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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Boston Food Swap: November Recap

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On Sunday, we got together for our 6th swap!! Time sure does fly when you're having fun! 6 months in and we are STILL amazed and excited by the creativity of our swappers.

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We had some different and delicious items to taste and trade, including pandan coconut custard, habanero jelly, and banana rum jam!

Apparently we still got it, because we are drawing more and more media attention to the swap.
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We were thrilled to welcome Edible Boston, Foodies of New England, and Boston Neighborhood Network on Sunday. Thanks for joining us! We'll let everyone know when our pieces hit the airwaves/newsstands!

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Speaking of airwaves, our CBS Sunday Morning segment did not air this week as scheduled (we'll share the new date when we have it!), but that didn't stop Lyn from swapping the apple butter we made! Ahh, the sweet, spiced taste of fame.

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You can check out more photos from the event on our Facebook page.

We'll see you in December for Boston Cookie Swap for a Cause! Sign up & spread the word!!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Announcing ... Cookie Swap for a Cause!


Love to bake (or just eat)? RSVP now for Cookie Swap for a Cause on December 18. We're partnering with Swap.com/The Swapaholics for this epic cookie event. Glad to Give will donate 10 cents for every cookie swapped to Cookies for Kids' Cancer, so we want hundreds thousands of cookies there to help support this inspirational charity.

On top of sampling and swapping cookies, attendees will swap recipes and vote on the best cookie. The winner will receive a prize pack filled with cookbooks and other goodies. We have a few other surprises up our sleeve so you won't want to miss this festive and fun event! Be sure to help us spread the word by tweeting with the hashtag #cookieswap.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Judith Jones & the 50th Anniversary of Mastering the Art of French Cooking



On Monday, the Boston University Seminars in Food, Wine, & The Arts hosted Judith Jones to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Julia Child's famous tome, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was a celebration of a masterpiece, a legend, and most of all, memories.

I was so thrilled to be attending. Not only am a I huge Julia fan (I have a DVR series recording set for The French Chef), getting to be in the same space as the woman who edited not only Julia's books, but also Madhur Jaffrey, Lidia Bastianich, Marion Cunningham, James Beard, etc. is actually making me hyperventilate in hindsight. From reading her memoir, The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food and Sara Kate's visit to her kitchen, I still had no idea that she would be so engaging and down-to-earth.



Judith shared stories of working with Julia on Mastering, including how they really picked the title (Not exactly like they show in that "silly movie" about it). Julia was in Oslo at the time, so they wrote back and forth, and when Judith had sent Julia what was to be the title, Julia responded with, "Hurrah! I love the gerund!" And that was that.

She also touched on her personal cooking journey, and how after her husband, Evan, passed, how she wasn't sure she would want to cook for herself. Yet, food calls up memories, and she told how she found herself remembering dishes they shared together, and she would prepare them, light a candle, and it was as if he was with her. And The Pleasures of Cooking for One, Judith's book on solo dining, is just wonderful. She declares that cooking for one is an opportunity to experiment and enjoy, to use the precious gems (Judith's term for leftovers) in the refrigerator to create something new and exciting.



Because what would a cookbook event be without food, students from BU's culinary program prepared some tasty tidbits from some of Judith's books and Mastering. Since Julia founded BU's Gastronomy program, it truly was a full-circle evening.



What I said to Judith as she was signing my copy, I have no idea, but let's hope it was coherent! What can I say, she's a legend in her own right.

Have you met one of your heroes, literary, culinary, or otherwise?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Keeping Warm as the Weather Cools


It’s here.  You knew the inevitable was coming.  When we turn our clocks back an hour, it’s a sure sign that the New England growing season will quickly come to a close and that we are doomed to 6 months without the fresh bounty of summer.  Not only must we endure the drudgery of imported food, but what will we swap?  

When winter comes, the options for fresh produce dwindle and we have to turn our attention to different everyday foods and swap items.  To help you weather all things cold and dark, we want to bring you some ideas for nutritious, sustainable, local, and swap-worthy foods all winter long.

Photo Courtesy of Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Winter Markets

Although most of the produce grown in the Northeast lacks the hardiness to endure our winters, a few intrepid vegetables remain.  Most winter farmer’s market fare consists of root vegetables and leafy things grown in greenhouses.  To find the holdouts, you can go to one of the state’s winter farmer’s markets.  A few of the markets will get you through your holiday feasts and the rest will sustain you in to the spring.  A new market (that didn’t make it on the official state listing) will launch in Cambridge this year in case you were worried where you could find winter produce close to the city.  At the winter markets, you will not only find the few vegetables our farmers still grow, you will also find dairy products, meat, eggs, locally prepared goods, crafts, and activities.

A New Twist on the CSA

Even if you can’t bear trekking to the winter market in the January snow, you can still enjoy a healthy taste of New England all winter long.  If you act fast (the deadline is tomorrow!), you can still score a share at the Pioneer Valley Heritage Grain CSA.  For about $200 you can get a half share of unmilled grains that will keep in a glass, plastic, or burlap container for the whole year.  Supporting heritage grain producers not only makes your diet more nutritious, it also helps promote a bio-diverse ecosystem.  

The challenge with unmilled grain is finding a mill when you want to use your CSA haul.  Although her listing is expired, this woman in Arlington has a bike mill that she will let people use for a fair swap.  If you’re nice, she may even let you use it – burn the calories in advance and earn the resulting carbs!  If you needed another reason to try the grain CSA, think of how warm your house will be in the winter when you churn out hearty fresh bread.

A Tipsy Twist on the CSA


When all else fails and you just can’t bear another below freezing moment, there is always wine to keep you warm.  When we were planning the Community Sourced Potluck, we learned about the Farm to Table wine subscription program at the Wine Bottega.  This CSA-like program brings 6 or 12 wines to your doorstep via Metro Pedal Power each month.  The wines chosen are small production varieties and most are organic or biodynamic.

Armed with a few new arrows in your healthy, sustainable, or local food quiver, you will be ready for anything winter brings you.  If you need some ideas of what to do with your winter treats, check out the Lovely Locavore Ladies of Boston.  They spent a year eating only local food so their archived posts from last winter will help you find new ways to use your winter treats.

Lastly, we plan to bring you food swaps through the winter so you can enjoy some home-cooked variety!  To start, we are planning an epic cookie swap with the events team at Swap.com in support of Cookies for Kids with Cancer with the help of Glad.  We will link when the event details are announced but, in the meantime, start plotting your cookie voyage for December.

Do you have any good swap-worthy ideas for getting through the winter months?  Great recipes you plan to make with your grain CSA?  Share them here!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Giveaway & Guest Post: Parchment Paper Provides Solutions for Surplus

UPDATE: Congrats to Nicole on winning The Parchment Cookbook! For those who didn't win, Brette let us know that the Kindle edition of A Parchment Paper Thanksgiving is available for $.99 now through 11/19/11.

Editor's Note: The Parchment Paper Cookbook goes on sale today, so author Brette Sember has graciously offered to share one of her deliciously simple recipes below. We're giving away copy of the cookbook to one lucky reader, and readers, this is one giveaway you won't want to miss.

I have the book sitting on my coffee table awaiting the winner, and there are at least dozen recipes inside that I'm dying to try. (I'll just have to buy my own copy ... or perhaps Santa will buy me a copy this Christmas.) Hope you enjoy the recipe, and read to the bottom for details on the cookbook giveaway.

By Brette Sember

I love fall – the colors, the smells, and the feeling of being oh-so-frugal by using every single thing in the last CSA bags. Squash is one of my favorite late harvest items and I’ve fallen in love with acorn squash which I find much easier to process than butternut or larger squashes.

I also love cooking in parchment paper. Everything cooks together in one attractive packet and there are absolutely no pots or pans to scrub. Parchment is also environmentally friendly since it is recyclable and compostable, and when you cook with this method you can cook your entire meal by turning only one oven on (no burners needed) and you don’t need much water for clean up. Parchment cooking is also healthy, since the foods cook in their own juices, do not lose nutrients to cooking water, and don’t need much fat for cooking.

This recipe is an easy way to use up your acorn squash, as well as apples, and is a perfect fall dish. The recipe serves one, so make as many packets as you have diners at your table.

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1 chicken breast
1/2 cup peeled, roughly chopped acorn squash
1/2 of an apple, cored and roughly chopped (skin on)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
Pinch of dry mustard

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the rice on the parchment and lay the chicken breast on top. Place the squash and apple on top. Drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle on the cinnamon, thyme and dried mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle the juice or cider and vinegar. Fold and bake for about 22 minutes until the chicken is done (you can test by poking an instant read thermometer through the paper). Allow to rest about 3 minutes before opening.

Brette Sember is the author of The Parchment Paper Cookbook, published by Adams Media. She blogs about parchment paper cooking at www.NoPotCooking.com. She also writes the popular food blog www.MarthaAndMe.net. She is also the author of the upcoming titles The Organized Kitchen and The Muffin Tin Cook Book from Adams Media.

Sember is a former attorney and author of more than 35 other books, including How to Parent with Your Ex, The Complete Credit Repair Kit, The Divorce Organizer & Planner, and The Complete Divorce. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, two children, and two golden retrievers. Her web site is www.BretteSember.com and you can follow her on Twitter @brettesember.

Want to win a copy of The Parchment Paper Cookbook?

Here's how to enter (one chance for each of these activities for a total of four possible chances):
  • Click over to No Pot Cooking, choose which recipe looks most appealing, and leave a comment here on the Boston Food Swap blog with your favorite(s).
  • Sign up for our newsletter and leave a comment on this post letting us know you want to be entered in the giveaway.
  • Like us on Facebook and leave a comment on this post letting us know you want to be entered in the giveaway.
  • Tweet about the giveaway, including the hashtag #notpotgiveaway and this link: http://dld.bz/axKWB. Example: Win a free copy of The Parchment Paper Cookbook from @Brettesember & @BOSswappers http://dld.bz/axKWB #nopotgiveaway
And a few rules:
  • Only those in the United States and Canada are eligible to win (sorry, but we're shipping the book ourselves and learned this the hard way).
  • When commenting, please include a way to contact you for your mailing address. For instance, link your comment a website that contains your email address or include your email in your comment.
  • All tweets, likes, newsletter subscriptions, and comments must be received by Sunday, November 13 at 11:59 EST. After that, we will use Random.org to chose the winner.
  • If the winner does not respond to email requests for their address within one week, we reserve the right to choose another winner.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sampling Sweets at Boston Pastry Rendezvous


Last night, Lyn, Tara, and I had the pleasure of attending Boston After Six and Whickit's Pastry Rendezvous. As one of our partners, they'd graciously offered tickets to us and the three winners of our Community Sourced Potluck, so we ran into Elizabeth (winner of best story) while we were there.


Over a dozen local bakeries and pastry chefs showed off their sweet treats, many of which contained natural ingredients. For instance, we tried TRU Chocolate, which is organic dark chocolate made with the natural sweetener Xylitol. (Yes, I get that labels like natural or organic don't guarantee that a product is super-healthy. But I'm guessing it an improvement over the heavily processed chocolate I grew up eating at Halloween and Christmastime. Everything in moderation, including moderation, as they say.)


We also tasted samples of BudiBars (made from almonds, hemp seeds, and other superfoods by a local company) and some of Polar seltzer's new seasonal flavors like candy cane, eggnog, and pumpkin spice. I'm still partial to the cranberry flavor, though. We try to not to over do it on the sweets (remember Tara's October unprocessed challenge?), so after making the rounds, we nearly fell into a sugar coma and stepped outside to avoid the temptation of another lap. Much as I love indulging my sweet tooth, I still need to fit into my wedding dress next year ...