Archive | Fall 2013

FIELD LESSONS: Five Schools Cultivating Change by Hand

fieldLessons
The reward (Photo by Jonathan Doster for the Hotchkiss School)

By Emily Armstrong Oberto

It’s a cool New England morning. A crackle of frost covers the fields, glinting as the sun comes over the ridge. You take in a cleansing breath and set to work bringing the cows in for milking. Your muck boots crunch on the crystalline grass as you encourage the herd towards the dairy. Though your mind is present on the task at hand, you prepare for the busy day ahead—breakfast in the dining hall, a math exam, the soccer game after school…

While not yet a mainstream activity, experiences like this one are becoming a curricular component at a growing number of schools in the region. In certain cases these endeavors may owe something to the resurgence of the “back to the land” movement or the work of such food luminaries as Alice Waters, patron saint of school gardens, or food journalists like Michael Pollan. In other cases, student farming is a return to an institution’s own pastoral history or the result of the explosive flowering of teenage creativity.

Regardless of their origins, these programs each use experiential learning to connect students in some way with the land, their community and the food they eat.… Read the rest

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A FARMHOUSE RESTAURANT

 aFarmhouse

Photos by Caroline Alexander

Nestled on the side of the road on Route 23, heading west, just before the NY border, is a welcoming refuge for hungry locals and visitors. John Andrews: A Farmhouse Restaurant, has been around for so long, it’s an indigenous part of the landscape in the Berkshires.

Dan Smith, chef/owner, grew up on a farm in Iowa, then worked briefly as a sous chef in Florida before relocating to Salisbury, CT, in the late 1980s. He and his former wife purchased a two-story house—at the time, Sebastiani’s Restaurant—in 1990 on the outskirts of South Egremont, MA, and named the restaurant after his then father-in-law, John Andrews.

When Dan started out, his menu was American, with Northern Italian influences, and it’s still that way. But, his connection to local farmers has developed and deepened over time. As Dan’s culinary expertise evolved over the years, so has his menu. It is deeply rooted in local soil, imparting fresh flavors unique to the area; his style is sophisticated but simple. Here’s a typical pick off the menu: House- Made Fettuccine, Barefoot Farm Sweet Peas, Duck Confit, Berleberg Cheese. Or this: Grass-Fed Ribeye, Zinke’s Scallion Butter, Lyonnaise Potatoes, Local Broccoli.

aFarmhouse2
Chef Dan Smith

Early on, Dan developed close professional relationships with local farmers, like the Stosieks of Markristo Farm, located just down the road on Route 23.… Read the rest

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BOTTLED SUNSHINE TWO WAYS

Preserving the end of season

bottledSunshine

Fire up the canning kettle when the days start to shorten. September and October offer a flood of local peppers, onions, tomatoes and many other fruits and vegetables collected during farmers’ last passes through their fields. Blemished fruits like softened tomatoes or scarred peppers are especially useful in canning. Pack the local harvest season away for a February day when winter life in the Berkshires seems to drag on.

When canning with a hot water bath, refer to: nchfp.uga.edu/publications/usda.pdf

The following recommendations should be observed:

  • Wash the jars and lids prior to beginning the cooking process.
  • Keep the jars and lids warm until you need them.
  • Don’t overfill jars, or they will leak or break during processing.
  • Screw bands on only enough to hold the lid in place prior to processing.
  • Make sure the water in the bath covers the jars.
  • After processing, cool jars completely before further handling.

Brent Wasser is interested in the processes by which plants and animals become food. He manages the Sustainable Food & Agriculture Program at Williams College.

RECIPES

Fennel Relish

End-of-Season Heirloom Tomato Jam

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I’M A WORKING DOG

The Maremmas of Stonehedge Farm

workingDog
Sophie

On a bright early summer morning at one of the lower barns of Lila Berle’s Stonehedge Farm in Great Barrington, the day was well under way. After a few weeks of nonstop haying in between the record rains of June, there was a little time for a break from chores.

Lila and her Standard Poodle, Butter, greeted a visitor in the barnyard while ducks, geese and ducklings, adopted by the geese when their mother was killed by a raven, ambled about. Butter bounded into the cab of a truck, where four large stainless-steel dishes containing kibble, some wet food and hard-cooked eggs (from Lila’s hens) were perched on the dash and seats.

“Let’s take a ride to meet the dogs.”

The dogs are Maremmas, an Italian breed of working sheep dogs thought to be 2,000 years old, which guard and live year-round with the sheep Lila has become so well known for. Her lamb is supplied to Dan Smith, a pioneer of Berkshires farm-to-table, at his restaurant John Andrews, and now also to Brian Alberg at the Red Lion Inn. For nearly 30 years she’s bred and raised her own breed of sheep, with flocks grazing on 400 acres, some of the most picturesque land in the Berkshires.… Read the rest

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LETTER FROM THE PUBLISHER FALL 2013

Fall, a glorious season in New England!

It should be cool and crisp—oh, that was mid-August. Well, maybe it will be hot and humid—oh, that was mid-June. Time to harvest the potatoes—oh, we did that in mid- August, ready early and quite wonderful. Time to start putting up all the tomatoes that are so abundant in fall—oh, wait, I’m still trying to get my fi ll of fresh ones. Wasn’t that supposed to be in August?

I find it truly interesting just how so much is changing and how we can’t depend on the way things used to be. Yet I’m impressed with the farm community that deals with change pretty much from week to week.

The new generation of farmers has brought change to the plate. Local production has increased with more farmers and artisanal producers. The techniques employed yield healthier and amazingly high-quality fi nal products. Chemical-, hormone- and antibiotic-free growth has made a diff erence in our health and what we eat. Abundant off erings locally include cheese, yogurt, butter, eggs, baked goods, meat, poultry, charcuterie, sauces, jams, brews, distillates and on and on.

In fact, the desire for many of us to participate in our own yards and creation of our own food is growing—literally.… Read the rest

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EDIBLE NEWS AND NOTABLES FALL 2013

newsMaxGitlen 

Congratulations to MAX GITLEN, the new butcher at THE MEAT MARKET. They report that Max sees his job as an “opportunity not only to provide a great product but to further the aspirations of local food, to provide the highest quality food to all people, to keep the lines visible between producer and customer and to build a community that can thrive on these principles.”

newsBerkshireBlueCheese

BERKSHIRE BLUE CHEESE: Handcrafted blue cheese made right in Berkshire County! WWLP Ch. 22 in Springfield, in a weeklong series called “Mass Appeal,” featured owner Ira Grable and his daughter Rori demonstrating how this wonderful cheese is made. To see the video, go to: WWLP.com/dpp/mass_appeal/taste/berkshire-blue

newsBerkshireOrganicsMkt

BERKSHIRE ORGANICS MARKET of Dalton, MA, was named one of the Top 12 Right to Know Grocers in North America by Organic Consumers Association (OCA). Berkshire Organics was selected from a field of more than 150 stores. The store requires signed affidavits verifying that manufactured products, ingredients and feed used by livestock farmers are GMO-free. Congratulations to Aleisha and Brian; keep up the good work!

Congratulations to HAVEN, café and bakery; H. R. ZEPPELIN, chocolatier; and PATISSERIE LENOX, café and bakery, all of whom opened new stores in Great Barrington this summer.… Read the rest

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EDIBLE DIRECTORY FALL 2013

Autumn in Austerlitz
OldAusterlitz.org/events/autumn_in_austerlitz_festival

Becket Arts Center
7 Brooker Hill Rd. off Rte. 8, Becket, MA
413-623-6635;
BecketArtsCenter.org

Berkshire Botanical Garden
Corner rtes. 102 & 183, Stockbridge, MA
413-298-3926;
BerkshireBotanical.org

Berkshire Co-op Market
42 Bridge St., Great Barrington
413-528-9697;
Berkshire.coop

Berkshire Food Festival
Downtown North Adams
ExploreNorthAdams.com

Berkshire Grown Harvest Supper
Upper Lodge at Ski Butternut
Rte. 23, Great Barrington
413-528-0041;
BerkshireGrown.org

Berkshire Museum
39 South St., Pittsfield
413-443-7171;
BerkshireMuseum.org

Berktoberfest
McKay St., Pittsfield
BeerAdvocate.com/events

Chatham Open Farm Days
Chatham, NY
ChathamKeepFarming.org

Domaney’s
66 Main St., Great Barrington
413-528-0024;
Domaneys.com

Egremont Garden Club

Berkshire Wildflower Honey
282 Brewer Hill Rd., Mill River, MA
413-229-6650:
BerkshireHoney.com

Founders Weekend Celebration
Main St., Lee, MA
LeeFoundersWeekend.com

Greylock Ramble
CelebrateAdams.com

Guido’s
760 Main St., Great Barrington
413-528-9255
GuidosFreshMarketplace.com

Guido’s
1020 Rte. 7, Pittsfield, MA
413-442-9912
GuidosFreshMarketPlace.com

Hancock Shaker Village
34 Lebanon Mountain Rd., Rte. 20,
Hancock, MA
HancockShakerVillage.org

Hawthorne Valley Farm
327 Rte. 21C, Ghent, NY
518-672-7500
HawthorneValleyFarm.org

Hillcrest Educational Center
788 South St., Pittsfield; 413-499-7924;
HillcrestEC.org

Housatonic Heritage Walks
Diane Cote, walks coordinator
413-394-9773;
Heritage-Hikes.org

Lenox Tub Parade and Apple Squeeze
Lenox, MA
413-637-3646
Lenox.org/the-tub-parade
Lenox.org/apple-squeeze-harvestfestival

Muddy Brook School
Monument Valley Rd.
Great Barrington, MA

North Adams Fall Foliage Festival and Parade
Downtown North Adams
413-664-6180,
NorthAdams-MA.gov

Norman Rockwell Museum
9 Route 183, Stockbridge
413-298-4100;
NRM.org

Taft Farm
119 Park St.… Read the rest

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Drunken Stuffed Pears

drunkenPear

Stuffed fruits are very common in Mediterranean cooking. Serve them as a snack or an aperitif, as a first dish or as a side dish. Use firm fruits to avoid their falling apart while cooking. Because apple and pears when cut fresh tend to get darker due to oxidation, blanch them immediately with lemon or white wine when handling. Here is a recipe for a baked pear, using the advantage of the fabulous taste of Berkshire Blue cheese.

Yield: 4 servings

4 pears, peeled (optional), cut in half and core removed*
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup white wine

For the stuffing:

½ cup Berkshire Blue cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons cream cheese**
1/3 cup nuts, diced***
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs****

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Set pears in a baking dish with their open sides up. Pour wine on and around the pears. Sprinkle nutmeg on the pears. Cover the baking dish and bake for 20– 30 minutes, until pears are tender but not too soft.

In a bowl, combine blue cheese, cream cheese, nuts and breadcrumbs. Mix well. When pears are ready, take the baking dish out of the oven. Spoon some of the leftover wine from the baking dish over the pears, and fill pears with the cheese mixture.… Read the rest

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Earthy Celery Root Salad

earthyCeleryRoot

Yield: 4 servings

Celery root or celeriac is the root of the plant Apium graveolens. While in North America we are familiar with the aboveground stalks and leaves known as celery, the roots of a closely related plant are very popular in the Mediterranean and European cooking. In recent years celery root has started to appear in our markets too.

When shopping for celery root search for the heavier roots, as they have not dehydrated and so will be fresher and tastier.

Sometimes farmers sell them with the stems, and though these are less prominent than celery they can certainly be used too; just cut the stems from the root and store them separately.

I love celery root and add it to many of my recipes, as it adds taste to any stew or mashed roots. One can’t cook a healing chicken soup without adding celery root to the pot. But celery root can also be eaten fresh, as a vegetable, in a refreshing salad. Pairing sour, crunchy apple with the earthy, naturally salted celery is a winning combination. This salad can be served alongside the pears for a fruitful fall branch.

For the salad:

1 celery root, cleaned, peeled and shredded.*
1 green Granny Smith apple, cleaned and shredded.… Read the rest

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