Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Monday August 09, 2010

Ms Murky Mondays:
Summer Table Cloth for 30

We've got lots cooking but not in the kitchen....
I am in full gear on the preparations for the Country Living Magazine / Berkshire Grown event at my house on August 22nd!!  And I know the devil is in the details.

Menu planning is in full swing. I spent Sunday afternoon making my lists!! We are expecting 30+ guests to share in an authentic farm to table dinner. We'll tell all about the menu and the cooking prep as we get closer to the event.  Right now - it's all about the table setting....

I was agonizing over finding just the right "tablewear" and just when I was in deep despair I remembered that I have a treasure trove of fabrics in my closet ... and lucky me - do I have the PERFECT fabric for a table runner.  Goes to show you that the instincts to buy cool/unique fabric for some future project really do pay off.  The sales receipt was still attached - I bought the fabric in 2002.

We are busy as beavers working on the "deets." You are going to wish you were a guest!!

Friday August 06, 2010

Carole’s Concoctions:
Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parm....is my FAVORITE food!! I'll share 2 ways of preparing it - the way my Mom (and Nana) do (did) it and a gluten-free version so Jim can enjoy it!!

Peel the eggplant and slice thinly crosswise.  Prepare a place where you can bread all the slices as follows:
Lightly coat an eggplant slice with breadcrumbs. (You can use store-bought or simply make your own by toasting some Italian bread and then placing in a blender, add salt, pepper, parsley, parmesan cheese etc.) Then dip the eggplant slice in an egg and milk mixture (I use 2 eggs and enough milk to thin it, but without being too watery).  I then bread both sides of the slice and place on a cookie sheet.  Continue until you have all your slices coated.
Tip: You may need to refresh your egg and milk mixture as some of the bread crumbs will fall off into the mixture which makes it too thick - you can add more milk or start fresh - it's up to you!!  I also have to clean my fingers after 4-5 as they get coated with egg and breadcrumbs.)

Here's another choice - you can oven bake them or pan fry them. I do both depending on my mood, the heat and how much time I have!!  To pan fry, add enough oil (you can use canola or olive oil depending on your preference.  Canola cooks at a higher heat so the eggplant will get crispier, faster - but again - it's a choice in technique, time and taste!!) Place slices in heated oil and cook until golden brown on both sides, remove and place on another pan lined with paper towels.  Continue until complete.  If baking, heat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat baking sheet with oil.  Place baking sheet in oven for a few minutes to heat oil, then take sheet out and add eggplant in single layer.  Bake for 5 minutes until golden and flip the eggplant and bake for another 5 minutes.

Once complete, you'll need sauce.  Tomato sauce is available pre-seasoned in jars or make your own.  In the middle of summer nothing beats using your own tomatoes - chopped with some fresh basil, salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity and even a splash of red wine.

Spread some sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place one layer of eggplant, add some sauce sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino romano (again a taste preference), sprinkle with mozzarella and repeat until done.  Bake in 375 degree oven until bubbling and cheese has melted.  Take out of oven and let set for a few minutes before serving.  Enjoy with a side salad!!


Take the slices of eggplant and brush both side with olive oil and place in a single layer on a baking pan.
Bake in 425 degree oven about 10 minutes each side until lightly browned.
Spread some sauce on the bottom of a baking dish. Place one layer of eggplant, add some sauce sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino romano (again a taste preference), sprinkle with mozzarella and repeat until done - sprinkle the top with some gluten-free breadcrumbs or cornmeal.  Bake in 375 degree oven until bubbling and cheese has melted.  Take out of oven and let set for a few minutes before serving.

Enjoy with a side salad!!

Thursday August 05, 2010

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Farm Girl Farm Thursdays

Hello Farm Girl Farmers--

Season 6 of Farm Girl Farm, just like any good serial, has definitely been its own season—some new characters, some new locations, but very much rooted in the seasons that came before.  In the vein of “last year at this time,” there are many differences—most notably, we’re on our way to what looks like a very healthy crop of ripe tomatoes, where last year of course we were grieving over the lost crop.  This year, the  river is hanging low in its lair, last year, it jumped the banks more than once—at one point flooding the fields so badly that as we harvested vegetables knee deep in water, they actually floated away at one point.  All in all, I’m glad to be living out this season rather than last!

There are similarities, of course—each season right about now, even last season with the absent tomatoes, we look around and there is so much to do, so many veggies to take care of, the battle of priorities is always center stage. We have 3 hours for field work this afternoon—do we keep spraying the tomatoes?  Pull the garlic?  Weed the onions?  Mulch the eggplant pathway? Plant the next succession of lettuce? Fix that really leaky spot in the irrigation?  It is overwhelming but this season, more than any other I can remember, I’m just so grateful to be in this situation, glad to have so much food to take care of, happy to be scared that the tsunami of tomatoes is about to monopolize all of our harvesting time, and acutely aware that in a few way too short months, this will all be over and the cycle will begin again.  I much prefer the problem of too many veggies needing our attention than few or none.

I’m also grateful for all of you, participants in this journey of nature—you are such an important part of the cycle.  Some of you have been around the seasons with Farm Girl Farm for several years running, some of you are just embarking with us this year.  But without you to love and appreciate and prepare and consume the veggies that we care for, there’d be no point in doing what we do.

Go team!

.Enjoy the veggies this week.

--Laura Meister, Farm Girl Farm Farmer

Wednesday August 04, 2010

Heirloom Meals Radio:
Alida Cantor

Let's face it - "heirloom meals" could not have been created if it weren't for heirloom seeds. And today, host Carole Murko interviews Alida Cantor who works at the Chef's Collaborative as the Project Coordinator for the 2010 RAFT heirloom vegetable Grow-Out. Renewing America's Food Traditions is the life "raft" of local, sustainable and historically significant varieties of fruits and vegetables. Alida's work in getting the seeds out to farmers and then the produce into chefs kitchens is a certain way to sustain and renew interest in these heirloom varieties. Top on Carole's list is to find one of those "long pie pumpkins" that Alida mentioned. So listen up - Alida's passion for food, farming and sustainability is contagious - if we all catch her bug our food system might stand a chance!!

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