Tag Archives | localvore

Apricot Raspberry Cobbler

apricot raspberry cobblerWe had a raspberry bush at my parents house when I was young. I remember going out in the hot summers of Upstate New York to pick berries in the morning for raspberry pancakes, or in the evening to eat as a treat with a scoop of ice cream. Raspberries are one of the ultimate fruits, in my mind. Perfectly sweet and juicy, and full of so much strong flavor.

It wasn’t until I moved to Washington, however, that I ate my first apricot, and it was in the best possible setting. We were driving through Enumclaw on our way to pick up our weekly gallon of raw milk, and a nearby farm had signs posted for fresh fruit. We detoured up the road to find a farm store brimming over with fresh produce, and as we were looking around, the owner started hauling buckets of freshly picked apricots in from her orchard. We bought several pounds. Let me tell you: fresh apricots have a full flavor that rivals even the sweetest peaches, yet remains very distinct and unique. A true delight!

I give to you a delicious recipe for these warm summer fruits:

apricot raspberry cobbler
Apricot Raspberry Cobbler

Baking time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

INGREDIENTS:

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for dish

Fruit Filling:
10 apricots, pitted and each sliced into 8 to 10 pieces (1 ½ lb prepped)
1 dry pint (2 cups) raspberries, fresh or frozen
¾ cup (5 ¼ ounces) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Batter:
1 ½ cups (7 ½ ounces) all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ cup (5 ounces) granulated sugar
¾ cup whole milk
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar

apricot raspberry cobbler

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 2-quart baking dish.

To make the fruit filling, toss the apricots and raspberries with the sugar and salt in a bowl and set aside to draw out some of the juices while you prepare the batter.

To make the batter, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and granulated sugar together on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions alternating with the milk in two additions and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan and distribute the fruit over the batter, being sure to scrape the bowl well. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the top.

Bake in the bottom third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the center of the cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool 20 to 30 minutes before serving.

Storage: This cobbler is best if eaten the day it is made. Any leftovers can be covered with a tea towel to be finished for breakfast. Reheat in a 300°F oven until warmed through.

(This recipe is from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber & Julie Richardson).

apricot raspberry cobbler

I enjoyed topping mine with whipped cream! And for breakfast! And I’m going to go eat some straggling leftovers now!

By ekwetzel
2011-08-03

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Week 52 – 52 Weeks Gone By

ekwetzel thinkingWow. Is it really over? A whole year has passed, and what do I have to show for it?

Well, I skipped a lot of blog posts. Especially recently! But, I kept taking pictures, so that has to count for something, right?

My life changed drastically over the past year: bought a house, lost a job, got pregnant and had a baby. I never expected any of these things.

When I started this blog series a year ago, I thought that eating local, organic, sustainably produced food was such an important and monumental task that I’d have plenty of material to blog about for a whole year. Supporting my local farm was “important business” in my mind. Everyone needed to know how it affected our family. I hoped my blog would incite others to eat locally and love fresh farm food. I expected to have these Big Important Ideas that I would share with you. I expected to write something that cut to the heart of the matter.

But, ya know what? Eating farm food is easy. And it’s simple, once you make the change of habit. Eating seasonally makes sense, and it just becomes a way of life. Yeah, there’s a period of transition when everything is new and exciting and a little difficult, but once you’re over that hump, eating is as simple as…well…eating!

phoebe and erin wetzelThere has been a lot of chaos and change in our lives over the last year, and you know what has been one of our constants? The farm food. I drive to the farm once a week and pick up our share of the crop. The farm food is consistently fresh and tasty. The farm food is consistently high quality and organic. I don’t have to check labels and wonder where it came from. I know: it’s local, it’s seasonal, it’s sustainably produced in those fields right out there.

I didn’t expect this. I expected to be ethereal and philosophical about food. But food is real; it’s tangible; it’s tactile. Food is rooted in reality. And my food is real food. I don’t need any labels to tell me that. I don’t need anyone to wax my apples or wax poetic about my pears. I don’t need a fancy box and an advertising campaign to convince me what to eat. I take my silent, simple food for what it is, and I carry on with my life.

csa pnw local harvest organic Week 52

Carrots
Rainier Cherries
Strawberries
Kohlrabi
Snow Peas
Spring Salad Mix
Spinach
Butter Head Lettuce

By ekwetzel
2011-07-09

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Week 41 – Distracted by Baby’s Presence

baby phoebe wetzelLook who popped into the world this week! It’s baby Phoebe Isobel!

I’ll give you a quick little post about our CSA food this week. I have to say: I am – once again – soooo grateful to have fresh farm food available. I have been ravenous this week since the birth, and it has been amazing to be able to eat fresh, spring salads every day. I devour apples. I want to murder all our carrots in one sitting. I am nursing, so the food passes through me and to my little baby, just as it has been for the past 41 weeks. I’m in the food and the food’s in me; I am the food and the food is me.

And: look at those bright eyes! That fuzzy, hairy head! Grown on the CSA, my friends; this baby cuteness was grown on the CSA.

week 41 terry's berries aprilWEEK 41:

Bok Choi
Potatoes
Carrots
Garlic greens
Apples
Cauliflower
Spring Greens
Lettuce

By ekwetzel
2011-04-17

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Week 33 – For the Love of Cauliflower

mrwetzel42 eating cauliflowerWhen you are at the mercy of the seasons, each time one of your favorite foods comes into season, it seems like a miracle.  In the summer, I feel this way about raspberries. I can never eat enough of them: raw, in baked dishes, or fresh off the vine.  This week, the Wetzels celebrate cauliflower.

Mr. Wetzel doesn’t naturally like many vegetables, but one produce species he can never get enough of is cauliflower. As a wife, I try to encourage and support good eating habits in my former-bachelor, so I have always tried to get cauliflower for Mr. Wetzel whenever it is available.  When we started the CSA, we knew we’d be changing our eating habits to coincide with what produce was available each season, so that meant less cauliflower for us during most of the year.

But that also means that – when cauliflower is in season – we pig out.

You’ll notice that this week we have a ton of cauliflower in our share, but not much else. Our CSA has a wonderful grab box where you can switch out something you don’t like with something you do…and whenever other share members use the box, the available foods in it change according to what people do/don’t want that week. This week we struck white gold: there were several heads of cauliflower in the trade box, and we gleefully swapped them for our onions, parsnips and chard.

I like it that eating seasonally has created a greater appreciation within us for the foods we eat, and even for the foods we love.  We don’t take our fruits and veggies for granted, but we are voracious for them each moment they grace us with their presence. CSA eating is eating in the moment. Seize the veggies by their stalks, and indulge! Some of them only come this way once a year. If you’re too busy wandering the polished and changeless grocery aisles, you might miss the opportunity to find true culinary excitement.

By ekwetzel
2011-02-21

csa terry's berriesWEEK 33
Cauliflower ;o)
Apples
Pears
Carrots
Fingerling Potatoes

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Week 32 – Not All CSAs are Created Equally

justin higgins snow

Photo courtesy of Justin Higgins

Each week, we receive an email newsletter from our CSA, Terry’s Berries, letting us know where the week’s produce hails from.  Washington State has less severe winters than the rest of the country, as does the west coast in general; so much of our produce is either grown in state or stored through the winter. Here’s an example of a note on the origins of our produce:

“Right now, cabbages and kales are coming from California because they got frozen in Washington.  Other years we have been able to harvest beautiful cauliflower in January, cabbage and kales too. Apples and pears are from Washington state as well as potatoes, leeks, onions, shallots, parsnips, carrots, and some other root veggies.”

It is common for CSAs to source produce from other farms, but beware if the CSA you are considering regularly contains out-of-season produce. For instance, a CSA share for February in the Pacific Northwest should never contain green beans. They are so far out of season, the only place they are likely to come from is Mexico. And that kind of defeats the purpose of “local food.”

Summertime is the easiest time to sponsor local CSAs and local produce, because the harvest is so plentiful and vibrant. If you do buy from a CSA in the winter, simply take a moment to put on your thinking cap and ask yourself how likely it is that each item in your grab bag of food was either grown nearby or stored for these winter months. When in doubt, ask the CSA where the produce comes from. Transparency is key.

The most local food of all, of course, comes from your own backyard or container gardening, and this is the season to start planning for the planting season to come. Check out seed catalogues. Plan out your garden.  Pre-order your seeds. Get prepped for doing veggie starts in the next month or so. And, in the meantime, keep eating locally and enjoying the produce of the season: root veggies, cabbages, and apples!

By ekwetzel
2011-02-11

CSA terry's berriesWEEK 32
Potatoes
Shallot
Carrots
Pears
Apples
Rainbow Chard
Cauliflower
(We traded our parsnips and onions with other CSA members for extra apples and pears)

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Week 31 – True Farmers

terry's berries farmers market

Terry's Berries at the local Farmer's Market

Local food is all the rage. It’s the edgy thing in the food world right now. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised when I see McDonald’s trying to promote itself as a localvore or Walmart setting up pretend “farmer’s markets” (i.e. ones that avoid local farmers). I’ve come to expect a brilliant marketing façade from the big corporations, in lieu of any meaningful change to their food systems.

What is more difficult to figure out is which of the smaller farmers are, in fact, small farmers…and which are just fantastic marketers.

In Tacoma, there are many farmer’s markets in the summer, and it is amazing how far away some of the vendors travel in order to hawk their wares. It’s amazing how not-local and not-fresh some of the produce can be. Market season is just around the corner again, and what can we do as naïve spenders approaching the tables of different fruits and veggies?

Rely on community to find those farmers that are the diamonds in the ruff. Talk to the farmers, get to know them, and ask them questions. Where do they come from? How big is the farm? What is their philosophy for food production? If a farmer is not open about his farming practices, he likely has something to hide; however, a farmer who is excited to share information about his food is probably also a farmer with food that is worth getting excited about.

A CSA is Community Supported Agriculture. You start with relationships: between the farmer and the land, between the buyer and the merchant, between the owner and the farmhands. A wholesome and holistic relationship on all these levels is vital. Someone who is willing to cut corners in one area of their business is willing to cut corners in other areas as well.

A farmer that is open, gracious and a good steward of the earth is often like the food he or she grows. There may not be flashy signs or stickers to attract you. Their quality Is often understated. They don’t have much polish or finesse. But they are good to the core. Trust your gut. And once you’ve had a taste, you won’t want anything less than to return, time and again, to cultivate a lasting relationship of deep and golden worth.

By ekwetzel
2011-02-08

terry's berries csa winterWEEK 31:
Carrots
Shallot
Potatoes
Onions
Apples – We traded out some root veggies (not pictured) for extra apples
Frozen Raspberries
Romaine Lettuce

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Week 28 – In Season This Winter

good transparency wa seasonal produce PNWIt’s cool and damp outside. The grass here is green and lanky. We should have mowed our lawn more in the fall, but it’s matted down by the morning frost now. It rarely snows in Washington, and when it does the magic only lasts for a day or so until the temperature rises back to the 40s or 50s, and we go back to dodging puddles on the way to the car.

What amazes me about the winter is not how monotonous the CSA palate can seem at Terry’s Berries; rather I am amazed that fresh food can even be produced in the wintertime.

In the summer, I intentionally kept myself from apples, knowing that the winter would hold months of fresh apples that I could partake in. I love apples, and golly am I thankful that the apple, of all fruits, is the staple that grows here in the winter.

good transparency seasonal produce

Click on picture for a larger image. For original posting, visit: http://www.good.is/post/a-guide-to-when-fruits-and-vegetables-are-in-season/

Depending on climate, different areas of the country are able to grow different produce from season to season. I really appreciate this infographic (pictured to the left) from Good Magazine (http://www.good.is). It depicts when fruits and veggies are in season in six different areas of the country. California is of course magical in its ability to produce a cornucopia of American staples year round. (Of course, there are tradeoffs: what Californian is ever lucky enough to experience the occasional snow day?)

January is almost over, and spring is only a few months away. Garden plans are brewing in kitchens across America, and signs of spring are already peeking through the soils of our imaginations. Before we know it, April will be here with the cherry blossoms, the tulips, and the sweet greens of spring.

And, since our due date is in April, our baby will be arriving too. A little, local fruit of the womb.

csa washington PNW veggies bok choiWEEK 28
(Top Row)
Parsnips
Shallots
Head of Garlic
Onion
Potatoes
(Middle Row)
Delicata Squash
Apples
Pears
Carrots
(Bottom Row)
Leeks
Beets
Turnips
Bok Choi

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Weeks 25 & 26 – Resolutions

wishesThe funny thing about resolutions is that we never keep them. It’s a game we play with ourselves…a sick game where we come up with some unobtainable idea of the perfect “self” that we wish defined us. Resolutions remind us of our shortcomings, our failures, and our faults. And, when we invariably fail at our resolutions, it just reminds us of how pathetic, weak and imperfect humanity can be. (Why am I talking about humanity???) Truly, it reminds us of the weaknesses in ourselves, but in a depressing, shameful way.

I have no interest in a path that leads to self-loathing. Screw resolutions.

Ah…but then there is the path that few complete: the ones that keep their resolutions. Do they truly become better people? Or do they just gain the self-obtained right to think their better than other people? I have no interest in a path that leads to self-righteousness, either. Even if resolutions are able to be kept by some, I still say: screw resolutions!

We have to come to accept certain things about our lives. We are imperfect. We cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and fix our lives. Sometimes things that are broken stay broken. Sometimes things that hurt never heal. Sometimes weight is never lost. Youth flies out the window like a summer breeze. Death happens every day.

Once you can accept that life isn’t always a walk in the park, you can move on and appreciate what live has to offer. I think that being REAL and LIVING and WARM BLOODED with people is—hands down—more important than appearing perfect. The truth in life is that we all have flaws and we all offend each other, but none of us can pull it alone. We are a community. I believe God is at the heart of that community, and he brings us together to find meaning and comfort in Him.

Now for the practical application: if you’re thinking of making a resolution to eat locally this year, don’t! Don’t do it! Eat locally when you feel like it. Enjoy local produce, meats and cheeses. Get to know your local farmer and create a relationship with him. Let yourself become convicted that supporting local farmers is a good thing to do. But, if you can’t find your own love for eating locally, then stop. You don’t need to support local agriculture in order to save your soul. Root vegetables are not the indulgences of the 21st century. Food feeds the body; the soul is fed elsewhere.

Local sustainable food is good, but self-righteous localvores are idiots. Don’t become one of them. Be empathetic to others; share your food, and your good cheer; promote community and the local economy; however, don’t think that doing any of this will make up for other hurts or flaws in your life, because it won’t. The best it can do is mask them.  Don’t hide behind a resolution. Face your life for what it is, and feed each part of your being in the way that it needs to be fed.

By ekwetzel
2010-12-29

csa winter december food organicWEEK 25 (There is a 1 week winter break for the last week of the year, and no CSA food)
(Top Row)
Potatoes
Cabbage
Carrots
(Middle Row)
Delicata Squash
Shallot
Pears
Apples
Onion
(Bottom Row)
Rainbow Chard
Leeks

*Photo by Molly Morris

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Week 22 – For the Love of Apples

opal apples pike placeI love apples. If I could only have one type of fruit for the rest of my life, I’d choose apples.  I was raised in upstate New York, and I now live in Washington state; I am an apple region kinda gal. It’s a good thing, too, because we’ll get apples all winter long in the CSA share. I remember: last winter the only fresh fruit from Washington State that we received all winter was apples and pears.  Even so, the apples were so fresh, crisp and delicious…it was easy to love them all winter long.

Other than eating apples raw, I also love to make apple pie, apple cobblers and apple sauce. I remember seeing a cartoon of Johnny Appleseed as a kid; he roamed across America with a silly pot on his head, planting apple trees as if he was proselytizing the ground with good fruit, cooking up apples here in there in dozens of fancy recipes. I would often save the seeds in my apples as a child and imagine that I could toss them wherever I went as a sign of good cheer to the world around me. Apples were magical.

This year, in preparation for apple season, I didn’t buy a single apple all summer. I love apples, but you can get sick of something, even if you love it. In an effort to thwart apple disdain, I thought it would be a good idea to make myself savor and crave them a little more, before reaching a season where they would be a mainstay week in and week out.

Another reason I love apples is that they are a balanced fruit if you have problems with insulin resistance. With the diet I am on, I need o pair most fruits with a protein in order to create balance in my bloodstream. Because of the fiber in apples, as well as the balanced sweetness, I can eat an apple all by itself. No proteins necessary. Although, who could say no to a snack of apples and cheese???

By ekwetzel
2010-12-03

csa winter acorn squashWEEK 22

(From bottom left)
Fennel
Beet
Onion
Purple Potatoes
Head of Garlic
2 Rutabagas
Curly Parsley
2 Leeks
Carrots
(In the Center)
Bowl of Pears
Purple Cabbage
Acorn Squash
Sunchokes
Bowl of Apples

*Apple photo courtesy of Molly Morris.

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Week 21 – Traditional Thanksgiving Meal

pumpkin pieIt occurred to me this week that the traditional Thanksgiving meal is – in fact – an iconic example of real, local, in-season food.  In autumn, our seasonal foods are all highlighted at the event: potatoes, cranberries, brussels sprouts, yams, sweet potatoes, applesauce, pumpkins and squash.

Also, autumn and winter is the heralded time of pies, meats and warm thick family meals. Can you imagine eating this heavy meal in August? Likewise, can you imagine feeling fulfilled with fruit salad and potato salad in November? We all have a sense of how we want to eat seasonally. Part of it is likely innate, but we can build off of the cultural knowledge that is passed down through our seasonal meals.

Food writers, such as Michael Pollan, bemoan the fact that we have lost a lot of the cultural food knowledge that used to be passed down in the kitchen from one generation to the next. It’s as if the current generations don’t know how to eat, most of the time, and that’s why it’s so easy to fall prey to the glistening lights and greasy palates of fast food joints. However, our food heritage isn’t completely gone. At times like Thanksgiving, we remember grandma’s secret recipe, we cherish the old foods and the long processes of cooking them.

But, we cram all our favorite foods into one event, then sit, stuffed as a turkey, snoozing on the couch.

What if – instead of saving the tradition for Thanksgiving Day – we carried it over into the entire season? If we made one or two of those special dishes every week, we’d be celebrating our heritage, spending time in community cooking and eating, and we’d be attuning our food senses to the natural dishes of the season.

There is so much to be thankful for, and there are so many local foods to be thankful for, that saving up for one day a year hardly seems possible.  Express gratitude with your kitchen. Feed yourself with heritage.

By ekwetzel
2010-11-26

csa food fall 2010WEEK 21

(Top row)
Beet
6 Apples
2 Delicata Squash
4 Pears
Yellow Carrots
(Middle row)
Bok Choi
Brussels sprouts
Onion
Garlic
(Bottom row)
Fennel
Celery

=/ We also had a 5 lb bag of potatoes, but I for got them at the farm.

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