Sunday, July 16, 2006

Week Two Summary

So I was much less strict on week two, mostly for reasons beyond my control, as I've mentioned. The two staff lunches, the trip to New York, and an outing yesterday to pick up a half-cow's worth of beef in Groton meant quite a few meals were not local. But overall, I stuck to the program. And it's getting easier, partly because I'm getting into the habit of bringing enough food to work, partly because the farmers' markets have exploded with produce. We seemed to have crossed rather suddenly into summer. At the beginning of July, summer may have technically begun, but the markets were still full of peas, baby greens, radishes and strawberries, the same foods Gourmet will feature in its Easter issue. But this week we have corn, tomatoes, basil and, thank ye gods, tiny "spring" potatoes.

The salad above utilizes all the new bounty: tomatoes, zucchini, corn, mozzarella (from Maplebrook Farms in Vermont), and a dressing of basil, Maine sea salt and olive oil. Last night's dinner was a summertime classic - tomato, mozzarella and basil salad, followed by New York strip steak (from River Rock Farm in Westport), with corn on the cob and potatoes in Kate's butter (Maine) and parsley. I've noticed that small changes in preparation of what are essentially the same ingredients provides enough variety to keep eating interesting when the ingredients themselves are top-notch. Greens sautéed and served with a fried egg on top one day is sufficiently different from a ramekin of greens baked in a custard with cheese the next. I don't need the level of variety I tend to think I do.

Walter Jeffries mentioned in the comments that he would like to know what I'm paying for my ingredients. So would I, for that matter. I'm terrible about tracking my spending, but I'll try to pay closer attention this week. I can say that Walter's pork is cheaper than what I get: I spend $5.50/lb for pretty much all my meat, lamb, pork and beef. Both the pork and beef farmers tend to be generous with the extras, though - fatback, trotters, hocks, beef soup bones, and so forth are thrown in for free. And we really made out this weekend; the woman at the slaughterhouse told us that the people who had picked up their cows before us hadn't wanted the offal, so we reaped the bounty of their unwanted heart, tongue, and liver.

River Rock Farm is using a new slaughterhouse, Blood Farm in Groton. Blood Farm processes its own meat, as well as the meat of other farms, and they have a small retail shop with freezers of rabbit, turkey, chicken, veal, pork and beef. I got another lesson in buyer beware, though. The chickens they sell are not only not their own, but not locally produced. They get their chicken from a distributor. The woman who was helping us explained that the USDA doesn't allow poultry to be slaughtered at the same facility that processes beef. Just another example of how the government seems hellbent on putting small producers out of business. Posted by Picasa


Liz said...

I've noticed the same explosion in my garden. All of a sudden, we have more to eat than lettuce. It's wonderful and overwhelming at the same time. No tomatoes yet, though.

It seems that if you loosen the rules a little with a challenge like this, it makes it so much easier to succeed and not feel hemmed in. Sounds like you're doing great, and that salad is gorgeous!

Merry said...

I'm enjoying your blog and learning a lot, so thanks!

I've been buying River Rock beef at the Lexington Farmers Market and Newton Farmers Market. Delicious but pricey. I cut down on portions and increase sides to balance the budget. I'm not quite ready to do the 1/2 cow thing, and except for liver, I don't really like offal.

I've read about Blood Farm and was thinking of making a pilgrimage. Do you know if their lamb, pork and beef are local and hormone free?

Our CSA this week was still overwhelmingly greens, but we did get squash, cukes and peppers. Also raspberries. Made a raz vinagrette for the salad and desert was razes with a dollop of mild plain yogurt, a teaspoon of honey, a few drops of vanilla and some sliced toasted almonds on top. My favorite way to eat summer fruit.

Pyewacket said...

I don't know about the meat at Blood Farm - some items were marked as their own, but I wasn't in the market for any more pork or beef, so I don't remember which items were their own.

You still get the price savings on 1/4 cow, but that's, well, a whole lot of meat. Not so bad if you split it, though. There are strangely enough two River Rock farms in Massachusetts that sell grass-fed beef. I buy from the one in Westport, the one from Brimfield sells at the markets.