Fox Creek Farm – Farm Share

A while back Albany John noticed a farm share thingy in the co-op’s flyer. After going back and forth with Raymond, one of Fox Creek Farm’s owners, he decided to try it out this year. He’s all for supporting local businesses, and I was interested in the ‘feeds two adult vegetarians for a week’ bit. I’m all for a little cost cutting, especially if I get to sample some new stuff along the way.

The total cost for the farm share was around $450. Either way, it’s supposed to break down to $22 per week, until mid September. It’s a risky thing, the farm sharing. If it’s a bad season, you’re pretty much screwed (as is the farmer) out of a lot of food, even though you paid for a share. However, if it’s a good season, then you’ll be running over to your neighbor’s house throwing snow peas and summer squash at them with reckless abandon. Price-wise, though, I think it’s a pretty good deal, especially when you look at the prices in the co-op for the same goods.

Every Tuesday we pick up a load of veggies from the Co-Op’s loading/storage area. The beginning month, it’s been a little sparse. It was mainly lettuces, field greens and other green leafy foods like kale. I really hated salad by the 3rd week, and I never thought I’d get sick of field greens! But I’ve never been one for leftovers, or even eating the same thing two days in a row.

It’s starting to pick up lately. But I’m not seeing how two vegetarians could live off of this stuff for a week. Maybe if they made a lot of soups and stir-fries, but you certainly couldn’t manage a week of just what they give you, at least not so far this season (actually, I really like my grocery shopping, so I’m hoping I won’t get surprised later in the season with a buncha veggies). You need to have other stuff. Albany John and I eat a pretty meat-free diet, and our grocery bill is pretty much the same. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, but just know that you’re more in a gamble with the veggie production than you’re getting a guaranteed amount of something every week. We’ll probably do it again next year.

I’d say we’re at a good medium right now. We’re not throwing away food. Ok, I did toss a head of lettuce or spinach or beet greens at one point since I had shoved them in the back of the fridge and they got all gross and wet, but that was my fault. Or the fridge, since the fridge door likes to open at any given point I leave the house for more than three hours and then everything inside is all perspire-y and there’s a puddle on the floor.
Getting back on topic… Albany John and I don’t like food going to waste. There really hasn’t been anything to waste. I was hesitant at first about some of the greens, but they’re so very fresh, they’ll last for around two weeks, some of them even longer. Sometimes the greens I buy at the co-op go bad before a week, but this stuff is super-fresh and the quality is just amazing.

We’ve gotten a great range of stuff we’d also never try on our own, either from sticker shock, or just never thinking to buy it. Here’s a list of stuff we’ve gotten:
Red Lettuce
Kale
Swiss Chard
Green Lettuce
Beet Greens
Beets
Summer Squash (about 4-5 kinds)
Cucumbers
Snow Peas
Mixed Field Greens
Kohlrabi
Fresh Garlic Bulbs
Garlic Scapes

The kohlrabi and garlic scapes are definitely two things we never would have gotten before. They look so weird and cute! The scapes also have this light garlic essence, but none of the bite. They’re a bit tough, kind of like green beans.
The fresh garlic is really light as well. It hasn’t been cured, and it’s great to put in a stir-fry in place of sharp bulbs of garlic. It’s a much subtler flavor.

I’ve really been enjoying each week, wondering what we’ll be cooking up until the next Tuesday. Albany John’s been really on his toes and creative with cooking these up as well. I’m liking this big sampling of veggies – I’m not getting sick of eating one thing every night in a row. If I had to eat Swiss Chard every night in a row… oh, man, I’d throw a riot, cause I think that tastes like dirt. Albany John calls it ‘earthy’ to me, it just tastes like there’s dirt injected in the leaves. Pleh! However, we were both fighting over the snow peas.
Oh crap, or are they snap peas cause it’s the summer?

French Lentil Soup

I’ve been sick lately. I haven’t been sick in over a year, which is quite an accomplishment for my immune system. In elementary school I was always the kid out for at least 2 days every month with a sore throat.
I’m blaming this zonky weather we’ve been having on getting sick. My body does not like huge temperature fluctuations. Not at all.
As you would imagine (or maybe not), Albany John has had to put up with me whining more than usual, which is to say, a lot. Combine a sore throat with a loss of appetite, and you’ve got me at Super Cranky Level 9: really impossible to deal with. I love eating, and not having the urge to eat anything… oh, that’s just not possible, especially when faced with tons of great food you can’t really taste because your taste buds are all gunked up.
However, Albany John made a really good French lentil soup for me that I ate for a few days, and I’m convinced it’s what made me feel better. He must have put some magical ‘Shut-the-hell-up’ seasoning in there (and it wasn’t butter!). The Post Punk Kitchen has a good recipe, which seems pretty close to what he put in there. All I know is it was a hearty, thick soup, chock full of French lentils. Here is the recipe:

French Lentil Soup w/Tarragon and Thyme
Equipment: Large soup pot
Cold winter’s day

Ingredients
2 cups french lentils
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large white onion, diced medium
1 large carrot, peeld and diced small
5 plum tomatoes, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried tarragon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika (hungarian if you’ve got it)
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
A couple of generous dashes fresh black pepper
6 cups water all together + 2 veggie bullions or 6 cups veggie broth

Directions
First a note about the water, when I add it at first I just add 4 cups, and then towards the end I add another 2. Just don’t want you to miss that and add it all at once.Heat olive oil in the soup pot. Add carrots and onions and cook about 10 minutes over med-high heat, until onions are browning and even a little burnt. Add the garlic , herbs and spices (except bay leaves), saute 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a little spash of water if neccesary and stir to deglaze the pot. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.Add salt, 4 cups of water and bullions or veg broth and cover to bring to a boil. Add the lentils and bay leaves and cover again. Simmer about 45 minutes until lentils are almost totally tender. Add 2 more cups of water, cover and bring to a boil again, about 15 more minutes. If it looks to thin, uncover and simmer for a couple of minutes. If it looks too thick, add a little more water. Serve with good crusty bread.

I didn’t bother with the crusty bread, mainly because I didn’t feel like leaving the couch and my tub o’soup. It was insanely good and doesn’t weigh you down either. The flavors were better/stronger the 2nd or 3rd day and the lentils held up their structure very well.

Boston Seafood Restaurant

This weekend Albany John and I went hiking in North Adams. After taking the most roundabout route possible, we’d finally made it to our hiking destination. It was surprisingly enjoyable for someone like me, who hates just about anything outdoorsy.

Anyway, on to the foods!

We started getting hungry mid afternoon. Albany John had the good idea to head to Mass MoCA to check out their tourist brochure center, since I was quickly becoming a pain in the ass to deal with. We flipped through some books and saw there really wasn’t much in North Adams itself. Bummer. However, Boston Seafood Restaurant caught my eye. It was either that or a Chinese buffet. Gee, such hard decisions.

It was a quick drive from Mass Moca. Actually, everything is a quick drive as North Adams proper is quite tiny. It’s in a small strip mall, and rather unassuming. I would have completely missed it if we hadn’t read about it.

We settled in and our waitress was super sweet. It was evidently cranky old person hour here, as evidenced by the yelling at the waitress if they needed anything, as well as the loud complaining. However, it was really entertaining.
Albany John also has a theory when he eats out at local places: Find the oldest gentleman in the restaurant, and order whatever he’s having. It’s worked for him every time; only this time the oldest man in the restaurant was on dessert. Shucks.

Albany John got a 16 oz of Steele Rail, a beer he can’t find in New York. At $4.50, it was a good price. He also got a bowl of their Lobster Bisque($5.50)!
The bisque was ok, but nothing I would order again any time soon. It was oddly cheesy. Albany John liked it, but I though the cheese was overpowering the floating lobster-y bits.

Albany John ordered the seafood crepe($11.50) for his entrée, which came with rice pilaf. It came with a mornay sauce, which was quite tasty, but the overall crepe was just alright. Also, they used imitation crab. I HATE when people use imitation crab in anything and still list it as crab on the menu!! I can’t believe a SEAFOOD restaurant did it. The scallops, however, were really succulent.

I opted for the Clam Basket for $8.50. It was COLOSSAL! The strips of clam were perfectly fried and still soft. The fries beneath it were soft as well. I hate it when clams are fried to death and come out like rubber, almost as much as I hate crispy fries. Well, crispy fries are ok as long as they are served with a sauce of some kind, like cheese or gravy. The clam strips were also bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. They were a good 2” long and full of briny goodness.
Our total was $30

4th of July

I like 4th of July. It’s a break in the summer, which doesn’t have all that many national holidays. There are usually some parades, festivals, and, of course, FIREWORKS. Every year, Albany John and I hang out with this one rockin’ couple. This year they also celebrated the world’s cutest baby that also seems to enjoy the 4th.

We normally fire up the grill and cook up a ton of food. We usually spend about half of our monthly food budget, but it is always worth it! However, this year we’ve grilled way too many times and were just grilled out. We needed a new, funky food.

Fondue.


You can’t go wrong with a pot of melted cheese and stuff to dip in it. We made a cheddar fondue. Albany John scorched his milk though, and it was a little bit separated. Don’t scorch your milk! But otherwise, it was a nice cheesy soup, with little wisps of separated cheese strands.


We had roasted button mushrooms, roasted onions, steamed broccoli, boiled red potatoes, and bread cubes to dip in our pot.
I attempted to make baked brie, but the puff pastry didn’t feel like working with me. The puff pastry did work really well for cheese sticks though, which were also good dipped in cheese (but probably not very heart healthy).
I also made some sandwiches and cut them up into sticks, triangles and squares – Yay, 1950s fondue party food!
Oh, and there was some salad in there too.

Happy Birthday to Me!

It certainly was a very happy birthday! I got HELLO KITTY CAKE!!! If you know me, you’ll know that Hello Kitty is my only non-food vice. And then Albany John went and combined the two!

He got me a three layer fruit salad cake from the Hong Kong Bakery. I luuuurve their cakes, mainly because they’re not tooth-ache-inducingly sweet. Their whipped cream icing is really light and the fruit adds a nice bite of freshness. The cake wants you to think it is healthy for you (it is, right?). The cake itself is a light sponge (I think) and it’ll last you a good week in your frige with minimal decay.

My girlfriend also took me out to the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday (her idea), and I’m not one to say no to free chow! I got a tasty raspberry concotion in a martini glass and didn’t spill! Man, I must have been courting trouble with that drink. Unfortunately they must have screwed something up with our order, because we waited about 40-50 minutes for our food to come out when everyone else around us was getting stuff. (Also, the manager came out instead of our waitress to tell us our food was going to be rushed out. Kind of a flag that something got screwy along the way) Ugh – boo! My girlfriend also asked if they did anything for birthdays. Evidently what they do is sing you a song and charge you for your slice of cheesecake. I thought instead of “Yes, we do something for birthdays” she could have said “Yes, we’ll sing you a song for birthdays” instead of letting us think there was a freebie along the way (heck, even if it wasn’t, something to comp that wait since it was pretty obvious we were forgotten about). I mean, most places get you a free dessert or something. I didn’t want one, by my girlfriend insisted and ended up taking my slice home – he he. What can I say? I’m not the cheesecake maven I used to be.
Oh, for dinner I got a seared tuna salad – it was great! The tuna was actually seared and wonderfully rare/raw on the inside. It also had a nice spice to it. This is also probably the one thing at Cheesecake Factory where you can get a managable portion of food. Just tuna, some field greens, tomatoes and half an avocado. I was really surprised and would higly recommend anyone going there to try this. Also, get the dressing on the side so you can keep it light.

But thank you for a nice night Albany John and my awesome girlfriend!

Bombay Bar & Grill

One weekend Albany John and I met up with his parents in Lee, MA for lunch. His Mom had mentioned that there was a place she went to that served great Indian food. To the Berkshires it is!

Bombay Bar & Grill is located in a hotel at the end of Lee. I’m usually cautious about hotel restaurants, since I think they’re a little… well, there’s always something not-quite-right about them in my book. Usually they’re overpriced for what they’re serving.

But we were nicely surprised. The decor was gorgeous, and it sat overlooking a lake. And a clear pool. The pool looked really good.

We walked in and stood around for a few minutes. There was a lady who looked like she had just finished crying sitting in the front, and a waiter talking to other people on the other side. OOookay. After standing there for a few minutes the waiter finally looked at us, grabbed the menus he had in his hand, and said – “YOU CAN SIT OVER THERE. THERE, BY THE WINDOW!”

Alrighty. So we sat down and waited for him to come over and get our drink order and put down some menus. After about 10 minutes he came over again:
“DID YOU WANT DRINKS OR SOMETHING BEFORE YOU GO TO THE BUFFET?!”
Oh, so there’s a buffet! We went in thinking we’d order off a menu or something. There wasn’t even anything on the website saying there was a lunch buffet, and no smells in the dining room leading us to think so either. There was also one other group of Indian people (hey, good sign, right?) that was already eating. Turns out it was in a room next to the bar.

So, thanks to our mildy agressive and shouty waiter, we were off to the buffet… which had a really pathetic amount of stuff to choose from. About 8 things tops. Ugh, lame. And to top it off, most of it was really watery. The dal was like dal soup. There’s no nan out, which made us wonder if there was any available, or they just didn’t serve it. A few minutes after sitting at the table with wondering looks on our face, another waiter comes by asking if we wanted nan. He seemed kind of irritated, to ask us. Must be something in the air up there. He came out a minute or two later and plunked it down on my sliverware. Well, thanks, that’s nice.

If you couldn’t tell, the service was probably some of the rudest I’ve ever seen. Another group came in later, and they were out of tandoori chicken. The guy came by and said “SIT BACK DOWN, I’LL BRING YOU SOME WHEN IT COMES OUT” I mean, it’s kind of helpful, but not when you say it like that. He did bring them some later, but “ONE PIECE EACH, OKAY?!”. I mean, christ, these people said thank you, and were really appreciative. Both of the waiters just seemed really annoyed with all the tables.

We finished up, and Albany John tried to pay, but they shoved the bill in front of his Dad. They took forever to take the card, and I’m just ballparking the price since we didn’t see it, but I think it was between $9-13 per person. The price wasn’t bad, but the service was the only thing to write about. The food was pretty dull and lackluster. How do you do that with Indian food?! It’s usually so well-spiced and good – even the crappy stuff tastes good! To me at least.

We were going to rent a paddleboat (yay!), but we ended up going to this nifty old house called Naumkeag. It’s got a ton of history in its walls and is on display thanks to the local preservation society.

And then we got ice cream at the Lee Outlets. Just an idea – it’s not the best thing in the world to try clothes on after you spent the day eating.