The Dayton Kitchen

Eating well. So get ready and get butter.

Just say NO! to boiled beets August 8, 2008

Filed under: in the kitchen,scoring good food — pameladayton @ 6:36 pm
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Really, people. Think outside the pot of boiling water for your veggies, especially this time of year when it’s super easy to get veggies fresh from the ground.

Two years ago, we joined Porter Farms CSA. (Not sure about CSA? Read this.) I am not a fussy eater. There are three things I can’t stomach (olives of any color, brussel sprouts, eggs), but beyond that I am game to try new foods. But there were some vegetables the Porters provided that I was not so sure I was going to like. Beets were one. I had only ever eaten blechy, rubbery, boiled beets, and had formed quite the negative opinion.

But one day, when I had my wits about me as was getting dinner ready early, I had a bright idea. I was wrapping my potatoes in foil to bake them, and thought to myself, Self, potatoes grow in the ground. Beets grow in the ground. I bet I could bake the beets in foil just like to potatoes.

I am not going to claim that this roasted/baked/ovened beets idea came exclusively from me. But I will claim this: It is highly likely that you will never eat another boiled beet again. And, it is equally likely that you will fall completely in love with the sweet, sweet taste and lovely texture that is a roasted beet.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Scrub your beets.  Trim off any bits of stalk.  Wrap in aluminum foil
  3. Place foil-wrapped beets on a cookie sheet that has raised sides.  Sometimes the beets release lots of juice.
  4. Bake for at least an hour, more than 1 1/2 hours is too much.
  5. Cut ends off beets, slip skins when cool enough to handle.
  6. Slice beets, and enjoy.  You could butter and salt and pepper them, but you sure don’t need to.
 

200 pounds of asparagus, or why it’s smart to know your farmer June 1, 2008

I regularly purchase vegetables from a local farmer.  Well, to clarify, I try to buy all of my veggies locally, but there is one farmer in particular who I shop with in addition to my CSA.  I ran into him unexpectedly at the East Aurora Farmers’ Market last week, and was disappointed that I had already purchased asparagus from another vendor.  We got to talking, first about the seedlings he is offering this spring, and then about his gorgeous asparagus.

I asked him how he recommends preserving asparagus, and I loved his answer:

  1. Wash the asparagus.
  2. Quick-freeze the asparagus.

Can it be any easier, people?  I think not.  He said that if you blanch the asparagus, it ends up being mushy and not at all like the vegetable that is in season now.  Because his method is so stinking easy, I asked if he had a certain amount I could purchase for a better price than if I were buying one pound at a time.  He said that he’d knock some off the price if I got 25 pounds, and even more if I got 50 pounds.  Well, I know that 50 pounds is a bit much for us.  That would be about one meal with asparagus every week for the next year.  We are growing enough other veggies that we would end up wasting something, and that’s not cool with me.

So I put out the call to a few people I thought might be interested in a great deal on asparagus.  Because really, who doesn’t like the stuff?  It’s amazing.

Two hundred pounds.  Fifteen families want 200 pounds of asparagus.  That figure translates into a lot of stinky pee happy tummies.

And the price:  $1.75 a pound.  The cheapest asparagus, shipped in from who-knows-where is around $4 when it’s on sale.  Less than two bucks a pound from a farmer I’ve met, and whose farm I’ve visited many times; a local, family-operated business where the CEO will stop what he is doing to talk with me about how he cultivates my food.

Go to your local farmers’ markets.  Get to know the people who grow the food you eat.  Ask about buying in bulk.  And save money while eating the glorious food that is in season.

 

The Garden, 2008 Edition April 23, 2008

Filed under: scoring good food — pameladayton @ 9:49 pm
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My flowers are blooming! I am so excited. The daffodils that are showing off their bright yellow faces, and white and purple crocuses have popped up to join the snowdrops. The tulips are promising to have a good year, too. There are enormous groups of tulip leaves popping up all around my house. I don’t know what it is, exactly, about tulips that make me love them so, but oh, my dearies, I love tulips.

I am going to try my hand at a few rosebushes this year. I got some last year, and we didn’t love them enough, so they up and died on us. I’ll attempt to love them more this time around, so we’ll see what happens. And also some echinacea, more lavendar, two kinds of sunflowers (for MyGal’s Bit of Earth), pansy, nasturtiums, and a variety of herbs.

 

I finally made my list of seeds to purchase for our vegetable garden this summer. I also got some fabulous rhubarb seed, which, according to Heirloom Acres, is a gem due to its low acidity and relative sweetness.

 

I present to you Vegetable Garden 2008:
Tema Green Bean

 

Great Northern Shell Bean

 

Blue Lake Pole Bean

 

Green Sprouting Broccoli

 

Red Core Chanteney Carrot

 

National Pickling Cucumber (It’s endorsed, for crying out loud. How can I not?)

 

Salad Greens Mix (includes Arugula, Green Wave, Southern Giant and Red Giant mustard greens, Mizuna, Red Russian Kale, Tatsoi and Komatsuma. That is a mouthful.)

 

Spring Lettuce Mix (includes Ruby Red, Oakleaf, Black Seeded Simpson, Buttercrunch, Paris White Cos, and Salad Bowl Red. That’s another mouthful.)

 

All American Parsnips

 

Sugar Snap Pea

 

King of the North Bell Pepper

 

Purple Beauty Bell Pepper

 

Howden Pumpkin

 

Rainbow Swiss Chard

 

Amish Paste Tomato

 

Rutgers Tomato

 

Pearly Pink Cherry Tomato
 

I love me some veggies! March 25, 2008

Filed under: scoring good food — pameladayton @ 10:26 pm
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Pretty much all of us who dine in the Dayton Kitchen on a regular basis love us some veggies.  A whole bunch of veggies.  But man, those tasty guys can really be expensive.  And based on the USDA Food Pyramid (I am just not going to even get started about the USDA today…) everyone should have 3 to 5, 1/2-1 cup servings of veggies a day.  And that is in addition to fruit.  In my house, I serve 5 people who like vegetables, so I will do math this way:  5 people X 5 servings X 3/4 cup = 18.75 cups of vegetables EVERY DAY!  And that, my dearies, is pretty ridiculous when you are grocery shopping.  And also, very expensive.  Top that with a burning desire to eat food that is fresh and free of pesticide?  What is a veggie-lovin’ mama to do?

The Answer:  FIND A CSA. What is a CSA? you ask.  CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  You can read about it here and here.  Basically (read: for those of you who can’t bear to break away from your daily Dayton Enlightenment) it is a member-supported farm.  Sometime near the beginning of the growing season, members pay the yearly “dues”.  You generally pay up-front, so that the farm can, you know, buy seed and stuff so that by the time the farmhands are ready to pick, there’s veggies all ripe and ready to come out of the ground or off the vine.  Then, every week during the season, which depends on the weather where you live, you get a bag or box of vegetables.  Here in Western New York, the season lasts from June-ish until November-ish.  Some CSAs are member-run, meaning that after you pay your dues, you put on your super-stylin’ muck boots and head out to the field.  MY CSA is WAY COOLER THAN THAT!  I do not have to actually go out in the field or drive a tractor in order to be a member.  However, I would totally LOVE to drive a tractor, and could probably handle picking veggies for about an hour or two, because I am a big, wimpy girl, and I doubt I could cut it as someone who actually had to labour for her food.  But I digress.

Back to digressing for a minute-I did get up at 5:30 a.m. a number of Saturdays to pack bags at The Farm, and even when it was freezing cold and everything I touched was dripping wet, and no gloves allowed!, it was really fun.  You should try it.  The end of digressing.  Digression?  Note to self: pay better attention.

I would suggest  highly recommend  am just going to tell you that for your own good, the health of your wallet, and the health of you in general, and if you live in Genesee County, Buffalo, or Rochester, you should buy into Porter Farms CSA.   For about $15 a week, my family enjoys the bounty of this Elba, NY, Certified Organic Farm.  FIFTEEN DOLLARS A WEEK!  FOR ORGANIC VEGGIES!!!!  There is no other situation where you can score enough actual vegetables to feed two people, let alone five people, for such a small amount of money. 

Except if you were stealing veggies, and boy, if you were stealing MY vegetables from Porters, I’d hop on the tractor and run your sorry butt over.  Unless somebody else got to you first. 

But seriously.  They grow very nearly a gazillion kinds of foods.  And the Porter Family is just about the loveliest bunch of people you will ever meet in your life.  And I know about lovely people. 

So go to the Porter Farm website.  In the spirit of honesty, I will tell you that it the Porters spend more time farming than on the internet, so the site is pretty basic and isn’t updated frequently.  But I would much rather have a farmer who is in the field, cultivating my food in a wholesome and responsible fashion, than one who updates his info daily.  So get over it already.  And really, the only bit of info you need to know is this:

  1. Organic vegetables, locally grown, picked on Friday, picked up on Saturday.
  2. $310 for the season, if you pick up.

  3. Send your check to: Porter Farm, PO Box 416, Elba, New York 14058

We are getting two shares this year, so that we can freeze and can enough of these fabulous vegetables to last through the winter.  My goal is to spend less than $1200 between June 2008 and June 2009 on vegetables.  Pre-paying our shares will count towards the $1200.

So consider this.  And before you go, look at the beautiful field, love my beautiful children loving the Farm, and ogle the nicey-nice pie pumpkins.  You know you want some of that.  But you can’t have the kids.  I made ’em, I keep ’em.  Like pie.

cimg1807.jpg    J & O at the Farm        cimg1812.jpg