Monthly Archives: February 2010

Thursday Tidbits


Photo: Luis Melendez, Still Life with Melon and Pears, MFA, Boston; Wikimedia Commons


Abby Conway

The Art of Spanish Food
In conjunction with the current exhibition Luis Melendez: Master of the Spanish Still Life, the Museum of Fine Arts is offering a two-session course titled Feasting at the Spanish Table. The course brings together the art of painting with the art of cooking. The first session will focus on the works of artist Luis Melendez while the second will feature demonstrations and tastings of the dishes of Melendez’s era. The cost for both sessions is $60.

Pork for Dessert?
The Beacon Hill Hotel & Bistro will serve Boston its first Mangalitsa pig on March 3rd. The Mangalitsa pig breed was created in 1833 by Hungarian royalty and is known for its heavily marbled meat low in saturated fat. The Bistro’s Executive Chef Jason Bond raised the two Mangalitsas that will be served up next week in a six-course meal (yes, that means there is even pork for dessert). There will be seatings at 6pm or 8:30pm and the cost is $65 per person, with an optional wine pairing for additional cost. Check out the entire menu and get more information here.

Do You Have What It Takes?
The Food Network was in Boston earlier this month looking for charismatic pairs with an interest in running their own restaurant for a new reality TV competition show. Will of The Boston Foodie volunteered to cover the action. He interviewed possible contestants and got an idea of what the network is looking for. Check out his conversations with Jerika and Winnie, Mark and Charlie and Maura and Joe to find out which local pair has moved on to the next round of auditions. Who knows, you could be looking at the future of Boston’s restaurant scene! And it looks like they are still accepting applications

One Door Closes and Another Opens
This weekend Russell’s Garden Center will host the final Wayland Winter Farmer’s Market. Despite coming to the end of its seasonal run, they are still getting new vendors, with three added just last week. This will be your last chance to stock up at this particular farmer’s market before they break until Spring. Check out the additional information, including vendors, here

With that comes the news that the Attleboro Farms Market will make theirs a year-round event. Currently running Sundays from noon to 4pm at Attleboro Farms, The Spring Market will move to Thursdays from 3 to 7 pm, beginning April 1st, and run through June 24th. The Summer/Fall Market will kickoff on Sunday, July 4th. More good news: the market’s organizers said they decided to make this an ongoing thing after seeing the great demand for local food.

Fundraiser for Diabetes
The Joslin Diabetes Center is a sponsering an event to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Asian American Diabetes Initiative and spread awareness about the prevalence of diabetes in Asian American communities (Asian Americans are nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes as the general population). The event, A Spoonful of Ginger, is an evening of food tasting at the Musuem of Fine Arts on April 5th, with participating chefs to include Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers + Change, Ming Tsai of Blue Ginger and Jasper White of Summer Shack among others from over 20 restaurants. Proceeds will go towards increasing awareness of the growing incidence of diabetes among Asian Americans.

For more information on diabetes, tune in to Radio Boston tomorrow, 1pm. They’ll be featuring medical journalist Dan Hurley, author of the new book Diabetes Rising, and looking into a rash of Type 1 Diabetes cases that have developed in the community of Weston.

Kitchen Pre-Nup

Photo: Flickr/ammanteufel

Jessica Alpert

Once, I lived with a boy.  As is expected, we shared a lot, especially in the kitchen.  I was just out of college and in a new city, he was starting graduate school and on shaky financial ground.  I noticed that we both started clinging to our worldly goods….maybe too much.

His iron skillet was his pride and joy (he oiled it for at least 15 minutes after each use) and I loved my time-honored wok (and sturdy stand-by for all those late night stir-frys)…..we used each other’s tools but clearly we knew which appliance belonged to whom.

When the sad break-up was upon us, his iron skillet was one of the first pieces of the kitchen to go.  In the harried shuffle of the quick move-out, he took a few of my favorite knives and my gorgeous bamboo cutting board.  It wasn’t worth the fight.  But if he had taken my wok……

This morning, my cousin sent me a great NY Post article about pre pre-nups.  For real.  These dating couples, many who live together (and in some cases those who don’t) create formal and informal contracts delegating objects and responsibilities either to themselves or to their other half should a break-up occur.   In the picture featured on the article, one woman is hugging her juicer (or maybe a food processor)…looks like a Breville to me.  And you know, I understand….sometimes these appliances move with us… from our 20s to our 30s, from Manhattan to Boston, from youthful long-term relationships to a new marriage.   I’m pretty sure any semi-observant Buddhist would shudder at this pre pre-nup concept but I think there’s something to be said about claiming what’s yours….until the very, very end.

It’s Growing Season

Photo: Courtesy of Powisset Farm

Today’s post features Meryl LaTronica, Farm Manager at Powisset Farm, who checks in with PRK each month to give us a taste of what’s she’s working on. Or, in this instance, what she’s getting into…

Meryl LaTronica, Guest Contributor
Powisset Farm

Let the season begin!

On your mark, get set, grow! OK, I know that sounds really cheesy, but that’s how it always feels to me this time of year. It’s late February, so right about now I am getting busy crossing things off of that long winter list of things To Do. Do crop plan, check. Make a greenhouse and field planting schedule, check. Order seeds, check. Order potting soil, check. Hire farm crew, check. Mourn the end of vacation and celebrate the beginning of a new farm season, check and check.

The beginning of March is a very exciting time on the farm; to me it’s like the warm-up before a very long race. The first week of March, our assistant farm manager is back to work on the farm. Together, we open up the greenhouse, clear the winter cobwebs off dormant seed trays, open that first bag of potting soil and get to work. First, we mix our potting soil into a special Powisset Farm homemade soil table. Taking one bag of heavy soil and one bag of light soil, we slice open the first bags with the swift move of a small, red-handled harvest knife. We plunge our hands deep into the soil, turning the soft, dark, moist soil until the two weights are evenly distributed. The smell of it fills our nostrils with as much force as the grains of earth fill the dry cracks in our winter hands. It smells of spring time. It smells of hope and excitement and joy for what this new season will bring. We grab the dust covered plastic seed trays and fill them with this hope, this soil, and put them on the table, ready to be planted.

We start with the onions. This year at Powisset we plan to grow seven different varieties. We have some for storage, some for bunching and some specialty onions, like Ailsa Craig, a giant yellow onion exceptional for making the largest, thickest onion rings. We take the soil-filled trays and carefully dimple each plug with our finger tips. In each plug we drop three seeds, until the tray is filled. Then, we cover each plug with additional soil, tucking the seeds in conscientiously and bidding them goodbye until we see their little green spouts breaking through that very soil, many days later.

And now it has begun. Once that first tray of onions has been planted, we are officially farming. Another season, another tray of onions to care for and watch grow from seed to field to harvest to dinner. I can’t wait!

Emperor Garden At Its Best

Last night I joined my kung fu “brothers and sisters” in a wild Chinese New Years feast.  I only take tai chi so don’t expect any wheeling kicks from this gal.  No matter what our martial arts background, we were all overwhelmed by the dinner. 10 courses, including duck, oysters, lobster, chicken, pork, scallops, shrimp, noodles (and some veggies)…not to mention two desserts and endless tea…. It was insane.  Here is a visual of one of the first courses (a nice mixture of many of the meats…including some slices of squid).

Photo: Jessica's IPhone

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try dim sum this weekend!  Here is a review of Emperor’s Garden by Atlas Obscura.   Do you have a favorite dim sum destination? In Boston? Elsewhere? Share your wisdom!

Visit the Kitchen of Fiore Di Nonno

Photo: Kelly Creedon

There’s nothing like starting off the weekend with a slice of fresh mozzarella! Occasionally, we bring you a multimedia extravaganza from our favorite kitchens. Watch and listen to our PRK slideshow of what’s going on at Fiore di Nonno.

Fiore di Nonno’s creations are the work of Lourdes Fiore Smith, a culinary talent who came to cheesemaking later in her career. Introduced to mozzarella by her cheesemaking grandfather, Lourdes never actually received his original recipe. Her interest in bringing his cheese back to life resulted in a multi-year journey of tasting, touching and smelling.

With her foundational recipe secure, she branched into experimental projects with local chefs like Ana Sortun while still providing fresh mozzarella and burrata to local food shops and farmer’s markets.  It seems the period of creation is never over; when we visited her earlier this winter, she was pursuing new collaborations with more chefs.

Photos: Kelly Creedon

Fiore Smith’s delights are crafted in a fantastic space in Somerville….a building that also houses Taza Chocolate’s bean to bar operation. PRK visited that space recently and we discovered quite a story……

Thursday Tidbits

Abby Conway

The Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge – MET!
The Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge winners are starting to roll in! Last week we wrote about the Super creative contest organized by Jessica at A Fete for Food and four of her foodie pals. The goal? To incorporate some ultra-nutritious ingredients into your breakfast meal that wouldn’t normally be there. The winners for avocado, flax seed, lentils and quinoa have been announced thus far, with recipes ranging from Rocky Road Oatmeal (that’s the avocado one) to Pear-Lentil Patties. Kiss that morning bowl of Cheerios goodbye. Hello quinoa!

The Art of Eating In
Cathy Erway’s book The Art of Eating In is out on stands today. Erway authored the blog Not Eating Out in New York, which documented her two- year hiatus from New York City’s food scene. Her new book chronicles the more personal aspects of her time spent eating in: crafting cheap recipes to suit her busy lifestyle, exploring the city’s home-cooking culture, learning where food comes from and what goes into producing it.

Amateur Cooks (of Lamb) Wanted
On February 28th the Middle East is hosting Matt Timm’s Lamb Takedown and they’re asking brave amateur cooks to step up. Timm began producing ‘chili takedowns’ in Brooklyn in 2005. Since then, the ingredients and locales have changed and grown. For the Feb. 28th event, cooks will be given 15 lbs of lamb to prepare any which way they please. Not interested in actually rolling up your sleeves? $15 will get you in the door and sampling each creation.

Soda: the new tobacco?
In last Friday’s article in The New York Times, Mark Bittman compared sugar-sweetened beverage manufacturers to those of tobacco. Their marketing practices are similar in the eyes of their critics–heavily weighted towards children, with disputable claims that their beverages are healthy or, at worst, benign, and intense lobbying efforts to prevent change. Sellers of the sweet stuff point out that soda is safe in moderate amounts and not addictive. The article weighs the viability of a soda tax as both a check on consumption and a means of paying for anti-obesity campaigns. The idea of such a tax is controversial, to say the least. What’s your take?

Go Kimchi Crazy
Think you’ve got the best kimchi recipe? Now is your chance to share your pickled delights with the world (well, with Boston, for starters). The Greater Boston Kimchi Festival is set for Sunday, March 21st, and currently accepting entries. Competitors seeking bragging rights can enter their kimchi into several categories, including local, traditional and innovative. Organizers of the event are also offering entertainment, cooking demonstrations and door prizes. Proceeds will help restore the Theodore Parker Unitarian Universalist Church in West Roxbury, whose mission includes promoting environmental stewardship and sustainable agriculture.

The Future of Raja Farm

Sheeps' ears are tagged for transport on their way to another farm for breeding. Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Patricia Kauffman, PRK Guest Contributor

Last month my friend Leslie and I paid a visit to Ellen Raja of Raja Farm in Lincoln where we buy lamb. The property sits on a corner of a 26-acre parcel that includes wetlands and is surrounded by another 56 protected acres belonging to Mass Audubon. This rich farmland is home to sheep — Blue Face , Border Leicesters, and Shetland — chickens, lambs, Henry and Julia, the llamas who guard the sheep from wildlife intruders, plus a couple of herding dogs. Ellen’s livestock are free to roam from her parcel to graze in the adjacent, expansive open space. You can take in the full sweep of land from the house’s back deck, sharing the space with the chickens that meander about.

Ellen moved here in 1960 with her late husband, raised a family, planted flower beds and vegetable gardens, and worked as a nurse. Ellen will tell you right out that she is a custodian, a caretaker of this agricultural land with a responsibility to those who came before her and those who will come after. She embraces this role fully, with a keen sense of intelligence and practicality, feeling enormously fortunate to be doing what she wants to do.

Free range chickens check their reflections at the back door. Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Illustrating the sublime economy to the whole affair, Ellen leaves nothing to waste. She has a steady customer base for free delivery of the 18-22 eggs per day her chickens produce. Lambs are slaughtered and sold to those lucky enough to get on “the list.” An old rooster becomes a delicious stew for her Brazilian friends. In her sun-drenched kitchen, Ellen spins the sheared wool to make hats and mittens to sell at an artists’ cooperative during the holiday season. What she doesn’t spin, Ellen brings to the annual Sheep and Wool Fair where it sells at $12 to $16 a pound. It’s a frugal, practical way of life where everything has a return on its investment, and life has a certain rhythm.

What worries this longtime steward of the land is that the adjacent 26 acres, known as MacDowell Field, is for sale, with an appraised value of $2.98 million and zoning for 3 house lots. If it sells, she’ll no longer be able to sustain the sheep farm, her livelihood.

Roy MacDowell’s decision to sell this portion of his property triggered the Town of Lincoln’s right to purchase the land for its appraised value. The Rural Land Foundation and Massachusetts Audubon have partnered with the town to structure a deal to protect the land permanently. But first they must raise the funds for the purchase – which with additional transactional costs hovers just above the $3 million mark (an article in last month’s Boston Globe summarized the financial situation and key players in the forthcoming sale of the MacDowell property).

I love the lamb I buy from Ellen Raja’s farm. I know she has taken good care of her livestock, fed them well, allowed them plenty of roaming room. When it’s time to bring them in for slaughter, she makes sure they don’t have to wait more than an hour so that their stress level is low. The eggs, too, are delicious – fresh, bright orange yolks and free range. Food nurtured this way nurtures me. But it would be a shame if this glorious land were lost for good to you, to me and generations to come.

To contribute to this preservation effort, please send donations right away to:

Liz Albert, Manager of Land Campaign
Mass Audubon
208 South Great Road
Lincoln, MA 01773


Geoff McGean, Executive Director
Rural Land Foundation
PO Box 63428
Lincoln, MA 01773

Time is of the essence!!

Washed wool on dries on a rack. Photo: Patricia Kauffman

Read Patricia’s previous post for PRK.

Jonesing For Green


Photo: Courtesy of

Anastacia Marx de Salcedo, Guest Contributor
Slow Food Boston

February is tough on even the most chlorophyll-phobic among us. The other day, I caught my brother-in-law—the guy who’s enacted a total ban on houseplants and helivacs the floral arrangement from the dining room table—stuffing my Seeds of Change catalog down his pants.
“What are you doing?” I asked.

“Um, planning a garden?”

Ordinarily, I would have been supportive, but we’re talking about fodder for late night fantasies featuring Armenian cucumbers and Kurota Chantenay carrots.

“Not with my catalog you don’t,” I said, ripping it out of his hands. “But I’d be happy to give you a few pointers.”

Here’s what I told him. Continue reading

Soup Galore

Photo: adactio/Flickr

Susan McCrory
Research by Abby Conway

With President’s Day weekend at our doorstep, we thought the theme of SOUP would be a fitting start to the long weekend. You’ve got more time to cook, it’s cold out there and gang-busters soup with a chunk of hearty bread tops the list of Great Winter Comfort Food! Here are a few ideas:

Winter Soup (with celeriac and chick peas) from Wicked Tasty Harvest. Check out that gnarly parsnip!

Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup from We Are Not Martha.

Nearly drowning in the white stuff, a majorly snowed-in cook in the D.C. area sought refuge in a soup she created off the cuff and now forgets. But she says it’s a lot like the Moroccan Lentil and Spinach Soup from The Creative Pot.

Erin Cooks had a go at this flavor-full Roasted Butternut Squash Soup and Curry Condiments (and check out those Valentine’s Day molasses cookies!)  

Cooking 4 the Week offers up a Black Bean Soup with Savory Cream with a short list of more soups to try and a recent post on no-knead bread. ‘Not sure about you, but the prospect of kneading dough makes me freeze up! This looks goooood.

Finally, did you catch the news of the “Let’s Move” initiative being spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama? With the full backing of the White House, she’s kicking off a national movement promoting more play (read: exercise) and healthier eating (read: less sugar and fat) in our nation’s children in an effort to combat and eventually eliminate childhood obesity.

We can all draw from that, no?

Eat soup, play lots, and have a great President’s Day weekend, everyone!

Thursday Tidbits

Photo: idogcow/Flickr

Susan McCrory
Research by Emma Jacobs

Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge
PRK just caught wind of a really super Super Bowl challenge. No footballs here, folks. This is the Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge that Jessica of A Fete for Food and four of her foodie cronies (all based in MA, all nutrition-minded) are holding this week to expand our collective morning repertoires. Quinoa? For breakfast?? What’s Dat? There’s one more day to compete: tomorrow’s challenge is WALNUTS, with photos and recipes due Thursday, 2/18. Winners will be announced daily, beginning the week of February 22. Prizes, too!

Virtue or Vice: McDonald’s at the Olympic Games
Value [the] Meal reports that McDonald’s has set up three new franchises in Vancouver to serve arriving athletes and guests (though the photo with their story is clearly not of Vancouver in winter). The relationship between the Golden Arches and Olympic Rings apparently dates back to a 1968 airlift of burgers to homesick American athletes competing in Grenoble. Value [the] Meal argues that McDonald’s presence at the Olympics sends a bad message to kids at the expense of what could and should be the ultimate ad for healthy living. Not surprisingly, MacDonald’s sees it differently.

Cranberries from B.C.
According to the Boston Herald, Ocean Spray will be creating a floating set of Olympic rings in a city park in Richmond, British Columbia, made up of nothing less than 30,000 lbs of cranberries. This to celebrate the upcoming Olympic Games and the approximately 60 family-run farms in the region that are part of the Ocean Spray Cooperative. Per Ocean Spray’s Marketing VP:

“We’ve staged a number of cranberry spectaculars in front of Rockefeller Center (in New York City) and Patriot Place (in Foxboro), so we wanted a really big spectacle for the Olympic Games.”

The display was originally planned for float on the Fraser River, but was moved due to “extraordinary river conditions.” Ice?

Modern Neccos
You may not have had them since junior high, but those tiny candy hearts from Necco have been an unchanging Valentine’s Day ritual for years. No more. The latest batch of Necco’s Sweethearts, which now come with such ultra-romantic messages as “Tweet Me” and “Text Me,” have had a flavor update, after 140 years. The new flavors are “bolder and brighter and more fruit-based.” The traditional varieties will be available this year, but only from dollar stores. Know how many Sweetheart candies the Necco factory in Revere will produce this year? 6.5 billion (!)

Valentine’s Day Menus
For other Valentine’s Day treats, NPR suggests avocados. The Boston Globe suggests a romantic meal at home, but also gives options for eating out. If avocados are your thing, Lindsey of Healthy Blog Snack offers her take on avocados for breakfast as part of the Super Breakfast Bowl Challenge. You know what that means: breakfast in bed, anyone?