Roasted Sauce for Pizza (and more)


A few weeks ago, I mentioned to a fellow food loving friend how I was tediously slicing cherry tomatoes for drying in my dehydrator. I grow these tiny little cherry tomatoes that go crazy every summer, and always end up with a bumper crop that challenges my ability to keep up. Drying them was a fussy process of removing the stems, rinsing, slicing in half, and one by one placing cut side up on dehydrator trays. She mentioned that she’d recently processed her extra tomatoes by roasting them whole, pulsing them briefly in the food processor, and using this delicious concoction on pizza. I was immediately inspired. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been testing and roasting and seasoning and adjusting to come up with my own version of this delicious, sweetly tangy, flavor-rich sauce. The long roasting of the tomatoes adds a smoky, layered complexity and delicious velvety texture to this sauce, making it something special. When I opened my CSA box this week and discovered several lushly red tomatoes, I immediately knew I wanted to share this roasted tomato goodness here.


You’ll need:


About 3 lbs of fresh tomatoes

1 medium onion

¼ cup olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Herbs, fresh or dried, of your choosing

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut large tomatoes in half, leave small tomatoes whole. Slice onion thinly. Spread tomatoes and onion in a pan, and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and herbs to taste. Give everything a good stir, then place pan in oven. Every 20 minutes, check the tomatoes and stir everything around. The tops of the tomatoes should start to turn golden, crispy, and bubbly. Stir these cooked bits back in, and keep cooking (checking and stirring every twenty minutes) until the tomato juices become thickened and almost syrupy. This could take anywhere from an hour to two hours or more, depending on your oven and the tomatoes used. When the tomatoes have fully roasted and are nicely thickened, remove from oven and let cool slightly. Pour the mixture into a food processor (this is optional - if you’re happy with the consistency, you can skip this part) and pulse a few times until you reach a consistency you like. If you want to thin the sauce, add a few glugs of olive oil. Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed. Slather on pizza, use as a marinara dipping sauce, serve over pasta, or freeze to use on a blustery January day!

Grilled Kale


The calendar, and some days, the weather, tell me that summer is fading. My kitchen reflects the teeter totter of seasons, with some days bringing soup and some days bringing salad, as I work to balance the lingering warmth with oncoming coolness. This time of year I always find it most difficult to part with our grilled meals, and really, I’m not sure we should. The crispy, smoky qualities of grilled food nestle quite cozily under autumn’s wing. Grilling fall vegetables helps keep things harmonious with the season; one worth trying right away is grilled kale. Similar to kale chips, but with a smoky edge, grilled kale makes a delicious side dish or salad base. Try topping it with a drizzle of apple cider vinegar, crumbled bacon, caramelized onions, sliced apples, niblets of feta, or dried cranberries.

Grilled Kale

1 bunch kale, washed and dried, tough stems removed

Maldon or other coarse salt


1 clove minced garlic

¼ cup olive oil

Spices, as desired (try crushed red pepper flakes, cumin, or curry powder)

Optional add-ins (crumbled bacon, feta, dried cranberries or raisins, sliced apples, or caramelized onions)

Heat a grill to medium high heat. While the grill is heating, mix together olive oil, any optional spices, and garlic. Brush each kale leaf generously, flipping to coat both sides. Sprinkle the kale with salt and pepper, to taste. Using tongs, place each kale leaf on the grill, cover, and cook until crispy, about two minutes. Open the grill, flip kale leaves carefully, cover the grill once more, and cook for another minute. Use tongs to remove from heat. Serve as is, top with garnishes, or tear into large strips to use for salad.


On making it mindful...

Last week I wrote about being mindful in our relationship with food. I mentioned that there’s no one recipe for drawing out the magic - and that’s true - but capturing the minute details that make our food special is something that can be learned by anyone who is willing to take the time to observe.  A key foundation to this process is understanding that our food carries its stories, its humanity, its energetic fabric within - these quietly enchanted qualities are not something we have to create, rather, they are hidden in plain sight, awaiting our careful discovery. It is when we take care to notice and honor our food’s ability to awaken all five senses that we are able to unearth what’s been hidden in plain sight. A few ideas for getting started...

Sight - As you prepare your food, take time to notice its shape, its color, texture, size, contrasts of light and dark. As you chop, be mindful of the shape and size of the pieces. Notice the details contained within fruits and vegetables, and how they differ from the exterior. Watch the transformation of eggs as they are beaten or fried. Notice how ingredients swirl together as they are stirred, mixed, and folded. Be mindful of finishing touches; the way that freshly cracked pepper, a sprinkling of coarse salt, a glug of olive oil, a whirl of sour cream, or a small handful of chopped herbs can transform the visual appeal of a dish.

Smell - Allow smell to guide your cooking and eating as much as any other sense. Smell a fresh tomato, a ball of dough, the blossom end of a cantaloupe, and let what wafts up be your guide. Notice the smells that seep into the air as food is sliced open; the fresh clean scent of cucumber, the crisp biting zing of a pepper, the soft pungency of a turnip. Follow the transition of smell as food is heated on the stove; the intoxicating allure of garlic, sweetly beckoning onions, soul soothing cinnamon. Drink these smells hungrily and without rush, with eyes closed and heart open.

Hearing - The sounds of a kitchen seem to often be neglected by our attention. The sizzle of hot fat, the satisfactory slice of a sharp knife, the bubbling of soup, the scraping of spoon against bowl. Kitchens elicit a gentle buzz of life and energy, auditory reminders of food’s greater purpose. Equally important kitchen sounds are the intimate chatter of family and the actual music you cook, eat, and live to. Take the time to hear the harmonious cacophony of these many layered songs.

Taste - As the most obvious sense awakened by our food, it’s easy to assume that we fully experience taste. Closer inspection of this sense, however, might prove otherwise. A fun exercise is to eat a meal with intentional slowness, chewing each bite twice as long as you typically might, paying careful attention to the transformation of flavor as it develops in your mouth. Notice the contrast of flavors in a dish, a practice nicely assisted by the use of the right garnishes. Challenge yourself to experience flavor more fully than you thought possible.

Touch - Another sense that doesn’t always receive its fair acclaim in the kitchen. Mouth feel is perhaps the easiest place to start, but is certainly no end point. Being mindful of a tender bite of steak, the silky velvet of cheesecake, or the tender crispness of a fresh carrot is an important place to start, and offers exquisite joy. But equally important is noticing the weight of a tomato, the contrast of a smooth spoon and the textures it carries,  the delight of encountering a lactose crystal in a bite of aged cheese, or the softly worn patina of a well loved wooden spoon.


Paying more attention to even one of these senses can elevate a meal into the realm of spiritual. Learning to mind all five of these senses while cooking and eating has the power to entirely transform our relationship with food. Meals become slower, softer, more satisfying. Preparing food becomes a centering escape and a massage for the soul, rather than a mundane and critical task for completion. Suddenly, we are able to experience the aspects of our food that have patiently awaited our discovery for years. We can see the farmer, carefully selecting vegetable varieties. We can touch the seeds, so tiny, offering astounding abundance and the delicate balance of genetic material. We can feel the weather that nurtured the season, raindrops and wind gusts and saturating sunshine. We can hear the hushed music of nightfall over the fields and feel the glow of the moon over crops. We can smell all of this life intermingled, sweat and soil and thick August air. This is food. This is life. This is the magic.



Mindful Nosh

I’m a believer in things that are special. A home sparsely full of carefully chosen, delicately important belongings will always win my heart over a house overflowing with a casual abundance of items. I think tea is more soothing when sipped from a hand thrown mug with grit still in the clay and that meals taste better from a gracefully arranged plate. I don’t need things to be expensive or designer or trendy. I just want my things to be purposeful. Chosen with intent. Crafted for the moment. Life is sweeter when we honor each instant that we can, mindfully soaking up the feeling of a soft blanket, the smell of the forest, shoes that cradle our feet just so.

I especially covet this ritual of special-ness with food. Because food is special. It comforts, celebrates, nourishes, and sustains. I like to think it carries the energetic fingerprints of all the lives intermingled in its production - from the planting of seeds and tending of weeds to the harvesting and washing. Our food quietly carries the stories of so many lives, silently weaving together the threads of humanity. We don’t usually see or hear those stories, but we can acknowledge their existence by paying tribute to the fact that food in our kitchen is proof of love and loss and all that runs in between. Layered upon the humanity it carries, food also brings with it the reminder of our tender earth: the soothing reappearance of the sun each morning, the relevance of every droplet of water. If we listen carefully, our food is patiently waiting to remind us that we are not only alive but deeply connected to one another, and that this earth we inhabit is swarming with magic.

This understanding of food has the power to change how we nourish ourselves. We don’t need our food to be extravagant in order to be mindfully nourished by it. By taking care, thoughtfully measuring and folding in intention, and being mercilessly present, we can perhaps slow down enough to touch and feel and see and hear and taste all that our food carries with it.  

Developing a relationship with food that honors it fully is an individual and celebratory journey. Along this path we are able to discover our own artistry and creativity, a style and methodology that is uniquely individual. There is no recipe for this, and that makes it at once more accessible and more elusive. We must believe, at least to a tiny extent, in our own ability to capture magic in our hands.


Breakfast (and lunch, and dinner) Bowls

Sometimes I get stuck in a food rut. It happens most often when I find myself happily overindulging in whatever culinary trend has caught my interest at the moment. Luckily, my CSA share seems to act like one of those fancy new cars that might as well drive themselves. Veering off the road? No worries, that sleek technology guides you safely back on track before you can blink. Forward progress continues unhindered. It is seasonal eating that means I'm no longer eating corn on the cob in December or whipped parsnips in August. The ship rights itself naturally. Balance.

I recently found myself heading for a bit of a breakfast/brunch rut. Our family loves big lazy brunches. We dance in the kitchen while we cook, listen to great music, drink tea, eat too much bacon... and we laugh. But my brunch menu had become predictable. Eggs and sauteed greens, bacon, and usually a Dutch baby for the kids. And it was yummy, if predictable.

This past weekend, we were out of bacon, but we did have ground breakfast sausage. Hmmmm. As I began sauteing the greens, innovation started to sprout in my mind. With greens and ground sausage, I began thinking that this meal would require a serving of soft grits on the side. As I stirred the grits, I began thinking about the adorable earthen crocks I recently purchased, and suddenly I knew I was making breakfast bowls. Into each bowl went a scoop of grits and a tumble of sausage. The sausage was drizzled with a little salsa verde before adding a tumble of sauteed vegetables - greens and summer squash and onions. On top of that went a shaving of fresh Brookford cheddar, a sprinkle of chives, and hot sauce.

So many beautiful things, all piled up and oozing together in that bowl. While each separate piece would have been yummy and satisfying on its own, together they harmonized into something just beyond divine. The layering of textures and flavors. Bursts of tangy and hot, mellow and biting. I immediately knew I had fallen into my next favorite food trend - and not just for breakfast either. History would suggest that this might lead me, eventually, into a bit of a rut of repetition while I fully vet the possibilities. It’s all right though. We’ll enjoy every scrumptious bite on our way there, safe in the knowledge that the nature of the seasons will eventually return us to balance.


Make Your Own Breakfast (or lunch, or dinner!) Bowls

Pick a base

You want something hearty and comforting, and with a mellow flavor that can mesh well with all the other yumminess you’ll be adding. Try:

  • Grits
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Beans
  • Udon noodles
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Savory oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Cooked barley
  • Home fried potatoes
  • Rice noodles

Choose your meat

(This option can definitely be skipped right over for a vegetarian version.) While bacon and sausage are obvious choices, there are so many things that can work here. Try:

  • Grilled chopped steak
  • Stewed beef
  • Leftover roast or grilled chicken
  • Braised pork ribs
  • Crumbled bacon
  • Sliced or crumbled sausage

Pick out some veg

This may be where things get most exciting, but perhaps that’s only for me and my passionate love of vegetables that show up at breakfast. It’s just hard not to get excited about so many options. Try:

  • Roasted root vegetables
  • Sauteed onions and peppers
  • Summer squash and zucchini
  • Sliced fresh tomatoes with minced jalapenos
  • Grilled eggplant
  • Stir fried broccoli and garlic
  • Wilted greens

Select a sauce (or two)

In our version, we layered some salsa verde over the grits and sausage and then later topped the whole thing off with hot sauce. It was indulgent and amazing. Try:

  • Salsa
  • Hot sauce
  • Aioli
  • Buttermilk dressing
  • Vinaigrette
  • BBQ sauce
  • Creamy avocado sauce
  • Balsamic
  • Liquid aminos or soy sauce
  • Brookford sour cream
  • Pesto

Cheese, too

The cheese on top is pretty crucial to the wow-factor of a really satisfying meal-in-a-bowl. You want to select something with just enough tang to stand out while highlighting the best of everything else. It’s a job with big expectations. Try:

  • Brookford blue cheese
  • Raw cheddar
  • Crumbled feta
  • Jalapeno cheddar
  • Smoked cheddar
  • Gouda
  • Fresh mozzarella

Don’t skip the garnish!

Like the cheese, a well-chosen garnish helps add excitement, a burst of flavor, and brings out nuances in other elements. Try:

  • Maldon salt
  • Chives
  • Chopped fresh herbs
  • Freshly cracked pepper
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Chopped onion
  • Minced hot peppers

And feel free to add an egg

  • Although our version was egg-less, there are so many ways an egg can elevate all of this goodness even more. Try:
  • Hard boiled and chopped
  • Poached
  • Crispy and fried
  • Scrambled (this could even serve as your base)


I challenge you to walk on the wild side and risk getting stuck in this rut. A meal that can be made with almost any ingredient on hand, that can be reinvented a dozen different ways, and that works well morning, noon, or night? It’s the perfect formula for seasonal eating, and an utterly fine place to get stuck.

Kohlrabi (is your new favorite vegetable)

This is a selfish post. It is selfish, because it’s about kohlrabi, and because it is my full intention to convert every person who reads this kohlrabi-praising-post into an unrestrained lover of my favorite vegetable. You’ve been warned.

I love many, many vegetables. Voluptuous tomatoes, silky greens, jewel toned eggplant, pungent brassicas, crisp radishes...I have many loves of the vegetable variety. I even have many favorites. But one favorite rises above all other favorites for me, and that’s the bulbous, thickly skinned, alien looking kohlrabi.

Kohlrabi is not something you find in the average grocery store. Although it looks like it might possibly be a root vegetable, the round kohlrabi bulb is actually the plant’s delectable stem. Kohlrabi also grows lush green leaves from its stem, which, like turnip and beet greens, can be eaten and enjoyed (either raw or cooked). Kohlrabi tastes similar to broccoli, though it is less pungent, more sweet, and more tender-crisp.

I adore the flavor of kohlrabi. Peeled, I could eat an entire bulb raw like an apple. It is mild, satisfyingly crunchy, fresh tasting, and SO SO SO versatile. You can chop it up and serve it in a salad, make it into a really tasty slaw, mash it, use it to make fries, pickle it, ferment it, grill it, roast it, turn it into soup, make fritters, stir-fry it, make curry with it...honestly, it’s probably quicker to list the things you cannot do with kohlrabi.

When you see kohlrabi in your CSA box (it can be either green or purple, large or small), don’t be scared! The most difficult thing about kohlrabi is deciding how you’re going to use it, because there are so many delicious options to choose from! The best plan of action, of course, is to try them all, and fall fully and completely in love.


A summer beef stew

This weekend, we got a much needed reprieve from the hot, dry summer. Sunday brought a cool, humid rain, and for my family, an excuse to stay indoors and be lazy. Somehow this shift inside immediately awakened my desire to be in the kitchen, fussing over dinner. With some good music playing and a gray drizzle outside, I felt inspired to create a summer beef stew, using some of the stew beef from our most recent share. I wanted something savory and rich to balance the damp weather, but also something that would embody the vibrance and lively color of summer. This did the trick.

When I think about summer food, beef stew isn’t usually what comes to mind. But with lively tender crisp vegetables paired against the slowly braised beef, it works. Almost any summer vegetables can be used here, so get creative and make substitutions as desired.

Summer Beef Stew

3 strips of Brookford bacon

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

1 lb Brookford stewing beef

28 ounces canned tomatoes

2 cups dry red wine

1 TBSP anchovy paste

1 bay leaf

1 TBSP herbs de Provence

2 cups water or stock

1 cup chopped green beans, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 zucchini, chopped into small bite size pieces

1 summer squash, chopped into small bite size pieces

2 carrots, sliced into ¼ inch rounds

3 small onions, sliced thinly

¼ cup sherry vinegar

Fresh herbs for garnish

Flaky sea salt

Set a large dutch oven on an unheated stove. Lay the bacon strips in the dutch oven and turn the heat to medium high. Cook, flipping once, until crispy. Remove the bacon and set aside to cool. Season the stewing beef well with salt and pepper, rubbing it in with your hands. Leaving the bacon fat in the pan, (add a glug of olive oil if the pan looks like it needs a little extra), add the stew beef to the hot fat. Sear, undisturbed, until well browned and a crust has developed, about five minutes. Carefully turn the beef and repeat until seared on all sides. (If your pan isn’t large, you will need to sear the beef in batches to maintain enough heat to get a good crust). Once all the beef is well crusted, add half the wine to the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom. Finely chop the reserved bacon, and add half of it to the pan (reserve the other half) along with the anchovy paste, and stir frequently as the mixture cooks down. Once the liquid has thickened, (this will take about five minutes over medium high heat), add the rest of the wine, the bay leaf, the herbs de Provence, and the canned tomatoes. Stir well and cook over medium high heat for five more minutes, while preheating the oven to 250 degrees. At this point, you may want to add additional liquid (either water or stock), depending on how much is left in the pan. You want enough liquid to allow the beef to braise once in the oven, but not so much that the mixture turns soupy. Give it a stir, cover with a heavy lid, and put the entire pan in the oven. Allow the beef to braise for 4-6 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so, and adding more liquid as needed to maintain a stew-like quality. During the last hour of braising the meat, heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the onions, and cook, stirring often, until translucent, about two minutes. Add the remaining vegetables, season well with salt, and saute until tender crisp, making sure to remove from the heat before they lose their bright color.

Remove the dutch oven from the oven and place it on the stove top. Remove the lid, stir it well, and add the sauteed vegetables and sherry vinegar to the pan, mixing carefully to incorporate everything. Taste for salt and pepper and season as needed.  Serve on its own, or over soft polenta or cooked rice. Garnish with a sprinkle of the reserved crumbled bacon, a few glugs of olive oil, a pinch of flaky sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a sprinkling of chives or other fresh herbs.


A seasonal eater's ode to the season

Every summer, there’s a week where the magic happens. At first the harvest unfolds slowly; leafy greens and alliums are joined by radishes and carrots, variety sprouting up as the weeks tumble by. By the time the cucumbers make their sturdy appearance on the vine, the harvest is no longer lazily unfurling, rather, it has become a veritable explosion of shape and color. For me, the magic week happens when the shift in pace is so palpable that simply opening the veggie box seems to discharge a trace of midsummer magic into the air. This week’s veggie box full of sweet corn (a full dozen!), cherry tomatoes (red and yellow!), humble zucchini and summer squash (always holding down the fort!), jalapenos and bell peppers and onions and cabbage (and more, oh my!)...had me cartwheeling across my kitchen (at least in my head). It’s the week where abundance is undeniable. It’s the week where my gratitude for seasonal eating swells to new heights, reminding me how grateful I am for what we go without so that I can fully absorb and appreciate the fleeting beauty of this season. It all tastes like summer. It all smells like summer. All so purely elemental - sunlight and rain and soil, the genetic intricacies so carefully enclosed within tiny seeds, the miraculous science and magic that conspire to coax carrot seeds into carrots and tomato seeds into tomatoes, and everything in between.

In the midst of a world that seems ever divided, with real issues that need to be solved, I find myself at once inspired to create change and inspired to embrace the little joys around me. These morsels of happiness are not trivial. They’re the lifeblood of a contented life. Of being whole. Of replenishing our hearts and souls so that we can move forward as positive forces within this world. Taking time for mindfulness, gratitude, and simple indulgences isn’t frivolous, it’s critically important. In that spirit, I share my summer eating bucket list. It is this seasonal eater’s ode to the season and vow to appreciate every last bite.

Before the wood smoke curls through the crisp night air of October, I will eat…

...a whole tomato like a tangy, coreless apple. I won’t hold back on the salt.

...delicate summer squash salad.

...bell peppers with skins blistered from the grill.

...cured and grilled cabbage served with Brookford blue cheese. I won’t want to share this.

...marinated and grilled eggplant.

...crunchy, zesty cucumber salad.

...sumptuous gazpacho. With crusty bread.

...salt potatoes. (Contented sigh.)

...tangy-sweet grilled onion steaks. entire batch of homemade salsa. In one sitting.

...grilled pizza smothered in Brookford mozzarella, bacon, tomatoes (thinly!!! sliced) and grilled eggplant.

...silky marinated zucchini.

...corn grilled in the husk, smothered in Brookford butter.

...grilled, bacon wrapped jalapenos. With a cold beer.


...and by the time the mornings bring a soft haze of frost on the field, I hope to find my belly full, my heart basking in summer’s residual heat, and my palate satiated. We’re in the thick of summer’s magic. Let’s devour it.

Polenta and Savoring Summer

Something happens to time in the thick of summer. It simultaneously moves briskly and haltingly, landing us in September or October still decked out in our flip flops and sunglasses, cold drink in hand, wondering how we landed months ahead when just a moment ago we were laughing with friends around the grill. This incongruence of time hits me in the kitchen, especially at dinner time, when it is both late and early, the sun keeping us company well into those languid evening hours. I want to eat something that matches this divergence of time in this season - something that is at once simple and lavish, understated and exquisite. Although I tend to happen upon this impasse every year, my solution tends to vary ever summer. Some summers I’ve resorted to grilled pizza, others it’s been risotto. This year has been the season of polenta. Whether grilled, broiled, sauteed, or creamy, I can’t get enough of its versatility and willingness to host or be hosted by each and every pairing I’ve sent its way. If you’ve been finding yourself standing in a daze in a sun dappled kitchen, wondering what dinner should be, look no further. Here are my tips and tricks for mastering polenta and harnessing summer’s lazy, break-neck pace.  

To start, you need a good polenta recipe. I use organic, non-GMO dry polenta. If you know you’re going to grill, broil or saute it, you can also buy prepared polenta. It is more expensive (and in my opinion, less tasty) than dry polenta, but it’s great if you’re in a rush. That said, making homemade polenta isn’t difficult and is very cost effective.


You'll need:

4 cups of broth or stock (if you don’t have any, you can use water)

1 tablespoon cultured butter

1 ½ teaspoons salt (if your broth is salty, you’ll want to decrease the amount of salt)

1 cup of dry, organic polenta

½ cup freshly grated cheese

Bring the salt and broth to a boil over medium high heat in a large pot. Slowly add the polenta, whisking as you go to prevent lumps. Whisk continuously until the polenta begins to thicken, then reduce heat to low. Stir frequently using a wooden spoon and taking care to incorporate the polenta at the edges of the pot. Taste every ten minutes or so - the longer you cook it, the more the individual grains will soften. Some people prefer a grittier, firmer grain, some prefer the longer cooked softness. As the grains soften, the flavor will change and become more sweet. The polenta is finished when you like how it tastes and feels. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese.

If you are serving your polenta soft, as a bed for vegetables or meats, you are essentially done at this point. I like to top my polenta with a dollop of butter or sour cream, a sprinkle of maldon salt, and a little more grated cheese before adding other toppings.

If you are making polenta to grill, bake, broil, or saute, you’ll want to scoop it into a well greased container or pan (parchment paper is also your friend here) and pop it into the fridge to thicken. Within a few hours, the polenta will have solidified nicely and become easy to slice.

Now that you’ve made your polenta, what should you do with it?

If you’re serving it soft (which is my favorite, by the way. There’s something so comforting and downright indulgent about it), it can be a bed for grilled meats or vegetables (hot or cold - though you’ll want the polenta hot), or you can top it with a sauce made of fresh tomatoes (again, cold or hot). If you don’t mind standing over a hot stove for a minute, you can quickly saute (or even roast) a medley of vegetables to serve on top. Truly, any vegetable works here.

Try using soft polenta as a bed for:

Wilted greens with garlic and vinegar

Chopped tomatoes with fresh herbs

Grilled peppers and eggplant with feta cheese

Green beans sauteed with garlic (deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine - yum!)

Chilled roasted beets with garlic and dill quark

Grilled sausage, zucchini, and onions

Fresh tomato sauce and a drizzle of high quality olive oil

If you want to sear your polenta, slice it into pieces about ½ inch thick. Brush the slices with olive oil and then broil, pan sear, or grill about three minutes per side, until crisp and golden. Serve these crispy polenta slices with grilled or fresh vegetables and a drizzle of good olive oil. Top with a few shavings of cheese and some chopped herbs.

Alternatively, place sliced polenta in the bottom of an oiled baking dish, and bake at 350 degrees until beginning to crisp, about 15 minutes. Top this crust with any vegetables of your choosing: fresh sliced tomatoes, sauteed onions and summer squash, grilled eggplant and torn basil with a generous layer of freshly grated cheese and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes longer, until bubbling and golden.




Avoiding Food Waste: A Vegetable Guide

Last week, I posted about food waste in America, and the myriad problems that result from this waste. While it’s true that much food waste comes from restaurants and other food services, actions at home add up in a major way. Because food that ends up in landfills produces enormous quantities of methane as it breaks down, it’s important to try and avoid having food go into the trashcan whenever possible. In my last post, I listed ways that households can avoid food waste on a larger scale through methods like composting and freezing leftovers. Today, I’m breaking it down, vegetable by vegetable, in a quick guide designed to help you make the most of each vegetable while eliminating waste. For each vegetable, I’ve listed useage ideas to help make sure nothing gets stranded in the crisper drawer. You’ll find links for recipes to help inspire you, and hopefully some ideas that are fresh and new. There is also an “avoid waste” section for each listing, which addresses ways to use the parts of vegetables that most often end up in the trash, and gives ideas for using large quantities for situations when you have more than you know what to do with. Four options that come up frequently in the “avoid waste” sections are: regrow in water, make homemade greens powder, save for stock, and dehydrate. I haven’t added the links each time, but added them here for easy referencing. Enjoy!


Use fresh or cooked: in salads, great for pizza, pasta, polenta, risotto, eggs, soups.

Avoid waste: make homemade greens powder or cook when starting to wilt.


Asian Greens

Use fresh or cooked: great for stir fries, sauteed with garlic, soups, eggs, polenta, etc.

Avoid waste: ferment, use in smoothies, greens powder, or cook when starting to wilt. Some (like bok choy) can be regrown in water.



Use fresh or cooked: pesto, pasta, casseroles, soups, eggs, for seasoning dishes.

Avoid waste: freeze in white wine or olive oil in trays for use in cooking later, make basil vinegar or oil.


Use raw or cooked: raw beets are great shredded on salads, juiced and in smoothies. Cooked, beets are delicious roasted and then served warm or cold, in soups, and alongside other root vegetables. Beet greens are also delicious; use them as you would spinach or chard.

Avoid waste: use the greens! Pickle the beet roots, ferment them, freeze them, or make nutritious beet kvass. Add trimmings to veggie stock. Beets also bake well in a variety of recipes, like this cake.


Use raw or cooked: in soups, salads, stir fries, braised, stewed, roasted, or even grilled.

Avoid waste: use the core, too. Cabbage cores can be thinly sliced or julienned before adding to stir fries, casseroles, or soups. Dehydrate wilted cabbage and add it to homemade greens powder. Ferment fresh cabbage to make kimchi or sauerkraut. Regrow in water.



 Use raw or cooked: salads, baked goods,  soup, stir fries, casseroles, and roasted.

Avoid waste: use the tops to make pesto or soup. Add tops and trimmings to stock. Add small carrots to smoothies, make juice, or slice and dehydrate for later use. And don’t forget to make these delicious fermented ginger carrots. Carrot tops can be regrown in water.


Use raw or cooked: while collards are probably too tough for most salads, they work very well as a sturdy wrap for sandwiches or burritos when used raw or steamed. Collards can be braised, steamed, or sauteed. They’re excellent cooked on their own, with soups, paired with pork, or with eggs.

Avoid waste: most people don’t know it, but you can eat collard stems. Try braising them, fermenting them, or use the stems to make stock.


Use raw or cooked: in salads, on the cob, in sautes, chili, soup, chowder, burritos, fritters, and casseroles.

Avoid waste: make relish (try this fermented version, too!), and use the cobs and husks in stock! Corn cobs, especially, are exceptional in all kinds of stock. Don’t throw away the husks, either. They’re excellent for making tamales or using as a wrapper for a delicious grilled meal. Corn husks can also be used for arts and crafts and a variety of odd jobs around the house - check out these ideas!


Use raw: in salads, pickled, in place of bread for sandwiches, and as soup (this is a great way to use up a lot of cucumbers at once).

Avoid waste: leave the peels intact and eat them whenever possible. If you must peel them, save the peels for stock, use them to make infused water, or chop the peels and add to salads or use as a garnish.


Use cooked: in casseroles, grilled, roasted, salad, and in soup.

Avoid waste: do not peel unless needed for your recipe. Use the peels and ends in stock. Eggplant is also an easy vegetable to freeze for later use.


Use raw or cooked: in salads, soup, roasted, in stir fries, stewed, sauteed, or try them on a homemade white pizza.

Avoid waste: fennel fronds can be added to salads or used as a garnish for a variety of dishes. The stalks are great for juicing, steaming alongside fish, and in stock. Try fermenting fennel for a crisp and fresh garnish. Can be regrown in water.

Green Beans

Use raw or cooked: for snacking (try making green bean “french fries!”), sauteed, grilled, in casseroles, and as the base for a tasty salad.

Avoid waste: save the trimmings for stock. A surplus of green beans can easily be fermented, pickled, or frozen.


Use raw or cooked: in salad (try this kale caesar salad, this shredded kale salad, or this lovely massaged kale salad), in soup, sauteed, with eggs, in smoothies, roasted, and yes, grilled.

Avoid waste: kale freezes easily, can be juiced, added to smoothies, or dehydrated to make greens powder. Don’t throw away the stems - use them for stock, cook them to eat, or pickle them.


Use cooked: in gratin, as a side dish, in soups and stews, roasted with other vegetables, in place of or in addition to onions in most recipes.

Avoid waste: leek trimmings are gold for stocks of all kinds - save them save them save them! Also, regrow in water.


Use raw: salads! Also, lettuce works great in place of bread for sandwiches, wraps, burgers, and more.

Avoid waste: add the bottoms to stock, regrow in water. Extra lettuce can be used up easily by making soup, adding to smoothies, or juicing.


Use raw or cooked: literally in everything.

Avoid waste: onion trimmings and peels make great stock. Keep in mind that the peels will add color (in addition to delicious flavor) to your stock, so if you’re feeling picky about that, you may want to omit them.


Use raw or cooked: in salads, soups, stir fries, as a snack.

Avoid waste: freeze them, pickle them, add a handful to a green smoothie, juice them, and add the trimmings to stock.



Use raw or cooked: in salads, soups, stir fries, casseroles, burritos, on pizza, roasted, stuffed, as a breakfast bowl, as crudites...endless possibilities!

Avoid waste: add the trimmings, seeds, stem, etc. to stock. Dehydrate them or freeze them for later.


Use cooked: mashed, fried, sauteed, in soups, casseroles, gratins, as a gluten free crust for quiche, in bread, as chips...what CAN’T potatoes do?

Avoid waste: only peel them when needed, and when you do peel them, save the peels to make these delicious chips. Alternatively, add the peels to vegetable stock.


Use raw or cooked: salads, with butter (on a sandwich or dipped), in stir fries, on tacos, in soup.

Avoid waste: add the trimmings to stock - and DON’T throw away the greens! Radish greens are delicious! Use them to make pesto, soup, salad, or braise them as you would any other hearty green (think bacon fat and salt).

Summer Squash (and zucchini)

Use raw or cooked: in salad, sauteed, stuffed, as a pizza crust, in casseroles, as chips, fritters, soup, with eggs, battered, grilled, and roasted.

Avoid waste: save the ends for stock. Large quantities of zucchini and summer squash can be made into “noodles” for quick eating (it’s faster and easier to make them with a “zoodle” maker, but you can make them by hand as well). Remember that zucchini bakes well - try making bread or these brownies. Try making pickles or fermenting them.

Swiss Chard (and spinach)

Use fresh or cooked: in salad, lasagna, soup, burritos, with eggs, sauteed with garlic, over pasta.

Avoid waste: use the stems. They can be chopped and cooked, requiring a little more cooking time than the leaves. Swiss chard and spinach both dehydrate well for homemade greens powder. Any trimmings can be added to stock.


Use fresh or cooked: everywhere! Soup, salad, on sandwiches, in homemade salsa, sliced and sprinkled with salt, in sauce, stuffed.

Avoid waste: tomatoes can be preserved in a multitude of ways. Make them into sauce and can them, make fermented salsa, dehydrate them, even freeze them. Making soup uses a large quantity at once - try gazpacho for a refreshing and cooling option.

Throwing It All Away: Resisting the culture of food waste in America

Americans waste a lot of food. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, about 40% of American food is wasted every year. It’s not strictly an American problem. Globally, about one third of food produced ends up as waste - about 1.3 billion tons of food every year. Sadly, over 97% of wasted food ends up in landfills where it breaks down anaerobically and produces methane, a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than CO2.

That’s a lot to take in.

Especially when we consider that in the US, 1 in every 7 people doesn’t have enough food to eat. Or that for children, it’s worse - 1 out of every 5 American children is experiencing hunger.

Food waste is expensive. In 2008, the EPA estimated that 1.3 billion dollars were spent simply disposing of wasted food. And then there’s the environmental cost. Annually, 817 million tons of food are shipped around the planet, with a staggering carbon footprint. On average, processed food travels 1,300 miles to reach its destination.

This is not sustainable. No matter how you look at it, we really can’t afford to be wasting all this food. Not from a monetary perspective, not from an environmental perspective, not from a humanitarian perspective.

Over the past several years, I’ve observed a refreshing return to the idea of wasting less, especially when it comes to animals used for food. The rising popularity of bone broth has inspired many to use ingredients that would otherwise be wasted - chicken feet and spent bones. Increasing awareness about healthy fats and the value of a traditional diet has helped ingredients like leaf lard, pig’s ears, and organ meats return to the kitchen. These practices aren’t necessarily mainstream, but it’s a start.

It strikes me that we don’t often apply the same logic to vegetables. How quickly we peel and trim and toss away. There’s the part of the vegetable that we aim to eat, and then there are “scraps.” Yet in that delicate process of transformation from seed to plant, there’s no “scrap” involved. The roots that draw in nourishment from the soil, the leaves that quietly convert the sun’s energy. Each variety of plant functioning in its own specialized and miraculous way - prickly vines and vibrant flowers and symbiosis with neighboring plants - a hard won evolutionary battle of endless refined sophistication. I think about the hours and energy that are poured into these plants. The careful preparation of soil. The pulling of weeds. The sunlight and rain, and the human efforts to correct for too much or too little. Harvesting. The dirt that cakes under fingernails, the sun that beats down on workers in fields, the calluses that form on hands. And yet it’s easy to look at a bunch of carrots with their feathery green tops and see only carrots.

We can resist what we’ve been taught. Because I think that’s what happens, whether it’s intentional or not, when we walk into a grocery store and see a beautiful display of carefully uniform carrots stacked neatly under those fluorescent lights: we’re taught - these are carrots. Removed from the farm, tops neatly trimmed away, every last speck of soil, power washed away. All that life evidence, surgically removed. We forget about the farm. The crumbly earth. The callused hands. The function of the greens. And while I’m sure this forgetfulness serves a purpose, it’s not a purpose I want to participate in. I want to resist this sanitized notion of food and return to the slow paced reality where carrots grow in soil and photosynthesis converts energy from the sun. I want to honor the cycle of life and the intermingling of human effort in the same way we honor an animal when striving to use all the parts. I want to be mindful of the true cost of food waste and “scraps” - the methane, the hunger, the question of sustainability.

Next week, I’ll be posting suggestions for maximizing each individual vegetable as fully as possible, with comprehensive ideas for making use of everything from kale stems to watermelon seeds to onion peels. In the meantime, I’m offering a broader list of ways to cut down on food waste (including food “scraps” because those count as waste too).

What methods will work at your house?


Actions to Cut Down on Food Waste

Compost - You can easily create a compost pile at home for next to no-cost. When done correctly, compost doesn’t smell or attract unwanted pests or animals. Check out these easy, low-cost DIY options, or search online for dozens more ideas. Another practical way to compost is using an indoor worm bin. I’ve had this one for ten years, and I love it. It sits quietly (and non-smelly) in my pantry, and a few times a year I harvest the compost for my garden.

Share with chickens - If you have chickens, feeding them kitchen scraps is a great way to stretch your food further while cutting down on chicken feed. Be sure to learn what scraps are appropriate for chickens and what ones to avoid. If you have a neighbor with chickens (or pigs), see if they’d be interested in kitchen scraps to help offset their food costs.

Make stock - Whenever possible, save scraps for vegetable or bone broth. I keep a container in my freezer where I store onion and garlic peels, trimmings from most vegetables, corn cobs, etc. When I’m ready to make stock I have a constant ready supply, which means I don’t have to sacrifice things like whole fresh carrots and celery. Read this to learn more about what vegetables and trimmings to use, and which to avoid.

Eat the peels - Before reaching for your vegetable peeler, ask yourself if whatever you’re preparing really needs to be peeled. Whenever possible, I wash my vegetables well and keep the skins intact. Skins contain important fiber as well as vital nutrients that are lost when they are removed. Carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, parsnips, young beets and turnips, potatoes...all of these are vegetables with yummy, edible skins that you may want to think twice before removing.

Make your own veggie powder - If you have a food dehydrator and food processor, you can easily make your own vegetable powders from scraps. Make a homemade greens powder for adding to smoothies by dehydrating leftover kale, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, celery, chard, etc. and putting the dried bits through the food processor. Alternatively, you can make a veggie powder to use as a seasoning in soups, casseroles, etc. by saving onion, garlic, carrot, and celery scraps to dehydrate and pulverize.

Add more vegetables to your dishes - Whenever you’re cooking, consider whether a few more vegetables could be thrown in. Scrambled eggs, soups, stews, meatloaf, casseroles, rice and beans, tacos, burritos, and skillet meals can all easily accommodate the addition of either finely chopped or grated vegetables.

Freeze leftovers - If you find it hard to use leftovers in your refrigerator, try storing them in single serving containers in the freezer. Be sure to date and label them to increase the odds that you’ll actually end up eating them. Take these leftovers for lunches, use them on nights when you’re too tired to cook, or keep them as a backup for when somebody doesn’t like what’s for dinner.

Easily find recipes that use the ingredients you have on hand - Sometimes we just need a little help figuring out how to use what’s on hand. and Love Food Hate Waste both offer tools that allow you to input ingredients you have in the kitchen to find recipes that will use them up.


Recent estimates are that the average family can save over $500 per year by cutting down on food waste. Which methods will you try?  



I drew information from several great resources to put this post together. For those interested in reading more about food waste and its implications for our planet, here are my sources:








Caesar Salad and Reticent Joys

I love Caesar salad. The briny, tangy dressing, the crunchy croutons, and silky crunch of romaine. Even a Caesar salad that’s only so-so makes me pretty happy, though a sub-par Caesar serves an entirely different purpose than an intentioned, all-from scratch, mindfully prepared Caesar. When done right, this latter version is special, understated, and worth sharing.

My family recently spent a week on Great Diamond Island in Maine. It’s a quiet, wooded island with secluded rocky beaches and the almost constant aroma of sea roses diffused in the air, twisting with the scent of seawater before reaching your nose. It’s a spot we’ve been visiting for some time, and being there always refreshes my love of simple, delicious food. Along that rustic shoreline, food seems only to need the right amount of salt and a loving drizzle of olive oil. Complicated preparations and hours in the kitchen just feel extraneous and alien. We were there with family, and I wanted to make a dinner that could balance the rich simplicity of our surroundings. It needed to be special but straightforward. While thumbing through my cookbooks, I landed on April Bloomfield’s recipe for Caesar salad from A Girl and Her Pig. My search was over. We’d top our salads with plenty of freshly grilled shrimp and call it a meal.

It is these understated pleasures of life - salt air, the tang of anchovies, sea roses, and crisp romaine - that make me fall in love with our farm share over and over again. Life’s exquisite details that can so easily pass us by if we aren’t careful, mindful, attentive. The rhythm of the seasons and their ever changing culinary offerings. The sweet anticipation of what’s on the cusp - waiting for herbs and then garlic scapes before tomatoes and peppers. In the cacophony of everyday life - inboxes, screens, deadlines, and headlines, I am working to make a meditation of tuning out the excess and tuning into the intricacies where the real magic awaits.

In my life before children, I worked for several years in marketing for a local non-profit organization. We focused much of our energy on word of mouth, because believe it or not, this old time standby is still steady and true. As a food lover who marvels at how wondrously lucky we Brookford customers are, I feel driven to add my voice to the word of mouth buzz that will help spread the word about Brookford’s CSA, and the simple magic that is contained within a weekly box full of vegetables. Brookford still has shares available for the summer session. Members who join late get a prorated price, so there’s no paying for food that has already come and gone. Payment plans are available to help make this luscious food more attainable to more people.

If you, like me, find yourself caught up in the quiet moments unpacking your CSA box, tell a friend. Tell them about the emerald green carrot tops, the smell of feathery dill, and the head of lettuce that resembled an enormous ruby flower. If you anticipate opening a new jar of yogurt so that you can be the first one to dip into the custardy layer of cream, tell your neighbors. Share the reminder of reticent joys. Life doesn’t always have to be so big. Use your voice, your powerful voice, to call attention to the little things.


A Mindful Caesar Salad

adapted from A Girl and Her Pig by April Bloomfield


  • 8 ounces of croutons, preferably homemade

  • 8 anchovy fillets, or 2 tsp anchovy paste

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 cup sunflower seed oil

  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan

  • Maldon or good quality sea salt

  • Freshly ground pepper

  • 1 lb. fresh romaine or other crisp lettuce, washed and chilled

  • Optional - grilled shrimp, chicken, or steak for topping

In a food processor, combine the anchovies, vinegar, mustard, and garlic until smooth. Add the egg and pulse for 30 seconds. With the machine on, slowly add the oil until the mixture emulsifies and thickens slightly. Add the cheese, and pulse briefly until incorporated. Taste, and season as needed with salt and pepper. Cover the dressing and refrigerate until cool and thickened, at least 30 minutes. In a large bowl, toss the chilled lettuce leaves with half of the dressing, gently rubbing the dressing onto the leaves with your clean hands. Arrange fresh croutons on top, then sprinkle on some more cheese and a pinch of salt and pepper.


It’s been a bountiful season for scallions, and yet I somehow still can’t get enough. As a child, I wasn’t all that familiar with scallions as an ingredient. I remember my mother using them to make seven layer dip, but not much else. When I first started cooking in college, I thought of scallions as an ingredient that I needed for a few specific recipes only. As I branched out in the kitchen, I began to see scallions in a new light. These days, scallions are one of my favorite kitchen ingredients. They add a punch of color and flavor wherever they are used, and are surprisingly harmonious with a wide variety of ingredients. I love that they are able to serve equally well as garnish and as flavor enhancer. They work well cooked or raw, and the ends can be saved to add depth and flavor to stock. If you’re wondering what to do with your CSA scallions, here are a few ideas:

  • Use them as a garnish for soups and stews - the fresh burst of flavor will up the deliciousness factor!

  • Make traditional scallion pancakes, or try these amazing mung bean pancakes.

  • Add them to stir fries; I like to add them in the last minute of cooking to ensure the flavor stays bright

  • Make a creamy scallion risotto

  • Substitute them for onions or garlic when you run out

  • Grill them!

  • Add them to tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, etc.

  • Use them to top a pizza

  • Saute them with ground pork

  • Tuck them into sandwiches for a gentle bite - they’re especially delicious with chicken (or tuna) salad

  • Roast them

  • Fold them into savory black bean fritters

  • Eggs! Eggs and scallions are made for each other. Cook them with your eggs, or use them raw as a garnish on top

  • Wrap them in bacon

  • Make stir fried rice

How have you been using your scallions? Comment and share your ideas!


All things green

Beautiful, crispy, buttery, tender greens. It’s what greeted me when I opened my CSA box this morning. When I went outside a little later to work in my garden, I walked around to inspect each bed. More delicate leaves of green. My culinary mind is working overtime, plotting the ways I’ll put all this photosynthesis to work in my kitchen.

Sometimes a box full of leafy greens can be intimidating for folks, so I thought it might be helpful to look at the many ways to put them to use in the kitchen.


The Basics - Storing Greens

First off, you really want to store your leafy greens in the crisper, set to low humidity. This is especially important for lettuce. Skip this, and your lettuce is likely to wilt. If you’re short on space, prioritize getting the lettuce and other leafy greens into the crisper rather than other sturdier vegetables, like snap peas and beets, which don’t require this low humidity space as urgently. If your greens do wilt, you can usually perk them up by soaking them in ice cold water. If you’re dealing with a wilted head of lettuce, carefully cut off the very end of the head before soaking. I prefer waiting to wash my greens right before I use them. Washing ahead of time can lead to a slimy mess if you don’t dry thoroughly.


Cooking Greens

Greens like chard and spinach, which can be cooked, tend to cook down a lot. What looks like a huge bag of spinach when fresh ends up looking like a whole lot less once sauteed. I often cook a large batch of greens early on in the week so that I can add them to various dishes as the week goes on. They make their way into eggs, soups, chilis, sautes, mixed veggie and grain bowls, burritos...pretty much everything, everywhere. Another way to use greens quickly is to add them to smoothies or homemade juices. Several handfuls of greens can easily hide in almost any smoothie or juice recipe, and although the color will be altered, the flavor really won’t. Not only do these tricks help to ensure your greens don’t go to waste, they also help you squeeze in extra vegetable servings. If you’re not sure exactly how to cook your greens, keep in mind that pretty much all greens are delicious simply sauteed with garlic in olive oil or butter, and sprinkled with salt and a dash of vinegar.



Lettuce doesn’t have to mean salad. Depending on the variety, it can work beautifully as a wrap or cup for other food. If you prefer to use your lettuce in salad, remember that chopping the lettuce into smaller pieces helps you to use and eat it more easily. Large, bulky pieces of lettuce take up more space in a salad than finely chopped lettuce. If you’re looking to up your veggie intake, shredding or finely chopping your lettuce can help. Like spinach, lettuce is also a great addition to smoothies and juices. However, lettuce can be cooked, too. You can grill it, use it to top a pizza, or turn it into a delicious, delicate soup. If you’re looking to move through a lot of lettuce quickly, that soup uses a full two heads of lettuce for four servings! For more creative ideas on using lettuce, check out this article from Bon Appetit.


Greens! Add them to eggs, smoothies, and pizzas. Pair them with salads, soups, and sandwiches. Add a little side salad to every plate you make. Swap out your potato chips for some lettuce sprinkled with olive oil and salt (a favorite amongst my kiddos!). Around here, we’re embracing this beautiful hue. It’s kind of like eating a little slice of summer.



Beyond Potatoes

As a family that works hard to eat seasonally, we tend to get pretty excited when summer vegetable season arrives. We can’t get enough leafy greens and things that crunch. Every spring, I am awed by the way that seasonal eating creates balance as we emerge from the days of root vegetables with tremendous appreciation and appetites for the fresh, crisp tastes and textures of summer. I am always amazed by the sheer number of vegetables that my family can go through in a week’s time - kids and grown ups alike. It’s anecdotal evidence, but in this house it seems seasonal eating increases our vegetable consumption by allowing us to fully appreciate the foods available during each fleeting season. People are often surprised to learn that our family has a full veggie share in addition to a large garden, and while we do give a lot of garden vegetables away to friends, family, and our local food pantry, we are also able to do a surprisingly good job of keeping up just through the meals and snacks that we eat.


I was thinking about this the other day when I stumbled upon an article that caught me by surprise. The article was looking at how the vegetable intake of Americans stacks up against the USDA’s recommendation of 2.5-3 vegetable servings per day.  Although I expected that many Americans may not be eating enough vegetables, I was surprised to learn that the vast majority - 87% of American adults - do not eat enough vegetables each day. On top of that startling statistic is the fact that almost 50% of the vegetables available in the United States are potatoes and tomatoes - most often consumed in the form of french fries, potato chips, ketchup, and pizza sauce. Not only are we not eating enough vegetables, we’re not eating enough of the right vegetables needed to help fight off cancer, heart disease, diabetes and myriad other ailments that vegetables help fight against.


The problem is further complicated by the fact that most vegetables, especially the ones we really need like leafy greens and orange peppers and variety in general,  aren’t subsidized by the government the same way that some crops, such as corn and potatoes, are. So prices for many of the good things we need are higher, which feeds into the fact that demand for these items are lower. It’s swiss chard competing against potato chips.


I very much recognize that the way my family eats is a privilege. It’s a privilege that we have access to a wonderful CSA and land for a garden. It’s a privilege that we can afford good food and gardening supplies and that we have time available to produce nourishing meals. It’s a privilege that my children are willing eaters who happily ask for “more greens please!” and not just at dinner, but often at breakfast and lunch too. And all of this privilege, while I’m immensely grateful, is a terribly sad reminder of all that is wrong with the food supply in our country, because I’m pretty sure the USDA guidelines were never meant to be a set of instructions for the privileged few.


These are some sobering thoughts. When you look at the math, and I’ll round down since many families have young children (the dietary guidelines don’t hit 3 cups per day until the teen years), using a desired portion of just two cups of vegetables per day means that a family of four needs to purchase, prepare, and consume a whopping 56 cups of vegetables per week. While our society may have a long way to go, I try to use this information as a guidepost to help inform my own behavior as a consumer. I remember when I first started buying my own food in college. Organics were just becoming a thing that the mainstream knew about. I did most of my shopping in the tiny health food store not far from campus, and paid exorbitant prices for my food. Venturing into the big box grocery stores with their low prices and large selections, organics were nowhere to be found. I remember the first time I saw organic tomato sauce on the shelf at Hannaford. It was some major brand, maybe Hunts or Ragu. I was ecstatic. I felt powerful. My buying choices felt like they mattered. And while I’m aware that there are issues with major brands taking on organics and the way the organics trend has played out with processed foods etc., in that moment, seeing that jar of organic tomato sauce on the shelf at Hannaford, all I saw was progress and the power of consumer voice.


I may be an idealist, but I still believe in that power. Our consumer dollars hold influence. When we use them to buy potato chips at the grocery store, we influence the market. When we take our dollars away from the grocery store and buy organic swiss chard from a local farmer, we influence the market. I also believe in our children’s ability to help change and shape the world. Studies show that offering children a variety of fruits and vegetables early on in life makes a difference. It is why I put certain things on my children’s plate over and over again even if I know they may not actually eat that item. Repeated exposure takes the weirdness out. Sauerkraut goes from “that funny smelling stuff” to “what we eat with most meals.” This practice is why my daughter said to me yesterday, “I don’t want cereal for breakfast. I want cabbage.”


The CSA is a beautiful thing because it creates the convergence of family and farm. My children love going to visit the farm and talking about all that goes into producing our food. Just as we consumers influence the market with our buying choices and the food we feed our families, farms like Brookford are bravely swimming upstream to protect our food supply and go up against potato chips to make sure we also have swiss chard to eat. Farming in this way doesn’t make anybody rich. Farming in this way is a sacrifice of time and money that helps to shape our country's food supply, helps to bring us back into balance. It is long days and expensive equipment and patience and planning and work that is never finished. When I think about food privilege, I think about the privilege of having a farm that is out there very literally sowing the seeds of the future to make sure that we consumers have access to more than just potatoes and tomatoes. We are incredibly indebted to the sacrifices of our farmers. Whether we see it or think about it, we are as influenced by the dedication and perseverance of our farmers as we are by things like clean air and safe drinking water.


If you haven’t been out to the farm before, consider making the trip. Brookford welcomes visitors to tour the farm and see all that is happening there. We are in this together, farmer and consumer. Our choices, large and small, converge to shape our world and the future for our children. The things we do matter. It’s time to get out there, and eat those veggies. All 21 cups that the USDA says you should be eating this week.









The Cheese Guide!

If you've had a dairy share for a while, I know you can relate. It's time to enter your dairy order, and yet...gah! It's hard to narrow it down to just three selections. I've been there so many times, in fact, that now my family is a two-dairy-share family, and each week we get six credits to use. This helps. It means we can have milk for drinking, kefir for smoothie making, butter for everything, blue cheese to feed my addiction, cheddar for dinners, and yogurt for quick breakfasts. But it also means we still have to choose what to go without - because with all the good options out there, narrowing it down is somehow still tricky. And it's really the cheese that makes this so hard. Perhaps because each time I think I've figured out the perfect weekly order, it seems there is a new cheese offering that comes available and makes it all tricky once more. In light of all the fabulous new cheese offerings, I thought it was time for a Brookford cheese-guide. Covered here is a general description of each cheese, whether or not the kids will like it, and how well it will melt to cover your food in gooey goodness. Go forth and try them all!


Raw Cheddar - This is a cheddar that all cheddar-lovers must try. It is at once mild and rich, sweet and tangy, creamy and slightly dry. This is a classic that my family has loved for years. The texture is perfect for shaving over toast, stews, vegetables, or eggs, but it is also satisfying as a snack all on its own. It remains the staple cheese in my kitchen.

Will the kids eat it? Most will. This cheddar is approachable and not too sharp. It does have a nice depth of flavor, so picky eaters may resist.

Is it meltable? Yes. We eat it both ways, depending on what we’re cooking.


Smoked Cheddar - In my house, we call this bacon-cheese. There is no bacon in it, but it is smoked in sweet hickory at the Green Mountain Smokehouse, and to my kids, smoked = bacon. It’s definitely my children’s favorite of all the Brookford cheeses, but the grown ups around here love it too. It’s smoky, slightly salty, nutty, and a little bit sweet. It always disappears too quickly from the refrigerator.

Will the kids eat it? Yes. You may find yourself fighting them for it.

Is it meltable? Yes, and totally worth the trouble of delaying dinner by a few minutes to shred some of this onto...everything.


Gouda - Gouda is a Dutch yellow cheese named after the city of Gouda in the Netherlands where it was originally traded. Gouda has been in production since 1184, and for good reason. Brookford’s gouda is mild, with a slight fruity sweetness and balanced nuttiness.

Will the kids eat it? Most will. Its mild sweetness will appeal to most palates.

Is it meltable? Yes. It’s especially good melted.


Feta - Brookford’s feta is a standout amongst its kind. Made with cow’s milk, rather than the traditional sheep’s milk, Brookford feta maintains the variety’s traditional crumble while adding some extra creaminess and depth of flavor.

Will the kids eat it? You may want to save this one for the adults. The crumbly texture, paired with the tangy flavor profile, may not sit as well with younger palates.

Is it meltable? Not really, though it will soften when heated. It’s so delicious crumbled over salad, though, that it won’t stick around long enough for melting to ever enter your mind.


Brie - I am a lover of brie, my husband is not...and yet we both enjoy Brookford’s brie. Brookford brie is milder than many, and while it is very creamy, it holds its shape well enough to be sliced and enjoyed on its own.

Will the kids eat it? Many will - and probably far more willingly than other, “stinkier” bries.

Is it meltable? Yes, while it won’t form strings like some melted cheeses, it will become softer and gooier - and even more delicious - with heating.


Camembert - This is Brookford’s one dairy selection that calls for two dairy credits, due to its more intensive production process. Brookford’s camembert is made in smaller rounds than the brie and offers a fuller, more complex flavor profile.

Will the kids eat it? Similar to the brie, here. Many will like it. It’s a great mild cheese for aspiring foodies.

Is it meltable? Once again, like the Brie, it will get softer and gooier with heating. We love to wrap this in puff pastry before popping it into the oven.


Cottage Cheese - If you’re a cottage cheese fan and haven’t tried this yet, you’re missing out. Other cottage cheese will taste salty and watery compared to Brookford’s creamy, milky, perfectly tangy offering. This is a personal favorite of mine that I try to hide in the back of the fridge. I love a scoop of it on my salad plate.

Will the kids eat it? If they like cottage cheese, yes.

Is it meltable? Most folks don’t melt their cottage cheese, but yes, it will soften if you heat it, and yes, it is delicious. I like to use cottage cheese in place of ricotta in lasagna. (Shhhh! Don’t tell the purists!).


Quark - For those who aren’t familiar, quark is a fresh farmer’s cheese. Similar to ricotta or cream cheese, quark is a lot of fun to cook with. It is also delicious spread on toast, bagels, sandwiches, and crackers. Brookford offers three varieties: plain, horseradish, and garlic and dill.

Will the kids eat it? Absolutely, if you prepare it in the right way. Because it is SO versatile for cooking, quark can be used to make everything from dessert to quiche. Many kids will also enjoy it “as-is,” spread on crackers or toast.

Is it meltable? Not in the traditional sense, but once again, it will soften when melted, and is very adaptable to a variety of recipes.


Shades of Blue - Brookford’s blue cheese is my absolute favorite. Where many blue cheeses are so crumbly that they cannot be sliced, Brookford’s Shades of Blue has a creamy, sliceable texture. It melts beautifully, has a very well balanced flavor profile, and comes in nice big wedges that disappear far more quickly than I would ever imagine possible. It is both tangy and nutty, without going so far as to become sharp. If you even remotely like blue cheese, you must try this one. I melt a slab of it onto everything I can remotely justify melting it on. My current favorite way to enjoy it, though, is tossed into a bowl of sauteed cabbage. A little Maldon salt sprinkled on top and a drizzle of olive oil, some tiny bits of bacon, and a more perfect bowl has never existed.

Will the kids eat it? This one’s probably for a more mature palate, although mine will eat it in small quantities mixed with or melted on other food. But honestly, I try not to share this with my kids. ;)

Is it meltable? Totally. Ooey, gooey, melty and perfect.


Maasdam - I had never heard of Maasdam before the farm started offering it. Maasdam is a Swiss-style Dutch cheese that forms internal holes during the ripening process. Brookford’s Maasdam is a mild cheese with a sweet, slightly pungent, nutty flavor. It is similar to other swiss cheeses and could be used in any recipe calling for swiss, keeping in mind it is less sharp than many swiss options. I really enjoy it sliced on its own, alongside a glass of white wine and some fruit, but it’s equally delicious melted.

Will the kids eat it? Likely, especially if it’s melted. Kiddos who prefer their food bland may find this too sharp.

Is it meltable? Definitely.


Clothbound Cheddar - This is a really exciting addition to the Brookford cheese lineup. It is a traditionally aged cheddar that has been swaddled in cheesecloth and aged for over six months. It has a wonderfully dry texture and rich, complex flavor. My favorite thing about the clothbound cheddar is that it has those delicious little calcium lactate crystals that sometimes form in nicely aged cheese. I love the satisfying juxtaposition of a gentle gritty crunch amid the creamy and crumbly texture. It is a delicious addition to any cheese platter.

Will the kids eat it? Yes, if they like cheddar and sharp flavors. Mine like it...though perhaps not as much as my cat. True story. And no, I didn’t share this delicious option willingly - our cat is rather persistent.

Is it meltable? Probably, but why would you mess with perfection? This is a cheese to enjoy as-is. Unless you’re shaving it over lobster mac and cheese.


Raw Jalepeno Cheddar - Made with organic peppers, this is a really fun and fresh option among the newer offerings. This cheese doesn’t lose the rich cheddary flavor when the peppers are mixed in. While it’s not overly spicy, the flavor of the peppers is full and lively. It’s great on its own or for cooking. Try it melted on eggs with a little salsa on the side.

Will the kids eat it? Probably. The pepper flavor, while not spicy, may be too intense for young palates - but when melted, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Is it meltable? Yes. I do love this cheese either way, but melted is my preference.


CSA in the Workplace - An Interview with Molly McKean

The partner distributor program offered through Brookford Farm is undoubtedly one of the coolest CSA formats I've seen. I love the organic nature of CSA sites - ranging from private homes to Crossfit gyms to farmers markets to places of business. It's a brilliant and efficient way to synergistically help local food reach more people. But there's one CSA situation that's especially noteworthy: the town of Salem, NH, where a portion of their employee wellness benefit is used to purchase fresh vegetables for employees. I recently had the opportunity to interview Molly McKean, Human Resources Director for the Town of Salem, and learn more about their program.

AP(That's me): Tell me about the CSA program for your town. How did it get started? How did the idea come to be?

MM (Molly McKean): The CSA program started in Salem when Jane Lang, of the Salem Farmers Market, asked me if employees might be interested in buying CSA shares.  We thought it was a cool idea, and ended up talking about it with our health insurer, Cigna. They offered to let us use funds set aside for employee wellness to purchase shares to provide to employees and we decided to run with it.

AP: So how exactly does the wellness benefit work? Is it a benefit that most employers have, and something that other employers could easily implement in the same way? I'm curious how other companies might be putting their wellness benefit to use, or if it is something that tends to be underutilized?

MM: Our Wellness benefit is a specific amount of money set aside by Cigna for Wellness initiatives.  We partner with them to decide what to do over the course of a year. Examples of initiatives include the CSA (of course!) and onsite Biometric Screening Clinics, seminars, employee incentives and educational programs.

AP: How many vegetable shares do you purchase with the benefit? How many employees do the shares provide food for?

MM: We started out with 6, and we spread them around to different departments.  The only complaint was that there wasn’t enough, so now we are up to 12 shares.  We have over 200 employees, so employees are not generally getting a huge amount of food, but they are able to sample and try new things, or take home enough to serve with dinner that night.

AP: How are the shares split up among employees? Has it taken trial and error to find a system that works?  

MM: I’ve been pleasantly surprised that we haven’t had any veggie fights yet!  We distribute the boxes to different departments (Police, Fire, Water, Library, Highway, Senior Center and Town Hall), and employees come take what they want.  Our Fire Department cooks meals onsite, so most of their three boxes get used during that week.  In other departments, employees take things home. People are good about not taking too much, and also good about checking back at the end of the day to make sure there are no “straggler” vegetables left behind.  If we end up with extra, we usually take it over to the Fire Department – there are some good cooks over there, and they make smoothies with leftover kale.

AP: How have employees reacted to the program?

MM: They really like it. It is a fun thing to see what is in the boxes, but it doesn’t take a lot of time away from work, and they get to try things they might not buy for themselves. Sometimes we spend some time trying to figure out what things are.  The ramps and kohlrabi provided some entertainment.  The most popular items are strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and basil.

AP: Have there been any unexpected results from implementing this program?  

MM: One of our Selectmen, Everett McBride, shared his Kale Salad recipe, and it got a lot of rave reviews! (See below for recipe)

AP: I host a CSA pickup site at my house, and always enjoy talking to people about the new foods they discover through the CSA. Has this program prompted people to try new foods, share recipes, become more interested in eating locally/seasonally, etc?  

MM: Definitely.  Many employees live locally, and so they go to the Salem Farmers Market to buy things from the farm there.  People talk about what they did with last week’s veggies, and when tomatoes are in season, everyone is in a really great mood!

AP: Anything else you'd like to share about the program?  

MM: I love this program.  It has been a lot of fun to provide a little perk to employees that can positively impact their health.  I like that it engages us with our community and with supporting a New Hampshire farm.  We are really happy with it, and I’d recommend it to any workplace as a fun and healthy morale booster.


If you are an employer that would like to offer a similar program at your place of work, please let the farm know! And if you're an employee who wishes your employer would bring in some fresh, local food for employees, share this post with them!






Customizing Your Share

As the years have passed, Brookford has worked to carefully listen and respond to customer feedback. As I was signing up for my own summer share recently, I was thinking about how cool it is that families can pick and choose from such a huge variety of options to develop a local and seasonal eating plan that fits their lifestyle. In hosting a pickup site over the past few years, I’ve found that customers don’t take advantage of this option as much as I would expect, so I thought it might be helpful to spend a minute breaking it down.



The way it works is this: each customer must choose at least one base share. You are not limited to one base share, you simply need to order a minimum of one base share in order to participate in the CSA.


Available base shares are:


Whole Diet Base Share: Every week (for the five months of the session) you will receive 3 dairy items of your choosing, 1 dozen eggs, 1 loaf of bread, and a large box of organic vegetables. Each month (for the five months of the session) you will receive approximately 6 pounds of pork, 6 pounds of beef, and 2 broilers.


Meat Base Share: Every month for five months, you will receive approximately 6 pounds of pork, 6 pounds of beef, and 2 broilers.


Vegetable Base Share: Every week for five months, you will receive a large box (full veggie base share) or 1 small box (half veggie base share) of organic vegetables.


After choosing at least one base share, you have the option of adding on as many add-on shares as you would like. This is optional. You can pick and choose what you want to include.


Available add-on shares are:


Beef - approx. 6lbs/month for 5 months

Pork - approx. 6lbs/month for 5 months

Eggs - one dozen per week

Bread - one loaf per week

Peak season veggies - A half-veggie share for the last twelve weeks of the session

Artisanal cheese - Two artisanal cheese offerings each week, for either 12 or 20 weeks (you choose)

Dairy - three dairy choices per week for 5 months

Maple syrup - 1 quart per month for 5 months

Broilers - 2 broilers per month for 5 months


Let’s take a look at the wide variety of shares that various customers might order, as a way of highlighting how easy it is to adapt the CSA to your particular eating habits.


Household 1:

This is a family of six with no dietary restrictions. They eat a lot of vegetables, do not have a garden, and prefer to source as much food as possible from local sources. They decide to purchase:

    1 base whole diet share

    1 add-on dairy share

    1 add-on bread share

    1 add-on pork share


Household 2:

This is a two adult household with no children that follows a paleo diet. They decide to purchase:

1 base half veggie share

1 base meat share

1 add-on egg shares


Household 3:

This is a vegetarian family of four that consumes eggs and dairy. They decide to purchase:

1 base full veggie share

2 add-on egg shares

1 add-on dairy share

1 add-on bread share

Whether your household is big or small, vegetarian, paleo, just big eaters in general, vegan, gourmet, or gluten-free, there is a share combination that can make it easy (and delicious!) to feed your family local, seasonal food. Have fun mixing and matching to come up with the perfect fit for your lifestyle! The summer session starts June 6th - be sure to sign up soon:

New Shares for the Summer Session

I’m pretty excited about this year’s summer session. In response to customer feedback, two  new share types are available this summer, and they’re pretty neat. The first is a Peak Season Vegetable Share, which includes twelve weeks of Brookford’s most popular harvest offerings. The second is an Artisanal Cheese share that will provide two cheese selections each week for either 12 or 20 weeks, depending on which option the customer chooses.


The Peak Season Vegetable Share is a great option for lots of people. Running June 27 through September 12th, it will feature the best vegetables of the growing season, in a convenient half-share size. For smaller households that fear a full veggie share would be too much, this is a great opportunity to partake in the best of what Brookford has to offer. For anyone who has wanted to try the CSA but fears the commitment of the full summer session, the peak season share comes with a smaller price tag during the most lush vegetable season. Because this share is half-size, it will work very well for folks who still like the flexibility of supplementing with produce from the store and/or home gardens.  At only $23.33 per week, the peak season share is a really, really great value.


The Artisanal Cheese Share is another exciting option that I’m really happy to see. Over the past few years, Brookford has offered an increasingly diverse variety of cheeses - from Jalepeno to blue cheese to clothbound cheddar. Anyone who is a lover of truly delicious cheese can empathize with how difficult it is for many dairy share customers to narrow down dairy selections each week. I love the idea of a cheese share that will surprise customers with something different and exciting each week, and perhaps help nudge customers into trying, and falling in love with, something new. If you haven’t recently checked out the huge variety of truly excellent cheese that is now offered through Brookford’s CSA, you might be in for a surprise. The farm is now making brie, camembert, raw clothbound cheddar, smoked cheddar, raw cheddar, jalepeno cheddar, gouda, feta, maasdam, mozzarella (seasonally available) and raw blue cheese. It’s all from happy, grass fed cows, and it’s all really, really good. I’m working on a post highlighting the various cheeses and look forward to sharing that (and my obsession with the Shades of Blue raw blue cheese) in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if cheese is your thing, you need this in your life. This share will run for either 12 weeks for $180 (coinciding with the peak veggie timeline) or 20 weeks for $280, at the customer’s discretion.


As I was writing about these shares, I was thinking about how much fun either would be as a gift; perhaps for a wedding, bridal shower, warm weather birthday, anniversary, or just because. With CSA pickup sites throughout most of the state, it’s pretty easy to find a convenient location for most customers to pick up. I’m pretty sure there’s no gift that could possibly outshine a full summer of farm food.

In addition to these fun new shares, Brookford will be offering their typical shares for the summer as well. The summer session starts soon...June 6th! Sign up soon to make sure you don’t miss out. You can register online here:


Garlic Scapes

Opening our veggie box each Tuesday has become a simple little ritual in mindfulness. Even though I typically know in advance what’s in there, I can’t help but get excited as I carry our box into my kitchen. I wait until my kids are busy and I have a quiet moment to lift the lid and peek inside. It’s the way that the ordinary is transformed into little treasures, as though the box itself imparts some quaint magic upon its contents. I love discovering the sights and scents that are tucked here and there - a little bunch of parsley, the earthy smell of parsnips, the hopeful package of mixed lettuces. And while simply being in the veggie box makes any produce special, there are some treasures that I covet more than others. Sometimes it’s seeing a first: the first cucumber or jewel toned eggplant of the season; and sometimes it’s seeing treasure itself: for me that’s any tomato, kohlrabi, celeriac, or garlic scapes.

Over the past month, I’ve been pretty ecstatic on the few occasions where I’ve opened our foil pouch of frozen goodness to find carefully nestled garlic scapes inside. I wait with patiently frenzied hope for the day when I will lift the lid of our CSA box and be greeted by a tumble of fresh garlic scapes springing up to greet me. I watch my own garden daily, quietly urging those scapes to form. The thing is, a lot of people aren’t all that familiar with garlic scapes.

Sometimes we’re wary of vegetables we haven’t used before, and this wariness can trick us into thinking there’s something weird, lesser, scary, or difficult about those vegetables. Yet when we start broadening our view, we wonder how we ever lived without these ingredients. This is very true for garlic scapes.

Garlic scapes are the stalks that grow from the bulb of hardneck garlic (which you will see from time to time in your veggie share). The scapes are removed to prevent the plant from diverting growth and energy away from the bulb; their removal helps the bulb to thicken and develop. Garlic scapes taste like garlic, but are often more mild. Not only are the delicious, but they are incredibly versatile. They can be eaten raw or cooked, and work well fresh or frozen (if you’re using frozen scapes, you’ll probably want to cook them). Rather than talking about the many ways you can use garlic scapes, it’s probably easier to talk about the ways you shouldn’t. You shouldn’t use them to top a pecan pie, for starters. They might not work well added to a batch of granola. You probably don’t want to use them to top your yogurt. Well, unless you’re making a savory yogurt dip, in which case you totally want to add them to your yogurt.

Truly, garlic scapes can be added to almost any savory dish you’re making. When fresh, they’re great on top of salads, sprinkled over eggs, folded into dips, tucked into sandwiches, even pickled. Both fresh and frozen are delicious in any cooked egg dish, in stir fries, sauteed, in risotto, grilled, over pasta, added to soups, or in a crispy pancake. They aren’t a fussy ingredient that requires a special recipe. If your recipe would appreciate garlic, your recipe will appreciate garlic scapes. For dramatic flair, grill or roast them and leave them whole. For convenience, chop them as you would scallions. And while you don’t NEED a recipe to incorporate them into your life, there are so many good ones that I can’t help but throw them out there.

First up...ten great ways to enjoy garlic scapes, per Bon Appetit. And then...

Garlic scape and parsley risotto …because garlic and parsley!

Garlic scape soup (if you’re a lover of recipes, or garlic, you’ll want to drink this one up.)

Garlic scape pancakes, for when you’re feeling fancy.

Garlic scape and arugula flatbreads, because YUM,

Seven more ways to use garlic scapes here…

Grilled garlic scapes, for the beauty of it.

Garlic scape dip, which I’m making immediately.

And if you don’t like any of those ideas, you must not like garlic. (Is that a thing? Does that happen?). Happy eating!