Monday, November 26, 2012

Vegetarian Thanksgiving Feast

1st Course: Apple Squash Soup with Freshly Grated Nutmeg
On the heels of our engagement (!) and in the midst of a jam packed fall schedule, James and I decided to host Thanksgiving this year rather than travel the 4+ hours back to one of our moms' in NY. My mom and sister came with my 3-month old nephew and we ate a feast of seasonal veggies!

Preparations started on Wednesday evening, when we made a Spinach and Caramelized Onion Dip, a Squash and Apple Soup, Maple Ginger Cranberry Sauce and a Vegetarian Gravy, since all of these recipes benefit from a night of flavor marrying in the fridge. The soup and dip both came out delicious, but the gravy was a little bland.
2nd Course: Massaged Kale Salad w Apples, Craisins, & Pumpkin Seeds
I'll be posting all of the recipes as separate posts and linking to them from this post in the coming week. They're all seasonal and perfect for any fall/winter dinner, not just Thanksgiving, so I encourage you to try them all (don't forget to comment to let us know how they turned out)!
Maple Mustard Glazed Parker Farm Carrots were Delicious!
On Thursday, we made a Pumpkin Marscapone Dip, a Massaged Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries, and Pumpkin SeedsCaramelized Brussels Sprouts with Apple Cider Sauce (this was the only dish we mussed up, but it still came out delicious), Maple Mustard Glazed Carrots, a Cheesy Mashed Potato and Pea Casserole, a Nutty Stuffing, and a String Bean Casserole.
Giada Inspired Baked Mashed Potatoes with Peas and Cheese 
For dessert, we had an Apple Tart. We used the recipe from Clean Start, but the apricot glaze we made to go on top accidentally ended up on the Brussels Sprouts! So we improvised with the blueberry preserves.

Apple Tart Recipe from Clean Food by Terry Walters (The Carrot Recipe came from her, too!)
I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Clean Food Cooking Demos and Cookbook Signings with Terry Walters!

I've been looking forward to this weekend for a while because one of my food heroes will be in town! Temps will be in the 60s this weekend, which is perfect weather to enjoy the foliage and a perfect Saturday at the Union Square Farmers Market here in Somerville, MA with my favorite Cookbook Author and clean eating expert Terry Walters set up for a cooking demo and book signing! I met Terry a little over a year ago and wrote about here.

If you can't make it to the market tomorrow, Terry will also be speaking on Sunday at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival. Check out the full details here: Let me know if you plan to come to both or either so we can connect in person. :-)

Terry just published an update of her best-selling Clean Food, which changed the way I approach cooking. I love how she makes clean cooking approachable. Terry is nonjudgmental about food while sharing her knowledge of whole foods and pantry staples with easy instructions and descriptions of why and how she suggests using the ingredients she does. She'll be demonstrating and sampling the following recipe from her book:

Apple Squash Soup

THIS SWEET, SILKY AND UPLIFTING DISH is the quintessential fall soup. I serve it to friends and family and even send it to school for my children’s lunches. Pair it with a salad or some sautéed greens and grains for an easy and satisfying meal.

1 large butternut squash
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 large apples, peeled, cored and quartered
4 cups vegetable stock
1 cup rice milk
1⁄4 cup coconut milk
1⁄2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Sea salt

Peel squash, cut in half and remove seeds. Cut into 2-inch pieces.
In large pot over medium heat, sauté onion in oil until soft (about 5 minutes). Add squash, apples, stock,
rice milk, coconut milk and nutmeg. Cover, bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes
or until squash is soft. Purée with handheld blender and remove from heat to cool slightly. Season to
taste with salt and serve.


About Terry:

"The cleaner we eat, the clearer we think, and the better we can embrace good health and nutrition.”  - CLEAN FOOD, PAGE 1

Terry is about eating clean and living well. She believes in nourishing yourself with nutrient-rich foods in a rainbow of colors and a full spectrum of tastes. Terry is about taking time to shop for, prepare, share and enjoy your meals and mealtime. She is about eating foods from living plants, not processing plants. She is about listening to your body and serving your unique being. She is about being empowered with knowledge. And most importantly, Terry is about making healthy choices that nourish our bodies, our families, our communities and our environment. One choice at a time, with intention and compassion for our selves and our planet, we can eat clean and live well.  (source:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

TODAY: Boston Local Food Festival

The Boston Local Food Festival is TODAY, SUNDAY OCTOBER 7 from 11-5 at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. I've volunteered for the last two years and am on my way there to help out again this year, but wanted to get this post out because if you're in New England, this event is not to be missed!

From the Festival's website (

The FREE festival is Boston's premier food festival promoting the joys of eating local food and includes local farmers, some of the best restaurants in New England, specialty foods, Fishstock and a Seafood Throwdown, Meat Cutting Demos, Chef Demos,Family Fun Zone. and loads of local live musicians on the The River 92.5FM stages.  The Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) educational component allows amateur and professionals the opportunity to showcase their skills with festival-goers.

Here's a map to help you navigate:

I hope to see you there!

Eat local!! :-)

Monday, October 1, 2012

Creamy Tomato Bisque (without the cream)

Creamy tomato soup with crumbled goat feta
I did top my bowl with some marinated goat feta from the farmers market... and it was a good move!
Pumpkins, squash, beets, and potatoes are taking over the local farmers markets, but I've been savoring the last of local, fresh tomatoes. My harvest was very modest this year, so I've bought over 20 pounds in the last month from Kimball Fruit Farm at the Union Square Farmers Market so I could can and dry some and make tomato soup with the rest.

Speckled Roman tomatoes are known for their meatiness. They have few seeds and make great sauces and pastes.
Finding a tasty tomato soup on a menu isn't hard, but they're often full of sodium, saturated fat and excess butter and oil. Heavy cream isn't needed to make a delicious tomato soup, though. Neither is butter, flour, or tons of salt. What you really need is quality tomatoes and fresh basil, parsley and generous amounts of dried oregano, and thyme! I've adapted Tal Ronnen's recipe for Tomato Bisque from The Conscious Cook a few times and finally have a version I like, although it's different every time and I confess, I haven't been using measuring cups at all! I made this soup last night and once again, cashew cream stood in for heavy cream and you would never know the difference. The soup came out creamy, rich, and delicious!

1/2 c cashew cream (Recipe here)
5 lbs fresh tomatoes (plum, roma, san marzano will work best. I used speckled roman. Canned tomatoes work, too!)
2 tb extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 tb dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 small rib (organic) celery, chopped
1/3 c fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Can you see the skins peeling off?
If using fresh tomatoes: Set a bowl of cold water with a few ice cubes in it next to the stove. Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil. Cut "X"s in the bottom of the tomatoes and drop them in the boiling water until the skins start to peel away (this usually happens in less than a minute). Transfer tomatoes to ice water bath using a slotted spoon until they cool enough so you can handle them. Peel the skins off, slice in half, and discard excess seeds (there won't be many if you use plum-shaped tomatoes). 
Note: Don't try to remove the tomato from the boiling water with your hand. It hurts. Trust me. 
Saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of salt here to bring out the sweetness of the onion. When the onion is translucent, add the oregano, thyme, carrot, and celery. Stir and continue to saute until veggies soften. While the veggies are sauteing, chop the tomatoes.

Don't go overboard with the carrots or celery. 
Once all the veggies are soft, add the tomatoes. Give the pot a good stir and adjust heat if necessary. Simmer for at least 45 minutes, but up to 3 hours. The longer soup simmers, the more time the flavors have to get to know each other ;-)
Fresh tomatoes mean this soup tastes nothing like Campbell's!
Once the tomatoes have broken down and the soup has come together, stir in the cashew cream and blend the soup using an immersion blender (you can use a stand-up blender, but don't fill it more than 2/3 full and cover the top with a dish towel, as hot liquids tend to explode blenders). Leave some big chunks of tomato or blend it until perfectly smooth... totally your call!
This pot of soup simmered for about an hour, filling the whole house with the aroma of warm tomatoey deliciousness. 

Just before serving, add the freshly chopped parsley and basil ribbons. Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite garnishes. Bread and cheese are natural choices, but it might be fun to get creative and make some croutons out of a whole wheat sourdough or use a less obvious cheese choice.
I submerged some homemade croutons in the bottom of my bowl and topped it with some goat feta.
James loaded his with Parmesan cheese, red pepper flakes, and croutons.
Enjoy your tomato soup!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Packing 3 Meals a Day!

While there might be a few more days of summer left before the official start of fall, going back to school, seeing apples at the Farmers Market, and an overnight low of 48* is enough for me to declare summer over. Fall means squash and root veggies to ground us and prime our bodies for winter (not to mention fall foliage!) and for many of us, it also means a much busier schedule. Having a jam-packed routine doesn't allow me to compromise on my priorities. Following the age-old mantra, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," I started off the fall semester with 3! evening classes after work and with a bullet-proof plan. So far, it's working! 
In the tiffin: Salad with grilled veggies & fresh tomato for lunch; rice, bean tofu, onion, cilantro, lime juice for dinner 
Being busy doesn't have to mean compromising on your health goals! Leaving the house prepared for the day ahead might mean packing more than one meal the night before. The half of the frittata in the picture above is a great example. That was my breakfast for 4 days last week. Made from farm-fresh eggs, just-picked zucchini, aged cheese and fresh herbs, it filled me up and made me happy. Making one veggie-filled frittata on Sunday that feeds you all week is just one example of how you can simplify your packed meals. (Leave a comment if you'd like me to post a frittata recipe)

Here's a sneak peak at my fall schedule:
Believe it or not, this makes me happy.    :-)
Before I started grad school, I worked out 5-6 days/week and prepared 80% of my food. Then I started  compromising on exercise by not working out on class days and on my food choices by eating too much food prepared by people who don't share my nutritional goals (Ex: The vegetarian soups I find at work and on campus are FULL of sodium and often, cream and flour). My body wasn't happy. I struggled to maintain my feel-great weight and my favorite clothes didn't flatter. My back ached and I became addicted to caffeine. I composted too many fresh veggies that I bought or grew but never had time to prepare. And, was a cranky-pants. Not this semester!

This fall, I opted to take an additional class and instead of freaking out, I'm owning it and trying to make the most out of this jam-packed schedule. My amazing gym offers great classes that work with any schedule. James has BTDT with his own work+class schedule and he bends over backwards to help out more at home when I'm spread too thin. My favorite Farmer's Market is on Saturday mornings, making it easy to get there. All of these factors make this lifestyle enjoyable.

In order to eat well this fall, I'll be packing more of my meals and eating at the times that are right for my body, even if that means that I'm that girl in class chowing down on an irresistible homemade burrito bowl or an arugula salad with roasted beets, goat cheese, pine nuts, and homemade creamy balsamic (sorry guys!). I won't eat a big meal after class because I hate the way I feel in the morning after going to bed on a full stomach. I won't buy salt-laden to-go soups because they always disappoint. Instead, I'll pack enough healthy food to get me through the day. I'll keep my food drawer at work stocked with nut butters and brown rice cakes, herbal teas, nuts, granola, and whole grain chips. I'll pack fresh fruits and veggies and will keep hummus and Greek yogurt in the fridge at work. I'll simply prepare enough "modular" food (beans, grains, veggies, and greens) on weekends and nights off to get me through the week with creative mixing and matching.

Here are some ideas for you to make packing healthy meals easier on your schedule:

  • Keep your pantry stocked with canned beans. They're a fast and easy add-in to soups, salads, and rice bowls. They also make tasty dips and are of course, packed with fiber and protein. If beans bother your tummy, try Eden's beans. They soak their beans with kombu, making them easier to digest.
  • Make sure you have a variety of grains (quinoa, brown rice, millet, amaranth, teff) on hand. Make 1-2 batches/week, alternating the following so you get good variety:
    • Some grains benefit from soaking and/or rinsing or from cooking with a piece of kombu seaweed. Leave a comment if you want more info on this and I'll plan another post on grains
    • Try cooking grains in a low-sodium veggie broth for extra flavor.
    • Store leftover grains in airtight containers in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Guac! Who doesn't love it? How hard is it to make a batch once a week? RECIPE HERE.
  • Same goes for hummus! 
  • Mix and match and make things different with spices, herbs, and alliums. The same bean+grain+green combo can take on Mediterranean, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, or Central/South American personalities just by changing the add-ins. Think: Cilantro and avocado or parsley and olives? Ginger and tamari or garlic and basil? Onions, shallots, or leeks? The possibilities are endless!
  • Top your salads with seasonal produce. Tomatoes are delicious and cheap now, but won't be tasty come November. Grill some veggies. Roast some beets. Mix and match, drawing inspiration from the best salads you've ever been served. 
  • Don't forget about nuts, seeds, and sprouts! They make fantastic additions to salads and grain+bean bowls. 
  • Pack healthy snacks! If you know you're likely to want something sweet after lunch, pack an apple or a few dates. For me, having a stash of coco macaroon and dark chocolate covered nuts helps me resist the urge to grab an unhealthy snack. 

For more on the topic of packing your lunch, check out this post from last fall.

Question: What are your favorite ways to eat well when you're on the go? Leave a comment to share your tips with other FSTS readers!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Life has been a bit chaotic lately. This summer has been full of travel, family, parties, gardening, rowing, and all around FUN!  While I haven't blogged about it, my container garden is yielding. I've harvested lots of spinach, lettuce, kale, arugula, fresh herbs, strawberries, chard, and cucumbers. Zucchini, tomatoes, beets, and peppers should be ready to pick this week.

As the summer sun fills the sky, I thought I'd reflect on a few things that are providing some much-needed inspiration:
  • Nutrition School! I started my IIN modules in May and LOVE that I'm learning so much about 
        something I'm so passionate about. 
      • New bike! James got it for me for my big 3-0 and it's hands down the best gift I've ever received! It's so freeing to ride around Boston! 
        Birthday Gifts! Picnic Basket is Perfect for Farmers Market!
      • Music! Started the summer with Radiohead. Got up close and personal for Ani DiFranco at Wanderlust. Going to see Coldplay tonight! Life wouldn't be worth living without live music! 
      • Technology! I bought an iPad and it's changed my life. The How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman App (developed by Culinate) is amazing and it is already changing the way I approach cooking. Best $9.99 I've ever spent!  
      • Family! One sister is getting married in September. The other is having a baby boy any day now! My niece's personality is coming out more and more every time I see her. My mother's strength (and her insane veggie gardens) will never cease to amaze me. 
      • Yoga! It's been tough to stick to a routine, but I spent a weekend in Vermont in June with some of the best friends I could ever ask for. We practiced for 3-6 hours a day for 3 days straight, meditated on the side of a mountain, met amazing yogis from all over, and loved every minute of Wanderlust. Oh, and I met Joel Salatin there! 
      I was a little apprehensive about Acro Yoga, but it was so fun!
      Dancer on a mountain.
      One Smart Farmer!
      • Rowing. 2 nights a week on the Charles all summer long with the calluses to prove it. :-)  

      Boston Skyline from the BU Boathouse
      Where should I put this thing?
      • Chi Omega. I don't talk about the sorority girl side of my life much, but XO continues to provide inspiration, friendship, and wonderful opportunities to give more of myself. I attended our National Convention in Phoenix and accepted an award for the Greater Boston Alumnae Chapter's success in fundraising for Make-A-Wish through our annual A Pot Full of Wishes! Fundraiser, which I've headed up for the past 3 years. I also snagged the cutest owl apron ever while I was there! 
      • Making introductions. I love connecting people to people and connecting people to new foods! On a recent trip to Scottsdale, I had dinner with an old family friend who had NEVER eaten tofu! We ordered these delicious lettuce cups stuffed with tofu and she loved them!
      Lettuce Cups Stuffed with Tofu!
      I promise to post some new recipes soon and would love to hear from you! Any requests?! 

      Monday, May 14, 2012

      Behind the Scenes at Boston Organics

      Boston Organics: Delivering fresh organic produce to your door!
      I just resucribed to Boston Organics after a recent behind-the-scenes visit to their headquarters in Charlestown, MA. I toured the plant with my Operations Management Team from one of my MBA classes (picture below). It was really cool to see how this small business dedicated to the mission of delivering fresh, organic produce, has managed to grow into a profitable staple in our community. Check out some of the highlights from my trip:

      Boston Organics gets deliveries of fresh produce in the early morning hours, packs boxes Mon - Fri mornings, and delivers to residential and commercial customers Mon - Fri afternoons. The employees who pack the boxes are the drivers who deliver them. They'll deliver them to your front porch, back porch, or directly into your home.
      The boxes getting packed full of fruit and veggies. Fun music played in the chilly room while the staff selected produce.
      I have been a Boston Organics customer in the past, opting for the local "Dogma Box" a few winters in a row, but despite the great service, I cancelled a while ago when I built weekly trips to Somerville's amazing Farmers Markets into my routine. I missed the convenience of getting all organic produce delivered. As much as I love the farmers markets and supporting local farmers, I know they're not all organic and I've become a little more obsessed with organic lately.
      Each customer's box is packed according to individual specifications printed on labels taped to the box.
      I recently got a juicer and since I'm not the best at eating fruit on a daily basis, I decided to resubscribe after the tour. My first delivery came last Friday. I subscribed to the 1/2 fruit 1/2 veggie box and got oranges, onions, lettuce, pears, apples, carrots, bananas, sweet potatoes, kiwis, basil, and a few other items delivered to my doorstep for $29. I added on extra carrots and some ginger for juicing.
      That's a lot of bananas! 
      We learned about the challenges of importing bananas, including the various conditions they arrive in and the optimal ripeness for delivery. It's not easy to meet customer expectations on this front, so Boston Organics has really figured out the science of banana storage. They have various refrigerators at different temperatures to maintain optimal conditions for the produce. 

      Customers can add cheese on to their orders.
      In addition to produce, Boston Organics offers popular grocery "add-ons," including cheese, chocolate, coffee, nuts, grains, and beans. 
      Boston Organics maintains strong relationships with local and national distributors to maintain optimum inventory.
      After our tour, they gave us doggy bags! We each got an apple, a banana, and an orange. They were such great hosts!
      From L to R: Kara, Dennis, Steve, Emilio (Boston Organics' Operations Manager), me, and Kevin. Matt's not pictured.

      If you live in the greater Boston area and love organic fruits and veggies, you should check out Boston Organics. Their prices are very reasonable and they offer a lot of options and much more customization than a comparable CSA. Visit for all the details! If you're not in the Boston area, try to find out if your area has a similar service. There are similar services all over the country! 

      PS: I'll add pictures of future deliveries so you can see what I'm getting in my boxes, but you can always see what's in "this week's box" at

      PPS: I received no incentive to write this post. All of the opinions are strictly my own. 

      Thursday, April 5, 2012

      Oatmeal: Breakfast & Degrees of Processing

      oatmeal at 3 levels of processing
      From L to R: Steel Cut Oats, Rolled Oats, Quick-Cooking Oats
      photo credit: Hanna's Vegan Kitchen
      I'm not the best when it comes to breakfast. Most mornings, I sleep until the last possible minute and then end up running around like a crazy person trying to get out the door before rush hour gets bad. But I'm working on it and routines help. In the summer, I make a lot of smoothies in my vitamix to sip for breakfast. I put in fresh or frozen fruit and veggies like kale and carrots. Sometimes, I add non-dairy milk or yogurt. Other times, water and ice. I change it up and slurp up my daily servings of fruits and veggies through a straw on my way to the office.

      whole oat grouts are the least processed form of oatmeal
      Whole oat groats are the least processed
      photo credit:  Culinate 
      On cold New England mornings, I like filling my tummy with something warm. I used to enjoy farina, but ever since I read Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, I've been trying to cut down on gluten-containing grains. I also read KERF a lot, and my favorite food blogger eats a lot of beautiful bowls of oatmeal that provide oatmeal inspiration! There are so many kinds of oatmeal and lots of ways to prepare it, so it can be overwhelming to figure out your (it really depends on individual tastes) perfect bowl. You can opt for whole oat groats, which are the least processed, most nutritious, and also most time-consuming to prepare. Or you can go instant and zap your oats in 90 seconds (I don't recommend this!). I usually use rolled oats or steel-cut oats, which are minimally processed and easy to digest.

      steel cut oats are oat groats chopped into smaller pieces so they cook faster
      Steel Cut: oat groats chopped into smaller pieces
      photo credit: Riverspitter
      Here's what I do to make 2 pint-sized jars of hot oats that James and I both take with us to start our busy work + class days out on the right foot (I aspire to get up earlier and eat breakfast at the kitchen table every morning, but we're not there yet).

      Before bed, I rinse and soak 1 cup of oats (either rolled or steel-cut). I use enough water to cover the oats by about an inch and put them in the medium pot I use to cook them, placing a lid on top. In the morning, I strain and rinse the oats. This process of soaking, straining, and rinsing, helps rinse away the phytic acid that is present in a lot of nuts, seeds, and grains and that blocks your body from absorbing the valuable minerals in such foods. Soaking also makes the oats cook faster, so if you can get in the routine of soaking your oats at night, you'll
      save time and absorb more nutrients.
      rolled oats are steamed and flattened with giant rollers
      Rolled: steamed & flattened oat groats
      photo credit: Purcell Mountain Farms

      I add about 2 cups of fresh filtered tap water (I prefer water to milk and non-dairy milk since I like to 'save' on the calories) and a small handful of dried fruit (currants, raisins, and/or craisins), and simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the oats have achieved my desired consistency (about 5 minutes for rolled oats and 10 for steel cut). The cooking time depends on the type of oats you use and is really subjective. I tend to like my oats a little soupy, especially because I take them to-go most mornings and don't eat them until I get to my desk, but how long you cook the oats for is truly up to you. When they look appetizing, turn off the heat.

      quick cooking oats are oats that have been steamed and rolled flat and chopped or flaked
      Quick: Steamed, Flattened, and Chopped or Flaked
      photo credit:
      Then I stir in my fixings. Typically, this involves at least 4 of the  following:
      • 2 tb chia seeds (A great source of Omega-3s, chia seeds also help you stay fuller longer!)
      • 1 tb ground flax seeds (I grind them myself and store the meal in the freezer in a pint-sized ball jar)
      • 1 tb maple syrup or raw local honey
      • up to a 1/2 cup of pureed pumpkin 
      • up to a 1/2 cup of fresh/frozen/freeze dried berries
      • 1 chopped banana
      • shredded coconut
      • 1 - 2 tb of nut or seed butter (almond and sunflower seed are my favorite)
      Now that the weather is getting nicer, you can even make an oatmeal smoothie! Just skip the heat part altogether and throw the soaked oats in a blender with
      Instant Oatmeal In A Spoon
      Instant: Thinly flaked & pre-cooked
      photo credit:
      some ice, sunsational or other alterna-milk, and frozen berries, and you'll have a delicious, doughy smoothie full of whole grains and fruit! 

      A Note on Gluten: Oats do not contain gluten, but are often grown near or processed in facilities that also process gluten-containing grains. If you are sensitive to or intolerant of gluten, just look for oats labeled gluten-free to make sure there aren't any traces of gluten in your oatmeal!

      What are your favorite oatmeal toppings? 

      Monday, April 2, 2012

      Island Creek Oysters & More at Local 149

      I got my oyster cherry popped last Monday at Local 149 in South Boston. I was there for the 13th Annual ALLocal Dinner to benefit the Boston Local Food Program. So many of my friends love oysters, but they've always intimidated me. So before I could slurp the slimy mollusk, I slurped down some local Greylock Gin in 149's Aviator, a delicious cocktail with fresh lemon and a luxardo maraschino. James enjoyed a Jefferson with bourbon, local honey, angostura bitters, mint, and citrus over a bit too much ice. Both cocktails were fantastic.
      Local Gin Martini with Lemon and Bourbon Honey Bitters Mint and Citrus over Ice
      We each went for refills. 
      I didn't want to just eat my first oyster at Local 149. One of the reasons I was excited to try my first one there was that they were serving the acclaimed Island Creek Oysters. I wanted my first oyster to be a great experience all around, and CJ, AKA @Oyster_Dude made sure that it was by giving me the full story behind what makes Island Creek Oysters so delicious (hint: location location location). I learned so much about oyster farming from CJ, who encouraged me to chew just a little to unlock the sweetness. I was a little weary, since I got a lot of advice to just swallow my first oyster whole, but CJ is the expert, so I went for it and it wasn't bad at all!
      Shucking Fresh Oysters
      CJ Shucking Oysters
      Local accoutrements included apple cider vinegar and juniper berry mignonette, greenhouse tomato cocktail fresca, and micro wasabi sprouts.

      Island Creek Oyster Boat

      If you're as curious about oyster farming as I was and want to know more about where oysters come from, how they grow, and what makes a good oyster a good oyster, check out Island Creek's 20-step slide show! CJ hand selected my first oyster to make sure I got a good one (they were all good!).

      naked oyster on the half shell on ice
      My first oyster!
      I was a bit apprehensive, but that local gin soothed my nerves just enough to make this one go down easy.
      my first time eating an oyster. delicious oyster.
      Down Goes Oyster #1!
      LOVE!!! I went back for oh... I don't know... maybe 5 more, sampling the different accoutrements, before we were summoned to our seats for dinner. The table was cute. Check out the chalk.
      simple local centerpiece of local daffodils in a local hard apple cider bottle
      Even the centerpieces were local!
      I met some awesome people during dinner including Jo Anne Shatkin, CEO of clf ventures and Dr P.K. Newby, a local Nutrition Scientist and fellow food blogger who teaches at BU. The ALLocal Dinners provide some great networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing local, sustainable food. :-)

      Boston Local Food Program Speech
      The speeches at this ALLocal Dinner were shorter and sweeter than usual.
      We also heard from some of the folks from SBN and from Local 149 during our meal. There's lots of exciting stuff in the works! For dinner, there was a choice of bone-in free range short ribs with a corn whiskey and Boston honey glaze with smashed white potatoes and sunchokes for the meat-eaters or a farmer's breakfast for dinner of poached eggs, crispy sunchokes, greenhouse tomatoes, sweet corn, and camembert cheese. Since James doesn't eat oysters, meat, or eggs, he got a salad made of all local greens and greenhouse tomatoes. It was different!

      Baby kale and wasabi sprouts were some of the greens in this salad.
      My eggs were delicious, though I found the sunchokes to be a little under-cooked. The flavors of this dish were interesting. The cheese added a real kick.

      Poached Eggs with Sunchokes, Tomatoes, Wasabi Sprouts, and Cheese
      Poached Farm Fresh Eggs with Greenhouse Tomatoes, Wasabi Sprouts, Sunchokes, Corn, and Cheese
      For dessert, we had sassafras gelato with smokey goat cheese. It was yummy!

      delicious sassafras gelato with goat cheese and berries

      All of the ingredients for this dinner were sourced in New England. Some of the suppliers included:
      Longfellow Creamery/Second Chance Farm in Avon, ME
      Eva's Garden in South Dartmouth, MA
      Thatcher Farm in Milton, MA
      Vermont Butter and Creamery
      Sunrise Orchards in VT
      Boston Honey Company in Holliston, MA

      PS: While writing this post, I did some research on oyster etiquette. If you're interested in further reading on the topic, check out this Vanity Fair article.

      Wednesday, March 14, 2012

      ALLocal Dinner at Local 149

      If you're in the Boston area and love to support sustainable businesses while eating delicious local food, you have to check out the upcoming ALLocal Dinner at Local 149 
      The Sustainable Business Network of Greater Boston (SBN for short) has hosted 12 ALLocal Dinners over the past few years.  I've personally attended several of them and can't recommend them enough.  

      ALLocal Dinner at Local 149
      Monday, March 26, 2012
      149 P Street (Between 6th St. & Columbia Rd.)
      South Boston, MA 02127
      6-7 PM, Cocktail Reception with Island Creek Oysters
      7-8:30 PM, Dinner
      $55 per person

      I just registered and would love to see you there, so join us at Local 149, a neighborhood restaurant with an affinity for local food. Chef Leah Duboius will create an eclectic and authentically local meal.
      The evening will start with Local 149s resident Mixologist, who will feature craft cocktails infused with Eva’s Garden herbs of Dartmouth, MA. C.J from Island Creek Oysters of Duxbury, MA will shuck oysters for the cocktail hour accompanied with varied accoutrements.

      The main course will feature short ribs from Second Chance Farm/Longfellow Creamery in Avon ME or a   vegetarian option of "Free Form Lasagna" with Eva's greens from local farmers.

      Getting there:  Local 149 is located at 149 P Street in South Boston. Street parking is limited.  MBTA bus routes MBTA Bus Route #7, #11 serving Broadway Station and South Station on the MBTA Red Line nearby.