Saturday, May 28, 2011

Yogurt Co-op Potluck

This week, Anna and I made the yogurt for our yogurt co-op. It turns out that yogurt making is incredibly easy: heat your milk to 180 degrees, let it cool to 120, stir in your starter (last week's yogurt), let it incubate for a while. (Here's Jeff Potter, of Cooking for Geeks, on experimenting with making your own yogurt.)

My next project is figuring out how to make our yogurt into strained (Greek-style) yogurt. (Hint: Probably with patience and cheesecloth rather than your boyfriend's AeroPress.) I love Greek yogurt by itself, but the yogurt needs to be strained for frozen yogurt making, too.

Our yogurt co-op is having an open house this week -- come check it out:
You are invited to the Somerville Yogurt Making Coop open house and potluck. Come to the Clarendon Hill Church at 155 Powderhouse Blvd. in Somerville on Thursday, June 2 to learn how to make yogurt and share food with other yogurt makers. The potluck will begin at 6:30pm and yogurt making will begin around 7:30pm. The Church is located a few blocks from Teele Sq. on the #87, #88, and #89 bus lines. For more information contact sam (at) machinescience (dot) org.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Waiting for Vegetables: Grain and Bean Salads

We stopped by the Davis Square farmers market (first day of the season) today but were disappointed not to see many vegetables yet (blame the rainy/cold weather). Lots and lots of happy vegetable plants, though -- the tomato starts looked especially vigorous, and I would have bought some if I weren't on my bike.

Our weekly potluck (everyone's invited! bring your friends!) is predicated on the idea that we'll have a surplus of CSA vegetables to share, so I've been reworking the model for these less-vegetably months. Mark Bittman's Easiest Bean or Grain Salad on the Planet turns out to be a pretty good empty-refrigerator meal for a crowd.

I've done it with quinoa (cooks in 15 minutes) and canned beans when I was in a hurry, and I've done it with wheatberries and dried beans when I had the presence of mind to start the night before. (It's possible that the wheatberries came in our Enterprise CSA last, um, fall or so.) I've been using red wine vinegar instead of the lemon the recipe suggests (more bare-cupboard friendly), and I think adding it while the grains or beans are hot makes a difference. I've made the salad with as few vegetables as half a red onion and a handful of parsley, but it's nice with cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, or anything else you have.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Local Food Time: CSAs, Markets, Yogurt

Who else can't wait for local food?

We're happy to announce that our house will be partaking of (and blogging, of course) two CSAs this summer ... Picadilly Farm (new to us) and Enterprise Farm (which we've done for a year and a half previously). Picadilly starts around June 6 and Enterprise starts around May 31, so not much longer to wait! (I believe both still have shares available, if you haven't signed up for your CSA yet.)

If you're jonesin' for a farmers market right now, can I recommend tomorrow's SoWa Open Market? As they put it, "BIG day at SoWa this Sunday, May 15th! Open Market + Vintage Market + SoWa Art Walk + Farmers Market + Food Trucks = FUN!"

(As well, Somerville's Spring Fever Market at the Armory will be back on May 22 and 29.)

Other Boston-area farmers markets will be starting to open in earnest this week and next (see schedules on the Mass Farmers Markets site). Some favorites opening soon: Copley Square 5/17; Kendall Square 5/18; Prudential Center 5/20; Central Square 5/23; Davis Square 5/25; South Station 5/26.

In other local food news ... We've been enjoying homemade yogurt from the Davis Square Yogurt Co-op (recently seen in the Globe Green blog) for the last month or so, and our housemate Anna got trained in yogurt making last week, so look forward to stories of yogurt production and consumption soon. (My previous housemates used to make yogurt in a cardboard box with a lightbulb; here's how they're currently doing it in Malawi.)

P.S. As far as I can tell, this is an underpublicized very good deal -- stop by Cambridgeside Galleria (until June 5) to get an NSTAR-subsidized "Mass Saver Mall Combo" box of twelve compact fluorescent bulbs, two desk lamps, and two LED nightlights for $10.

Local food connection? I intend to keep one of the little gooseneck lamps (probably worth $10 by itself) near the kitchen as part of my quest for better food photography this summer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Urban Foraging

Another workshop I really enjoyed at the Boston Skillshare was "foraging for edible wild plants," led by Nick Patch. (For more foraging info: Nick's website, local forager David Craft, Wildman Steve Brill.)

I don't think I'll be replacing a measurable share of my vegetables with foraged ones any time soon (we're making do with Russo's, and fortunately, less than a month until our new CSA starts!), but the workshop really gave me new eyes for a lot of little city plants that I used to overlook or dismiss as weeds.

Above is some delicious wood sorrel (looks like clover but with heart-shaped leaves, tastes like strawberries) foraged from near the Alewife T station, and below are some unidentified wild-onion-like things from along the Minuteman Bike Path. (Not pictured: An experiment in dandelion petals baked into bread. Didn't add nearly enough for anyone to notice.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sunday Chicken Stock

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a nominally vegetarian household in unexpected possession of three chicken carcasses, must be in want of quarts and quarts of homemade stock.

Sara brought three partial rotisserie chickens home from a Passover seder yesterday, and I'd just been reading Michael Ruhlman's assertion that chicken stock is too easy not to make every week. And it was the kind of Sunday afternoon where you haven't even made a dent in the list of things you need to do before Monday, so, in short,  a four- to six-hour cooking project was exactly what we were looking for.

Though cooking an onion has always been my easy shortcut to making the house smell like food is happening, simmering a chicken carcass does it one better: housemates were begging for soup that I had to tell them wasn't even broth yet. And though I'm still patiently simmering, I admit that Ruhlman's recipe is very, very easy.