Monday, March 30, 2009

H.R. 875

We encourage you to read up on H.R. 875, the Food Safety Modernization Bill of 2009. The Slow Food USA blog has posted an informative piece on the bill, and recommends that members and interested individuals research the bill, then contact their legislators to tell them how food safety proposals will impact the conservation, organic, and sustainable practices that make diversified, organic, and direct market producers different from agribusiness. However, Slow Food USA recommends that we resist the use of scare-mongering language regarding the bill.

Here are some resources to help learn more about the bill:

Food and Water Watch: a balanced review of the bill.

The bill is posted to the Library of Congress website and may be read in its entirety here.

To contact your Congressperson, visit this website.

To contact your Senators, visit this website.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Winningstadt Cabbage

Having just had some boiled dinner for Saint Patrick's Day, cabbage should still be top of mind, right? Certainly if you'd like to plant some Winningstadt Cabbage, one of the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out vegetables, now is a good time to order those seeds.

According to the Seed Savers Exchange website, the Winningstadt Cabbage was first listed in America by J. J. H. Gregory (do not miss Mr. Gregory's biography - it is fascinating.) & Sons of Marblehead, Massachusetts in 1866.

It is an upright and compact plant with a spread of 28-30". Thick firm leaves are dark bluish-green and distinctively waved. Extremely hard, pointed heads are 7-9" tall and 6-7" in diameter.

The Winningstadt Cabbage has a mild flavor and is an excellent keeper, so perhaps you can store it in your root cellar well enough that you can enjoy it in next year's Saint Patrick's Day boiled dinner. Or, perhaps you'd prefer it sauteed, or in coleslaw, or stuffed. However you like it, be sure to be on the lookout for it at farmers markets and Rhode Island Grow-out restaurants at harvest time.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Provenance Pathway

This idea from Australian condiment-maker Beerenberg deserves a quick mention - perhaps the concept will spread to the U.S., helping us track the path that our food travels.

Beerenberg has added a feature to their website whereby consumers can enter the bar code on the product they have purchased and trace its origins from "soil to shelf", complete with photos of the people who made the product, a product overview, and Google mapping to locate the farm where the primary ingredients originated.

For the full article, please visit Springwise's website.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Boothby's Blonde Cucumber

According to the Seed Savers Exchange website, the Boothby's Blonde Cucumber originated with the Boothby family of Livermore, Maine. It is one of the foods being grown in the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project.

The plants produce vigorously oval creamy-yellow warty fruits with black spines.

The Boothby's Blonde Cucumber has an excellent crisp sweet flavor, and peeling is not necessary. They are best when eaten about 4" long and are very good for bread and butter pickles.

If you'd like to grow the Boothby's Blonde Cucumber in your own garden, seeds are available at Seed Savers Exchange.

Siberian Sweet Watermelon

According to the Seed Savers Exchange website, the Siberian Sweet Watermelon was evaluated by the New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station in 1901 along with Green and Gold, Jones’ Jumbo, Ruby Gold and Kleckley Sweet.

Of those varieties, only Siberian Sweet and Kleckley Sweet still survive today.

The Sweet Siberian Watermelon was reintroduced several years ago by Seed Savers Exchange member Glenn Drowns, who obtained seed from the USDA.
The Siberian Sweet Watermelon is one of the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project foods.

The watermelons are a light green with apricot-colored flesh and small black seeds. If you'd like to grow them in your own garden, seeds may be purchased at Seed Savers Exchange.

Wethersfield Onion

The Wethersfield Onion is a red onion believed to have originated in Connecticut. Drawings of it on the Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's abode) website date from 1885, and the description states that it grows to a large, flattened bulb, approximately 5-inches in diameter. It is one of the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out varieties, and if you'd like to grow it in your own garden, seeds are available from Monticello.

Restaurants participating in the RAFT Grow-out project

We'll be sure to remind you later in the season about which restaurants are featuring the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out foods, but to help you start sorting out your harvest season "must-visit" restaurant list, here is the list of RAFT Grow-out restaurants:

The Inn at Castle Hill
Boathouse Restaurant
Waterman Grille
22 Bowens
Tastings Wine Bar + Bistro
Chez Pascal
Farmstead/La Laiterie
Local 121
Blackstone Caterers
New Rivers Restaurant

As we learn what dishes the chefs will be preparing - later in the year, of course - we'll keep you posted so you can firm up those dining-out plans of yours.

Trophy Tomato: A Newport Original

The Trophy Tomato is a Rhode Island original introduced by Colonel George Waring of Newport in 1870. According to the Seed Savers Exchange website, seeds of the Trophy Tomato were sold for $5.00 per packet, which is roughly the equivalent of $70.00 in today's dollars.

The high price was offset by the hope of those growing the tomato that they would win their local fair prize for best specimen tomato - a prize that frequently brought a reward of $100 (or the equivalent of $1,400 in 2009).

Edible Rhody will be featuring the Trophy Tomato in an article in their spring 2009 issue, so be on the lookout for that, and definitely be on the lookout for the Trophy Tomato itself at farmers markets and in restaurant offerings later in the year.

If you would like to grow the Trophy Tomato in your own garden - cash prize not guaranteed - seeds are available at Seed Savers Exchange.

White House Kitchen Garden

You may already be aware that the Obamas have planted the first kitchen garden at the White House since Eleanor Roosevelt's in 1943.

Kitchen Gardeners International led the petition campaign Eat the View, proposing that the Obamas plant a garden for the White House and include a few rows to help feed the hungry.

Roger Doiron, founder of Kitchen Gardeners International, and his wife tallied up the savings their kitchen garden provided their household in 2008. At the end of the growing season in Maine where the Doirons live, they had saved $2,150 in groceries for their family of five.

The Slow Food USA blog has a more in-depth article about the White House Kitchen Garden, which you can read by clicking here.

Check out this link to the White House blog about breaking ground on the garden, and consider growing your own kitchen garden - perhaps using some of the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out foods.

True Red Cranberry Bean

The True Red Cranberry bean is one of the oldest American bean varieties and is on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste. It is one of the varieties being grown in the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project.

Its geographical location is concentrated around the northeastern region of the US. The Abenaki Indians and woodsmen, who inhabited the area that is now known as Maine, historically used this bean. The True Red Cranberry bean is a rare heirloom that was rediscovered by bean collector, John Withee, after an 11-year search in Steep Falls, Maine. As their name suggests, the mature True Red Cranberry bean is a deep lipstick-red color and looks like a ripe cranberry. The beans are fat and shiny and are mostly used in their dried form.

If you would like to grow the True Red Cranberry Bean, seeds are available from Seed Savers Exchange.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Farmers participating in the RAFT Grow-out

There are a great group of farmers and chefs participating in the Rhode Island Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project, and we thought it would be helpful if you knew who they are so that you can keep an eye out for the RAFT vegetables later this summer, and chat them up about the project at your local farmers market!

The participating farms are:
Sweet Berry Farm, Middletown, RI
Heritage Farm, Portsmouth, RI
Zephyr Farm, Cranston, RI
Arcadian Farm, Hope Valley, RI
Red Planet Vegetables, Providence, RI
Scratch Farm, Cranston, RI
Bally Machree, Middletown, RI
Wishing Stone Farm, Little Compton, RI
Steve's Farm, Bristol, RI
Poblano Farm, South Kingstown, RI
Greenview Farm, South Kingstown, RI
Ward's Berry Farm, Sharon, MA

We'll post a list of participating chefs in the near future, and in the meantime, please keep checking back for histories of the RAFT Grow-out vegetables.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Sibley Squash

The Sibley Squash, which is also known as Pike’s Peak squash, was obtained from an elderly woman in Van Dinam, Iowa who had grown it for more than fifty years. Hiram Sibley & Company of Rochester, New York introduced it commercially in 1887. It is a Hubbard-type squash with moderately vigorous 12-15 foot vines.

The slate blue teardrop-shaped fruits have very shallow ribs and weigh from 8-10 pounds. Its medium-thick orange flesh is flavorful and sweet. The flesh becomes drier and richer with storage, reaching its peak right after turn of the New Year, perfect for a roasted squash soup during those long winter months.

The Sibley Squash is on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, and is being grown in the Rhode Island area Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project this year. Look for the squash at harvest time in farmers markets and on restaurant menus around the state. If you would like to grow the Sibley Squash yourself, you can purchase seeds at Seed Savers Exchange.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Boston Marrow Squash

The Boston Marrow Squash could not sound more tempting and delectable. This lovely, mid-size winter squash has a custard-like, buttery flavor with almost 200 years of documented history, though possibly of prehistoric origin. It reaches maturity in 90 to 100 days and has striking, reddish orange skin and an average weight of 10 to 20 pounds, though it can be larger in optimal growing conditions.

The Boston Marrow Squash originated in the upstate New York area and its legend as a Native American vegetable gifted to European-descended gardeners links it to traditional American history. The seeds were later passed on to Salem, Massachusetts in 1831, where the Boston (or “Autumnal”) Marrow Squash was then popularized by Mr. J. M. Ives. It is speculated to be originally of Chilean origin (linked to the Valparaiso squash or C. mammeata) but this is undocumented. It was primarily used in New England as a pie squash and is prized for its rich orange flesh with a fine texture. Its water content gives it a fresh mouthfeel, and it was described in 1858 as having a skin as thin as the inner envelope of an egg. Due to its success in cool and short-season growing regions and other easy-to-grow qualities, its production has spread throughout the United States, from Massachusetts to Washington state and from California to Florida. It is a good storage crop, for if kept in a cool and dry place it will last until the following spring.

The Boston Marrow Squash is on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, and is one of the foods featured in the Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out project taking place in Rhode Island this year. If you'd like to grow this historic squash yourself, seeds are available at Seed Savers Exchange.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Newport Restaurant Group Chefs up to the challenge: The Farm Fresh Initiative at the Wintertime Market

The chefs of Newport Restaurant Group, Fresh Bucks at the ready

If you're familiar with the Providence Wintertime Farmers Market, you already know about the stunning array of locally-produced foods available all winter long. This past Saturday, the Wintertime Market provided inspiration for chefs from each of the Newport Restaurant Group's restaurants.

On Saturday morning at the start of the market, teams of chefs from each of the Newport Restaurant Group's restaurants arrived at the Wintertime Market at Hope Artiste Village in Pawtucket to participate in their first Farm Fresh Initiative.

The teams were given Fresh Bucks to choose a selection of ingredients that they would turn into specials featured that evening in each restaurant. As the group gathered the excitement was palpable, most went out and scouted the market to see what might be waiting for them. The market was filled
with so many amazing locally grown and raised options including a variety of greens, apples, cider, potatoes, beets, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, oysters, beef, pork, cheeses, eggs, honey, and maple syrup. There were also many artisan products; jams, jellies, chutneys, artisan breads and pastries, nuts and chocolates.

The chefs were extremely enthusiastic as they surveyed all the booths with an abundance of great local options in the winter in New England. After perusing and selecting an assortment of ingredients they headed back to their respective restaurants where they brainstormed and finalizing their ideas. Before beginning their prep, they also sent out a teaser email of what they would be offering. The creations were amazing; many chose not just one menu item but multiple course offerings.

See for yourself:

From Trio:

~Farm Fresh Salad – Jeffrey’s baby greens, mutsun apples, Westfield Farm goat cheese, Purple Pear ginger pecans + Smithfield honey
~Entrée - Windmist Farm Beef Pot Pie - slow simmered beef stew, Maplewood Farm potatoes, carrots, green peas + house made pastry crust
~Dessert - Crème Brulee - Ocean State chocolate, Zephyr Farms custard + Grand Marnier meringue

From The Boathouse:
~Westport Farm fresh egg bruschetta ~ Olga’s bread with Westport Farm fresh eggs, Jeffrey’s greens, Cato Farms “Bridgid’s Abbey” cow’s milk cheese and Marcia’s Pepper Jelly
~ D’artagnan pasture raised rack of lamb with Simmons Farm Bok Choy, Allen Farms oregano and
orange mint, Marcia’s pear ginger chutney, Capri goat cheese and Olga’s Cup and Saucer bread

From 22 Bowens:
~Blue corn crusted Cod loin over chipotle braised yellow eyed beans, topped with a citrus salsa.

From Waterman Grille:
~ Matunuck oyster on the half shell with a honey dew melon and wasabi mignonette
~ Kenyon’s Blue corn meal crusted Boston Blue Cod served with roasted creamers and an Asian vegetable slaw finished with Farm Fresh grapefruit segments and Jeffrey’s micro greens.
~ 16oz.Hereford Ribeye with Farm Fresh butternut squash fries and Agraria Farm apple and shallot brown sugar demi glaze

~ Fresh strawberries with Aquidneck farm granola, vanilla ice cream finish with lavender scented honey and fresh mint

Castle Hill Inn's Chile-braised Simmons Farm Pork and Matunuck Little Neck Stew

From Castle Hill Inn:
~Amuse ~ Kenyons Cornmeal Jonny cakes, topped with Blueberry preserve crème fraiche
~Chile Braised Simmons Farm pork and Matunuck Farms little neck stew, Czajkowski Farms Butternut squash and potatoes, Allen Farms Pea shoot pesto topped on a Seven Stars Crostini

The Mooring's Housemade Narragansett Creamery Ricotta Ravioli

From The Mooring:
~ Housemade Narragansett Creamery ricotta ravioli, butter poached Maine lobster, Farm Fresh butternut cream, Seven Stars Focaccia
~ Grilled beef tenderloin, Harmony Hill Farm egg and crab frittata, chipotle hollandaise, Allen Farms pea shoots

Newport Harbor Corporation, which is the parent company of Newport Restaurant Group, believes that utilizing locally grown, organic produce in their dishes supports the local farming industry, enhances the connection between the plate and its source, and ultimately increases the quality of the culinary experience.

This initiative brought that belief to life and gave an opportunity to a team of talented young chefs to meet and talk with the growers and producers and purchase their products right from the source. Building these connections and highlighting the Wintertime Market are two great reasons to love this project, the other is delicious, fresh food prepared with attention and thoughtful consideration.

Posted by Jess

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Jimmy Nardello's Sweet Italian Frying Pepper

The Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Pepper is one of the foods being featured in the Chefs Collaborative/Slow Food USA Foods at Risk/Renewing America's Food Traditions (RAFT) Grow-out, and is on the Slow Food Ark of Taste.

Mr. Nardello's pepper was originally from Basilicata, in the south of Italy, and he brought it with him from Italy while immigrating to Connecticut in 1887.  

The pepper is sweet and light when eaten raw.  It is considered one of the very best frying peppers as its fruity raw flavor becomes perfectly creamy and soft when fried.

Be on the lookout for the Jimmy Nardello Sweet Italian Frying Pepper at local farmers markets and restaurants around Rhode Island at harvest time.  And, if you'd like to grow it yourself, you can purchase seeds at Seed Savers Exchange.