locavore

Skittles and Steaks

by Anne Maxfield on March 27, 2017

Accidental Locavore Skittles RainbowHere’s a new way to get your red Skittles fix.

Eat a steak.

What could Skittles and steaks have in common?

It’s not that they both start with “s”.

The first has been used as feed for the second.

Yup, you read that right.

But these aren’t just any Skittles.

They’re red (and were missing the “s”)

And no one would have known about it.

Except.

Wait for it.

In January they fell off the back of a truck.

Could I make this stuff up?

This is from CNN: “The sheriff’s department later found out that the Skittles fell off a truck that was hauling the red candies to be used as cattle feed.

Yes, they’re feeding candy to cows — and they’ve been doing it for years.

A former farmer told CNN affiliate WBAY that candy makers and bakeries often sell rejects to be used as cattle feed because they provide “cheap carbs.”

The practice goes back decades, but it picked up steam in 2012 when corn prices were surging and cattle farmers were looking for a cheaper way to keep their cows and other livestock fed.”

I know that calorie-wise, a carb is a carb, but there’s something really disgusting about the thought of cattle chowing down on truckloads of strawberry Skittles.

Actually, there’s something really disgusting about the thought of anyone chowing down on massive amounts of Skittles.

“Mars, the company that produces Skittles, has already confirmed that the candies found on the ground were Skittles and that they were deemed unfit for human consumption. This begs the question: If they “didn’t make the grade for human consumption,” how can they be safe for animals to eat? (They’re not.)”

The AP has this to say: “Josh Cribbs, a cattle nutritionist and director of commercial development for the American Maine-Anjou Association, which promotes a particular cattle breed, said that the food byproducts that get used for cattle feed vary depending on what’s available in the region and particular time of year. Cribbs said specific byproducts would be mixed with other ingredients to achieve a particular nutritional profile. “You might think, ‘Oh my gosh, they might be eating a Skittle.’ In reality, that piece of candy is being broken down,” he said.”

Yeah, that’s a “particular nutritional profile” I want to be eating.

Accidental Locavore Cow Without SkittlesThink I’ll stick to local, grass-fed beef—it tastes better and I know where it’s coming from.

What’s also interesting in a conspiracy theory sort of way, is you can no longer access either the National Geographic report on the accident, the CNN affiliate WBAY or the Dodge County Sherriff’s Office Facebook page.

Hmm…

Maybe the NY Post put it best—“ taste the rainbovine.”

 

{ 0 comments }

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

by Anne Maxfield on March 23, 2017

Stuffed shells used to be the Wednesday special at the pizza place near my office.

Shells and two sides for $6.50. Couldn’t beat that.

It was a family-run place that was there for years.

No more.

And I don’t think I’ve had stuffed shells since then.

These were in the NY Times recently and it seemed like the right time to give it a try.

Spinach and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

  • 1 pound baby spinach, rinsed, or 2 pounds bunch spinach, stemmed and washed thoroughly
  • Salt
  • 12 ounces giant pasta shells
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, cut in half
  • 10 ounces ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated, about 1/2 cup
  • Pepper
  • 2 cups marinara sauce

Accidental Locavore Stuffing for Shells

Bring a large pot of well-salted (“it should taste like the sea”) water to a boil. Fill a bowl with ice water. Cook the spinach until just wilted (about 30 seconds) and transfer to the ice water, then drain. Squeeze out excess water.

Bring the water in the pot back to a boil and add the pasta shells. Cook about 10 minutes, until al dente, drain and toss with the olive oil. Set aside.

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade chop the garlic. Add the spinach and pulse to chop finely. Add the ricotta and the egg and process until well blended.

Add 1/3 cup of the Parmesan, the chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until well blended.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Oil a large baking dish (or two 2-quart dishes), big enough to fit the shells in one layer.

Fill each shell with a scant tablespoon of the filling.

Arrange in a single layer in the baking dish.

Accidental Locavore Stuffed Shells and Sausage

Top with the tomato sauce and cover the dish with foil.

Bake 30 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle on the remaining Parmesan, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sauce for Shells

My verdict: Delicious! On Frank’s request, I added some hot Italian sausage that I’d removed from the casing, chunked up and browned.

Because making and stuffing the shells was enough work on a weeknight, I used a Tomato and Italian Olive sauce I was given to try. It’s made in Barcelona by Delicious & Sons, but packed and shipped from Poughkeepsie (more about that and them at a later date). It was well named as it was delicious – a good tomato taste and a nice bite of olive here and there (and once I recycled the jar, no one would know it wasn’t homemade)! All the ingredients are organic and there’s nothing your nonna wouldn’t use. My thanks to Ricky for that and an assortment of other goodies I haven’t had time to enjoy!

Back to the shells. I didn’t have quite a pound of spinach, but I did have a lot of ricotta.

Even with that, I had a ton more shells than stuffing. They’re now in a bag in the freezer, waiting for another batch of stuffing.

 

{ 0 comments }

Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

by Anne Maxfield on March 2, 2017

I know that saying this recipe gives you the crispiest chicken skin ever is going to be controversial.

Wait until you try it!

The Accidental Locavore cooked this recipe for Golden Chicken Thighs with Charred-Lemon Salsa Verde from Food and Wine last week for dinner. Feeds 6-8.

You need a little time for it to marinate, so plan ahead.

Chicken Thighs With the Crispiest Skin Ever!

Chicken:

  • 12 chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
  • 24 sage leaves
  • 16 garlic cloves—6 cut into 4 slices each, the rest gently smashed and peeled
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 slices
  • Strips of zest from 2 lemons
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 12 fresh bay leaves (optional) 

Salsa Verde: 

  • 1 lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped oregano
  • 1/4 cup chopped mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 anchovy fillet
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped drained capers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Run your fingers under the skin of each chicken thigh to create a pocket. Stuff each pocket with 2 sage leaves, 2 slices of garlic and 1 slice of butter. Transfer the stuffed thighs to a large bowl.

In a small bowl, stir the lemon zest strips with the smashed garlic, olive oil, chopped herbs and crushed red pepper. Pour the mixture over the thighs and gently toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450°. On a small baking sheet or oven proof dish, toss the lemon slices with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the lemon slices in an even layer and bake for 16 to 18 minutes, until charred on the bottom. Transfer to a cutting board and let cool for 5 minutes. Chop the slices into 1/4“ pieces and set aside.

Leave the oven on.

In a mortar, or mini-chopper, mash the oregano and mint with the chopped garlic, anchovy, capers and 1 teaspoon of salt until a smooth paste forms. Slowly drizzle in the remaining 1/2 cup of olive oil. Stir in the chopped lemon a little at a time, to taste.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet, big enough to put the chicken in a single layer (or do it in batches) over medium heat. Season the thighs evenly with salt; remove the lemon zest and smashed garlic from the marinade and set aside. Arrange the chicken thighs skin-side down in the skillet. Cover it with another large pan or pot weighted down with a few heavy cans. Cook over moderate heat until the skin is golden brown and crisp, about 15 minutes.

Remove the weight and turn the chicken. Scatter the chicken with the reserved lemon zest, garlic and the bay leaves, if using. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through. Discard the bay leaves. Transfer the chicken to a platter, serve with the salsa verde and enjoy!

 

My verdict: As I said in the intro, we were shocked by how crispy the chicken skin was! I’m definitely going to try this the next time I make a roast chicken.

I used half the chicken (6 thighs), half the sage, garlic, butter and lemon zest but made the whole recipe for the marinade and salsa. Rosemary would work well under the chicken skin too.

I left out the parsley and the bay leaves and don’t think either of them was missed (not sure what would happen with dried bay leaves).  I also left out the thyme because I forgot to buy it – that would have been a nice addition. And I zested the lemon on my microplane rather than zesting it into strips.

In three months, all of these herbs will be growing in my garden, so this will definitely get made again (maybe on the grill).

Because the chicken was so good on its own, the salsa verde was a nice but unnecessary addition and might actually be better on some lamb or fish. I’d slice the lemons thinner next time and if I was doing it on the grill would definitely grill them.

 

 

 

{ 2 comments }

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.

{ 2 comments }