Archive for May, 2008

Slow Food Foraging Event with Leda

Okay, this is the shameless plugs post. For starters:

I’ll be hosting a Slow Food event in Brooklyn, NY on June 1st. If you can make it, it would be great to meet you there. Info below (hint for blog readers only: we’ll be sampling Japanese knotweed-wood sorrel soup and red clover buttermilk bread, along with some of Renaissance Chateau’s elderberry wine):

Sunday, June 1st
2:00pm – 5:00pm
(rain or shine)

Prospect Park
(meet at Grand Army Plaza entrance – near the gazebo on the north west corner)

SPACE IS LIMITED!
Tickets
Slow Food Members – $20
Non-members – $30

SLOW U – WILD FORAGING IN PROSPECT PARK

Are you serious about eating Local? How serious? How about eating wild foods found right here in our own urban wildernesses, the city parks?

Come learn about wild, edible plants with Locavore Extreme, Leda Meredith in Prospect Park.

Leda is an educator, activist, and local-food expert living in Brooklyn. Read more about Leda and her pledge to eat only food from within 250 miles on her blog: ledameredith.net/wordpress

We’ll go foraging with Leda, and then make our way to Snail-of-Approval restaurant Beer Table to taste some of what we found, ask questions, and to learn how Leda is doing with her 250-mile diet pledge.

I’m capping attendance at 20 persons because I want to be able to keep my eye on you during the foraging walk (to make sure nothing goes into your mouth that shouldn’t!). To register, go to brown paper tickets.

On a different but related note, my book, Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch, is finally available for pre-order on Amazon. Here’s that info:
To pre-order (July 15th release date), go here.
Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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Strawberries, Rhubarb, & Evil Plastic Bags

Strawberries! Rhubarb! Yippee!!!

I’ll get back to that.

First, an apology. A friend of mine emailed that while he enjoyed the Kitchen Caravan video of me shopping at the greenmarket, he winced when he saw me take a new plastic bag. Me, too! I always carry extra bags with me, and wouldn’t you know it, when they filmed me buying potatoes at a farmer’s stall I realized I’d run out. And of course the shot of me grabbing the bag ended up in the video. Mea culpa! But rest assured that bag will be used multiple times and when it finally has holes in it I’ll take it to the Park Slope Food Coop for recycling (hint for NYC residents: besides plastic bags, they recycle other things the city doesn’t, like yogurt containers, and you don’t have to be a member to drop stuff off. You can get a complete list of what they accept for recycling here, along with the schedule of drop off days.)

Now back to those strawberries. Any CSA member or farmers’ market shopper gets excited when a new crop appears. But in the ninth month of The 250, I get ecstatic. Today’s strawberries from South Jersey are the first fresh fruit I’ve had since November that isn’t an apple!

The rhubarb got turned into a rhubarb-red currant compote using up the red currants from last year that were in my freezer. The currant shrub in my garden is loaded with unripe fruit, so I know there will be more tart, ruby-bright currants in my near future.

As for what to do with the strawberries, do they really need a recipe? Straight into my mouth.

I also harvested some pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) today. It’s part of my selective weeding campaign in the garden. If a weed is neither edible nor medicinal I pull it without mercy. But if it is a delicious spring delicacy like poke shoots, then I let it grow and use harvesting rather than weeding out to keep it from taking over.

On a different note, my book Botany, Ballet, & Dinner from Scratch: A Memoir with Recipes will be published by Heliotrope in July. If you’d like to get an email notification when it’s available, send an email to Leda_sBook@ledameredith.net with “book” in the subject line. I won’t share your email address, nor will it be used for anything else.

I’m going back into the kitchen. Must…have…more…strawberries…

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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Local Food Video with Leda

Kitchen Caravan recently filmed me foraging for field garlic and making Skordalia (Greek Garlic Dip) with it. They also got a nice bit of an interview with my miller, Don Lewis of Wild Hive Farm. The spot is in four segments that you can view individually: interview, shopping at the greenmarket, digging up field garlic, and making the recipe. You can find the links to all of them here. By the way, the Skordalia recipe is also fabulous made with regular garlic.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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Green Garlic & Radish Leaf Soup

At the farmers’ market today I was happy to find the seasonal treat of green garlic. Green garlic is just regular garlic harvested early, before it has developed individual cloves or papery sheaths that need to be peeled off. It looks like a cross between leeks and scallions, and tastes like, well, itself. A little garlicky, but milder than garlic cloves, and with a fresh, green note:

I also got a bunch of radishes. This may not seem like a big deal, but radishes are multi-faceted. You can eat the tubers raw in salads or cooked (they taste a bit like turnips when cooked), and the greens are also edible. So tonight I’m having an arugala (from the garden) and radish salad, and a green garlic, feta, and dried tomato pizza. But I’m also making a radish leaf soup for my late work nights in the week ahead:

Radish Leaf Soup

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course

Radish leaves from 1-2 bunches radishes (approx. 1 pint lightly packed), washed

2 green garlic tender parts, cut into 1/2-inch rounds (save the tougher parts for stock)

1 large or 2 medium Yukon gold or russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

3 cups chicken or vegetable stock

2 teaspoons butter or olive oil

salt to taste

1. Heat the butter or oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the green garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the garlic is softened but not browned, approximately 8 minutes.

2. Add the radish leaves and stir until wilted. At this point you can freeze the ingredients for up to 6 months for future soups.

3. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring often, for two minutes.

4. Add the stock and cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Puree with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Add salt to taste. Add more stock if it seems too thick. Serve hot with crusty bread.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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Checking In

Oof! It’s been a super-hectic past two weeks, but that’s not what I want to share with you. What I want to share is my response to two questions I’ve been getting a lot lately:

1. Are you sticking to The 250 even when you’re this busy?

Yes, I am. I want to say, “of course,” but there’s an interesting fact uncovered by this question that a glib reply wouldn’t do justice to.

I’ve gotten used to eating within The Rules and my 250-mile radius. It’s become my new normal. There’s a rhythm to it that has become automatic: feed the sourdough starter on Saturday even if I don’t get around to making bread, farmers’ market on Wednesday and Saturday and if I run out of dairy products there are local options at the co-op and even the supermarket. When really crunched for time, dump some of the ratatouille I canned last summer into my lunch container and bolt out the door. Breakfast lately has been smoothies of kefir and frozen berries from last year. My garden guarantees salads now even if I don’t make it to the farmers’ markets. And so it goes.

The other question I’ve been hearing frequently as I head into the final three months of The 250 is whether I’ll continue after the year is up. At least 95% is my answer. The remaining 5% leaves space for a few luxuries I might indulge in from time to time. I might replenish my empty jar of ground cinnamon. I might have a glass of non-local wine occasionally. Key word “occasionally.” Local will continue to be my daily fare.

But for now there are three months to go and beyond that a future of perpetuating what I’ve learned this year. Like how to make great sourdough bread (no commercial yeast required), and that I should have dried twice as many tomatoes, but I didn’t need so much frozen pesto. I’m planting my garden much more food-intensively this year than I have in the past. I’ve already put in basil

and the hot pepper seedlings

Both peppers and basil (and the tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash I’ll be putting in next week) are sun-lovers. But this year I’m also treating the shady areas of the garden as potential food sources. I already have wild ginger and spicebush planted, and today added ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris, the one that makes the yummy edible fiddleheads you see at the markets in early spring). In the woodland shade food garden, my mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) are blooming, which hopefully means fruit this summer. The blooms are a special treat to spot because they open underneath the leaves, undiscovered by the casual glance.

If you want to know more about edible landscaping, even in shady areas, Plants for a Future is a great resource.

A couple of nights ago I had Ellen and the gals from Kitchen Caravan over for a local food feast. The menu included Ellen’s superb lilac and peach wines and her spicy pickled carrots, as well as my pickled fiddleheads, beets, and cherries (all from last year), and some fab cheeses from Cato Farm. The main meal was salad with arugala from the garden and Old Chatham‘s blue cheese, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, and grilled portobello mushrooms with a chorizo sausage stuffing. Just in case you thought I was suffering on The 250–not!

Other news: I’ll be speaking at FarmFest on May 18th. Oh, and I won the 2008 Teaching Excellence Award from Adelphi University. Nothing to do with The 250, but I’m excited and so decided to share.

Not sure what this is about? Read Getting Ready for the 250-Mile Diet and The Rules

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