To watch, click on the screenshot above or copy and paste: http://www.ctn5.org/shows/community-kitchens/community-kitchens-october-2013-6773
We took a brief hiatus this summer while Abigail was recuperating from a broken leg and Israel was playing nurse and single parent to our furry, four-legged children, but we are back up and running just in time for the late summer harvest.
We are also getting married this fall, so we are very busy and excited.
New blog posts about our recent projects and new adventures soon!
Our new yard isn’t much, but we’re still having fun with container gardening this year! We planted basil, tarragon, peppermint, thyme, parsley, oregano, cilantro, and some arugula, too!
Sorry for the delay! We have been hibernating during the last final months of winter up here in Maine- March and April are funny that way, aren’t they?
Most of our days have been spent at our new day jobs (more to come), but during our free time and into the wee hours of the morning, we’ve been reading, discussing, learning, brainstorming, list-writing and all sorts of over-thinking about our great homesteading plans. It took us until the last couple days (probably due to the wonderful, rejuvenating, warm sun that finally broke out this week) to realize that we don’t have to be experts, we can start small and learn on the go!
To give you a sneak peak, we’ve decided to start making all of our own household cleaners, body products, and pet food, try to shop within our budget at the local farmers market, learn to brew a few more alcoholic beverages, and start a herb garden in our new backyard so that we may be able to afford Israel’s delicious Italian cooking and my own tea obsession. Besides the trend of sustainable, local and DIY efforts, we decided to do this because:
- it’s better and healthier for all of us, but especially me with my allergies and sensitive stomach and skin that I also share with our cat, Ricky
- it’s more sustainable and in-line with our values (re-usable packaging, supporting local farmers, no animal testing or chemicals etc.)
- it’s a fun and fulfilling way to spend time with each other and build connection with our neighbors
- it’s cheaper, plain and simple
Some of our resources include:
Buy Local Portland, for helping us transition to local, independent sources
The wonderfully friendly and bright farmers at the Portland Farmers’ Market
The lovely folks and community apothecary at Portland’s Justice in the Body
make your place: affordable, sustainable nesting skills by Raleigh Briggs (2009)
Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon with Mary G Enig, Ph.D.
The Year of the Goat: 40,000 Miles and the Quest for the Perfect Cheese by Margaret Hathaway (2007)
And as I came to a close writing this post, I found this quote, shared by my former life-coach Deb Bergeron: “Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.”
~ Veronica A. Shoffstall
More to come soon, and we’ll try to remember to take photos of our attempts if our hands aren’t too messy!
Israel’s post from the Better World by Design conference (Oct 2011):
Rethinking our Relationship with Food, Reclaiming our Food Systems, & Exploring the Pleasures of Cooking for Ourselves
Food is More than Fuel.
Imagine food as a sensory experience. Stop, slow down, and savor this experience.
It takes at least 15 minutes for the brain to realize that the stomach is full, no matter how fast food is consumed.
Discover your favorite flavor profiles. What do you like to eat?
Imagine food as a social experience. Share your favorite dishes with others. Will your dinner taste better sitting alone in front of your laptop, or around a table laughing with friends? Start a tradition of Sunday dinners.
What am I Eating?
Consider the impact of your food choices. Where does your food come from? Appreciate what you are eating, and emphasize quality over quantity. How does what we eat now affect what we will eat in the future?
What is growing now? Think seasonal and local.
Is good food affordable?
Feed Yourself; Learn How to.
Last throwback from Israel’s 2011 RI recipes, promise!
Pizza is one of my household staples, especially this summer when I had a surplus of fresh heirloom tomatoes and basil from my garden. I also bake a lot of bread at home, so I often have some in-house made dough sitting in my refrigerator waiting to be used. So, in about 10-15 minutes I can slide a pretty little margherita pizza into the blistering heat of my oven and have one of my usual dinners.
Sometimes, though, I get a little bored of the classic tricolore pizza (tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella), and think outside of the Neapolitan box.
Another of my favorite ways to use up my tomatoes, is Provençal tomato and goat cheese tart, with its sweet and tangy grain mustard and honey dressing, all garnished with fresh tarragon and flavorful goat’s cheese. This combination of flavors is bright, creamy, and well balanced, so I thought, why not try it on a pizza instead of in a pastry crust. I sprinkled on a handful of pine nuts, because, well I just love pine nuts. I was not disappointed.
For the Dough:
2 cups Flour (I like unbleached white, whole wheat)
1 cup Warm Water
¼ tsp Sea Salt
2 ½ tbsp Dry Yeast
drizzling Olive Oil
3-4 each Tomatoes, sliced to ¼ inch
¼ cup Olive Oil
1 cup Chevre
½ cup Fresh Tarragon, chopped
1-2 tbsp Grain Mustard
¼ cup Pine Nuts
Sprinkling Parmesan Cheese
to taste Salt and Fresh Cracked Pepper
To make the Pizza Dough:
Mix together the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Stir in the warm water with the handle end of a wooden mixing spoon, keep stirring until the mixture begins to form into a ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surfaced, and knead for 3-5 minutes.
Place back into a bowl and cover with a damp towel. Let sit for one hour. After an hour, it should have risen. Punch the dough down and let sit for another half hour. Preheat oven to as hot as it can go. This is 500 degrees F for most of us.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out into an oblong shape. The trick here is to roll it out evenly, but thinly at the same time. Apply even pressure with your rolling pin ( Or large round glass bottle for those of us without a rolling pin). Gently transfer the dough to a cookie sheet that has been lightly coated with olive oil. Be careful not to tear the dough.
Press the dough into the shape of the pan. Don’t worry about it not being the exact shape of the pan, I think pizza looks better a little rustic anyway!
Drizzle a little more olive oil onto the dough, and massage it a bit. Take a fork and prick a bunch of holes all around the dough, especially around the edges, this will keep your crust nice and thin and prevent big bubbles and puffing in the oven.
Once the oven is preheated, par bake the pizza shell for 3-5 minutes, or until it starts to set a bit.
Now you are ready for the toppings
For the Topping:
Very lightly coat the shell with the mustard, remember, not too much because it can be strong. Drizzle the shell with about 3-4 tablespoons of honey. Then, spread the tomato slices out over the shell evenly. Sprinkle with half of the tarragon, and all of the chevre. Sprinkle with the pine nuts and drizzle a bit more olive oil (2 tbsps) and 1-2 more tablespoons of honey. Grate a little bit of hard cheese over the top if you have some, such as Parmeasan or Pecorino Romano. Add a couple of pinches of sea salt and some fresh cracked pepper, and slide it on into the oven.
Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown slightly and the crust turns a deep golden brown. Garnish with the rest of the tarragon.
I like to make this dough in large batches, and have some sitting in fridge, so I don’t have to wait an hour and a half to make pizza every time. Simply mix the dough, knead it, let it sit for an hour, punch it down, and then set it in the fridge. Pull it out over the next few days. When ready to use. You can also prebake the shells and stick them in your freezer if you want. Pull them out while your oven is preheating.
Another great one from our Providence kitchen!
I am an Italian American, and yes, I love the sight of fake marble columns and dimly lit red sauce joints with wax covered Chianti bottles. I have come to love these things, because they mean one of my favorite comfort foods, fried calamari with marinara dipping sauce.
I make it at home frequently, so I thought I’d share my favorite recipe for calamari fritti. The key for me, is to coat the calamari in seasoned cornmeal, and very lightly shallow fry it in some olive oil. This makes for a more delicate calamari with a nutty crunch, and I find it much more enjoyable than the greasy rubbery deep fried fare found in too many restaurants. I also like to serve it tossed in a simple sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, and reduced balsamic vinegar, garnished with a few banana pepper rings. This provides a perfect piquant bite to complement the savor squid.
Oh, and try the tentacles! The tentacles are my favorite part. This means that you have to get your squid fresh from the monger, but don’t forget to ask for some tentacles, they have more flavor and great texture.
¾-1 lb Squid, tentacles and Body
1 cup Fine Ground Cornmeal
To taste Red Pepper Flakes (I Use about a ½ teaspoon per cup of cornmeal)
To taste Salt
For Frying Olive Oil ( You want to see about ¼ inch deep in the pan)
For the Sauce:
4 each Roma Tomatoes, chopped
6 cloves Garlic, minced
¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
½ cup Sweet Banana Pepper Rings
¼ cup Fresh Basil, torn
To Prepare the Sauce:
Sautee the tomatoes in some olive oil for about a minute, then add the garlic and cook one more minute. Add in the vinegar and let the mixture simmer until it has a slightly syrupy consistency. Toss in the banna peppers, and half of the basil. Set aside
For the Calamari:
Coat a skillet with about ¼ inch of olive oil, and place on high heat. Combine the cornmeal, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Dredge the squid in the cornmeal mixture. Shake off the excess cornmeal, and place into the hot oil (about 5-6 rings at a time or 4-5 tentacles at a time). Cook for about 1 minute and then flip each piece. Do not over cook the calamari, they don’t like it! Place the cooked calamari on top of a cut up brown paper bag or paper towel to drain the excess oil.
Put it all together:
When finished frying the calamari, place some on a plate, and toss with a little sauce. Garnish with fresh basil, and eat!
I like to serve this with some arugula or if I want a more filling meal, some fresh pasta, such as linguine. The calamari sauce also doubles nicely as a pasta sauce with some fresh grated Parmesan (Real Parmesan) cheese on top.
And no, just in case you were concerned, I don’t spike my hair and go spray tanning.
Another one from Israel’s blog in Providence (originally written October 2011):
As someone who believes in a holistic approach to eating, my ideal world is a place where everyone eats lots of beautiful colorful food that makes them happy around a huge table with laughing friends, and nobody ever gets sick. Of course, things are not that simple.
My partner Abigail loves cooking just as much as I do, and we have enjoyed and continue to enjoy countless meals together in our cozy kitchen. She is training to be a Doula, and is probably the most caring person I know, who has dedicated herself to facilitating the well being of others. This has sometimes been at the expense of her own health. Over the past several months, she has been experiencing a variety of stomach problems that have challenged us to become more creative at meal planning.
After a recent doctor’s visit, she was told that she would have to follow a fairly strict diet to get her stomach health back in order. This diet prescription means no acidic foods, such as tomatoes (Ghast!), wine, or garlic (Double Ghast!!). It also means no spicy foods, as well as reduced sodium, and fat.
This may seem like quite the challenge, and at first thought, it appeared that we would be stuck eating bland, grey foods for the next couple of months. I however, appreciate a good challenge.
Here are some guidelines that I came up with to ensure that Abigail’s new diet challenges would not affect the enjoyment that she gets out of food. These concepts can be applied to anyone who experiences frequent heartburn, or upset stomach. Obviously, I am not a doctor, and everyone’s body chemistry is different, so consult your physician folks when necessary.
But here goes:
Emphasize whole grains:
Important for everyone, but this helps to make sure there is adequate bulk going on in the GI-tract, which increases satiety and promotes healthy digestion. The added fiber also helps to slow digestion of sugars, which can aggravate an upset stomach.
Use lots of fresh vegetables, lower acid fruits, and herbs for flavor:
Again, fresh vegetables are good for all of us, but ensuring variety and color, also ensures lots of different flavors. The herbs also pack flavor and aroma punches into dishes, which can be lacking for salt and spice in this kind of diet.
Roast and caramelize vegetables to develop flavor:
Roasting vegetables, such as brussels sprouts, one of my favorites, brings out lots of depths of flavor that cannot be brought to light from other methods. A deeply caramelized vegetable imparts a deep, rich, savory, and sweet flavor that I am more than happy to eat anytime, no matter what my dietary restrictions.
We were able to put together some pretty tasty meals, using these guidelines. We made some ravioli that we filled with roasted fennel and fresh herbs. We served that with a romesco inspired sauce made from pureed roasted red peppers, yogurt, pine nuts, and lots more fresh herbs. It was delicious. We also made scrumptious banana bread for breakfast one morning. Abigail found a normal banana bread recipe, and we added yogurt, substituted whole-wheat flour, and added in some walnuts. We also replaced the sugar with honey and reduced it by half. The bread was moist, tasty, and satisfying. We ate it with some fresh Courtland apple slices and a sunny side up egg.