A Visit to Four Legs Farm

by Anne Maxfield on August 31, 2015

Accidental Locavore LeannaWhile most people are familiar with the CSA (community sponsored agriculture) model for vegetables, where you essentially pre-pay for your summer’s produce, the same idea for meat is just starting to catch on. Leanna Mulvihill of Four Legs Farm is betting the farm that you’ll soon be looking to buy your rack of lamb or pork chops the same way.

Accidental Locavore Four Legs FarmThe Accidental Locavore had a chance to tour the farm recently. You drive through the hustle of New Paltz and suddenly find yourself in the middle of fields of sunflowers with mountains and rock formations in the background. The farm is part of an interesting and much needed incubator program for Hudson Valley Farm Businesses sponsored by Glynwood, whose mission is to “ensure that farming thrives in the Hudson Valley”. There are 330 acres available to the participants, of which Leanna has about 63 of them.

Accidental Locavore PigsThe 23 pigs, “mutts” according to Leanna, are on a hill behind one of the barns. They’re a mix of breeds but, covered in their favorite mud, it was a bit hard to distinguish one from another. They were very happy to see us, bearing food, having eaten most of the weeds and brush on their hill and even happier when she turned on the water so they could really splash around in the mud! What was interesting was that it’s not quite as easy as ordering a few piglets; “buying piglets is really hard, you have to have connections.” And before you even work your piglet connections, you have to book a slaughterhouse. Because there are so few in the area that work humanely, they get booked up six months to a year ahead of time. She “was booking dates for animals that hadn’t been born yet.”

Accidental Locavore Four PigsWe left the pigs, fatter and muddier, and went down to the sheep pastures. She’s got them segregated by sex so that there’s no distraction from the business of grazing in the flower-strewn pastures. Accidental Locavore Guard CowEach flock is watched over by a large cow (or two) and these ladies take their duties seriously! They’re there to protect the sheep from coyotes and on occasion, from Leanna. She told me that one day when she was trimming the hooves of one of the sheep, something happened and the hoof was bleeding. Sylvia, the 18 year old watch-cow, came over to see what was up and ended up licking the sheep’s bleeding hoof clean!

Accidental Locavore Sheep EatingIf you had a chance to see her operation, you’d be cleaning out your freezer and sending a check for your share of lamb or pork or even an “Adventure” share (odd bits for sausages and stocks etc.), but do it quickly or you’ll miss out on this great opportunity. If there’s enough response from people in Manhattan, she’ll arrange a group drop-off point in the fall. And, while this is still in the planning stages, Leanna might be doing a special offering for the holidays with roasts and racks and all that fancy stuff to impress your friends and family. In the meantime, do it because we need to support local farms and especially women like Leanna who are striving to be the “best stewards of the land and animals possible.”Accidental Locavore Flock of Sheep

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Very Garlicky Green Beans

by Anne Maxfield on August 27, 2015

Accidental Locavore Beans and ButterWhen the Accidental Locavore did the DeGustibus class with David Lebovitz, one of the stand-out dishes was this simple preparation of green beans. Doused with garlic and butter, like escargot, what could be bad? Serves 4:

  • 1 pound green beans, tips removed (as he says—to be French!)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • Few drops lemon juice

Accidental Locavore Trimmed BeansSteam the green beans until just tender. (I put them in a covered dish in the microwave for 3-4 minutes.) Drain them in a colander or dish towel.

In a large skillet, on medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the garlic and cook until it begins to brown. Stir in the parsley, salt and pepper. Add the green beans, and cook until they are completely cooked and thoroughly coated in the garlic mixture. Squeeze a few drops of lemon juice over them, toss, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Garlic and BeansMy verdict: Delicious and really simple to prepare! David describes them as being in snail butter or haricots verts au beurre d’escargot (sounds much better in French, doesn’t it?) and I say, what’s not to like with butter and garlic? If you didn’t trim the beans (never one of my favorite tasks) it would be even faster, but David says the French believe that the tips are fraught with danger.

You could steam and toss any number of vegetables in the snail butter – broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes, even potatoes and they’d be great! When I made the Turkish spiced chicken, I used these green beans as the side dish and it worked out wonderfully. This is going to be one of those go-to recipes to perk up lots of side-dish vegetables (like the kind my husband always insists on) – spinach may be my next “victim.” What would you use it for?

 

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August, Love it or Loath it?

by Anne Maxfield on August 24, 2015

The Accidental Locavore has really mixed feelings about August, so here’s my list of loving it or loathing it…

Love it:

  1. Tomatoes. Finally the moment we’ve all been waiting for. Tomatoes that actually taste like…tomatoes! There’s just nothing like a flawless August tomato, the perfect argument for local and fresh.Accidental Locavore Fresh Corn
  2. Corn. OK, so corn comes earlier, but by August it’s at its peak, just in time to go along with tomatoes. Add a chicken hot off the grill and you’ve got my perfect summer dinner.
  3. Easy cooking. Grilling makes everything better (and doesn’t heat up the kitchen).Accidental Locavore Grilled Potatoes
  4. Easier cooking. Raw food, and salads with everything coming from the garden (maybe not mine, but that’s what CSAs are for).
  5. Hot and sunny. Although in these parts, usually not as hot as July can be, but with global climate change, who knows?Accidental Locavore Rovinj
  6. The determination to squeeze every last drop of summer, whether it’s food, beach, travel, you’ve got 31 days to get it all in.

Loath it:

  1. The last month of summer. How did we blow through June and July so fast? And why is summer soooooo much shorter than winter?
  2. Days are definitely getting shorter; something tossed on the grill at 7:30 is finished in the dark.
  3. By the end of the month, days are not only shorter but cooler, and white clothing is back in the closet.Accidental Locavore Basket of Apples
  4. Even though apples right off the tree are delicious, I’ll trade you all the apples for tomatoes. Not even a close second.Accidental Locavore Butternut Squash Rear End
  5. Butternut squash. See above. Not even on the radar. And like apples, it’s around forever.Accidental Locavore Snowmen
  6. Down parkas in the store. Do we really need a reminder that the worst is still to come?

What’s your feeling about the end of summer? Are you glad it’s over, or do you wish it would just stick around for a few more months (like all 12)?

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Top Ten Tomatoes!

by Anne Maxfield on August 20, 2015

Accidental Locavore Blue Bowl With TomatoesSince you might have a few beautiful tomatoes kicking around, the Accidental Locavore is happy to share some of my favorite things to do with them, starting with:

  1. How to pick a good tomato: some tips to make sure you get the best from the market, whether they’re Purple Cherokees or good ol’ beefsteaks.
  2. But before you go poking all those tomatoesAccidental Locavore Tomatoes Stem Side Down
  3. Why should you store tomatoes upside down? We all know not to store tomatoes in the fridge (kills the flavor), but did you know to store them on the counter, stem-side down? It keeps them fresher longer because the moisture can’t escape through the opening where the stem was. Peaches work this way too.Accidental Locavore Gazpacho With Croutons
  4. If you’re in the mood for soup, here are two very different but equally delicious recipes for gazpacho, smooth and chunky. My current fave is the smooth, but what about you?Accidental Locavore Tomato Mozzarella Basil
  5. You know how to do the classic caprese – tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. If I can find good smoked mozzarella, that’s what I go for, although recently these little mozzarella balls have caught my attention. A drizzle of good olive oil, sea salt and maybe a splash of balsamic and you’re done!Accidental Locavore Chili Tomatoes
  6. If you’ve got a plethora of cherry tomatoes, here’s a recipe for them, packing some heat. It’s simple and quick (and the Martha Stewart story with the recipe will make you smile).
  7. Still have a lot left, or some small heirlooms? This recipe from Ottolenghi is a little more complicated, but well worth the extra 20 minutes!
  8. Moving into main courses, but still using the cherry tomatoes, here’s a good, fresh pasta sauce that comes together in no time. And you can keep it simple, or dress it up, depending on your mood.Accidental Locavore Tomatoes Stuffed
  9. One of my all-time favorite things to do with tomatoes, especially the biggies like the German Stripes I adore, is to stuff them. Any kind of sausage is good, and any size will work, but the really huge ones make a great presentation!
  10. To end, how about a pie? When I make a ratatouille pot pie it’s always a big hit with my friends (and worth turning the oven on for).

Serve and enjoy!

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