Friday, April 13, 2012

Talking Eggs and the wonder of Ramps!

There is much in the news over the past few days concerning horrific conditions discovered at an egg factory here in Pennsylvania.  Kreider Farms in Manheim was cited by the Humane Society for deplorable conditions.  They of course deny it.  Their statements have run all of the way from "that's the old factory" to "people don't understand egg production on this scale - what they are seeing isn't unusual or cruel".  Really?  Without going into detail, when you see the report and some of the pictures, you know that you would never, ever want to support a business like Kreider.

So, again, we are talking about eggs and egg "production".  We constantly get queries as to where to get good eggs - eggs that are fresh, disease free, and not produced by abused tortured chickens.  Many folks are especially stumped because most of the area Farmers Markets are not back yet.  So, while they buy eggs from farmers during the Spring and Summer, they don't know where to get them the rest of the year.  In my opinion, the supermarket is never a consideration.  Even "good" factory eggs are old, mostly from chickens treated with something or another, and they lack color and flavor.  That said, we are lucky in our region because, even in the absence of Farmers Markets, there are plenty of sources of fresh, non chemically treated eggs produced by pasture raised chickens.  Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market is for the most part, our source.  Clark Park and Rittenhouse Square Farmers Markets operate year 'round and are another source.  Green Aisle Grocery on Passyunk brings in farm eggs regularly.  And there's the Ardmore Farmers Market, and the Mt. Airy Co-op - both are also good sources of fresh eggs and local products. 

The point is, you will need to do a little "work" to see what vendor will be the best for you.  Take a drive, look for small Farmstands - do some testing.  If you have been using factory produced eggs, you will experience immediate differences:  those gorgeous orange yolks, the lucious thick whites (great in making omelets fluffy), and the wonderful flavor will hook you.  Once you've left factory eggs behind, you just can't go back!


"Tis the season for wonderful "here today and gone tomorrow" Spring treats.  Last post was Fiddlehead Ferns.  Here is a simple recipe for another wonderful Spring offering.

Ramps sauteed in Butter

Clean ramps the same way you would green or spring onions.  Cut off the root ends and soak in ice cold water to remove excess dirt.  With these two bunches I first cut off the white part, tossed those pieces in melted butter and cooked them for about 3 - 4 minutes. Then I added the green part of the ramps - chopped in half only.  I added a bit more butter and some sea salt and freshly ground pepper.  When the whole mix is soft and the aroma is filling the whole kitchen, remove them from the heat.  From there it's up to you.  You can eat them as is.  You can make a brushetta by topping a piece of toasted bread with the mixture. I chopped up these ramps and added them to caci y pepi - pasta tossed with butter, cheese and pepper.  The flavor was amazing!  If you want to try ramps, get to the market now!  They aren't around very long at all.  I am going to try growing them from plants I got from a local farmer.  It will take awhile though - definitely until next Spring.  So, meanwhile, I am going to hunt down some more!!  Enjoy.

Ramps Sauteed in Butter with Salt and Pepper

Ramps fresh from the Farmers Market

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Consider: "The Ten Dollar Solution"; Recipe: Fiddleheads

The Farmers Markets will all be open soon - both here in Philly and around the Region. The products carried by Fair Food Farms will also be changing weekly at a much faster pace than over the winter months.  Many of us will be growing lots of fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs, as well. It's all good. 

I love our local markets and cannot imagine life without them, but I also enjoy a bit of a road trip once in awhile to stroll around other markets, to stop at roadside stands, to meet other farmers and purveyors, and see what's selling.  I hear that some people look at houses!! Odd!

As we look forward to the Markets all returning, consider this, please.

If every household in Pennsylvania spent $10 a week on locally/regionally produced food, $48 million dollars would stay in the local economy each week.  Spending your money on locally grown and produced food sustains the community, provides us with a better quality of food (fresher, tastier, safer) and thus provides better nutrition, preserves family farms and the businesses of small producers, generates jobs, and beautifies the urban and rural landscape.  Ten dollars a week!

I can't imagine that this isn't the case for other regions as well, although, as I like to remind folks - we live in an incredibly rich region of farms, independent producers, and markets.  We're very lucky, but we have to sustain those farms and producers and markets.

Remember:  A typical supermarket carrot travels over 1800 miles to reach your plate and the "average" supermarket egg (not discussing all of the other things wrong with it) is at least 45 days old when you buy it. 

Check out: for more information.

Enjoy these glorious days.


Garlicky Fiddlehead Ferns

1/4 to 1/2 pound of fiddle heads does very well for two people

Fresh garlic, peeled and minced (3 cloves)

Good extra virgin olive oil (2 or more tablespoons)

Butter, unsalted (2 tablespoons)

The Herb of your choice - we like dried Thyme, or fresh Parsley - really whatever is on hand (2 - 3 tablespoons)

Dried red pepper flakes, Sea Salt, and Freshly Ground Pepper


Clean the fiddleheads well, remove any fuzz found in the curl of the fiddlehead (just run your finger thru the curl and then give them a rinse)

Dry the fiddleheads very well; we use our salad spinner.  You could use a produce bag and just swing it around - however you approach it,  you want to get them nice and dry

In a skillet heat the extra virgin olive oil AND the butter until hot

Add the fiddleheads and the garlic to the oil and butter mixture, cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the fiddleheads get a bit of crispiness to them - tasting them helps the judgement process

Add the herb you have selected, sea salt and freshly ground pepper and if you want a bit of a kick, add a small scattering of dried red pepper flakes and give it one more good stir

Serve Hot.  They make a great side dish and they are wonderful on brushetta.  They literally taste of Spring!

Enjoy!  They aren't around very long!

Fiddleheads before cooking