February 2nd: Groundhog vs. Crêpes

by Anne Maxfield on February 2, 2017

Accidental Locavore Groundhog

To the majority of people reading this, February 2nd is Groundhog Day. However, in France the Accidental Locavore discovered a much better way to “celebrate” this day—la Chandeleur, Fête de la Lumière, or Candlemas. It’s also known as the Day of Crêpes.

I’ve never been a fan of Groundhog Day. Why do we suddenly revere a rodent we spend the other 364 days trying our best to get rid of? Seriously.

It seems like a much better idea to whip up a few crêpes and let them predict the coming (or not) of spring. Why crêpes? Because they’re golden and after a long winter, look like the sun.And this is how it works: “It is traditional to hold a coin in your writing hand and a crêpe pan in the other, and flip the crêpe into the air. If you manage to catch the crêpe in the pan, your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year.” The other benefits? Everyone will want to toss crêpes and the only thing that will get bitten is the crêpe (are you reading this Bill DeBlasio?).

Accidental Locavore Chevre Crepe for Groundhog DayCandlemas actually inspired Groundhog Day, marking the mid-point of winter. Germans in Pennsylvania brought the tradition to (ready for this?) Punxsutawney PA, with more of a focus on weather than wealth. After the groundhog did his prognostication he became lunch, supposedly tasting “like a cross between chicken and pork”. One less groundhog messing up the yard.

Given the choice between some rodent or a pan full of hot crêpes predicting the coming of spring, what would be your choice? For the first time ever, I’m looking forward to celebrating February 2nd and will definitely be hitting one of the crêperies near me! It might also be the excuse I’ve been looking for to get a crêpe pan and start making some of my own. If you’re far away from a good source of crêpes, pancakes are a perfectly good substitute. Enjoy!

 

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Proud to be an American–Just Not Today

by Anne Maxfield on January 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore American FlagNo, this isn’t about food, it’s about being an American.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like eating. Even the Accidental Locavore.

Yeah, it’s easy to say #notmypresident.

I didn’t vote for him.

I woke up on November 9th crying and afraid.

Am still afraid.

Maybe more afraid.

A friend who voted for and supports him says, “give him some time to get something done before you complain about him.”

As my mother would say “done and dusted.”

I watched the news last night and saw the demonstrations at JFK.

Muslims were prevented from entering the United States.

Accidental Locavore Not American HandsThe same United States that ALL our ancestors* entered from another country. As immigrants and/or refugees.

May have been a while ago. Mine were persecuted for their religion and came over with the Pilgrims.

Then they got kicked out of Plymouth.

The same United States that our president’s family—grandfather, mother, wives (1 & 3) entered as immigrants, a little more recently than my family—just saying.

And, just saying, I bet there’s an immigrant or two, gosh maybe even a Muslim, employed by Trump somewhere in the organization. Maybe even an ex-wife.

What are we as a country going to get from this?

None of the 9/11 hijackers were from any of the countries on the banned list.

Oh, and BTW, approximately 11,000 more people in the US were killed by guns than terrorists.

See guns being banned?

But this piece is getting away from me.

I went to dinner last night (getting back to the food part) sad and disgusted.

Not wanting to be associated with this pussy-grabbing POTUS.

Not wanting the rest of the world (most of whom don’t know me) to think that I’m that kind of American.

Or maybe any kind of American (bonjour France?).
Certainly not the ones says they’re making America great again.

Not my idea of greatness. Yours?

 

*Except for Native Americans

 

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Spare Ribs Vindaloo

by Anne Maxfield on January 26, 2017

How could you resist a mash-up like spare ribs vindaloo, recently in Food & Wine?

And then, spare ribs were on sale.

Kismet.

This made a lot of ribs and the Accidental Locavore only bought a single rack. It may look like a lot of ingredients, but you probably have most of them.

Spare Ribs Vindaloo

  • A 2-pound rack St. Louis–cut pork ribs, halved
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 dried New Mexico chiles, stemmed and broken into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seed
  • 3 whole cloves
  • One 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar (mixed use)
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 quart chicken stock or low-sodium broth
  • 1/4 cup silver tequila
  • 3 tablespoons finely grated jaggery (or brown sugar)

Season the spare ribs with salt and pepper and let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a spice grinder, grind the dried chiles with the cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon stick until finely ground.

Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and stir in the chile powder, turmeric, cayenne, 2 tablespoons of the vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of pepper until a paste forms.

In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the oil. Add the red onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger and the spice mixture and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until deep red in color, 8 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the stock, tequila, jaggery, the remaining vinegar, add the ribs and bring to a simmer.

Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the ribs are very tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer the ribs to a work surface and let cool slightly; cut into individual ribs.

Simmer the sauce until thickened and reduced by half, about 10 minutes; season with salt.

Return the ribs to the sauce and stir to coat. Serve with steamed basmati rice and enjoy!

My verdict: I think we were a little underwhelmed by these the first time around. However, like a lot of slow cooked food, they were much better the second night and Frank gave his “you can make these any time” seal of approval.

We both thought they could be hotter and the next time, I’ll add some minced serrano, or jalapeno.

There was a lot of sauce because I didn’t halve the sauce recipe (too lazy to do math) just the ribs, but it just meant more sauce for the rice.

I didn’t have any jaggery (do you?) so just used some brown sugar. If I get some, I’ll let you know if I think it makes a difference. However, this seems to be one of those stealth trendy foods for 2017, so you might want to be one of the cool kids and find some.

 

 

 

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Three Green Goals for 2017 and Beyond

by Anne Maxfield on January 23, 2017

Accidental Locavore Green Goals EarthThese three green goals are all works in progress for the Accidental Locavore.

And they’re the kinds of goals that should be works in progress for all of us.

No matter why you do it, every step helps the planet (and in these days, it’s going to need help from all of us).

How and what you eat is a big part of that.

So, here are a couple of goals I’m setting. They’re not big, just some small steps in the right direction. How about you?

Support local business.

Accidental Locavore Green Goals Nice Market GuysWhether it’s a local grower, farmer, purveyor, or the small very specialized business down the street, local is better.

And get out of your comfort zone with food.

A green goal might be to try a cut of meat you’ve never had, experiment with an unusual vegetable at your farmer’s market, or go for a different type of fish that might be more sustainable than the best sellers.

Most sellers (especially when it comes to food) are more than happy to explain what it is and share ideas on how best to cook it.

You can’t believe how much I’ve learned from talking to the people behind the counter. That’s one of my favorite things about farmer’s markets and local purveyors.

Clean out your refrigerator, and fill your freezer.

Accidental Locavore Green Goals FreezerOne of your green goals should be to clean your refrigerator.

Believe it or not, the experts say you’re supposed to clean your fridge every time you go grocery shopping.

If by cleaning, they mean shoving stuff around to make room for the new food, I’m there.

You know that’s not it.

We’re all guilty of keeping stuff around past its prime, or not tossing that bottle of ______ that no one will touch.

And how many jars of mustard do you have in your fridge? There are at least 4 in mine (that I can find).

I’m going to do a complete cleaning and toss all the science experiments. Then when I reload it, I’ll do it the smart way, so everything stays fresh as long as possible. If you have questions about keeping or tossing food here’s a useful site (that obviously my mother has never been to).

Why fill your freezer? A full freezer works better and more efficiently than a partially full one. Mine must be working pretty well….

Swap plastic for ___?

Accidental Locavore Green Goals Food WasteHere’s where I could use some help with my green goals.

We go through an amazing amount of plastic food storage bags, and while I’ve made some inroads in swapping some Ziplocs for small, reusable containers, I’m always tossing plastic bags.

What do you use?

The problem for me with glass containers in my crowded fridge is that if it slides off the pile, it breaks. I’ve found that Ball jars work for a lot of things, fridge or pantry. And swapping styrofoam take out boxes (which I hate) for plastic ones, may not be the best, but it’s a step in the right direction.

With the GIR lids, covering glass or china containers in the microwave has stopped being a problem.

What about the grocery store/farmer’s market? My ChicoBag is always with me to gather groceries, but once I get them home, if the lettuce and scallions aren’t in a clear bag (i.e. visible) they get overlooked and quickly become food waste.

Do you just try to minimize the plastic bag use, and make up for it somewhere else?  I’d love your ideas.

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