salad nicoise

When a Small Farm Fails, Does Anyone Notice?

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2012

Accidental Locavore FarmThis past week and especially the weekend were especially sad for the Accidental Locavore. The news was something I’d been hoping–desperately hoping – not to hear for almost six months now. When I finally got in touch with my farmer about continuing our arrangement for my weekly farm box, he said he wasn’t farming anymore. The hurricane and subsequent storms from last August had wiped him out. And a farm that had been feeding people for generations is no more.

Accidental Locavore FarmstandThey say that cooking is cathartic, writing, too, and that things happen for a reason. Because there were some cans of good tuna in oil out on the counter, this morning I started to prep the ingredients to be cooked for a salad Niçoise: eggs (from my friend Bill), potatoes and haricots verts. As it turned out there were about eight potatoes that had been from one of last summer’s final boxes. A few wrinkled red new potatoes and some old-looking purple ones. Normally I might have tossed them, but they just looked a little aged and they were from the farm, the last I’ll ever have, so I took care to boil them properly.

With the salad I’ll make a dressing in the traditional French way using two tiny shallots I found in the bottom of the drawer with the potatoes, a last gift from the farm.

Accidental Locavore A Salad NicoiseFood is fleeting, like music or theater. A taste, a sight, a smell, a memory of what was. You never realize how much of your life is entwined with something like the farm, until it’s gone. Although running down the road for a last-minute tomato or ear of corn has been a thing of the past for a few years now, the Friday night farm box pick-up, with the delicious surprises inside, was the inspiration for this site. It gave me a clearer understanding of what brings me pleasure and has made me not only a better writer, but a much more adventurous cook. The farmer taught me an immense amount, not only what to look for in a zucchini, but literally offered me tastes of things I’ve never had before, like kohlrabi and elderberries. I’ve grown accustomed to the ease of preparing food that comes from just down the road, with a taste that cannot be duplicated by big agribusiness, no matter how “organic” they are.

And so, with these last potatoes, this shallot, I salute this farm. It will be sorely missed.Accidental Locavore Deserted Farm

 

 

 

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Accidental Locavore Farm Box Week 5

This week’s farm box for the Accidental Locavore was packed full of great stuff! There were radishes, turnips (both with their greens), green and yellow beans, peas, arugula, mesclun, perfect tiny heads of broccoli, small bunches of dill, rosemary, thyme and sage and the last of the season’s strawberries.

When the Locavore drove up to pick up my box, all the plants at the farm that had been under cover were suddenly almost a foot tall. So what to do with all this bounty? First, an arugula pesto made with some of last week’s wild arugula, tossed over homemade fettuccine. Then added: sautéed peas and broccoli with strips of prosciutto and topped all of it with Parmesan. Delicious!Accidental Locavore Pasta With Arugula Pesto

The beans inspired a Salad Nicoise with some of the beautiful lettuce, a couple radishes, basil from the garden, local eggs, and lots more goodies.Accidental Locavore Green & Wax Beans

Then, the rest of the broccoli, tossed in olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, steamed for a few minutes and roasted to go with grilled steak. Great broccoli!

Later in the week, the peas were quickly sautéed in olive oil with toasted cumin seeds, cayenne and a splash of lemon juice to go with an Indian salmon in mustard sauce.And for a home-alone locavore, braised turnip greens were used as a bed for a pan- seared lamb chop, fragrant with the rosemary and a little garlic.

The Accidental Locavore has been feeling a little guilty about the massive amount of plastic bags used for storing all these great greens and has been trying to re-use them when possible. Recently I was checking out alternative storage solutions, which seem to be limited and still mostly plastic. Any kind of hard containers (plastic or glass) take up way to much (already limited) refrigerator space. And just dumping greens in the crisper drawer doesn’t work because they go limp way too quickly.

Any good ideas for storing produce out there?

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What Does a Locavore Eat in the South of France?

by Anne Maxfield on May 16, 2011

Accidental Locavore Pizza and Salad

While the joke answer to what does a locavore eat in the South of France might be “whatever they want” (as long as it was grown 100 miles/161 km from where they are…), the Accidental Locavore ate a lot of great food and most of it was local and fresh. You know your locavore choices are much better in a mild climate where olive oil, lemons and other citrus, along with amazing vegetables and good wines, are all from just down the road.

One of the “old standbys,” to quote my mother, is Le Safari in the old town of Nice by the market. We often go there for lunch, usually split a pizza from the wood burning oven and a classic salad Nicoise. One of the big differences in their salad dressings? More olive oil. On our last day in Nice at Safari, asparagus with fois gras was the special and as crazy as it sounds, made a great pairing with the pizza and a glass of rosé. Accidental Locavore Asparagus Fois Gras

Another delicious thing to eat over there is steak tartare and if you’ve been reading the Accidental Locavore for a while, you know it’s always been a favorite. Frank was particularly fond of a version we discovered at a café in Antibes. It was essentially DIY steak tartare, with the chopped steak surrounded by ramekins containing: an egg yolk, minced shallot, chopped cornichons, Dijon mustard and chopped parsley. On table to mix in, Worchester sauce and Tabasco. I’m going to start adding chopped cornichons to my steak tartare and thanks to Charcutepalooza for this month’s meat grinding challenge, grinding my own steak.Accidental Locavore DIY Steak Tartare

Our last meal we went to a new (to us) place in Vence, a lovely hill town about 40 minutes drive northeast of Nice. As an amuse gueule we were served a pea puree bruleé. In a couple of weeks when the peas are local and fresh, I have to try to make this. It seemed to be peas pureed with heavy cream, topped with fresh breadcrumbs tossed with Parmesan. It looked good and tasted better. Accidental Locavore Pea Puree Brulee

For the Accidental Locavore the biggest surprise? An amazing daube de boeuf, the local version of a beef stew, served on the terrace in the old, walled town of Vence. What made it so good? The addition of orange zest (and a little orange juice?). Daube is traditionally served over tiny ravioli (don’t forget, back in the day this was all Roman territory), in this case it was over gnocchi which made it even better in my mind. As soon as we get a cool night, I’m looking for a recipe and giving this a shot.

What’s your favorite meal from the South of France? What would you like to see me try to duplicate here?

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Accidental Locavore Green and Wax BeansAs part of the most recent baskets, the Accidental Locavore had a lot of beans, both green and wax. Since it was a little cold for a Salad Nicoise, and I was in a pickling mood, I put up the beans with a recipe from an earlier Food and Wine. The recipe is really easy, no cooking involved, and you don’t need any canning equipment, just some one pint jars. It’s also a good way to take advantage of the last of the dill and tarragon in the garden. The recipe says the beans are good after 24 hours, however they weren’t. Be patient and give them a week for the flavors to develop.

For 4 pint jars of beans:

  • 4 pint jars (run them through the dishwasher to prep them)
  • 1 1/2 pounds of beans (I made 1 jar of wax, and 2 of green, you can also mix them)
  • 8 cloves of garlic, cut in half (4 halves for each jar)
  • 8 sprigs of dill (two for each jar)
  • tarragon sprigs (one for each jar)
  • 4 teaspoons black peppercorns (one for each jar)
  • 4 teaspoons horseradish (one for each jar) (loving heat, I used the hot horseradish)
  • 1 1/2 cups white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups water

Trim the stem ends of the beans so they fit in the jars. Pack them into the jars, tip side down. Each jar also gets two sprigs of dill, one sprig of tarragon, 4 garlic halves, a teaspoon of peppercorns, and a teaspoon of horseradish. In a large jar, or mixing bowl (I used a very large measuring cup), combine the vinegar, salt and sugar. Shake or stir until the sugar and salt is fully dissolved. Add the water, and mix. Pour over the jars until they are completely full. The beans need to be completely submerged. Cover and refrigerate. You can eat them after a day in the fridge, but give them a week, and you’ll be glad you did. They should keep in the fridge for 3 months. Enjoy!

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