Thursday, May 31, 2012

Instagram Weekend

Whoa.  Hey there.  That was quite a weekend.  And from the looks of it, I finally discovered Instagram.  I'm always late to the party on these kind of things.

Friday we made these cocktails at home.  Followed by this roast chicken.  It was the best.

Saturday we had lunch at our favorite neighborhood Mexican place (where I am becoming addicted to the enchiladas verdes).  They make micheladas and serve them in these funny mugs.

Sunday we rode our bikes to the Greenmarket in Jackson Heights and made a enormous lunch with our loot, including asparagus, radishes, tomatoes, green onions, goat cheese and duck bacon!

That evening we saw a Wes Anderson retrospective at The Museum of the Moving Image and had cocktails before hand at The Astor Room.  I love date night when everything is in walking distance!

Monday we went (with everyone else in the city, apparently) to the beach in Far Rockaway.  It was crowded, but the day was perfect.  I couldn't leave, though, without having a fish taco

Tonight is the first installment of our CSA for the year.  I'm so excited I can't stand it.  It's silly, but I look forward to getting these boxes so much.  Also, this year we signed up for milk and yogurt from here.  Double excited!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Quick and Dirty

I was staring at my computer wondering if I should post about soup on such a nice, sunny day, when I saw, far in the distance, dark clouds rolling into Brooklyn.  Ah, well.  It rained for a moment and now it's sunny again.  The weather sure is fickle this month, but this soup is one thing that's been constant in my life.

You know I love my soup.  I've posted about it here and here.  For me, it's the perfect thing to eat for lunch - it's wholesome, filling, and I can freeze large batches at a time.

I call this one Quick and Dirty, because it's really like cheating.  You just open a bunch of cans and dump them all in a pot.  Seriously.  Ok, so when I make it I use my homemade stock and beans that I've frozen, but whatever.  It's just as easy.  Dump and cook.

Quick and Dirty Italian Tomato and Bean Soup

1 box (4 cups) good quality organic chicken broth (or veggie)
1, 15oz. can diced tomatoes with their juices (fire roasted, with garlic and basil, just plain, any kind you like really)
1, 15oz can of cannellini beans
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 med onion, finely chopped
2 med carrots, finely chopped
2 med celery stalks, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Take a big ol' pot and dump in the first 5 ingredients.  
Turn the heat up to high and while it comes to a boil, chop your onion, carrots, and celery and mince your garlic.
Once the soup is boiling, add your chopped/minced ingredients.
Reduce heat to a gentle simmer (med-low) and simmer for 30-45 minutes, or until all the veggies are soft and tender.

(If you have a Parmesan cheese rind in your refrigerator or freezer drop it in while the soup is simmering.  It's adds a nice depth of flavor.)

Makes 3 pretty hearty or 6 small servings, like as a starter.

Serving suggestions:  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil or top with grated Parmesan cheese
or just serve as is with some nice Italian bread and a little salad.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Full Disclosure

For almost a year now, we have been getting all of our meat and vegetables (and some fruit) from a series of farms in Long Island, upstate New York and Vermont.  We are members of a CSA and there is an amazing farm that works with over 30 CSAs in the New York City area from Astoria to Yorkville, even West Chester and Long Island.

Lewis Waite Farms partners with a number of other farms to bring fresh products to people who care about things like organic, humanely raised meat, eggs and cheese.  They also offer products like honey, granola, bread, flour and beans.

The amazing thing is that you don't have to be a member of the CSA to order from them!  They simply use these drop off points as a matter of convenience.

What you see above is a month's order of meat, which arrives frozen straight from the farm.  All that you see there cost me $107.00.  That comes to about $25 a week and this order will feed us for the whole month.  That's 28 meals for 2 people for $25 a week.  This is how it breaks down:

Turkey breast, 1.5lbs: This is 2 meals, easy.  I cut it up so I end up with 4 cutlets.

Pastured Pork Sausage, 1lb: This is 4 meals.  It gets browned, one link at a time, and added to soups, pasta, or eggs to add a little flavor.

Two, 3lb. chickens: 6+ meals.  One night it's the best roast chicken you ever ate.  Then the leftovers get frozen to be made into tacos or to go into chicken soup.  Then, each carcass becomes 4 quarts of chicken stock (which also goes in the freezer) to be made into soup or risotto. (So really that's 14 meals.)

Pork Shoulder, 5lbs.:  This is about 6+ meals.  I'll braise the pork on a Sunday afternoon and serve it over polenta or mashed potatoes with some fresh veggie slaw.  The rest gets portioned out (about 1 cup per portion) and frozen.  This will become tacos, added to tomato sauce for a heart pasta, or bulked up with veggies and more broth for a pork based stew.  This is bone in, too, so add 4 quarts of stock or 8 meals.

1lb. each ground pork, beef and turkey:  This is 4 meals.  Destined to become chili.  Several lunches or dinner for friends.

A dozen eggs: This 6 meals. We eat eggs for breakfast, but also often for dinner, in the form of nice frittata with some cheese, sausage and veggies, or poached on top of a pile of kale and polenta.

Marinated feta in herbs and olive oil:  This is, like, 12 meals.  No really.  The feta will be eaten, little by little in salads and omelets, but the olive oil, infused with herbs and sun dried tomatoes, becomes a vinaigrette!  (OK, so vinaigrette isn't a meal, but think of the money you save not buying that fancy bottled salad dressing.)

38 meals, for $107. that's about $3 per meal.  Obviously, I'm not counting the extras, like olive oil or pasta, and our CSA share costs us $20 a week, but add it all up and it's still maybe around $50 a week. For two people.  That's not bad.

I learned my lesson early.  The fancy lamb chops, at $15 a pop, were not really a bargain and best saved for very special occasions.  It was best to get the more humble cuts of meat and let them do more work.  I do spurge on $15 chickens, but they are soooo worth it.  (I actually look forward to roast chicken night like it's Christmas Eve.)  But is it really a splurge if one chicken can give us 7 meals?  Also, thick cut, hardwood smoked bacon, without nitrates.  The best bacon you'll ever eat.

This post isn't sponsored by Lewis Waite Farms.  I just think what they're doing is really great and want to spread the word.

And I want people to know that getting really good, really healthy, humanely raised meat is not a luxury reserved for people who have lots of money to throw around.  It's affordable if you go right to the source.

Our CSA starts up again in 2 weeks and I am insanely excited!  I want to share more of that with you as well and maybe some sample menus.  What do you think?  Is that something you'd be interested in?

Friday, May 04, 2012

Did you know...

.... that I'm obsessed with owning chickens?

It's true.  My idea of heaven is a town house in Brooklyn with bees on the roof and chickens in the yard.

It's actually more common than you would think and organizations like Just Food raise money so that they can donate chickens (and training) to a couple community gardens and schools every year.  It's called the City Chicken Project and you can read about it here.

Chickens only need three to four square feet of space each so you can have two chickens in an 8'x8' coop!  (They also need access to the outside so they can scratch and hunt for bugs.)  Most chickens lay eggs two out of every three days so you'd have a constant fresh supply!

Here are answers to a lot of questions about raising chickens in the city.

Here are some young families raising their own chickens.
here, here, and here.