahead? A chard/corn/cheese frittata for breakfast.  And with the exception of the cheese and balsamic vinegar? All locally sourced.


I have no idea how long this experiment will last: fresh vegetables are hard to find in New England this time of year.  It will be an interesting, creative experiment.  If anything, it might help me learn what I actually eat versus buy because “it was a great price”.  But right now I’m mourning the mac and cheese I could have made had I only been paying attention!


Best laid plans. . . .

December 12, 2011

There are a million reasons I could never be a parent.  Most of them involve my utter lack of ability to plan and execute to a “normal” level.  Take today for example.  ALL day I sat around thinking “potato soup”.  I completely obsessed about it: and came home to find out that I didn’t have any potatoes. Massive #fail!  Sigh.  Fortunately, I had some onion soup left over from when my mom visited: 100% local (except the cognac).  I mean, my mom whipped this up one afternoon when I was at work. WHO whips up onion soup? (aside from the obvious?).

Onion Soup

Oh winter soups . . . .

I was so glad to have this to come home to have as my Plan B!  I spent the weekend in Atlantic City: had a good time but realized how bland commercialized food can be.  Honestly, I found myself wondering how much junk I put into my body when traveling: I honestly would have flunked tell this salad from its companion apart.  The food wasn’t bad … it just wasn’t good.  I’ve become used to the freshness of food.  Somebody remind me of this come January when I’m looking for an avocado.

So, for the soup:

Broth based on veggies from Shared Harvest CSA and beef from 8 O’Clock Ranch.

Onions from Red Fire Farm

Cheese from Grasse River B Ranch (via 8 O’Clock Ranch).

Not local: Cognac.


Oh Monday. . . .

December 5, 2011

A complete and total Monday.  The good: I managed to trouble shoot an issue with my car (I know nothing about cars but understand basic circuitry and figured out the positive cable from the battery was loose causing the light to come on.  My plan was to open the hood and tighten it but hey, I don’t have the grip strength to do that so off to the mechanic I go on Wednesday. Joy.)  One of my co-workers called in sick so I tried to deal with double the normal work load while pretending that the pounding migraine might just go away before oh, Christmas.  (It did after a copious amount of caffeine infusion).

I finally received the package from Best Buy Worst Store Ever.  Still haven’t heard from them, don’t expect to but hey, my sister’s Christmas errand is complete (trust me, I’m grateful, even if it is on my kitchen table).  Today would have been the perfect day to grab takeout, hit a drive through (ok, I do admit to hitting the golden arches today during the quest for caffeine, I hadn’t had any in a few days and was suffering …. I’d say like heroin withdrawal but that might be an exaggeration: on which side, I’m not sure) or something else.  Instead I made it 2 for 2 in my I’m not buying prepared food, I’m eating only what is in my pantry/kitchen/ and as local as possible (I do have somethings that are not S.O.L.E sourced left over that I’m not going to just toss).  What can I say, I’m drawn to the Dark Days Challenge in the sense that it forces me to think in advance about what I’m going to eat and where my food came from (couple that with the fact I’m still shaking my head at McDonald’s being an Olympic sponsor for some reason) and who is ‘profiting’ from my purchases.  Hey, I’m all for people making money: I’d just prefer it to be small businesses.  Again, based on zero scientific evidence, I do have to wonder if the increase in allergies, migraines and other expensive but not deadly health conditions is related to fillers in our food (but I’m a history major with a masters in theology, I know how to ask questions …. lots of them).

Anyway, today I wanted meatballs. Not a heavy pasta dish with meatballs.  Just meatballs (don’t ask me why).  For some reason, I had taken out some sausage from 8 O’clock Ranch this morning, grabbed an onion,  opened a jar of whole tomatoes from my CSA share at Nourse Farm I canned over the summer and mixed in some dried rosemary from my mom’s garden and mixed it with some GF bread crumbs.  I wound up freezing 1/2 into a meatloaf for later this winter and cooking the rest.  I made a sauce with some Fromage Blanc from Foxboro Cheese, half and half from Shaw’s Farm and a few leafs of spinach stirred in from the Somerville Winter’s Market.

I’m sure, oh, mid-January, I’m going to be screaming for the love of an avocado but right now, my past 2 attempts have been tasty.  The 2 items out of the radius, the meat and the rosemary.  If I make this again, I’ll add a pinch of salt: it needed a bit to offset the acid.

Meatballs and Spinach

Comfort food for a Monday

The First Week is Always the Easiest: Dark Days Challenge

December 4, 2011
Dark Days: Week One

Local: It's what's for dinner


We’ve been having an insanely mild start to winter in New England.  I’m not going to complain.  We had Snoctober/the Halloween No’easter/Occpy Snow but other than that it has been insanely mild.  Put it this way, I still haven’t done the where are my gloves dance at 4:30 am yet.  I’m going to guess this is going to be hard for the farmers: we haven’t had a hard sustaining freeze and the warm temps probably cause havoc on the winter crops (she says like she knows what she is talking about).  Anyway, anytime after 12/28 (when I get back home from the holidays) winter can start.

I spent some time with the fantastic writer of Vegparadise who is also participating in this challenge and we both have a lot “in stock”: canned jams/butters, root veggies, frozen/canned items from the bountiful summer.  And, it turns the same stumbling blocks: dairy.  Finding a local dairy, in 150 miles that is oh, convenient to metro Boston was confounding.    Enter the fantastic Shaws Farm and the Somerville Winter Farmer’s Market (which, I wish had its own website … but it does have a FB page).  Score.  Local creamers, butter and *bliss* ice cream that you can order to pick up at the farmer’s market.

Anyway, part of the first week is the listing of any exceptions to the 150 mile radius (aside from seasonings which area ‘given’).  My two exceptions: gluten-free flour (which I get from King Arthur Flour which is in the radius but not all items are sourced within 150 miles) and my meat which is from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch (which is just outside of the 150 miles but I am member of their CSA).  Yes, I could purchase a more “local” source of meat: however, I have been extremely happy with my current CSA and was unwilling to change for the challenge.

So, for dinner this week (above):

Pan fried cube steak from 8 O’clock Ranch and roasted root veggies (beets, carrots, sweet potatoes and potatoes).

My CSA ends on 12/17. Ack. That’s when it will get interesting for me!

And remember to chew your food: Day 22

September 5, 2011

Eat slowly. If you cram your food down your throat, you are not only  missing out on the great taste of the food, you are not eating healthy. Slow
down to lose weight, improve digestion, and enjoy life more.”

Eh, not so sure on the back half: there are some leaps of logic as in “if i slowly eat a big mac, you are saying that is better than scarfing watermelon?” floating around in my mind.  This is one that I *try* to follow.  I’m good at it about none of the time.  Breakfast: a Luna bar and caffeine in the car as I listen to NPR if I’m good. Coffee if I’m bad.  Breakfast is always *in* the car.  I’ve improved in the fact that it’s no longer a drive thru breakfast.  Lunch … um. Yeah. It’s either a repeat of breakfast, something I’ve thrown together the night before or something that looks vaguely like food from the cafeteria at work.  Dinner … um.  Ok, I’m in serious need here.  While I like to COOK (more like I like the smell of cooking food), when it comes to sitting down and eating a meal? Like at a table? Well, I’m horrific.

My parents gave me a kitchen table a few years ago.  It was my first one.  I wish I could say I was 20. . . no where close.  My cat found it to be a launching pad.  True story, the first time he *saw* a table it was while visiting my parents ten years ago.  He jumped on it in the middle of dinner.  My parents flipped: I sorta explained he’d never seen one.  Jackson still thinks the kitchen table is a perfect winter sun spot (I see evidence of Jackson ON the table, never have been able to catch him).

The bad thing in all of this? I’m picky about my food: I am a huge fan of the slow food movement.  I am a member of a local food co-op, a meat CSA (LOVE 8 O’clock Ranch!) and a fruit/veggie CSA (Nourse Farm).  Where do I fail: In taking the time to enjoy my meal.  To savor the textures and tastes, to remember that even if I *made* the pickles, eating them for dinner is probably not the best dinner on the planet.

I’m not even going to try to make excuses on this one.  I simply fail at doing this.  It is something I need to work on, to learn how to enjoy and savor a meal.  But really? I have made huge improvements on not eating in the car.

Work week almost over … a bit harder than I thought!

August 4, 2011

The work week is almost over, I’ll admit, the first week avoiding grocery stores and drive-thrus, it has been much harder than I thought.  While I have managed to pack my lunch each night (ok, that is not that hard!), the complexity has been in finding the balance between a few long days in the cube farm and realizing how easy it is to slip into the convenience of, well, a drive-thru morning.

For example, yesterday, I made went into the office at 7:00 am.  I left my house at 6:10 (ah, those long city commutes!).  I left the office at 11:30 pm.  Yup, roughly 16.5 hours in the office.  Now, we did break for dinner (a local sushi place which was fun given my seafood allergy but fantastic spicy eggplant!) but by the time I made it home, packed my lunch, showered and crawled into bed, it was 1 am.  Normally, this would be the ‘excuse’ for catching about 30 minutes more of sleep, hitting a drive thru on the way in and probably on the way home tonight, I dug in and decided I wasn’t going to cave over a long day (but oh it was so tempting).  I managed to eat breakfast at home (the safe yoghurt and some granola one of my adorable nieces made for me), take my packed lunch in to work and pick up my CSA share on the way home (up for this weekend, more bread and butter pickles to can, some more potatoes, corn to be frozen and a few different types of squash for a squash casserole).  I stopped by a local farmers market that I normally miss: it was ok but right now we are frustratingly in between seasons in New England: the tomatoes aren’t quite ready and what I really want are blackberries.

Tomorrow, is delivery day for Mass Local Food Cooperative.  Think of the co-op as a collection of mini-farmers markets where members can order items from local farms and pick up in a few central Massachusetts locations.  They are usually my source for cheese, eggs, pesto and a few random things.  I managed to remember to order some of the ‘missing’ items (namely, garlic and onions) from my kitchen.  I’m still on a quest for finding celery that is either organically grown or via IPM and at a farmers market/farm stand or local grocery.  An avocado would be nice but let’s face it: avo trees don’t do well in New England.

What have I learned? There are a lack of small businesses on my commute.  Yes, Dunkin’ Donuts is franchised (so is McDonald’s, Burger King) but on my 25 mile non-interstate commute, there is not a single indy coffee place: it’s a virtual strip mall nirvana of CVS, grocery stories, Dunkin’ Donuts and various gas stations.  I live in a well populated area – I was stunned.  I hadn’t noticed the lack of indy businesses.  I’m sure an argument could be made for Dunkin’ Donuts and New England being joined at the hip: for me, it became an eye-opening event.

The upcoming week will be interesting: a week packed full of meetings and probably working all weekend means I have to coordinate my schedule a bit better to prepare for those long work days.  I need to hit a farmers market this weekend to find some tomatoes, lettuce and other items.  I will give that rationing the Coke Zero has probably been better for me but oh, I could use an unlimited supply in the morning!

The first temptation

July 31, 2011

As many foodies know, Wylie Dufresne is a notorious, self-proclaimed “egg slut”.  Me? I’m a mashed potatoes slut. I order them on menus, silently critique them in my head and think ooooh.  The adventure of ‘no grocery store for a month’ based on my need for mashed potatoes began with a vexing temptation.  First, I forgot to put sour cream on my list of foods. Luckily, a friend pointed out that yoghurt could be brought over. Perfect.  I had yoghurt.  Failure: it was French Vanilla.  Habit, right? French Vanilla yoghurt combined with potatoes? Yuck.

A friend pointed out that it wasn’t 8/1 yet so I could still go to the grocery store. Tempting. Ok, I gave into that idea. I showered, got into my car and thought “what is the point of this?” Finding ways around? Yes. But not *this* way.  The way around is substitutions, using what is local and a host of other things.  I left my car, cut up my potatoes and figured if McGuyver could make a bomb out of a potato, I could mash them without tossing in sour cream (trust me on this, it’s amazing).  Butter. Hmm. Worked. A bit of horseradish, a dash of BBQ  sauce better.  Parama cheese. Perfect.

Now, I realize that my copy-cat plan wasn’t the best thought out: I still don’t have sour cream . . . I’m missing non-French Vanilla yoghurt and uh, chocolate.  Day one is in the books. I’m about to cook some pork chops and pack my lunch for tomorrow.  (Egg Salad minus celery, crackers and maybe I have a Luna Bar somewhere. . . ).  What I’ve learned: it’s wicked easy in this part of the world to say “oh, I need” and go and buy it from a grocery store.  It as my initial temptation: I worked around it.  Will I keep it up? Who knows.  But going into the week, I have a container of mashed potatoes and already cooked green beans from my CSA at Nourse Farm, hardboiled eggs about to become egg salad and 2 grilled pork chops from 8 O’clock ranch.  Yup.  I can probably make it until Wednesday . .  .who knows?

I also realized I boiled all my eggs. I so didn’t think this adventure all the way to the end.

Ah, survived the first temptation!

The perfect food!

Pantry diving: quick and easy cooking

March 14, 2011

I promised a friend of mine I’d post some quick and easy meals that are fairly easy to make and inexpensive. The first one … with a snarkish nod to her wild side, I’m dubbing pantry diving.  5 items: 10 minutes, and it’s easy to make.  The full recipe is found here but the key items are: a can of whole tomatoes, a package of spinach and mushrooms (which you can leave out if you are one of those people who eschew mushrooms for some unknown reason).

And since my culinary challenged friend likes pictures: here is what is should look like. . . ..

Spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms, OH MY!

5 items, 15 minutes and dinner!

I yam what I yam

February 17, 2011

So, cooking adventure number two involved yams! Check out the reciepe here.  It’s yummy goodness especially when combined with a salad and a nice glass of red wine!

Yummy goodness!

February 5, 2011

So, I had one of those look in the refrigerator and see what you can eat nights. Most of the time, that results in an uninspired, unoriginal cheese and egg omelette. Today? A snap quick recipe of organic yumminess.

One container of Trader Joe’s pre-made polenta.

One bag of Trader Joe’s organic spinach (raw)

1lb of Italian Mild Sausage from the fantastic 8 O’clock Ranch

1lb of Raw Milk Cheddar from the Neighborly Farms

I spread the polenta out on the bottom of the pan, layered with cooked sausage, spinach next then the cheese.  Cooked for about an hour at 350.  Yummy goodness.  Even have leftovers.

Didn’t have to be McGyver to make it. . . and everything is organic.

Oh, and in the did you know this? Jean Lafitte was Jewish. I told Lafitte this….and decided we lived in an interfaith household. Good thing I bought him that Hanukkah stocking this year on clearance.