locavore

The Accidental Locavore: How it Started

by Anne Maxfield on February 20, 2017

Accidental Locavore Farmbasket Week 3For those of you who don’t know my locavore story, here’s how it all got started…

As you know, sometimes in life, opportunities come from the most unlikely places.

The Accidental Locavore was created when, in the summer of 2008, my local farmer, Paul, decided not to open his farmstand.

He decided to focus instead on the farmers’ market in Millbrook, and building his wholesale business. Understand that I never make it to the (only on Saturday mornings) Millbrook market. Besides, I don’t have the prerequisite black Range Rover matching black retrievers, or proper riding boots(although, since this was originally posted, we have rescued a black dog reputed to have some retriever in him). And as much as I love farmers’ markets world-wide, when the weather is nice I’m on the golf course. 

What to do?

Spoiled for years, by being able to run down the road to grab a couple of amazing tomatoes, I came up with an interesting idea (necessity being the mother of invention).

Would Paul consider putting together a basket of whatever was fresh that week, that I could pick up on Friday afternoons?

A deal was struck, and soon picking up that mystery basket became the high point of my week! The only restrictions I put on the basket were that when corn & tomatoes were ripe, they had to be in every basket.

The lesson from this was that I really enjoyed the challenge of working with ingredients that were incredibly varied, came from down the road (doesn’t get more locavore than that!) and not necessarily what I would have chosen.

More fun was figuring out how to cook with these great ingredients in a manner that would honor their peak ripeness!

Another test was not revert back to the same-o same-o every week (for example, those few weeks when we were overrun with eggplants or corn). In the weeks and now years since then, I’ve written about what was in the weekly baskets, and what delicious meals they turned into!

I hope it inspires you to buy local and fresh–be your own locavore.

And please feel free to comment and share your favorite recipes.

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5 Chocolate Ideas for Valentine’s Day

by Anne Maxfield on February 13, 2017

A friend of the Accidental Locavore inspired this piece.

He said he was having Valentine’s Day dinner cooked for him for the first time in his life, but that the cook was still going to get chocolates from him. Sweet.

It made me think about alternatives to the traditional heart-shaped box. Okay, or square box.

Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate in any form.

Here are five chocolate desserts that are favorites and will be appreciated by anyone (and it doesn’t have to be Valentine’s Day). Always use the best chocolate you can find.

  1. Molten Chocolate Cakes: I laugh every time I see these on a menu. Why? Because they’re super easy to make and always impressive. Even if you don’t bake, you can pull these off. A few raspberries and maybe some vanilla ice cream and you’ve got a Valentine’s Day treat. Bonus: you can make them ahead, bring them with you and just pop them in the oven as dinner is wrapping up.
  2. Ultimate Chocolate Cookies: These cookies with chocolate in three different forms are amazing! And being that cookies are totally ready to go, you’ll be excused if not all of them make it to the intended recipient.
  3. Caramel and Chocolate Tart: This is a little more complicated, but no less delicious. It’s a tart shell lined in chocolate and topped with caramel. Depending on your need to be trendy (or not), pick a garnish of Malden salt or some chocolate shavings.
  4. Salted Caramel Chocolate Mousse: Another winner that travels easily, this just takes chocolate mousse to another level. If you want to dress it up even more to impress your Valentine, some tuiles are easy to make and add a nice crunch to the mousse.
  5. Chocolate and Cheesecake Brownies: Chocolate, check. Cheesecake, check. Portable, check. Elevate your brownies to the next level with this recipe. While it will never replace a classic brownie in my book, the cheesecake topping dresses it up for a special occasion.
  6. DIY Hot Chocolate Mix: For this you might want to find a pretty container (mine just sits in a Ball jar). Six ingredients and you’ve got a superior hot chocolate mix. It’s easily tweaked depending on how dark you like your cocoa. If you’re not a purist, some chipotle powder or coffee could be interesting.

Which of these do you think would bring smiles to your Valentine, or any dinner guests?

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Sour Cream Coffee Cake

by Anne Maxfield on February 9, 2017

Accidental Locavore Sour Cream Coffee CakeSour cream coffee cake is definitely a throwback to another era.

It’s comfort food and seems to be making a comeback.

For whatever reason, it’s been on the Accidental Locavore’s radar for a while now.

But there were all those apple cakes.

And then, today, it seemed like the right time.

Months ago, I found the recipe my friend Alan’s mom gave me way back when.

She made the best coffee cake and she finally gave me the recipe (after I swore that the little cactus I gave Alan was in fact a cactus and not a marijuana plant).

This is easy and quick to put together and will always make you feel better.

Accidental Locavore Coffee Cake RecipeSour Cream Coffee Cake Recipe:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup butter (or from the original recipe, margarine)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

Topping

  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an angle food pan or 9×9” baking dish.

Cream together sugars, butter, salt, eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and baking soda until well combined.

Add the sour cream and then the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients and beat at a slow speed until very smooth.

In a small bowl, mix the brown sugar, cinnamon and nuts for the toppling.

Spoon half the batter into the pan and sprinkle half the topping evenly over it.

Pour the rest of the batter into the pan and top with the remaining topping.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Serve and enjoy!Accidental Locavore Coffee Cake Swirl

My verdict:

Almost as good as I remembered it! I’d like more topping and more swirl but that’s easily fixed with more sugar and maybe some butter – like a streusel topping. Going back to the apples, they’d make a good topping too (but I’d cut them into smaller cubes).

Since nuts are no longer part of my culinary vocabulary, I used dark brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkled some maple sugar balls on the top.

And if you’re feeling blue about whatever, it’s a great start to the day!

 

 

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Brussels Sprouts Gratin

by Anne Maxfield on February 6, 2017

As much as the Accidental Locavore likes  Brussels sprouts any way, every now and then, you need to mix it up, dress them up.

Cheese is always good.

And knowing how to do a béchamel sauce (which technically becomes a mornay sauce with the addition of cheese) is handy for a lot of things—mac & cheese, croque monsieur, etc.

Serves 6

Brussels Sprouts Gratin

For the Mornay sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups whole milk (warmed)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2/3 cup grated smoked Gouda cheese (2 ounces)

For the Brussels sprouts:

  • 1 1/2 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved

For assembling the gratin:

  • 2/3 cup finely grated aged Gouda (2 ounces)
  • Smoked flaked sea salt, such as Maldon or regular sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°.

Make the sauce: Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk until mixture bubbles slightly but has not started to brown, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk in milk. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, whisking often.

Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. It should coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted.

Blanch the brussels sprouts: Place in a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of water and cook, covered, for 4-5 minutes until just tender.

Assemble the gratin: In a lightly greased gratin pan, add the Brussels sprouts.

Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and sprinkle with cheese and a pinch of smoked sea salt.

Bake until bubbling and golden, about 25 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

 

My verdict: This is a great dish for those who may be on the fence about Brussels sprouts. Like bacon, cheese makes everything good.

Hmmm…speaking of bacon, a little cooked and crumbled would probably go really well in this.

We really liked this. It’s a great side dish to something simple like a steak. You can easily substitute almost any cheese for the smoked Gouda, or even a combination, if you’ve got stray scraps in the fridge.

Topping it with Parmesan and/or breadcrumbs would also be delicious. Just think of it as a Brussels sprouts version of mac & cheese (and it will seem almost healthy).

 

 

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