Jewish goat cheese

From December 9 to 12, I attended the Hazon Food Conference – East Coast at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in Connecticut. Here is a piece I wrote for The Jew and the Carrot about one “culturally” enlightening session. Photo by moi.

Goat feta

Can Cheese Be Jewish?

“Goats are the Jews of the animal kingdom,” Aitan Mizrahi told a group at the Hazon Food Conference on Friday morning. The workshop participants, gathered in the warm, cream-scented air of a small industrial kitchen at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center, immediately picked up on the tongue-in-cheek theme: They wander, they are intelligent, and they are stiff-necked, they said. And, Mizrahi pointed out, “They enjoy to be in a minyan and they also enjoy to go off on their own and shmooze.”

So the gentle and friendly milk-producers make a perfect fit for Freedman, an eco-conscious retreat space in the Berkshires.

Read more on The Jew and the Carrot.

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Keswick Creamery reaches to save business

Family farms often face an uphill climb just to reach level ground. For Keswick Creamery, that hike just got steeper. Rather than give in, the popular artisan farmstead cheese makers who sell at six area farmers markets have devised a way to keep their livelihood going.

Mel and Mark Dietrich Cochran, who run the creamery, recently learned that they have until September 1 to raise $300,000. If they do not hit the goal, Mel’s father will opt to continue with his plan of selling off the equipment and shuttering the operation. The Dietrich Cochrans have looked to a community-supported agriculture (CSA) model and an online ordering tool to sell shares in their business. Each purchase of a Keswick Creamery Cheese CSA share brings them closer to continuing the family business.

Read on at Examiner.com.

For more information about Keswick and the CSA, visit the Keswick Creamery website.

Super Bowl snacks go all the way to the farmers market

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Potato wedges. Photo: Creative Commons/fotoosvanrobin

Though neither Super Bowl contender hails from the East Coast area that you likely inhabit, dear reader, your game day spread can still come from local sources. Why not? Local food supports the economy of your home town (or adopted city), and offers healthier options. And with year-round farmers markets in full swing, it’s easy to find ingredients for locally-sourced snacks.

To add local tang to your table, compliment tortilla chips with salsas from Toigo Orchards (just be sure to warn guests that the medium-hot chipotle is addictive). Or make a veggie platter with kohlrabi, radishes, carrots, and raw turnips from area farms. For a refined Super Bowl soiree, spread Firefly Farms goat cheese on slices of Atwater’s sourdough.

As for recipes, guacamole is out. This year, everyone from Melissa Clark of the New York Times to Bobby Flay in Parade is sharing their perfect version of bleu cheese dip. Why not try it for yourself, and make yours local? Whether it’s for vegetables, chips, or wings, Keswick Creamery’s Blue Suede Moo and Firefly Farms’ Mountain Top Bleu are at your service. The recipe below pairs a bleu cheese dip with hearty wedges of potato. That fall crop still arrives fresh at farmers markets through the winter, thanks to farmers’ root cellars. (Recipe after the jump). Continue reading

Amaranth risotto recipe

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This recipe uses my new favorite grain, amaranth. Amaranth comes from a plant much like callaloo. Amaranth–the grain part–manages to cook up both chewy and mushy. It eats like a hearty porridge with bursts of firm morsels. I looked at my first batch of this creamy base and had a feeling it would make a great risotto.

Check out this recipe on Culinate. It’s my first entry in my new account there, and a contender in the Naked Grains Recipe Challenge. Continue reading