Saturday, December 19, 2009

What's up Doc? Carrot Heaven

I received some of the sweetest carrots I have ever had this year from our winter CSA. Due to the cold weather, winter storage carrots develop a wonderful sweetness that sets them apart from the flavorless store-bought carrots. Carrots come in a variety of colors such as the Purple Haze and Yellow Stone Varieties or the Bolero variety which is perfect for winter storage. Because these carrots are organic, I leave that flavorsome thin skin on. If you are buying store-bought, non-organic carrots I highly recommend peeling them due to the large amount of pesticides used to grow them.

To highlight the carrots' sweetness, I adapted a recipe for Curried Carrot Almond Soup from the now defunct Gourmet Magazine. I used homemade chicken stock and added some different spices than the Gourmet Magazine recipe. This is a velvety pureed soup which is low fat but certainly doesn't taste like it. The addition of unsweetened almond milk gives it a delectable creaminess. You can easily make this soup vegan by switching the chicken stock to vegetable stock or water. As everything is going to be pureed you don't need to spend too much time on finely chopping the ingredients which makes this a quick and easy soup that tastes like you spent all day in the kitchen. I substituted pine nuts for the almonds. Garnishing with cilantro and toasted nuts really added to the balance of this soup so try not to skip this step.

Curried Carrot Almond Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 pounds carrots, washed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups plain unsweetened almond milk
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup toasted almonds for garnish
1/4 cup chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. Heat olive oil in a heavy 4-quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute, stirring occasionally until onions are soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add sliced carrots and saute for about 5 minutes to help release some of their sweetness.
  3. Add chopped garlic, curry powder, ground coriander, ground fennel, ground ginger, salt and pepper and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add in chicken stock and almond milk and simmer partially covered, stirring occasionally , until carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Let the soup cool slightly then blend soup in batches in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Adjust seasoning with salt and 1-2 teaspoons of lemon juice.
  6. Serve sprinkled with cilantro leaves and toasted almonds.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spanish Tortilla

I received some beautiful red skinned, red flesh potatoes from my CSA along with some kale and red onions. I had the cheddar cheese and eggs on hand so decided to whip together a Spanish Tortilla. When most people hear "tortilla" they think of the flat bread used to wrap burritos or tacos, but the Spanish tortilla couldn't be more different. It is actually an egg omelet made with potatoes and other vegetables may be added (similar to the Italian Fritatta). When making egg dishes such as omelets, tortillas, frittatas or quiche, any filling should be cooked before being added to the eggs. This will prevent you from having a watery egg dish and it also allows you a chance to add some more flavors to your dish such as herbs and spices.

Spanish tortillas are a great economical choice for any time of the day. It can be served hot or cold. I have taken a classic Spanish tortilla recipe and given it a Vermont twist. In this recipe I added some sauteed kale for some extra fiber, folate, and iron and some cheddar cheese instead of Manchego.

I've found one of the most important pieces of equipment when making a Spanish tortilla is the pan you use. It MUST be non-stick or else you will end up with a scrambled mess on your hands.

2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon olive oil
2 cups chopped fresh kale, stems removed
1 clove garlic, minced
1-2 tablespoons water
1 pound red potatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 medium onion, sliced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
6 large eggs
1/4 cup shredded cheddar
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. In a medium sized non-stick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and chopped kale to heated oil and saute for 5-10 minutes or until the kale becomes tender. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water if the kale begins to stick to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, remove from pan and let cool.
  2. Wipe out the pan and then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat over medium heat and add sliced potatoes. Cook potatoes until they begin to soften, about 10-15 minutes.
  3. Add in sliced onions and paprika and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Season with salt and pepper. Remove cooked potatoes and drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs. Mix in grated cheese and season with salt and pepper. Add in cooked potatoes and kale mixture. Mix together and let sir for about 5 minutes to allow the potatoes to absorb some of the egg.
  5. Heat cleaned non-stick skillet over medium-low heat and add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Once oil is hot, pour in egg and potato mixture. As the edges set, lift them away from the side of the pan and tilt the pan to let uncooked egg flow underneath. When the tortilla is mostly set, place an inverted plate a little larger in size than the pan, hold them firmly together, and turn the pan upside down on top of the plate. (Protect the hand holding the plate with a towel or pot holder.) Slide the tortilla back in the pan and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes and then slide onto a plate.
  6. Another way to cook the tortilla is to finish it in the oven as long as the pan you are using is oven-proof. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Start the tortilla on top of the stove, as above. After a couple of minutes, put the pan in the oven and cook until the tortilla is set on top, about 7 to 10 minutes.
  7. Slice into wedges and serve.
Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services, LLC

Monday, November 23, 2009

Party Dip

I recently taped a segment for UVM Extension's "talk show", Across the Fence. During this segment I highlighted a white bean dip which is a sure crowd pleaser. It is a versatile dip which can be used along with crudites (cut up vegetables), spread on crostini, or used as a replacement for mayonnaise on a sandwich. It's high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and rich in flavor. Play around with the garlic and lemon levels to adapt to your tastes. Along with the dip I have included a quick recipe for homemade whole wheat pita chips - a great alternative to high fat chips. The pita chips work great with this white bean dip as well.

White Bean Dip with Rosemary and Lemon

Yields ~2 cups

1, 15-ounce cans of white beans such as cannellini or great northern beans
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2-3 tablespoon lemon
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary minced
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Thoroughly rinse the beans in a colander to remove excess sodium.

2. Place garlic cloves in food processor and pulse until finely minced.

3. Add rinsed beans, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the food processor. Puree until smooth.

4. Add fresh minced rosemary and lemon zest and pulse the food processor a couple of times until seasonings are well incorporated.

5. Cover and place in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the flavors blend. Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a 1 week.

Pita Chips

Makes about 6 Servings

3 Pita Round
Olive Oil Cooking Spray
Salt and Chili Powder to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Split pita rounds in half and make 6 rounds. Stack the rounds one on top of the other and cut into 6 wedges.
  3. Spread wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray and bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
  4. As soon as pita chips are removed from oven, season with salt and chili powder, let cool and enjoy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flavors of Fall Tacos

Nick and I are partaking in Full Moon Farm's Winter CSA. After a rough summer with cold temperatures and wet weather, the farm was still able to provide us with tons of delicious winter vegetables. In our last pick up we were happily bombarded with kale, Brussels sprouts, winter squash, onions, carrots and potatoes.

Kale is a leafy green vegetable that belongs to the Brassica family, a group of vegetables including cabbage, collards and Brussels sprouts that have gained recent attention due to their health promoting phytonutrients. Kale grows well in colder temperature and is typically sweeter in flavor after the first frost. The variety of kale I used in this recipe is Lacinato or dinosaur kale. It has a sweeter, lighter flavor than traditional curly leaf kale and I find it doesn't need to be cooked as long as the curly leaf variety seen in most grocery stores.

So enough about the history of kale. What the heck do you do with it? I was visiting my friend and fellow Cambridge School of Culinary Arts Alumni, Barlow Adamson, a few months back. During my visit he cooked me up some yummy chorizo and butternut squash tacos. I took his idea (thanks Barlow!) and gave my own nutritious twist to it - not to mention that I had a bunch of kale and winter squash that I needed to use up.

Roasted Winter Squash, Kale, and Black Bean Tacos

2 cups of diced winter squash
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
2 cups of chopped kale
1/4 cup of water
juice of 1 lime
1 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup corn
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
Flour or corn tortillas

Optional: sour cream, grated cheddar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Lightly oil a baking sheet and spread out diced squash. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until squash begins to soften up. Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. In a medium size saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute for 5-6 minutes or until onions have softened. Add in spices and saute for an additional minute.
  4. Add chopped kale and saute for 5 more minutes (may need to add 1-2 tablespoons of water if begins to dry out). Next stir in lime juice, rest of water, rinsed beans, roasted squash, and corn. Season with salt and pepper and cook until heated through. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
  5. Serve in warmed tortillas with desired toppings (sour cream, shredded cheese, etc.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

Just Beet It

I recently entered a recipe contest for Sutter Home's "Build a Better Burger". When I heard about this recipe contest my first inclination was to put beets on my burger and name it in honor of the late great Michael Jackson. Viola! The Just Beet It Burger was born. You will probably notice some similarities between this burger and a beet salad - that is where my inspiration for this burger came from. While this recipe was not chosen as a final recipe, I think it still rocks.

The rules for the competition require that you cook all ingredients on the grill, but feel free to throw the beets in the oven and save your propane or charcoal. Also during the fall and winter months your beets will probably already have their beet greens cut off, so y
ou can leave these out of the recipe or try substituting the beet greens with chopped kale or spinach (Yes, I am still grilling in the middle of winter). Also you can prepare the burger patties, blue cheese sauce, beets, and vinaigrette ahead of time and cook the burgers off and assemble them once your guests arrive.

Just Beet It Burger

1 medium sized red beet
1 medium sized golden beet

Maple Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

1 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 fresh ground pepper

Burger Patties

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups beet greens, washed and dried and finely chopped
2 tablespoons Zinfandel wine
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 pounds ground chuck
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing on the grill rack
6 fresh Bulkie Rolls
6 red onion slices
2 cups baby spinach (or lettuce), washed and dried

  1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high heat.
  2. Individually wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place the beets on the grill grate and cover. Cook, turning the beets occasionally, until just tender, 35-45 minutes. Let beets cook, then peel and slice the beets into 1/4 inch thick rounds.
  3. While beets are roasting make the maple vinaigrette. In a small bowl whisk together the Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and maple syrup. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss beets and maple vinaigrette together, cover and place in the refrigerator to let marinate 20-30 minutes.
  4. To make the blue cheese sauce, combine blue cheese, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, garlic, fresh mint and salt and pepper in a small bowl. Cover and refrigerate to let the flavors blend together.
  5. To make the patties, heat a medium sized fire-proof skillet on the grill. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and saute beet greens with Zinfandel wine until beet greens become tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 5-10 minutes.
  6. Let cool slightly before forming the patties. Combine the sauteed beet greens, minced shallots, garlic, mint, ground chick and salt and pepper, handling as little as possible but making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Shape into 6 patties to fir the bun size. Loosely cover with plastic and set aside until ready to use.
  7. When the grill is ready, brush the grill rack with vegetable oil. Place the patties on the grill rack, cover, and cook over medium high heat, turning once, just until done, about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare. During the last few minutes of cooking, toast the buns by placing the cut sides down on the outer edges of the grill rack.
  8. To assemble the burgers, spread the 1-2 tablespoon blue cheese sauce evenly on the bottom of each Bulkie roll. Place cooked patties on top of the sauce, followed by the marinated beets, sliced red onions and equal portions of the baby spinach. Add the bun tops and serve.
Makes 6 Burgers

Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services, LLC

Monday, October 5, 2009

Roasting Beets

If you have never had a roasted beet, you don't know what you are missing. This coming from a person who used to despise beets with a passion. The roasting really concentrates their flavor, enhances their sweetness, and gives them a toasty flavor. There really is nothing easier than roasting a beet. Beets are one of the most vitamin packed vegetables. They are a good source of vitamins A, B, and C, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium, and the tops are even more nutritious than the roots. Try different varieties - Red, Chiogga, golden or white.

Roasting Beets

To roast the beets:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Thoroughly wash each beet and wrap the beets in foil, about 2-3 per package. If you are roasting beets of different colors - roast them separately so the colors don't bleed.
  • Place foil packages on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the beet. You will know the beets are done roasting when they can easily be pierced with a fork and the skin starts to pull away from the beet.
  • Once the beets are done roasting , remove them from the aluminum foil, place them in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them steam to help release the skin further from the beet. Allow them to cool down to the touch, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Once cooled enough to touch, the skins can easily be peeled away. I find rubber gloves help here to prevent your hands from turning red.
Turn your roasted beets into a great marinated beet salad. This salad is great served warm, or make it ahead and refrigerate it. Add the crumbled feta right before ready to serve to prevent it from turning pink from the beets. For varied color use a mixture of yellow and red beets. For an added crunch try adding some chopped walnuts or pecans.

Roasted Beet and Feta Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 lb beets, washed and scrubbed

1 small yellow onion, peeled and ends trimmed
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled


1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh mint, finely chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove leaves and stems from the beets, wrap beets and onion separately in foil to make 2 packages. Place foil packages on a baking sheet. Bake beets and onion in oven for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until beets are fork tender and onion is browned and caramelized.
  2. Remove beets and onion from foil and let stand for 15-20 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  3. While vegetables are cooling make the vinaigrette: In a medium size bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar. Slowly pour in the olive oil to form an emulsion. Mix in chopped mint and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  4. Once beets have cooled to touch, remove their skins and cut them into 1 inch dices. Slice onion into strips.
  5. Toss roasted beets and onions with the vinaigrette and sprinkle crumbled feta on top and some chopped mint as garnish.
Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services, LLC

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Move Over Basil

If you are sick of the same old tomato sandwich, the following recipe is a great way to spice it up a bit. Don't get me wrong, tomato sandwiches of white bread and mayo certainly have there place, but there is nothing I love more than the combination of pesto, tomatoes and mozzarella between a couple slices of crusty artisan bread.

Instead of the traditional basil pesto, I used cilantro, but this sandwich works well with basil if you prefer. Leftover cilantro pesto is great with quesadillas or toss it with some pasta.

Heirloom Tomato, Mozzarella, and Cilantro Pesto Sandwich

2 thick slices of crusty artisanal bread (I prefer Red Hen's Pain au Levain)
1-2 tablespoons cilantro pesto (see below)
2 slices of fresh buffalo mozzarella
2-3 slices of tomato (I used our own Striped German heirloom tomatoes)
Salt and pepper to taste

To assemble the sandwich:
1. Spread 1-2 tablespoons of the cilantro pesto on slice of bread.
2. Place 2 slices of the mozzarella on top, followed by desired number of tomato slices.
3. Season tomato slices with salt and pepper, place remaining slice of bread on top and enjoy!

Cilantro Pesto

1-2 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh cilantro, washed and dried (substitute basil here if you prefer)
1/8 cup toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. In a food processor, add the garlic and pulse until minced.
2. Next add in cilantro, toasted pine nuts, and grated Parmigiano Reggiano and pulse a couple times.
3. While the processor is on, add the olive oil in a stream and process until blended.
4. Season with salt and pepper.

Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services, LLC

Saturday, September 12, 2009


Nick and I have tomatoes coming out of our ears right now and I couldn't be happier! Our heirloom tomatoes are finally ripening and we are in tomato heaven. There is truly nothing like fresh, in season tomatoes. You would never guess that while growing up, I HATED tomatoes. Now I can't get enough. I think part of my hate came from trying to consume those mealy cardboard imitations sold in the grocery store, not grown for taste but for their ability to last thousands of miles on the back of a truck.

A couple of days ago a friend asked me what he could do with some ciabatta rolls he had that were going stale. Panzanella of course! Panzanella is an Italian dish originating in the Tuscany and Umbria regions of Italy. The dish is a bread salad popular in the summer months and is a great way to use up day-week old bread and other leftovers you may have hanging out in the refrigerator. My aunt used to make a fantastic version of a Panzanella salad, which I have had difficulty replicating. Here is my own version, which isn't my aunt's but I think it's just as good!

Grilled Panzanella Salad

If you don't have a grill, you can always use a broiler to give the bread and zucchini a little bit of color. This is a rustic salad so you don't need to go crazy with the measurements or the chopping. Adjust the ingredients to your tastes or what you have hanging out in the fridge (try adding capers, red peppers, eggplant, red onion).

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 medium sized zucchini
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 loaf of Red Hen Ciabatta bread, or your favorite crusty bread
Extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, cut in half
2 cups, cubed mozzarella cheese
Parmigiano Reggiano for garnish

For Dressing:
Whisk together the vinegar and mustard. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add in chopped shallots and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

For Salad:
  1. Heat up your grill or broiler.
  2. Slice the bread into 1 inch slices and lightly brush each slice with some olive oil.
  3. Slice the zucchini the long way into 1 inch thick slices. Lightly brush each slice with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Once grill is hot, place zucchini and bread slices on the grill. Grill the bread until brown and crisp, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Do the same for the zucchini and remove from grill.
  5. When the bread has cooled slightly, rub each slice with the cut garlic. Then roughly cut into 1 inch cubes and place in a large bowl. Cut up the zucchini into 1 inch dice and add to the bread in bowl.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, mozzarella and basil to bowl.
  7. Toss with dressing and let sit for about 15-20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano and serve.
Makes 6 servings

Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services, LLC

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Blueberries Taste Like Blueberries

So you've listened to my advice and have gone blueberry picking. What do you do now with 4 quarts of blueberries?

Freeze them!

Frozen blueberries are great in fruit smoothies, blueberry pies and other desserts. Researchers at Tufts University and the USDA Center for Aging put blueberries at the top of their list of 40 fruits that deliver antioxidant activity.

To freeze blueberries simply wash and dry the berries - removing any stems or debris. Spread out the berries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 2-3 hours until the berries are frozen. Berries can then be transferred to a Ziploc freezer bag and put back in the freezer until future use.

Check out this recipe I have adapted using local fresh or frozen blueberries and raspberries.


Makes 4 Servings

Mascarpone cheese, a velvety rich Italian cream cheese, has been made famous by chefs in America for it's use in tiramisu. I prefer to either make my own or purchase Vermont Butter and Cheese Company's mascarpone. For this recipe I have adapted traditional Tiramisu using fresh local berries readily available this time of year.

While summer raspberries are no longer available - try this recipe with some frozen raspberries or wait for the fall raspberries to ripen (soon!). For some fall raspberries go to the Isham Family Farm or the Charlotte Berry Farm.

1 pint fresh blueberries
1/2 cup granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup fresh raspberries

1 pint heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 ounces mascarpone cheese

10-12 Savoiardi biscuits (Lady Fingers)
1/2 cup Chambord or other raspberry liqueur

Fresh mint sprigs and 10-15 blueberries for garnish
4 martini glasses

1. In a medium saucepan combine blueberries, granulated sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the berries give off their juices, about 5 minutes. Add the raspberries and cook until they are heated through but still hold their shape, about 2 minutes. Remove the berry mixture from the heat and let cool.

2. Dip both sides of each lady finger in the Chambord and place on a plate and set aside to let the liqueur soak in. In the meantime make the mascarpone cream.

3. In a medium bowl, combine confectioner's sugar and heavy cream. Using an electric mixer on low speed, beat the cream until soft peaks form. Add in the mascarpone cheese and continue to beat until a smooth cream is formed, about 1 minute.

4. To assemble the Berrymisu, spoon about one tablespoon of mascapone cream into the bottom of each martini glass. Next add a layer of the soaked lady fingers, enough to cover the cream. On top of the lady fingers, spoon 2-3 tablespoons of the berry mixture. Repeat layers one more time - you should be ending with the mascarpone cream on top (3-4 tablespoons for top layer of mascarpone cream). Smooth out the cream and garnish with mint and fresh berries.

5. Cover each martini glass and chill for 2 hours or overnight.

- Copyright In Season Personal Chef and Nutrition Services

My Blueberry Nights - A Vermont Summertime Experience

Last Tuesday, Nick and I were in the mood for a picnic, live music, and some blueberries. The logical choice was to head out to Owl's Head Farm.

At Owl's Head Farm in Richmond Vermont you can pick your own blueberries while enjoying live entertainment on selected Tuesday and Thursday evenings during the 2009 blueberry harvest season. Entertainment is complimentary with a 2 quart minimum purchase per person prior to entering the fields on music nights.

On our way, we swung by On the Rise Bakery in Richmond to pick up some fresh bread for our blueberry picnic. Along with the fresh bread we had an heirloom tomato pasta salad, chilled Prosecco and for dessert, of course, blueberries.

It was a hot August evening, and we started out the evening with a 10 minute refreshing light rain which helped to cool things down. Our patience was rewarded with a beautiful rainbow (the picture doesn't do it justice).

After picking our blueberries, we spread out our blanket and enjoyed the "fruits" of our labor while listening to Full Circle, a live recorder ensemble, adding a bit of medieval flair to our little feast. We stayed to watch the sun set over the mountains. A great ending to a unique Vermont summertime experience.

The blueberry season is winding down and this Saturday is the last day of picking at Owl's Head Farm so if you want some blueberries and great live music, go soon or you will have to wait until next year! Give them a call for current picking conditions.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Tomato Late Blight

I hate to start out my blog on a negative note, but I thought it was rather important to inform people of what is going on in the land of farmers due to all the rain that has been dumped on the Northeast this simmer.

While it is nice to see the sun these past couple of days, it is not without some regret that there have been some casualties in the farming world. Nick and I are CSA members at Full Moon Farm. Full Moon Farm is a 155 acre certified organic vegetable farm now located in Hinesburg, Vermont. Now in its tenth year of production, Full Moon Farm is committed to connecting consumers to their local food sources and producers. For those that are unfamiliar with CSA's (Community Supported Agriculture), a CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. To find a CSA near you go to the Local Harvest website.

Back to the bad news. It was a couple weeks ago that we received an email from the farmers at Full Moon Farm telling the members the unfortunate news that all of the farms tomato plants had to be pulled up and destroyed due to Late Blight. Here is that email:

"Hi Everyone-
Rachel and I have been torn apart about how to write what is coming next. Thankfully, there is a story in the

New York Times:
that spells it out pretty clearly. Our farm along with almost every other organic and many conventional, has been inflicted with late blight. It is a crop destroyer for tomatoes and potatoes.

For those of you who may have been members in the past, you know how much we love our heirloom tomatoes. The incredible flavors make the odd shapes, sizes and colors worth it. We love our daily tomato, basil and garlic sandwiches. We (really Rachel) usually cans 40-60 quarts of tomato sauce and salsa every year. Our Sun gold cherry tomatoes are always a hit with the kids (Addie loves them).

This year....we will have none. We started to destroy the tomato plats yesterday and hope to have the process completed by the end of tomorrow. We are doing this in order to try to save the potato crop which so far shows far fewer signs of infection. We might be able to save a few more of our potatoes because they are underground and may take longer to get the infection to the fruit (on the tomato it is instant). While we are not going to get our full harvest (we don't usually dig them until late August or September), we might be able to get 30% or maybe a little more or less.

The NYT article tells it like it is. It is nice that home gardeners will get a refund from the big box stores that imported the host plants into the region...but so far we have not heard anything about farmers restitution.

We actually feel slightly lucky compared with some of the wholesale farmers listed in the article as our pain is somewhat spread out with each of you. We will still lose the money that we would have made at the farmer's market ($6,000-$10,000), and we will work our best to get you your money's worth in the share. But this season is certainly a challenge with respect to the range of summer crops that we love to provide for you in the late July through September parts of the season. Our melons are late (and underperforming due to lack of pollination from all the rainy days), corn is late, tomato's ...well enough said, and eggplant and peppers are also underperforming.

We hope this article helps you understand what we are gong through. We apologize.

New York Times:

-Farmer Dave"

The photo above was sent by Farmer Dave of a late blight afflicted tomato plant before it was destroyed. While it is one of the unfortunate risks we take as members of a CSA, there are so many other benefits which I plan to bring to you in the next couple of months. When you go to buy local/heirloom tomatoes at the store or farmer's market this season and are concerned with the higher prices, I hope you will take these farmers' struggles into consideration.

Lucky for Nick and I, the heirloom tomatoes that we planted in our small front porch garden are doing spectacularly, so we won't miss out on tomato heaven this summer. I hope to post some wonderful tomato recipes in the next couple of weeks so stay tuned!