Tag Archives: local food

CT Farm Fresh Express

CT Farm Fresh Express order (3/365)

The problem with being a mom and working full-time is that I just don’t have as much time to do things as I used to have.  Shopping is one of those things, and I’ve come to love grocery delivery.  However, ordering groceries didn’t allow me to choose locally produced foods in most cases, so it was a sacrifice I was making.  In Connecticut, it’s difficult to find locally produced foods in the winter, and although we do store large quantities of beef and pork and small quantities of chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish in our freezer, I didn’t do as much other food preservation as I had hoped this summer.  I had resigned myself to using conventional produce until late spring when my garden starts producing, strawberries are in season and the farmer’s markets re-open.

One day right before Christmas, I was searching for a friend on Local Harvest and stumbled upon CT Farm Fresh Express, a delivery service that supplies Connecticut residents with local food! I was so excited, and the picture above shows my first order.  (No, it doesn’t come in a sled… We were out enjoying Joshua’s new sled when we saw that the delivery had arrived, and I saw a photo-op!)

Now, of course it’s winter so there’s not a ton of produce available, but still there’s quite a bit! I got veggies like potatoes, carrots, shallots, winter squash, thyme and salad greens.  I also picked up some apples, delicious cheese, butter, eggs and a fresh baguette.  I would say the prices are comparable to shopping at a farmer’s market, and the convenience is great.  Unlike the big grocery store, I didn’t have to be at home to receive the delivery.  Instead, I joined their “cooler exchange” program and they left the groceries in a cooler on my front porch.  Next time, I’ll leave the cooler outside and they’ll pick it up and leave my new groceries in another cooler.  Easy!

I love shopping online and I’m willing to pay a little extra for quality local food.  This is a great solution for me for winter shopping!

Have you ever tried grocery delivery?

14 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

Local Food in Winter

Here in New England, I’ve found it’s difficult to continue to support local agriculture in winter.  The majority of farm stands (including my family’s) and farmer’s markets shut down until spring.  I’m curious to learn how others eat locally during the off-season, if you’re not fortunate enough to live in a climate where’s there’s year-round food.  Please take the survey below!

You can vote more than once, so please do if more than one option applies!

4 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

Raspberries

Just in time for frost… My Heritage and Anne raspberries are finally producing!

What’s going strong in your garden?

4 Comments

Filed under Food, Gardening, Living from Scratch, Outside

Teaching my Kids Where Their Food Comes From

Today’s guest post comes from Amber of Strocel.com.

I live in suburban Vancouver my with husband and our kids – 5-year-old Hannah and 2-year-old Jacob. In my working life, I was an electrical engineer and I wrote computer programs. My husband works in television, making sure that the graphics on the local news look good. Most of our neighbors live similar lives, working in middle-class jobs that involve cubicles. If aliens were to observe our neighborhood they might deduce that food comes from the grocery store and/or the local fast food outlet. And before that, it comes from a big refrigerated truck.

It’s important to me that my children don’t think that food comes from the store. I mean, OK, a lot of my family’s food does come from the store in the end. But not in the beginning. There is a back story to every bite we take, and that back story matters. It impacts our health, the health of the people and animals involved in food production, and the health of the planet. I want my kids to know the back story, so that they can make informed choices.

Given the near-total lack of anything resembling agriculture in my community, how do I help my kids to get a window into food production? I do a few things:


Blueberries from our blueberry bush

1. We have a vegetable garden. It’s not the world’s most impressive vegetable garden, not by a long shot. But we can pick our own peas and carrots and tomatoes and blueberries. We watch the miraculous transformation from small seed to exuberant squash plant. And we taste the amazing flavors in fresh-picked produce.

2. We visit our local farmer’s market. Once a week nearby farmers truck into our suburban enclave with their produce. I take my children and they help me pick out our fruits and veggies and seafood and meat and cheese. We try new foods that we have never even seen before, like garlic scapes and blue hubbard squash. We talk to the people who grew or made the things they’re selling, and learn a little bit in the process.


Hannah says hello to some dairy cows

3. We pick wild berries. Not all food comes from a farm – some of it grows in our local park and along the roadside. Salmonberries, huckleberries and blackberries are our favorites. I have taught my kids to never eat any berries that I don’t give them, of course. But they’re learning that nature’s bounty is broader than anything a grocery store can conceive of.

4. We visit farms. Whenever we get the chance, we visit farms to see how they work first-hand. We meet the cows who make our milk and the chickens who lay our eggs. We see the fields where our grain is grown. Farms are fun places for kids, especially my suburban kids who find them especially novel. And, honestly, they’re pretty fun places for me, too.


Jacob gets up close and personal with some goats

5. We cook together. If you’re buying fresh, local produce, you need to know what to do with it. Cooking with kids isn’t always fun, I’ll admit it. But knowing how to cook from scratch is an important life skill, and so I’m willing to put up with a little inconvenience to equip my kids for the future. And even when they’re not ‘helping’ me make dinner, they’re usually in the kitchen watching, so I hope they’re seeing my example.

Like a lot of children, my kids ask me for all kinds of foods I don’t want to buy. Yogurt in tiny plastic tubs with licensed characters waving from the label. ‘Fruit’ snacks and pre-packaged pudding and cereal with marshmallows. It’s not always apparent to me that they understand the food lessons I’m trying to teach. But I have faith that if I keep at it, it will sink in. They will grow old enough to understand, and when they make choices for themselves they’ll consider the impact of the food they eat. At least, I really hope so.

Amber is an engineer-turned-at home mom to 5-year-old Hannah and 2-year-old Jacob. She lives in Vancouver, Canada with her husband Jon, the kids and her ill-tempered cat. In her free time she gardens, crafts, and dreams about the life she will have when she grows up.You can catch up with Amber’s regular adventures, in food and beyond, on her blog at Strocel.com.

10 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Outside, parenting, Sustainable Living

Blueberry Season

blueberry pie 004

July means blueberries! I’ve been thinking of all things blue lately, from stuffing my face with fresh berries to baking, baking, baking! We had blueberry bushes when I was growing up on the farm, and I hated them because they were so small and it took so long to pick over the bushels brought into the farm market and put them into pints for sale.  If I could have kept from eating the biggest and juciest, the pints would have filled much more quickly!

blueberry pie 007

Blueberry Glaze Pie

blueberry pie 003

Blueberry Pie

Fruit Salad (Just fruit, no sugar is needed when it’s in season! A dollop of sweetened whipped cream couldn’t hurt though…)

Next on my list of things to make with blueberries: Blueberry Crumb Bars.  Check them out, they look awesome! I’ve made them with blueberry jam, but never with fresh blueberries.  Here’s a shot of the Blueberry Jam Crumb Bars

blueberry jam crumb bars 001

I also love Blueberry Buckle, Blueberry Shortcake, Blueberry Ice Cream Sundaes, Blueberry Pancakes… What’s your favorite way to enjoy blueberries? Links to recipes welcome!

6 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture

Real Food: Animals

After my last two posts, which were more philosophical than I usually tend to be (I’m more of a realist), I wanted to share the food choices we make.  This is what works for us, after a few years of working on making our food more sustainable and seasonal.  I’m going into a lot of detail, so I’m going to split it into different categories over a few different posts.

I’m starting with meat because I believe we can be ethical omnivores.  I believe we can be animal lovers and still eat animals and animal products.

I’ve found a standing freezer to be our most valuable purchase when it comes to eating meat sustainably.  Because we get meat seasonally, we get a whole lot at once and keep it frozen all year.  It’s a great feeling to know that I have a ton of meat in the basement and don’t need to run out to the grocery store.

piglets 007

My husband’s family started raising pigs again a few years ago.  Ed’s dad grew up butchering animals for local farms with his family, so he knows how to slaughter and process the meat.  One pig provides all the pork, bacon, sausage and ham we’ll eat for a year.

My husband’s family also raises turkeys.  We don’t eat a ton of turkey, so the couple that we have in the freezer will last the whole year for us.  We cut it into parts before we freeze it, so I’ve got turkey breast, thighs and drumsticks, as well as parts for soup, in the freezer.

Finally, Ed’s family started raising chickens for the first time this year.  We had our first chicken the other night, and it was great.  One roasted chicken gave us two suppers and lunches for two days as well.  We’ve got three more chickens in the freezer, so I’ll still have to get some antibiotic and hormone free chickens from the store.

We also get beef from Ed’s uncle in Maine.  The beef is grass-fed, and a quarter of a cow lasts the whole year for us.  It’s been interesting, because I’ve learned to cook all different cuts of beef, including roasts, london broil, and making stew.  But, there’s also a ton of ground beef, so I wouldn’t recommend buying a whole or partial cow unless you make a lot with ground beef.

We’re also lucky to live very close to the ocean.  Ed and his family love to go out on the water, and his brother owns a shellfishing business.  So, our seafood is always caught by Ed and his brother.  We enjoy blackfish, porgies and the occasional bluefish or striped bass (it’s suggested to eat no more than one serving every six months from Long Island Sound, and I skip them because I’m “of reproductive age”).  We also get clams and oysters, but I’m not really a fan of either.  Ed’s parents have a cottage on a little island in Maine, and we’re friends with some local lobster fishermen.  So, whenever any of his family goes to Maine, they come home with fresh lobster, scallops and crab meat.  Finally, we eat the occasional wild-caught Alaskan salmon or a can of tuna.  We can’t eat locally all the time!

What choices do you make about meat?

Next Post in my “Real Food” series: Animal Products

11 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Sustainable Living

Local Strawberries for Valentine’s Day

We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day.  Years ago, when Ed and I were first dating, we’d go out to a fancy restaurant.  But now, we’re just as happy to enjoy a quiet night at home.  I try to make a special meal for the two of us, and I always like to include a strawberry dessert.

Big red hearts on Valentine’s Day make me think of strawberries.  Unfortunately, strawberry season isn’t until June around here, and those berries shipped into the grocery store can be pricey, especially with this year’s weather.  Not to mention, they’re gassed to ripen and never seem to have the same flavor or aroma as truly local, fresh, ripe berries.

If you’re a strawberry fan like me, you probably preserved a bunch of berries when they were in season, making jam or jelly, freezing or dehydrating.  So, this year for Valentine’s Day, I’m going to make a strawberry dessert using the bounty of my freezer, and I wanted to share a few recipes that will work nicely with preserved or frozen berries.

strawberry cutie pies 027

Strawberry Cutie Pies are the perfect size for a romantic dinner with your Valentine.  I think I’d put little hearts on the top this time instead of stars.  Frozen whole berries, thawed and crushed, make a great substitute for fresh.

 strawberry rhubarb pie 010

If you’re spending Valentine’s Day with the whole family, make a full size Strawberry Pie, or Strawberry Rhubarb if you’ve got rhubarb in your freezer, too.

salad and shortcake 007

Strawberry Shortcake is a perfect way to use frozen sugared strawberries.

valentines-day-018

And for those of you who simply must have chocolate on Valentine’s Day, try Chocolate Cheesecake with Strawberry Topping.  I made this last year for Valentine’s Day and I was so happy to have leftovers for days.

I haven’t decided which one of these recipes I’ll make for Valentine’s Day this year, but I’m currently leaning towards the cutie pies.  Any one of these desserts, when served after a meal cooked with love at home, makes for a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  Use some beeswax candles for ambiance, and I’m certain you won’t even think about how eco-friendly it is.  You’ll just enjoy the time with your sweetie.

This post is my contribution to this month’s APLS Blog Carnival, which is themed “Greening Valentine’s Day.”  To read all about how to have a more eco-friendly Valentine’s Day, visit Retro Housewife Goes Green on January 19.

7 Comments

Filed under Food, Living from Scratch, Local Agriculture, Recipes, Sustainable Living