Sunday, June 29, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 4: Atlantic Cod

Eating local is becoming a family affair here at chez Seedling. Our 10-month-old daughter's food repertoire is expanding which for us means she can join the challenge. Here she is enjoying some local cod, home-grown swiss chard and CSA broccoli. The kidney beans were the only non-local element of her meal. She practically cleared her plate,
or, in this case, tray.

Our version was a little fancier. We had planned on grilling the cod, but the weather foiled that plan; so instead we broiled it. I improvised a pesto by processing together some basil and garlic scapes from our CSA along with some non-local olive oil. Very tasty, and I made enough so that I was able to use it again later in the week in a pasta salad. The scapes impart a flavor that's definitely reminiscent of garlic, but there's also a quality that's fresher, greener, more like a scallion or chives. The end result was broiled cod on a bed of non-local quinoa and sauteed, home-grown chard, topped with pesto and sauteed CSA zucchini. I'm not a huge fan of cod and this meal didn't necessarily change that for me. Though I did thoroughly enjoy everything else. We toasted our OLS meal with a glass of chardonnay from the Finger Lakes region of New York.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


This cala lily was given to me last summer on the occasion of the birth of our daughter whose middle name just happens to be Lilly. Upon my mother's suggestion I wintered the bulb along with my dahlias in the basement. I planted them all this spring. The dahlias are also just beginning to open. I pass by this lily every day and am struck by how quickly this year is passing. Flowers and babies are such nice ways to mark time.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


A gift from my sister, this plant is a new favorite. Otherwise known as a flowering maple, there's just so much to love about it. First, those leaves. I just love speckled, variegated leaves and these are almost snakeskin like in their texture. Then that blossom. I love its bell shape, the crepe-paper quality to the petals and that beautiful apricot color. I hope to winter it over indoors because this one's a keeper.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 3: Cape May Scallops

Back-to-back OLS posts as we're just returning from vacation. I wasn't able to blog, but at least I was able to keep up with my local eating...

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, I've noticed a big difference in terms of what local ingredients I'm able to find at my grocery store when comparing this year to last. Whereas before I'd have to do most, if not all, the legwork myself: signing up for a CSA, plus growing my own veggies, and searching the Internet then traveling the state in pursuit of local meat and cheese. Now, in pinch, I know I can find most of what I need at my local Whole Foods. Granted this is Whole Foods. And a lot of what they're doing, I believe, is in response to Michael Pollen's Omnivore's Dilemma and subsequent discussions the CEO had with Pollen. But that's OK by me. And don't get me wrong, I still belong to my CSA, still grow my own herbs and veggies and still prefer to make the trip to meet the people who make my food. But when I was shopping this week I was thrilled to see Jersey scallops in the seafood aisle. And since the nearest shore point for me is still an hour away, this was my moment.

For our local meal we enjoyed Cape May sea scallops sauteed with CSA-grown arugula and home-grown sage. This was served over pasta from one of our favorite pasta-makers in Brooklyn. We grew the lettuce for our salad and baked the bread. I didn't use seasoning beyond salt and pepper (didn't have to), and I used Vermont butter rather than olive oil to keep everything as local as possible. Would love to find a Jersey butter source, but haven't so far.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 2: Strawberry & Sirloin Salad

After coming into a healthy inheritance of strawberries, the challenge for me this week was to make sure nothing went to waste. As I said in my previous post, much of our bounty I froze. What remained was enjoyed thoroughly including this delicious salad. We started with lettuce, something else we have in spades right now thanks to our CSA and our own garden patch. Then we tossed in some CSA radishes and snap peas. We grilled up some more Jersey asparagus from our local supermarket. And sliced up a generous helping of strawberries. At the center of this hearty salad was some grilled, grass-fed sirloin steak. A few times throughout the year we make a point to visit Simply Grazin' farm so we can stock our freezer with local meat. Theirs is out-of-this-world delicious. The dressing was seasoned with our own-grown chives and rosemary. The oil, vingear, salt and pepper were the only non-local ingredients.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


We belong to Honeybrook Organic CSA. For us a CSA is a great option since we can only grow so much on our small plot. In our first distribution we enjoyed seven heads of lettuce. Seven heads! We couldn't come near that. Granted it was a challenge to find uses for that much lettuce, but between neighbors, friends and family and our own love of salad we made short work of that task.

And I love leaving my veggie decisions in the hands of a farmer. Who better qualified? Each week's box holds such mystery and promise– will it be chard? Arugula? Peas? Or, if we're lucky, strawberries! It has been strawberries for the past few weeks. Plus as members of the farm, we're free to avail ourselves of the pick-your-own crops. One hot and steamy Saturday afternoon we headed down to pick quart after quart of strawberries. Much of it I froze, I'll thank myself for that short investment of time come winter. Some of it became ice cream. And the rest has made breakfast a little sweeter this week. I thought my fingers might remain forever strawberry-colored. But they've recovered.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

One Local Summer, Week 1: Frittata

It's hard to believe it's that time of year again. But then again, with the sudden onslaught of heat and humidity, it really isn't that hard to believe at all. The first few weeks of OLS are always the most challenging.

Seconded only by the last few weeks. With less to work with in the pantry, it's hard to create a truly local meal that doesn't leave you hungry. That's where the frittata comes in.

Eggs, a little water and a few swift turns of the whisk and you have a meal. A hot cast iron pan and whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand. . . and your work is done.

Our local Farmer's Market doesn't start up until July so I'm glad I've got the CSA to fall back on. They provided the lettuce for our salad this week. We got SEVEN heads in our first distribution in addition to other treats, plus our own garden plot is brimming with greens. We're up to our ears in lettuce. The asparagus is Jersey born and bred, and I'm happy to report that I found it in our local supermarket. Slowly, but surely, locally grown veggies are appearing in the produce aisle. It's great to see.

My sister supplies me with eggs. Her part of Jersey is more farm-centric, so when OLS rolls around, she picks them up for me. Sadly I'm not able to find Jersey eggs in my own neighborhood stores.

So, behold, the frittata with asparagus and our own-grown sage. Served with a green salad on the side and a loaf of our home-baked bread. . .

It's not coincidence, then, that I ended last year's OLS challenge with a frittata, and now I'm kicking off this year's with one as well. It's one of the most straightforward ways to enjoy fresh-from-the-farm flavors, even when your options are limited. It's proof that eating local needn't be a complicated undertaking. In fact, at its essence it's about enjoying flavors at the absolute peak of freshness (no ripening in the back of an eighteen-wheeler). And to do that you need to do very little which is one of my favorite parts about eating local.

Don't just take my word for it. Read what other locavores are savoring this week...