Blue Heron Local Cuisine

Cooking, Eating, and Drinking on the North Shore (and beyond)

Living on the Water July 22, 2009

Filed under: Regional food,Terroir — blueheronlocal @ 4:31 pm
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(photo from Trustees of the Reservation)

(photo from Trustees of the Reservation)

Community supported fisheries have been getting a lot of attention in the national news. It’s a revolution, first Boston, then the world (now where have I heard that before?).

But the thing is, you don’t live in New England because you like eating farm-raised shrimp from China stuffed with antibiotics.

 

In Boston, it can be easy to forget that you live on the water. Sure, you can see seagulls harassing each other for leftovers in the Dunkin Donuts parking lot, but how often do you see water other than the Frog Pond and dodgy puddles—the Jamaica Pond, if you are lucky?  

 

Here on the North Shore, the water is harder to ignore. We have to stop in our cars and wait for boats to go through the drawbridge, our roads go by the water, there are beaches we can go to whenever we want, we pass the tourists waiting outside Woodman’s. They came here to see something. But even on the North Shore, you cannot find local strawberries at the grocery store. In season.

 

One of the very basic things we can do to live less-ridiculous lives is to remember where we live.  This is very basic terroir. Up here, there is no reason to eat strawberries from Chile in February (or California strawberries in June), when you can freeze your overabundance of berries in June. Why would you eat Washington State apples in October, when, in Massachusetts at least, you are never more than an hour’s drive from an orchard? And the seafood.

 

 Eat like you live on the water. Support the local fishing boats that you see coming in when you are at the beach. The folks on board are your neighbors, not part of some foreign-owned corporation that has no interest in what makes New England different than Timbuktu, except for how they can make money from it.

 

Anyway, I hear Timbuktu is pretty hot this time of year.

-goldlentil

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The end of farmer’s market season October 25, 2008

It’s a very sad day; we went to the last Marblehead farmers’ market of the season. We stocked up on cheese; feta; red-wine lamb sausage; gala apples; and fougasse (our newest discovery, a circular flat bread with sesame seeds, salt, and pepinas on top that tastes like a distant but infinitely superior relative of the fresh pretzel). We also came home with pea tendrils, dandelion greens, and a jerusalem artichoke. The pea tendrils will go into a stir fry, the dandelion greens will serve as the base for No Egret’s Hot Bacon Salad, and the jerusalem artichoke, which is new to us, will be used in a stew or shephard’s pie later on in the month.

(photo from wikipedia)

(photo from wikipedia)

 

My apple of the day is the Cameo, which is red-striped over yellow. It has a nice aromatic taste and the apples are small and crunchy, just the way I like ’em. Cameo is a surprise cultivar from Washington and is thought to be a cross between red delicious and yellow delicious (delicious is quite the euphenism for those bland supermarket apples—it almost moves me to quotation marks).

 

Best of luck to those of you finishing off the Eat Local Challenge.

 

-goldlentil

 

Macoun Apples October 6, 2008

Filed under: In Season,Regional food — blueheronlocal @ 5:50 pm
Tags: , ,
(from nyapplecountry.com)

(from nyapplecountry.com)

I bought a big bag of Macoun apples at Connors Farm in Danvers. No egrets and I did not go into the corn maze. We did, however, sample the hot cider donuts, which were way more flavorful than, but not as light as, the ones at Russell Orchard.

 

Macouns are delicious—firm flesh with a tart/sweet flavor—a northern-climate-friendly cross between the McIntosh and the Jersey Black. It is named after W. T. Macoun, who was a Canadian apple breeder and botanist who named 105 apple varieties in the beginning of the twentieth century. He is credited with helping the popularity of McIntosh apples in Canada, and was a strong proponent of home gardening and gardening in vacant city lots. The Macoun was developed in Geneva, New York, a year before W. T. Macoun’s death in 1933.

 

-goldlentil

 

Pie! September 26, 2008

Filed under: Book Review,In Season — blueheronlocal @ 7:20 pm
Tags: , , ,

Wondering what to do with the twenty-five pounds of apples you just brought home from the orchard?

 

I heartily recommend the book: Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie by Ken Haedrich. It’s 600+ pages and worth it. Recipes for every kind of pie on earth and an encouraging and down-to-earth author to boot. He skips the pie snobbery and shows you how to make pie by hand, food processor, and electric mixer. With fresh or frozen fruit. A good investment!

 

[Ed. note: Put out by a local, independent publisher, too!]

 

-cara

 

Honeycrisp Apples and the Lost Cultivar September 24, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture,In Season — blueheronlocal @ 8:24 am
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(thanks, minnesotaharvest.net!)

(thanks, minnesotaharvest.net!)

If it weren’t for David Bedford, there would be no honeycrisp apples. The honeycrisp trees (then known as MN 1711) were tagged for removal at the University of Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station’s Horticultural Research Center, when Bedford, head of the apple breeding program, noticed that these trees were in a terrible growing spot. He thought they would have promise in a better site, so he let them live. It was a good thing he did. The honeycrisp has become an exceedingly popular apple. It has the perfect apple texture and its flavor is subtle and sweet. The apple grows to large proportions and stores well. And the trees love the cold weather.

 

Creating new apple cultivars is a long process and many cultivars never make it to the stage where they get nice names like honeycrisp. It took the honeycrisp thirty years to be released as a cultivar after it was grown from a seedling at the U of M in 1961. There are many reasons for this: The trees need to grow big enough to produce significant fruit, they need to produce fruit consistently from year to year, they have to survive the harsh Minnesota winter [Ed. note: Take it from me, North Shore natives, the Minnesota winter is intense. The snow never melts and when the wind blows you can feel aching sinus cavities you weren’t even aware of.], and for this particular cultivar, the U of M was treading lightly. In the late 1970s they had three cultivars metaphorically crash and burn. The regent and honey gold didn’t survive the winter (see above) and the red baron mysteriously turned yellow and orange and stayed yellow and orange. Oops! However, the honeycrisp was a clear success.

 

Originally it was thought that the honeycrisp was a cross between the Macoun and honey gold; however, when the U of M folks tested its DNA, they realized that it was a cross between keepsake and another cultivar that did not survive the testing process. Apple fanatics everywhere must be wondering “What other apple varieties were grown and destroyed that I will never taste???” (That wouldn’t be me, of course.)

 

You can buy and pick honeycrisps at Russell Orchards in Ipswich.

-goldlentil

 

(Thanks to Minnesota Harvest for the fascinating, detailed account of the growing and creating process.)

 

Apples and Hurricanes September 3, 2008

Filed under: Agriculture,In Season,Regional food — blueheronlocal @ 9:12 pm
Tags: , ,
ginger gold and paula red, two early apples (thanks, farmtophilly.com)

ginger gold and paula red (thanks, farmtophilly.com)

One of the few redeeming things about the waning days of summer is the onset of apple season. My favorite apple, the ginger gold (available at the Marblehead farmers’ market), was discovered because of a hurricane. Hurricane Camille was one of big Gulf Coast hurricanes. It hit the Mississippi coast in 1969 as a Category 5 storm. By the time it wandered up to Virginia, it was only a tropical depression. No one thought much about it, but when it crossed over the Blue Ridge Mountains and stalled over Nelson County, Virginia, it dropped 27 inches of rain in 12 hours. Birds drowned in the trees and whole mountainsides washed away. Pretty meandering creeks in people’s backyards became thundering, murderous floods, tearing houses from their foundations. (more…)