Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Taste-testing Local VS International Flavors

The Local Taste Challenge (Photo by Maisie Crow for the Boston Globe)

Today's Boston Globe "G" section is all about LOCAL food! I could not be more excited reading through today's paper. You know the feeling when you buy something new and all of a sudden it seems like it is all around you -- that's exactly how I feel right now with this Locavore challenge.

Between the Globe's op-ed today on the possibilities and limits of eating local and the G section blind local food taste-off, I have gotten my local fill for the day (or at least before I had my first cup o' joe). Oh -- and the winner of the taste-off? The local tomatoes, red beets, Duxbury-caught striped bass, and beef...not to mention many of the local cheeses and crustaceans. For a full report, check out the original article (with recipes, local resources, and more!).

Now that I've worked up an appetite, I'm off to explore what "local" looks like up the coast!

Note: Do I need to tell you how much I hope the New York Times does NOT sell the Globe to a trim 'em down, beat 'em up, get rich quick, and then get out kind of person....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eating Local on a Maine Vacation

Today I am gearing up for a short trip to Maine, where I will bask (sunscreen-covered) in the sun and bike down the coast. But, what does a vacation look like for a locavore? Or perhaps more accurately, a locavore wannabe?

To begin my search I Googled "locavore vacation maine". I thought I would go with something specific, you know, attempt to find the exact website I was looking for on try #1. The results? Not bad.

First, I came across the blog Diary of a Locavore, which has its own category on Maine (here). The site provides information and food for though on eating local in Cape Cod and the Islands, including recipes (many adapted from the Joy of Cooking) and amazing food photography. The author even hosts the Local Food Report on NPR (90.1/91.1/94.3 FM) a couple days a week for the Cape and Islands affiliate WCAI.

Through the Diary of a Locavore I was directed to a local bread producer in Maine: Borealis Breads, which is sold throughout the state. They recently opened a bistro and bakery at 183 Ocean Avenue in Portland which showcases local grains, meats, and produce. Perhaps a stop there on Friday is in order.

Another look at the Google search directed me to the Counting Sheep blog. Her post entitled "The 420 mile Locavore or MA to ME in 24 hours" was exactly what I was looking for. While not particularly healthy here are a few of the places mentioned:
  • Bob's Clam Hut in Kittery, ME - a bag of fried clams for $26 (not sure if this fits the 'affordable aspect of the TastyKate locavore challenge)
  • Wicked Whoopie Pies - I assume I can find these at a local market or corner store...
  • Ballard Meats and Seafood in Manchester, ME - a little far north for our trip, but good to know about.
  • Rocky Ridge Orchard in Bowdoin, ME - a great looking place for a pie, fresh milk, or homemade whoopie pies but a little out of our path for this trip.
Next, I was directed to the website American Towns which highlighted our destination: Old Orchard Beach. It included a restaurant directory and a list of local restaurants (as opposed to regional/franchised...I think) with "must buy" suggestions for each.

Here I found out that I can go to Bob's Clam Hut just across the NH border and get a lobster roll for a mere $11.00 or clam chowder for $4.00. It's looking much more tempting now... In Kennebunkport I could stop in at the Clam Shack and get a lobster roll for $18.00 (ouch!) or fried clam dinner for $19.00 or visit Mabel's Lobster Claw and delight in fresh chowder for $5.00 or eat an entire Shore Dinner for $17.00. Mabel's has peanut butter ice cream pie...I might skip dinner for that. Do you think the peanut butter is local, too?

So besides the whoopie pies and the lobster what will I do to eat local on our Maine vacation? I will ask questions! The key to finding local eateries and entertainment will be to ask good questions and direct them to the right people. That other tourist will have NO idea what I'm talking about, however, the B&B owners probably will. It's great to go on vacation and know that you are going to contribute to the local economy.

How can we get our economy back in shape? Buy local!

I welcome any and all suggestions on where to buy, eat, and enjoy healthy, local coastal Maine cuisine.

Farms in Short Supply for MA Markets

Today's Boston Globe ran a front page article on the increasing demand of farmers markets in Massachussetts. was small preview on the front page, but it was still there and I saw it before even opening up the paper.

It appears eating local is on the rise in this Bay State!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Locavore Chronicles: An Introduction

Locavore. n. A person who attempts to eat only foods grown locally.

Inspired by Barbara Kingsolver and her exciting adventure in eating all things local, I have decided to conscientiously incorporate more local foods into my dining and cooking repertoire. Kingsolver and her family took the path that is increasingly less traveled by vouching, for a year, to eat only what they could produce themselves or buy from local vendors. Their experience is chronicled in the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I am a huge fan!

I have learned that to do so the first thing I must do is define what I mean by "local." It's a good question, because for many of us it wouldn't be ridiculous to define local as the whole United States. Increasingly the food we consume originates in other countries (ex. apples from Chile or fish from Thailand). However, it is probably appropriate to define local as a distance a little closer to home.

I would like to start by defining local as New England. I live in Boston and so anywhere from Connecticut to Maine can be local (at least for now).

My goal is to find out for myself just how difficult it is to buy and eat healthful, local meals.

The two major questions that I have are:
  1. Can eating local be affordable?
  2. Can eating local be convenient?
Full disclosure: this is going to be an incremental approach to eating local. It will take a lot of learning on my part and I hope to share some of my findings and challenges with all of you. I am excited to find out just how to incorporate more affordable, local foods into my family's diet. It will probably not be easy, but I am up for the challenge. I hope that what I find will help you and your family, too!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Easy Dill Salmon

I "stole" some salmon from my mom's freezer on the way back to Boston from Pennsylvania. I knew it would help keep the rest of my perishables cool, and that by the time I finished my 6 hour trek it would be defrosted and ready for the oven! This can be an easy weekday meal or it can be spruced up with sides like risotto or roasted potatoes for a fabulous and party-friendly weekend dinner. (P.S. I wouldn't recommend this particular defrosting technique...normally you want to remove it from the plastic wrap -- BPA people!! -- and defrost in the refrigerator overnight).

The zucchini (plentiful this time of year) was bought fresh from Allandale Farm! I can't believe I just found out that there is a local farm in Jamaica Plain! They even sell milk in glass bottles. I can't wait to make them my primary produce stop.

1 6 oz. salmon fillet (de-skinned, de-boned)
1 Tbl olive oil
pinch of dill
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Turn on the oven broiler.
  2. Lay the salmon on an oven sheet (I used aluminum foil under the fish to ease clean up) and rub with olive oil on either side. Sprinkle generously with dill, salt and pepper.
  3. Put salmon in oven for about 7 minutes about 2-3 inches from broiler coil.
  4. Remove when salmon looks opaque. Let rest for a minute or two. Do not overcook!!
Zucchini was boiled (to soften) in a skillet with a little layer of water, salt, and pepper for about 4 minutes. Then drained them and I added just a splash of olive oil and crushed garlic until heated through.

Buen provecho!