Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Hi Fellow Foodies!  It's been very frustrating waiting for computer repairs during the best time of year for the Markets and for cooking!  But at last, my Dell is back and better than ever.  Over the coming days, I hope to catch up and share photos of the Farm and the Farmers Markets we've visited, as well as new recipes, AND discussions about that all important activity of Preserving (canning, freezing, refrigerating) the bounty of this season.

So, yes, there's so much to talk about, but I thought the current news about salmonella loaded eggs was a good place to start!  Frankly, I just have to start there. Some of us don't think that this place in Iowa is a solitary situation.  In fact, we actually believe that this is what the agri-business really is!  What we do believe is happening is that there are more and more whistle blowers out there - thank goodness - who are willing to report what they have seen in these places.  I am hoping that this is just the tip of the iceberg in exposing the awful  and unsanitary conditions that exist in the production of what Americans are told is "food".

I have had many people tell me that they can't read Michael Pollan's books and they absolutely can't watch "Food, Inc" - so sad, all those tortured animals, etc., etc.  Yeah, yeah, I get it - they're sensitive.  BUT they will allow those situations to go on!  They will continue to purchase factory farmed, drug loaded, blister wrapped meats and chicken; they will continue to purchase eggs from caged hens - by the way, what did you THINK that meant?; and, they will continue to eat food with a carbon foodprint of about a million miles!  Asparagus on the East Coast in February?  Sure!

A second reaction that always floors me - those folks who call themselves "picky" eaters  (I take offense, I am a picky eater - they are "limited" eaters) and who seem to be afraid of everything: new flavors, fresh food, and of course, all "Street Food" (that's a discussion for another time) - and yet, these same folks will eat lunches and dinners that they buy in boxes which supposedly contain meat and that can be kept on a cabinet shelf or in your desk drawer.  Huh?  These are the folks who use margarine ("it's healthier"), while dining at your home, find the free range, drug free beef "chewy", and who avoid those heirloom tomatoes because they have "blemishes".  Wow, all I can ever think is, friend, you are afraid of all the wrong things! 

And now, their beloved stupermarket eggs - even the ones with the little red letters stamped on them - are tainted.  And their response?  "Don't eat eggs".  NO, that's not the answer - the answer is, don't eat eggs from caged hens incarcerated in factory farms!

In the Tri- State area - and in Philadelphia in particular - we are so lucky to have numerous Farmers Markets, set up on days throughout the week and throughout the city, where fresh eggs, raw milk, yogurt and butter, local, seasonal produce and humanely raised, drug free protein is available to all of us.  Stupermarket shopping is easier, I have been told - just how far does this particular form of laziness extend?  You eat the stuff you buy there!  Isn't that worth a bit of your time? If it's not, what is?

I also have to voice my sadness at what the lives of the chickens in these awful places must be like.  Chickens are entertaining, funny and engaging creatures. Not to mention what they provide for we humans. When you have had the pleasure of sitting and watching them walk around and peck the ground and come up and sit on your shoulder and basically just be a pleasure to be around, your heart breaks - again - for the awful way we treat living creatures for our own use.

So, what are you going to do with this recent knowledge about egg farming?  Do you feel it's worth changing some of your shopping habits?  If you have already grown up and are buying fresh and local products and supporting our farms, how are you trying to educate those who haven't progressed?

Let's hear from you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Frolicking at the Farmhouse

The Foodist and her much better half are off for a long weekend in the country at our friends' farm.

Look for a full report from the Foodist mid week, next week, on what we cooked - totally Farm to Table - what markets we visited, and what inspiration we took away from the wonder of the Farm.

We'll be doing a lot of toasting, "To the Farm"!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tomatoes again - I just can't stop!

Heirlooms for the Salad/Pasta Recipe

One more week with a tomato based recipe from me - they are just too good and too available in so many fascinating forms, I can't resist sharing this very versatile and easy recipe.

The World's Best Tomato Salad AKA Great Summer Pasta Sauce!

Chop an array of heirloom tomatoes into chunks; cut really good cherry tomatoes in half.  The idea is to have a colorful, varied in color and size, collection of tomatoes.

Put all of the chopped tomatoes into a strainer over a bowl (Remember last week's recipe?  Don't forget to collect that tomato water!).  Salt the tomatoes and toss them lightly (hands work best, you don't want to mush them); salt a bit more - I use a good chunky sea salt - toss again, and then let the tomatoes sit and drain for 15 - 20 minutes minimum. 

After the tomatoes have drained, save the tomato water for other uses - we use a jar in the 'fridge - put the chopped tomatoes in the bowl and add the following - all the additions are really to taste;  if in doubt, 3 parts olive oil to one part vinegar is a good rule of thumb for the liquids:

a chopped chili pepper - if you like a bit of spice
crumbled good dry oregano
a few slivers of fresh garlic
sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
good red wine vinegar

Again, gently toss.  I like to cover the bowl, let it sit at room temperature - the tomatoes will absorb the flavors of the spices more that way.

This mixture is great on toasted bread rubbed with garlic; it's wonderful over fresh greens with some chunks of fresh mozarella; and it is also wonderful all by itself as a side dish.

It keeps well in the 'fridge for about a week - especially if you add more tomato chunks as you eat the salad.

NOW - when you have a bit of this fabulous tomato salad left AND you have a craving for some pasta - here's a delicious way to use it.

Cook your pasta - whatever kind you like, but farfalle, fusilli - in general "shaped" pasta works best in catching all of the juices and flavor;
Drain your pasta well;
Pour the tomato salad - all of it - over the hot pasta and toss well;
Add good grated parmesan, or mozarella chunks, or both if you want;
You may also want to toss in some fresh basil leaves if you have it; and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, you get the idea, feel free to play with the add - ons.  Recently we added some anchovies - fabulous!
You may also want to add more extra virgin olive oil - but so far, I haven't needed it;

Enjoy!  Believe me, you will!

That's this week's Thursday recipe from the Foodist - what's yours?

Monday, August 2, 2010

It's a Very Special Week

This week we celebrate National Farmers' Market Week.

What a wonderful time to show our support for the Markets that set up every week in so many of our many Philly neighborhoods - these are the folks we depend on for fresh, local, safe and humanely raised food.

We are very lucky in the Philadelphia region to have so many markets AND we are lucky that lead organizations have worked so hard to make those markets, and their wonderful fresh products, available to everyone.

Thanks to the Food Trust, to Farm to Table and to the Philadelphia Slow Food Movement, among others.

For my weekly shopping, thanks to the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal for every day and for teaching me so much;  to the Headhouse Shambles Farmers Market on Sundays; to the Passyunk Market on Tuesdays; and, of course,  to the Italian Market.

What are your favorite Markets?  What have you been cooking from your favorite Markets?

Thank a Farmer - today and everyday!