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Archive for October, 2009

Here in New England, our harvests are coming in particularly late due to the cold and wet start to a rather short summer season, but starting in early to mid-September the bounty really hit the pavement in full force.  The farmers markets ceased to look picked over at openings, and instead crates and barrels of extra veggies line the center thoroughfares making things even more congested than normal.  I couldn’t be happier, although I’m wishing I had an even bigger refrigerator and actually finished reading that root cellaring book already.

This weekend was full of rain and dreariness which is just a part of October and November here.  The grey skies are almost comforting, and the rain isn’t yet frigid (it was actually warmer outside than inside).  However, the cooler temps do signify one major change in my domestic habits – the oven becomes the pride and joy of this home.  Not only do more delicious things come out of it more frequently, but true to the New England style I try my damnedest not to turn on the heat until November 1st (yes, even if it is in the forties at night) and it becomes the primary heating element of the house.  Chilly?  Bake some cookies!  Freezing?  Roast a brisket!

It wasn’t that cold outside this weekend, but the cold nights chill down the house more than I’d like so in went a bone-in, skin-on chicken breast roasted over fall root vegetables (parsnips, rainbow carrots and purple potatoes to be precise).  I was taught the secrets to roasting chickens by my dear friend Emily T., and I’ve been at it with a passion ever since.  It’s a signature winter dinner guest dish even.  Needless to say, I was thrilled when a new meat vendor showed up at the farmer’s market (Chestnut Farms) toting an extremely reasonably priced, humanely raised, open pastured chicken breasts for roasting (it’s the favorite cut in my house).  It’s a simple dish, all in one pot with very little cleanup making for a wonderfully satisfying cold weather meal.

This was, of course followed by a blackberry pear crisp (just to keep the oven going a bit longer) for dessert.  The beautiful thing about all of this is everything (save the oats, sugar and spices) for the entire meal came from within a 100 mile radius from my house (or sourced while on vacation – the blackberries were from Pat and Bill’s delicious thornless!! patch).  I try to eat local when I can and source sustainable ingredients whenever possible,  and I’ve found that over time it has gotten easier and easier.  You learn to preserve, not focus all of your efforts on one stop shopping once monthly mega-mart trips and utilize your freezer for more than just popsicles and ice cubes.  And I’ve got to say… it tastes so much better that way too.  I don’t think I could ever go back to “normal” American style food shopping again.  I’ve spoiled my taste buds beyond the point of no return.  Just to keep from being accused of being a “food tease” (yes, this really happens), I am including the two loosely based recipes for dinner and desert below.  Enjoy them with gusto, and if possible try to support your local farmers – keeping them up and running and around for years to come is for the good of us all really.  Just think – there would be no pastoral landscapes if all the meat in the world came from the mile long steel sheds and millions-of-gallons manure lagoons of the industrial meat industry…

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