Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cedar Park F2M Celebrates 1st Birthday

Cedar Park Farms to Market

 

Cedar Park Farms to Market, Lakeline Mall, celebrates its first birthday on Saturday from 9am to 1pm with a feast of fresh from over 61 vendors.
We will be grilling and sampling sliders made with market meats, cheeses, veggies and Sweetish Hill's buns. There will even been some birthday treats for your market mutts!


Look for Easter Specials to start this week at Cake and Spoon! A beautiful Italian ricotta, chocolate orange almond tart with Italian pastry, fresh farm strawberry pie with pastry cream and hand decorated sugar cookies.

This week they'll also have:
Scones: Ginger/cream, pear/cinnamon, dark chocolate/cherry
Tarts: Cherry, key lime, blackberry/pear frangipane, Hill country pecan, El Rey dark chocolate w/ hazelnuts
Quiche: Roasted red tomato/goat's cheese, fresh spinach/feta, Kocurek bacon or sausage/white cheddar, caramelized red onion/bleu cheese, mushroom/gruyere, Johnson Farm wintergreens/parmesan
Dark chocolate orange cream cheese brownies
Shortbreads: Blackberry/almond, fresh date bars/coconut, chocolate/espresso, Hill Country lavender/lemon, flapjacks
Chelsea buns


6J Ranch raises everything themselves on a central Texas ranch that they have treated with nothing but compost tea since 2003. All products are hormone free, pesticide free, and antibiotic free. All meats are state inspected. This week they'll have:


Fresh Never Frozen Free-Range Chicken
100% Grass Fed Beef
Free-Range Turkey
Farm Fresh Ranged Pork
Free-Range Eggs
Ranged Pork Sausage
Whole Wheat Flour

Tiger Eye Jewelry will return with lots of new one of a kind artisan crafted jewelry!

Welcome Tecolote Farm back! This week they'll have heirloom spinach, snow pea tendrils, big and tender Romaine heads, green garlic bunches and gourds!

Brownie Girl Scout Troop 438 will have homemade coasters $5 for a set of 4!

Keres Spices will have plenty of organic vanilla still at 5 pods for $5.00. They will also have organic ginger, cinnamon, and peppercorns. Stop by and learn about their flavored sea salts or visit the sampling booth try some of their new line of mustards.

And much much much much more.

Cedar Park Farms to Market has been voted Favorite Farmers Market in Texas.

Be there or be square.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Why We Are Fasting - Mark Bittman



New York Times food columnist, Mark Bittman, has stopped eating to protest the draconian cuts by the U.S. Congress to programs that provide meager food security to indigent and working poor people.
In 2010, corporate profits grew at their fastest rate since 1950, and we set records in the number of Americans on food stamps. The richest 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all American households combined, the effective tax rate on the nation’s richest people has fallen by about half in the last 20 years, and General Electric paid zero dollars in U.S. taxes on profits of more than $14 billion. Meanwhile, roughly 45 million Americans spend a third of their posttax income on food — and still run out monthly — and one in four kids goes to bed hungry at least some of the time.

Central Texas has it a little better than the rest of the state but not by much.
In Texas, 1.4 million people experience hunger daily. Almost 15% of all of its inhabitants are hungry or food insecure. Texas has the highest food insecurity rate among children in the nation. Many of the 3 million children in Texas who participate in the free lunch program go without a meal on the weekends and when schools are closed for the summer. Source: Texas Hunger Initiative, Baylor University

And yet the cuts proposed by the Republican ruled Congress would assure that those have the least have less yet.
The budget proposes cuts in the WIC program (which supports women, infants and children), in international food and health aid (18 million people would be immediately cut off from a much-needed food stream, and 4 million would lose access to malaria medicine) and in programs that aid farmers in underdeveloped countries. Food stamps are also being attacked, in the twisted “Welfare Reform 2011” bill.

Mr. Bittman is the first one to admit that his fast  in protest of our collective heartlessness will do little to put food on the table for poor people in America.

But recognizing that we have a problem is a start.

In Texas, we can help by fixing the SNAP eligibility system, providing sufficient funding for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act and supporting the Capital Area Food Bank which gives immediate food relief to people who are having a hard time making ends meet.

Why We Are Fasting by Mark Bittman

 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Round Rock Farms to Market Opens April 6



 

On April 6, the organization that brought you Cedar Park Farms to Market at Lakeline Mall launches a great new mid-week farmer's market in Round Rock.

Opening with 41 vendors already popular among Cedar Park residents, Round Rock Farms to Market will offer fresh, natural, organic, artisan-crafted local and seasonal food and live, local music every Wednesday, from 4pm to 8pm, year round, rain or shine.

Round Rock Farms to Market is located at Dell Diamond, southwest side of parking lot, across from Old Settlers. Hwy 79 at Harrell Parkway, Round Rock, TX 78665

For more information, contact Carla Jenkins, director of F2M Texas, a non-profit organization seeking to provide Texas farmers with profitable direct-marketing opportunities and provide citizens in Central Texas communities a wide variety of local foods in a convenient location.  Phone 512-363-5700.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Walnut Oil and Gorgonzola


What can you do with a little bit of gorgonzola and cool-weather brussels sprouts?


Raw Brussels Sprouts


Ingredients

1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
olive oil cooking spray
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup red onion, diced
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp crumbled gorgonzola cheese

Preparation

1. Saute onion and garlic until carmelized; set aside
2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
3. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
4, Spread the Brussels sprouts out on the baking sheet.
5. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. Bake the Brussels sprouts for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned, stirring once.
7. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a mixing bowl.
8. Toss with the sauteed onion, garlic, walnut oil and gorgonzola cheese.
9. Salt & pepper to taste

Serve immediately. Serves 4

Cook's note: The secret to good Brussels sprouts is to not overcook them. Overcooked Brussels sprouts have a pungent, sulfurous odour. Properly cooked Brussels sprouts have a crisp, dense texture and a slightly nutty taste.

To prepare Brussels sprouts for cooking, gently remove any wilted or yellow leaves. Trim the stem and cut a shallow cross in the base of the sprout, to allow heat to penetrate the core. Regardless of how you cook Brussels sprouts, test for doneness by inserting the tip of a knife into the stem - Brussels sprouts are thoroughly cooked when the stem in barely tender.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Curried Eggplant and Jasmine Rice


Confituras fig and orange chutney substitutes for mango chutney in this spicy, healthy vegetarian entree.

Eggplant




1-1/2 cup Jasmine rice cooked to directions on the package

2 tbsp EVOO
1 medium eggplant or 3 baby eggplants, cubed
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, seeded and diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, drained
2 heaping tbsp fig and orange chutney
2 tbsp curry powder or 1 rounded tbsp curry paste
Coarse salt to taste
1 cup vegetable broth
1 palm full of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
Toasted almond slivers
Thinly sliced green onions

1. Prepare and cook rice
2. Heat a deep skillet over medium heat to medium high heat
3. When the pan is hot, add olive oil, onion, garlic and cook until the onion releases it juices
4. Add eggplant, cook for 8 to 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally
5. Uncover and add red pepper; cook until the pepper softens slightly
6. Add tomatoes, chutney, curry power, salt and broth
7. Stir to combine thoroughly and simmer for another 5 minutes
8. Remove from heat and add cilantro.
9. Serve over rice with a garnish of toasted almonds and green onions

Serves 4.

~Adapted from Rachel Ray's 30-minute Veggie Meals

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Confituras: Heaven When Fresh Meets Art


Shopping Austin's farmer's market is all about getting out of our heads and into our senses - selecting whatever seasonal goodness seduces us. Today it was artisan-crafted fig and orange chutney by Stephanie McClenny, chef-owner of confituras.



This is what happens when art meets fresh, seasonal, sustainable ingredients - heaven!

I only regret that you can't taste it right here, right now. Read on anyway. Maybe it will get your taste buds watering.

Confituras fig and orange chutney combines organic dried mission figs and organic Valencia oranges from G & S groves in McAllen, Texas with onion, garlic, fresh ginger and spices. Used sparingly as a sidekick to spring lamb, pork roast, beef tenderloin, cheese platters and curries.

What makes these artisan-crafted preserves, jams and chutney superior to even the premium supermarket selections?

First, the ingredients.

Stephanie uses only fresh, local, seasonal, sustainable ingredients. The fruit is vine-ripened rather than a homogenized bulletproof variety that is picked before its time and packaged to withstand long-distance shipping and first in-first out computerized inventory systems.

Next, the technique.

She adheres to tried-and-true canning techniques that made my grandmother's preserves so memorable.

Hold up a jar to the light; you see whole fruit not an overcooked mash. Taste it; it's bursting with fruit flavor enhanced with spices, not saturated in sugar.

Then, the batch size.

Stephanie never cooks more than 10 pounds of fruit in a batch. This produces about a dozen jars. So every batch will be both the same and slightly different depending on the local growing conditions and whether this is first of the season fruit or the trailing edge.

Finally, the sheer artistry of it.

Anyone who can read a recipe can cook. But there's a certain savoir faire that a cook develops over a lifetime of loving to prepare food - a feel for flavor, texture, timing that makes each dish uniquely one's own. In this confituras is unmatched.

Stephanie McClenny Texas Fig Preserves recently won the 2011 Good Food Award in San Francisco and the 2011 Local Hero Award for best new artisan by Edible Austin voters.

Buy confituras at Barton Creek Farmer's Market, SFC Farmer's Market Downtown, Antonelli's Cheese Shop, Breed & Company, Con' Olio Oils & Vinegars, La Boite, Royal Blue Grocery, Whip In or through her website for small batch, locally sourced jams, jellies, preserves.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Texas Olive Oil: Taste Buds Tell the Tale

Texas Olive Oil

 

I'm crazy about olive oil infused with herbs for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Rosemary infused olive oil is delicious drizzled on potatoes or popcorn. Calendula infused oil is a miraculous skin treatment. Olive oil is the healthy choice for my heart and Extra Virgin Olive Oil - EVOO - is a mainstay of my wannabe gourmet kitchen.

Everybody knows that the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea produce most of the world's olives - Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, France - 90 percent of which is pressed into oil. So Texas is the last place I'd look for the kind of goodness these sun-drenched countries press into a quality olive oil.

Yet here it is.

The Texas Olive Oil Council reports that heart-healthy olive oil is giving a healthy economic boost to Texas agricultural community.
It has revived idle farmland and brought diversity to the state's agribusiness. The Texas Olive Oil Council, USDA and Texas Department of Agriculture have also launched several research and education programs to support the growth of Texas' newest cash crop. Industry leaders believe that olive growers' success will ultimately flow into other sectors. And now some of the growers, such as the Texas Olive Ranch, have raised the visibility of this uniquely "homegrown Texan" product as extra-virgin Texas olive oil. It's available at 20 farmer's markets and takes prominent shelf space in H-E-B, Central Market and Whole Foods stores throughout the state.

How the Texas olive oil industry came to be is a story in itself according to Virginia Wood, food writer of the Austin Chronicle:
Jim Henry is a bona fide Texas olive oil pioneer. On a business trip in southern Europe in the early Nineties, Henry saw land planted with olive trees that reminded him of the Texas Hill Country. He returned to Texas and began inquiring about the possibility of growing olives here. "Everyone I talked to told me their research showed that olives wouldn't survive in Texas. When I would ask to see the research, they'd admit there really wasn't any. It was just that the conventional wisdom was that olives wouldn't work here. One extension agent who is a stone fruit expert told me that planting olive trees would be romantic folly," Henry recalls ruefully.

Let your taste buds tell the tale.

On Saturday, March 26, Threadgill's on North Lamar is host to The First Texas Olive Oil Tasting Contest: Texas vs. the World, an event that promises to be packed with people, information and fun.

Sample the differences in quality olive oil from Texas, Mexico, Argentina, Italy and Spain plus an estate olive oil from Ciudad Acuña, Mexico at tasting stations.

Savor Threadgill's signature home cooking prepared with authentic Texas olive oil.

Watch a rough cut screening of the film, "Texas Olive Trails", a documentary airing on PBS stations in June 2011.

Stay for a special concert featuring TexMex accordion maestro and Grammy award winner Joel Guzman Band (featured in the "Crazy Heart" movie) to cap the evening.

Let me know how you liked it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Austin Food Blogger Alliance Learn & Drink

Austin Food Bloggers Alliance

Austin Food Blogger Alliance announces an informational happy hour on Tuesday, March 29th from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm at Takoba, 1411 East 7th Street.

Meet. Drink. Learn. Join. *hiccup*

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Backyard Chickens in Austin



KUT.org looks inside the coop at the resurgence of people who are growing chickens in Austin backyards.

Urban Range Chickens

Monday, March 21, 2011

Show Us Your Coop!

And now for a word from Funky Chicken Coop Tours.



What the pluck? Austinites keeping chickens in their urban backyards? You bet. And for the third year, Funky Chicken Coops is taking applications from crowers and sponsors for the Third Annual Funky Chicken Coop Tour to be held on the weekend of Easter, April 23, 2011.

All proceeds from the tour benefit the Sustainable Food Center.

Visit Funky Chicken Coop Tours for the inside s-coop. heh.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Breakfast - Eat This Lens

The way some people play with food is fascinating. In the case of Austin photographer and food blogger, Marshall Wright, it's art.

tSunday Breakfast - Marshall Wright[

Buttermilk biscuits drizzled with butter and molasses. More food porn by Marshall Wright at eatthislens.com

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cilantro-Pesto Grilled Shrimp

Cool-weather cilantro and spring garlic from Boggy Creek Farm meet wild-caught Gulf shrimp on a smokin' hot grill. This could be addictive.

Cilantro-Pesto Grilled Shrimp & Roasted Red Potatoes




Pesto Marinade

3 cups loosely packed cilantro, washed and patted dry
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp minced spring garlic
1 pinch ground cumin
1/2 cup EVOO
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Pulse the cilantro in a food processor until coarsely chopped
2. Add pine nuts, cumin, seasoning, pulse on and off until well chopped but not pureed
3. With the food processor running, drizzle in olive oil through the feed tube until smooth and well combined
4. Transfer to a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate covered for up to three days

Marinaded shrimp on skewers



Grilled Shrimp

1.5 lbs large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Place shrimp in a bowl and toss with 6 tbsp of pesto
2. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 to 60 minutes
3. Preheat grill or broiler to high
4. Thread shrimp crosswise on skewers
5. Grill or broil the shrimp 3 inches from the coals or broiler element for 2 - 3 minutes on each side
6. When cooked, remove shrimp from skewers
7. Toss in a bowl with the remainder of pesto, serve immediately

~Sheila Lukins, USA Cookbook




Boggy Creek Farm - A Film by Rachel Schroeder

Austin producer and videographer, Rachel Schroeder, takes us to Boggy Creek Farm in August 2010 for a day in the life of organic farmer, Carol Ann Sayle.

Boggy Creek Farm from Rachael Schroeder on Vimeo.

Georgia's Market Screens "A Chemical Reaction" in Houston



Georgia's Farm to Market in Houston screens A Chemical Reaction: The Story of a True Green Revolution on Saturday April 9th at 3:00 P.M. This 70min feature film outlines the origins of the natural lawn movement in the U.S. and Canada and explains how this grass-roots movement for safe grass began. Admission to the screening is $5.00. Pay at the door.

Georgia's Farm to Market, located on Katy Freeway on the West side of Houston, serves daily lunch and weekend brunch from a buffet of dishes made with fresh, natural and organic ingredients.

Owners, Georgia and Richard Bost pioneered the Central Texas natural and organic food movement. In 1992, they, along with a few of their friends, founded Texans for Urban Sustainability, a regional organization for organic technology for sustainability (TexUS ROOTS) in order to share their knowledge with farmers, ranchers, landscapers, nurseries and landscape architects, and those who then created Green Movement Houston

From Austin, Georgia's Farm to Market, a natural food store and restaurant is an easy day trip for brunch and a movie.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Glow in the Dark Groceries

One more reason to buy local if you live in Texas.

We have been watching with growing concern the aftermath of the 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that obliterated so many coastal towns in Northeast Japan.

For one thing, it has been horrific for the people who have been affected directly. For another, it continues to be horrific to the tens of thousands of people who have been displaced. But perhaps most alarming for those of us who were watching from what we felt was a safe distance, the horror threatens to spread to the U.S. and enter the flood supply.

While officials of the Japanese government are understandably reticent, it's a safe bet that the Fukushima nuclear power plant is releasing radioactive particles into the atmosphere. This sets up the potential for radioactive fall out on the USA West Coast. How soon, how much and for how long remains unanswerable today. But the prospects of radioactive fallout on West Coast agriculture spells very bad news for people who purchase most of their fruit and vegetables at the supermarket.
California plants more than 80% of the nation’s broccoli acreage. California also produces 75% of the nation’s spinach, 75% of the nation’s fresh tomatoes, and 95% of tomatoes used for processing…Apples, strawberries, grapes, oranges and peaches made up 69% of the value of US fresh market production. California is the leading producer of all these fruits except apples; Washington State accounts for half the nation’s supply.” West Coast Green

Tobi Wollin, Firedoglake, Food News You Can Use, Glow in the Dark Edition.

Mexican Chopped Salad - Avocado Dressing



Cool-weather butter lettuce and cilantro from Boggy Creek Farm make friends with California avocado in this lovely (and healthful) salad.


Dressing

1 large, ripe avocado
1/4 red onion
3 lemons, juiced
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 hand full of fresh cilantro
Kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until just short of smooth to give this more texture.

Salad

1 head butter lettuce, hand shredded
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced fine
1 14-ounce can organic black beans
1 bunch green onions, diced
1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
Sprinkle with Monterrey Jack

Layer salad fixings, starting with lettuce on the bottom and ending with the tomatoes and cheese.  Top with avocado dressing.*

*Use like mayonnaise on burgers.



Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Boggy Creek Farm Featured on CNN Online



Congratulations to Boggy Creek Farm for a great featured interview in Eatocracy on CNN online.

We missed the CNN crew, who are in town for SXSW, but made it in time for cool-weather vegetables - butter lettuce, spring garlic, chard and cilantro.

The Feather in the Cap of the Austin Food Scene

Note to self: do not drive across South Austin during SXSW.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Braised Purple Cabbage



Cool weather purple, bok choy, napa, savoy or any mild cabbage. The purple cabbage makes a flavorful and colorful side dish.




4 slices of bacon, diced
1 head of cabbage, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-1/4 cup of vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. In a large saucepan, fry bacon until crispy, remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel and set aside.
2. Cook onion in the drippings until it starts to carmelize and looks translucent.
3. Add cabbage, cook until wilted
4. Add bacon you set aside, pour stock over the dish, simmer on medium heat about 25 minutes.
5. Salt & pepper to taste

Vegetable Soup



 Cool-weather spinach adds dash to this winter-hardy vegetarian vegetable soup. 8 servings. 

Spinach



2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced red potatoes
1 can (14 ounce) kidney beans
1 can (14 ounce) garbanzo beans
1 can (14 ounce) diced tomatoes
1 Bay leaf
48 ounce vegetable stock
1 small bag baby spinach
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)

1. Sautee' onion in oil until it starts to caramelize then add celery, carrots, potatoes, sautee' until slightly soft.
2. Add beans, tomatoes and stock to the pot.
3. Bring to a boil, then simmer, adding Bay leaf and Old Bay Seasoning.
4. Simmer on low until potatoes are carrots are done..
5. When vegetables are done, turn off heat; stir in half a bag of chopped or torn spinach just before serving
6. Salt and pepper to taste

Makes soup for 6. Serve with crusty French bread.

*Old Bay seasoning *makes* this soup, so be sure to use it. Too little Old Bay, the soup is flavorless; too much, it's too spicy. If you haven't used it before, start with 1 tablespoon; add more to taste.

~Rachel Ray. Veggie Meals: 30-Minute Meals

North African Vegetable Stew



Cool-weather broccoli and cauliflower take a bow in this complex and spicy vegetable stew. 8 servings.


Chick-peas
1/2 cup dried chick-peas, about 3 ounces, soaked overnight in cold water
3 thin coins of fresh ginger
1 large bay leaf
1-1/2 in. cinnamon stick

Drain and rinse the chick peas. Cook in medium saucepan with ginger, bay, cinnamon and water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn to simmer uncovered until tender. 50 to 60 minutes. Set aside and let the peas cool in their broth. (Canned garbanzo beans work great. Just cook in spices until tender and set aside. You want the broth.)

Spices
Combine 1-1/2 tsp fresh ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper in 1 tbsp hot water. Steep 1 large pinch saffron threads in a little hot water. Set aside.

Stew
1-1/2 tbsp EVOO
2-1/2 lbs fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped. About 4 cups. Or 16 oz diced tomatoes with juice.
1 medium sized broccoli stalk, about 2 cups florets
4 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 lb. new potatoes
3 medium size carrots, cut in half lengthwise and then into 1/2 inch strips on a diagonal, about 3 cups
1 medium size red or yellow bell pepper, cut into thick strips and then triangles, about 1 cup
1/2 small head of cauliflower, about 2 cups florets
Cayenne pepper
Salt
Fresh mint
Fresh cilantro

If you're using canned tomatoes, cook them in a small saucepan with 1 tsp salt over low heat while you prepare the vegetables. The extra cooking time will reduce their acidity.

Parboil the broccoli florets in boiling water for about 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cool water. Set aside.

Saute' onion in olive oil over medium heat until it releases it juices and turns tan, 10 to 12 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and spices. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add 1/2 cup chick-pea broth, potatoes and carrots. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes more. Add the cauliflower, stir and cook uncovered until just heated through. (Vegetable broth works if you need a little extra liquid.)

Add the tomatoes, saffron, chick-peas and the remaining broth. Stew uncovered over medium heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until the root vegetables are tender and the flavors blend.

Add salt and cayenne to taste. (I use Tony Cachere's Cajun Seasoning.)

Add broccoli a few minutes before serving.

Garnish with chopped mint and cilantro.

~Fields of Greens. Annie Sommerville

6 painless ways to switch your menu to local, organic food

Many Central Texas consumers are aware of the benefits of buying, cooking and eating fresh, organic, seasonal, locally grown and crafted food.

It's healthier - still rich with nutritional benefit that is lost when produce is picked green, shrink-wrapped, cold-stored and shipped long distances. It's more flavorful. Money spent locally stays local, strengthening the economy of the communities in which we live. Plus, if we've done our homework, we can trust that our food is "clean" - free of toxic fumigants, antibiotics, growth hormones and other unhealthy additives.

But the reality of buying local meat and produce can be a bit daunting.

Industrialized, mechanized agriculture evolved over a long time to meet our needs for convenience, choice and economy. We lose some of these values when we buy local.

We pay a premium price in terms of choice, familiarity, expense and convenience. We may soon find ourselves balking. So in the vein of Rome was not rebuilt in a day, here are six ways to make the switch to fresh, organic, local and sustainable easy and painless:

1. Be patient.

Recognize that we are all creatures of habit. We like what we like. We often choose what's easy over what's right. Accept that the supermarket habit didn't develop overnight and it won't be abandoned overnight either.

2. Start small.

Don't worry about filling a farmer's market basket every week; just start replacing a few supermarket meat, produce or dairy items you regularly use with local farmer's market fresh as it works for you.

3. Experiment.

I do not like Jerusalem artichokes. So sue me. Swiss chard in fettuccine with brown butter-garlic sauce, yum. Be willing to try unfamiliar vegetables in new recipes. You don't have to like all of them.

4.  Go slowly.

You may not be ready for a CSA your first foray into buying local, seasonal, sustainable products. Grab a couple of babies and hit the local farmer's market for one meal a couple times a month. You'll soon learn what you like and where you like to shop.

5. Share.

In my family, food is love. So I love planning, preparing and sharing great food. Once a month, we share a pot luck supper made with only local ingredients.  Sharing successful experiments (and failures) with like-minded friends is soul-satisfying.

6. Make it fun.

For many locavores, the quest for the freshest ingredients is of itself fun. Once you've made tabbouleh with fresh-picked cucumber, mint, parsley, garlic and tomatoes, it's hard to be satisfied with anything less. But the relentless pursuit of perfection is not for everyone. Do what works. Just strolling an open farmer's market early in the morning is refreshing. Fresh coffee. Hot music. Artisan-crafted bread and pastry. New people. Friendly dogs. Farmer's markets offer a lot of entertainment value and it doesn't cost a dime.

For other painless ways to switch your menu to local, organic, fresh, sustainable, I recommend Ditch the Box written by Kristi Willis, an Austin food writer.

 

 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happening This Week At Cedar Park F2M

Carla Jenkins has just blasted the weekly newsletter for Cedar Park Farmers Market, which lives at Lakeline Mall. Here's what's happening:

IT'S OFFICIAL: ROUND ROCK FARMS TO MARKET

Here we go! Wednesday, April 6th from 4pm-8pm at the southwest side of the parking lot at Dell Diamond (across from Old Settlers Park) you'll find your weekday farmers market with produce, seafood, meat (Yak, beef, pork, chicken, lamb), dairy (low heat pasteurized whole, skim, butter), artisan prepared foods, free- range farm eggs (chicken and duck), gluten free foods, Sweetish Hill Bakery with Sourdough and more! 30+ vendors each week. And, fabulous, live, local music. Come enjoy dinner, bring your family, and a blanket for your picnic. Don't forget your ice chest for your purchases.

WHERE ARE THE FARMERS MARKETS?

We know that you don't need any help finding the Cedar Park Farmers Market, but do you ever wonder what's in season? There is an iPhone app that will show you just that! Whether you’re just trying to become more aware of what’s in season around you, or you are fully committed to eating only locally grown food, the Locavore app will help you know what your options are. Use this when you are out of town and away from your home market. When you've finished shopping you can post to facebook about your great finds and encourage others to become a "Locavore" too!

NEW AND RETURNING VENDORS

Whether you're looking for veggies or native Texas landscaping plants we'll have them on Saturday. Joss Growers, Sunshine Growers and our two organic farmers (Hairston Creek & Johnson's Backyard Garden) will have transplant vegetables.

Read More Happening at Cedar Park F2M

Food. Curated. - Crappy Bar Snacks Get a Make Over

Skeeter, the video pro who publishes Food.Curated is in New York, a long way from Central Texas artisan farm to market. But her videos are so entertaining and information, I gotta share. And what a clever idea of Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin the beer-n-drink loving young ladies behind Ovenly, a creative kitchen in Greenpoint, Brooklyn specializing in bar snacks and desserts.

Fresh, local bar snacks with a gourmet twist. Ya'll come on down to Texas! We love New Yorkers.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Austin Growers Alliance Touts Fresh Chefs



 
“Growing good, clean food in Central Texas is hard work and because Austin’s local food system is still forming, procuring it takes some effort, too,” says Katie Kraemer Pitre, GroACT founding member and farmer at Tecolote Farm. “GroACT wants to give credit to chefs who do more than write on their menus ‘we buy local food when it’s available.’ Restaurants deserve recognition for their efforts.”

Are you eager to support the local Central Texas farm to table movement? Here's a tip: not everyone who advertises "We Buy Local" actually buys here. Alas where go consumer dollars, so go marketers. "Local," "organic," "natural" - terms that define the heart of the farm to table movement are being co-opted by grocery stores and restaurants eager to cash in on the movement going mainstream.

To clarify the definition of "local" in the interests of growers within 150 miles of Austin, Grower's Alliance of Central Texas surveyed its members to determine local restaurants who regularly buy "farmer's market fresh."
One of the most surprising results of the survey was that the highest ranked buyer of local food was a restaurant without walls: Dai Due, a mobile supper club and farmers’ market vendor.

At the top of the list of restaurants with walls is Odd Duck, Bryce Gilmore's all-local trailer on South Lamar Boulevard. Rounding out the top 10 are East Side Show Room, Texas French Bread, Somnio's Cafe, Jack Allen's Kitchen, Olivia, the W Hotel, La Condesa, Peche and East Side Pies.

Because it was limited to members of GroACT, survey results regrettably omit Kerbey Lane Cafe which contracts with a specific area farmer for local crops, and Eastside Cafe, which now raises all its own eggs and grows 30-50% of its produce in its large organic garden and at nearby HausBar Farms. According to Austin Chronicle, these fresh chefs were locavores before it was cool.

Still the Growers Alliance of Central Texas list is a great place to start for the conscious consumer who wants to support local agriculture and Austin fresh chefs.

Go to www.gro-act.com for the complete list.

 


 

 

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dancing Cows

Okay. The United Kingdom is a world away from Austin, so it's not local, but the first day that cows are turned out to graze after a winter in the barn is still fresh. And frisky.