Dutchess County Fair

Accidental Locavore Melons

Tonight, the Accidental Locavore actually got this week’s farm box delivered. We had stopped by the farm earlier, but Farmer Paul said nothing was ready yet. So he showed up on the doorstep with his son, one holding a small box of jewel-like cherry tomatoes, the other lugging a huge box with mammoth heirloom tomatoes, a big round watermelon and one of the biggest, dark shiny eggplants I’ve ever seen. No wonder they won 12 blue ribbons, 11 seconds, 3 thirds and grand champion for vegetables at last week’s Dutchess County Fair!

That was the good news.

As a result of Hurricane Irene, their lands were flooded, ruining most of their crops and putting their livelihood at risk. This was the year that Paul really put heart and soul into making the farm a growing (pardon the pun) concern. He and his family decided to devote themselves to proving that they could make farming amazing and sustainable (not to mention delicious) vegetables profitable. We had long talks at the farm, while admiring the beauty of an okra blossom, about how difficult farming is. How you can work and work at it, but in the end, it’s all in the hands of Mother Nature. And last week she was not in a charitable mood.Accidental Locavore Okra Flower

So what to do? No matter where you live, support your local farmers. If you live in or around any of the areas affected by Irene, buy as much local produce as you can. Grow NYC, Just Food, and Catskill Mountain Relief are establishing relief funds; please contribute. On September 25th, many local restaurants including ilili in Manhattan, will participate in a night out to support farmers affected by the hurricane; go eat. Pass this blog around to everyone you know, share on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want to support my farmer, Accidental Locavore Box of Cherry Tomatoesjust go to Eataly and buy a box of cherry tomatoes. They’re the jewel-like ones and they taste as good as they look. Thank you.




Accidental Locavore Pimentos and Broccoli

Finally back on track with the farmbasket, but only for a week. If you’re like the Accidental Locavore you’re in huge denial that August (and the summer) is almost over. One of the big signs is that the Dutchess County Fair starts Tuesday. Paul Wigsten, my farmer and his son Will always have lots of their vegetables and a cow or two entered in the show. My neighbor Arthur is in charge of the horticulture area, and enters his gladiolas and other flowers. They usually score best in show ribbons in a lot of categories.
The downside? No basket next week, the lawn doesn’t get mowed for a week, and it’s the last weekend in August.
The upside? A trip to a real county fair, complete with exotic chickens, prize worthy vegetables, and more (junk) food than you can possibly imagine.
In this week’s basket, a big purple cabbage, lovely cantaloupe, bag of mesclun, red, orange and yellow peppers, along with pimentos, zucchini and squash, corn, tomatoes (one of my favorite heirloom varieties, German stripe), and cranberry beans (dried this time).
So what have I been doing with the veggies? True confession; the corn I’ve just been tossing on the grill, and the tomatoes have been mixed with basil and mozzarella. It’s my favorite thing to do with both of them and until we’re really into (gasp) September, I can’t get enough of them.
Tonight I’m grilling baby loin lamb chops that I’ve marinated in some (homemade) yogurt with cumin and other warm spices and roasting the broccoli, then tossing it in a little butter and some of the pureed garlic confit I made a few weeks ago. Sounds good right? Later in the week, I’m revisiting a great recipe from the NY Times last year, for a ratatouille pot pie, with Italian sausage, ratatouille, and a cornmeal topping. It’s more of a cobbler than a pie, and really delicious. Maybe I’ll see what happens if I toss a couple of the pimentos in…
I’m also going to try the cranberry beans in a gratin that I found online. I’m a sucker for the word gratin, aren’t you?