Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Local Beer Field Trip: Wachusett Brewery

It being a Wednesday of Vacation week, I decided to take a short drive to Wachusett Brewery in Westminster. My buddy Ray met me and we took the short tour and enjoyed the standard free samples that come with the tour.
We go to see where they make the beer. They are a craft brewery so they only use grains, hops, water and yeast.
It thaks them about 2 weeks to go from grain to beer. We got to see the large tanks where the beer ferments and is stored befor being carbonated. All of their beers are ales.

We also got to see where they bottle and fill their kegs. Impressive to see them fill a full barrel of beer in just 1 minute!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day Meal: Local Beef

It may look like a mess, but Christmas Day we had a delicious Chateau Briand. I got a whole beef tenderloin from Blood Farm in Groton and it was smothered with a mix of onions and mushrooms sauteed in butter. The cut I got from Blood farm was more than 6 pounds and after trimming, we had more than 5 pounds of roast and were able to get steak tips from the scraps.

To prepare the beef it was baked at 500 for 25 minutes to brown it. Then it was rested for an hour, sliced into 1 inch thich slices and then baked again for 25 minutes at 375 (20 minutes would have been medium/medium rare).

It was served with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and rolls. It was Delicious.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve Meal: Local Turkey

I would love to be one of those people who cooked all local food for our Christmas feast. I am not quite to that stage, so for know I do what I can and at least made sure we had a local centerpiece. For Christmas Eve, we baked a turkey from Bob's Turkey Farm in Lancaster. It was the juiciest bird I have ever had. It definitely was not cheap, but we definitely got vey high quality for the price. (Also, those are strips of Blood Farm bacon in top and in the stuffing. All local meat this year!)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dark Days Carrot Soup

While I do not have a lot of stored food left from the summer, I decided to make a creamy carrot soup from from Mark Bittman's Food Matters. I used about half of the remaining stored carrots (1-1/2 pounds) and a couple of small potatoes. I cooked chopped and cooked them down for 15 minutes with salt and pepper. I then added 6 cups of vegetable broth.
Served with homemade bread it was a nice, hearty winter meal.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dark Days Meal

I cooked a fairly true Dark Days meal this week using Steak from Balance Rock farm, green beans I froze this summer, and purple potatoes that came either from the CSA or the Garden (not sure, some are mixed together).

I started by chopping the potatoes into pieces. Then I sauteed them in olive oil with salt and pepper in an oven proof pan. I then tossed them in the oven for 25 or so minutes. Next, I sauteed some onions and mushrooms in some butter (all from parts unknown). Once softened, I added some vegetable broth, a little white wine, and some sage. I reduced this for 5-6 minutes. Once this mushroom mix was done, I put it in the bowl off to the side, wiped down the pan, and I then seared the steak in the pas with butter. Once it was seared on both sides, I put the steak in the oven to finish cooking along with the potatoes. While the steak and potatoes finished, I steamed the beans.
I think the vegetables came out great, but I may have over seared the steak a bit (a bit tough not burned). Fortunately, the mushroom mixture on the steak was really great and hid my mistake nicely.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Local Christmas Tree

Today, we started what I hope is a new tradition: we cut down our own Christmas tree! Being a bit crazy about local foods, I had thought for a while about whether or not this was possible. A couple of weeks ago I came across the website: At the site you can search by state and county for places where you can cut down your own Christmas tree. A quick search found a small place VERY close to our house called Marsh's Tree Farm (978-464-2413) on Rte. 31 in Princeton. They are open 9:30-4:30 on weekends so we headed out at 9:30.The place has lots of trees (Blue Spruce, White Spruce, Balsam Fir, Fraser Fir, Concolor Fir, Canaan Fir, and White Pine) scattered over what looks like a couple of acres. Like the nerds we are, Sue and I wandered around looking at trees for half an hour with the boys following us around. Eventually we picked out a tree and I went to work:

We dragged out the tree, they wrapped it and it only cost $40.
Once home, I got the tree up in the stand and then Sue and the boys decorated it. Sue even made a wreath out of the extra boughs I cut to get the tree into the stand.

I know it is not food, but I feel great about having a local tree at the center of our Christmas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Using Local Ingredients

Tonight, I decided to try and cook Mark Bittman's Cassoulet. For this I used Pork Chops from Balance Rock Farm, and leeks (frozen a few months ago), carrots, and garlic from our MHOF CSA.
This meal does not really meet the criteria of a Dark Days meal, since I also used 2 zucchini and celery from parts unknown as well as 2 cans of diced tomatoes and 2 cans of white beans.
I thought the meal was very hearty and we got 5 good sized portions out of it. I think that it would have definitely have been better with fresh herbs rather than the dried ones I used, but it is a meal worth tinkering with.