Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Sunday June 14, 2009

Ms Murky Mondays:
Broccoli Rabe and Bitter Greens - the Italian Way

Ever since I was a little kid, there was one aroma that suggested healthy. That aroma was the combination of olive oil, chopped garlic and broccoli rabe or bitter greens.  And believe you me, it smelled oh so good.  Sadly for a kid, the taste of bitter greens did not measure up to the tantalizing aromas that sent my olfactories into sensory overload.


Fast forward to adulthood -  I can now appreciate the double sensory pleasure of the aromas and the taste.  And 'tis the season for such indulgences.  I picked up beautiful bunches of broccoli rabe and bitter greens from both of the CSA's to which I belong (http://www.indianlinefarm.com and www.farmgirlfarm.com).
 
Here's a quick and easy way to whip up those flavors and aromas yourself:
 
Broccoli Rabe or Bitter Greens
1-2 T Olive Oil
2-3 Cloves of Chopped Garlic
Pinch Red Hot Pepper Flakes
2-3 Bunches of Broccoli Rabe or 1/2-3/4 lb Bitter Greens
 
For the Broccoli rabe, my Mom always stripped the leaves and flowers from the stem as she found it hastens the steaming time (and the stems are often tough.) 
 
Wash thoroughly but it is not necessary to dry. Place sauce pan on medium flame, heat the olive oil, add  garlic until lightly golden (watch not to burn the garlic), then add your pinch of red pepper flakes and then the greens (broccoli rabe or bitter greens). Stir gently and place lid on pan to steam for 15-20 minutes. If it looks too dry, add a little water so it steams nicely.
Serve with a couple of nice pieces of italian bread and enjoy!

Sunday May 17, 2009

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Food, Inc. - It’s time to go back to the old ways

I am not a movie critic. What I am is a home cook and a consumer of food. As you get to know me, you will learn that my childhood upbringing has deeply impacted my attitudes about food.  My grandfather was a butcher in the 1940's and 1950's. I remember the McDonalds jingle, "McDonalds is my kind of place, it's such a happy place" and their plea to look for the golden arches. As kids we so wanted to go to McDonalds. But my grandfather did not allow us to eat McDonalds (and we felt like outcasts). He said with a distasteful look on his face, "It's not real meat - it's worse than horse meat."  How lucky I was to have him!! What a sage man. He knew. He witnessed how the meat industry had changed. He was no longer connected to the farmers that provided meat to his shop so he closed his shop. He knew.

So, as I sat through the movie, in tears at times, enraged and disgusted at other times, I knew I wanted to write about it. It hit many of my pet peeves like "there are no seasons" in the grocery store and tomatoes are ripened with ethylene gas, not the sun. Monoculture factory farms are horrifying and the treatment of the animals and the laborers beyond words. It made me feel happy and proud about my choices to be a member of 2 CSA's (community supported agriculture), grow a vegetable garden, can and preserve the local harvest, buy local grass fed beef and lamb from farmers that I know on land where I can see their livestock graze.
 
It has also made my conviction about Heirloom Meals even stronger. The US may not have a food culture but most of us had/have a food culture handed down to us through the generations. Dust off those recipes, talk to your grandparents, great aunts and uncles, parents. Let's get back to the home cooked meal with real ingredients. Let's demand that food stores provide those choices. I agree with Gary Hirshberg of Stoneyfield Farm Yogurt - we should all vote with our purchases at the grocery store. Choose organic or locally grown. Choose healthy eating and sharing meals. And demand to know your farmer!! 
 
Please see this movie.  You can see the trailer here.

Saturday May 16, 2009

Life at Boulderwood:
Eggs-A-Plenty - And Happy Chickens produce Amazing Eggs!!!

One of my favorite chickens is named the “Growler” for her distinct growly voice. She has found her own nightly perch in the rafters of our horse shelter. She lays blue eggs. Upon rising, she jumps down and greets me at the back door for her special treats – stale bread, strawberry hulls etc before I open the chicken house and feed her sisters (all named, of course).

The Growler and her sisters roam freely (at their peril) all day – scratching the underbrush, eating bugs in my flower garden, and in particular, love the horse pasture – especially the worms in the manure. They run up and down the hills, take long luxurious dust baths and drink from a natural spring. 

Why do I tell you all of this? Because real free-range chicken eggs (better stated as "pasture-raised" chicken eggs) are AMAZING!! Their flavor is robust; their yolks the color of the setting sun; and their shapes, sizes and color are all unique.

Try one of my favorite recipes handed down from my mother: Cheese Soufflé 
Ingredients: 
1lb grated cheese (preferably cheddar)
4 oz. flour
12 oz. milk
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites
4 oz. butter
salt and pepper
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Make a white sauce with the flour and milk. Add grated cheese, salt and pepper to taste. Beat egg whites in a separate bowl. Then add the yolks 2 at a time to the cheese mixture. Fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites. Place in a buttered soufflé pan. Place pan in another pan of hot water and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Excellent with a salad.

Sunday May 10, 2009

Ms Murky Mondays:
Heirloom Meals is a Tribute to my Mom and Nana

Today is a special day for Mother's and their children. Just preparing this inaugural blog post has brought a flood of tears to my eyes. I grew up in a family where the kitchen and food was the center of the universe, and would ultimately be the place that I am the most happy and comfortable.

Of course, I didn't know that growing up. I took handmade food for granted, doting parents and grandparents as a nuisance and their food as overkill (typical kid, right!) Despite that, I was forever in the kitchen, watching and helping Nana making ravioli from scratch, stirring the pots, making sauces and treats because I did really want to be just like them!!

So as I navigate through adulthood and have sampled several careers from finance to interior design, it is the kitchen that beckons. And it is a craving for those meals and those memories that has brought me to the development of Heirloom Meals - a soon-to-be TV show/series,cookbook and website that provides a culinary journey into the kitchens and gardens of anyone who has a treasured family recipe(s) with the goal of exploring our diverse culinary history and preserving our ancestors’ tried and true recipes and dining traditions.

My goal is to only use local and in season ingredients. We will explore old wives tales leading to some of the great recipes and concoctions and explore the connection between food, farming, the earth, nutrition and family life.

This a show dedicated to my grandmother and my mother, my teachers. There wasn’t a day in my life growing up that fresh home-cooked meals were absent. As a very young girl I would stand by my grandmother’s side and watch her make pasta from scratch, roll it out, cut it into ravioli, spaghetti etc, make manicotti crepes that are so light and fluffy you might think they were French crepes – I think there’s an episode here! When I grew up in the late 60’s and even the 70’s there was still a butcher shop where we would go for the freshest of meats and poultry (owned by my grandfather’s cousin, Johnny Pippi) My grandfather was a butcher at one time and before that he owned an apple farm in Claverack NY, which he lost during the Great Depression.

My point with all this is that they didn’t teach me per se; - I observed, participated, listened and learned by being part of the process of cooking the family meal.

Come along on the journey while I raise the funds to produce the show, write my cookbook, post to this blog and develop the website. And please send me your recipes and stories so I can share them and build them into the content.

Thank you and Enjoy!!

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