Tag Archives: vegetables

Vegan MoFo Polenta Casserole!

Oh, cornmeal. In every corner of the world, cornmeal is used in abundance, from the Makki di roti in South Asia to kachamak in Bulgaria to the intriguing national dish of Barbados, Cou-cou and the Flying Fish.

In my kitchen it is mostly used as breading, cornbread and the occasional johnnycake craving. I love working with cornmeal because it is versatile and flavorful, but I haven’t done much with polenta, or boiled cornmeal, despite its terrific heritage and various uses.

[Among my favorite, from the Wikipedia entry on polenta: “In southern Austria, polenta is also eaten for breakfast (sweet polenta); the polenta pieces are either dipped in café au lait or served in a bowl with the café au lait poured on top of it (this is a favourite of children).”]

Vegan Polenta Pizza Casserole! Continue reading

Good Morning, Community Supported Agriculture!

Thanks to testimonies from friends and from several local blogs (but especially Yum Yum), I have decided to quit sitting the fence and subscribe to a CSA.

From gfgastronaut.wordpress.com

Community supported agriculture, or CSA, has its roots in early 1960s Switzerland, Germany and Japan, when local consumers became concerned about the potential fiscal and health related problems that imported agriculture posed to their communities. For a set number of weeks, consumers purchase a subscription to a local farm entitling them to a weekly share of the crops. There is inherent shared risk and reward in the system, meaning that consumers get whatever the farm grows seasonally (and their share reflects the season’s yield). While contemporary versions of the system have expanded to include specific item ala carte ordering, mostly it works the same way: you subscribe and receive a share, usually vegetables and fruit, sometimes dairy and meat and occasionally even sundry items (apple butter, preserves, cider).

The main drawback of the system is the risk the consumer takes – a thin harvest means little to distribute as shares – but the benefits of the system are immense. Firstly, community supported agriculture does exactly that: supports agriculture in the community. By buying shares of the harvest, consumers are allowing farms to continue to exist, to thrive, to grow. Local farms can continue to feed and educate their communities. Everybody benefits.

From postgazette.com

In addition, CSA subscribers are given an increased intimacy with the food they eat. Knowing not only where the food has come from but how it was grown and when can lead to a powerful bond between grower, buyer, and the food between them. As a CSA participant, you are getting from a local source, which cuts down on the amount of travel, therefore, short of growing it yourself, you’re getting some of the freshest possible produce.

Western Pennsylvania boasts many local farms, which means a lot of choices when it comes to CSAs. That’s where I need some help. Anyone who has a subscription, which program/farm do you subscribe to? One of my friends, Kait, had a summer box with Isidore Foods, a company that pulls from several farms in Lawrence, Butler, and other counties to offer year-round CSA subscriptions. Because they have drop-off points right down the road from me in Mt. Lebanon, it makes sense to go with Isidore, but what are some other good options?

For reference:

From the Fork and the Road

Slow Food Pittsburgh has a good, concise guide to choosing a CSA.
– A good discussion thread on Chowhound regarding local CSA options.
– Nice overview on CSAs at Local Harvest.
– Comprehensive list of local farms from Grow Pittsburgh
– Isidore sponsored Eat Local Pittsburgh

Year of the Pie

With the at-home tailgate for the Mountaineer game on Friday, Halloween partying on Saturday, and trick-or-treaters + Steelers game/The Walking Dead premiere, I haven’t had a whole lot of down time to cook and/or write about cooking. I’m looking forward to the day I get a digital camera, because then I can properly write/display the culinary output of kitchen. Friday’s tailgate feast was particularly good, but without pictures there’s little point to devoting a whole post about it.

The little bit of food-related business from the weekend (unless you count stuffing my face with candy and drinking a lot of beer) was reading this article on The Huffington Post, reporting the Nation’s Restaurant News 2011 Food and Restaurant Trends predictions. Among the upcoming trends:

2011 is THE YEAR OF THE PIE – According to restaurant and hotel consultant, Andrew Freeman, we are on the cusp, or, rather, the crust of the 2011 Pieocalypse: “This is not just sweet pies, this is savory pies, bite-sized pies. They are even blended into milkshakes,” he said. “I’ll eat pie if I don’t get this one right at the end of the year.”
Following the trend of item-specific bakeries, notably the cupcake craze of 2007 – 2009, and a more recent spate of donut shop fever, look for more pie shops serving up sweet and savory offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desert, snack time, birthdays… Look, ANY TIME is a good time for pie. Continue reading