This Week's Food

Don't Call it a Comeback!

Don't Call it a Comeback!

It's time. Chorizo from Feather Brook Farms is BACK and we couldn't be more thrilled! We haven't been this excited since Guns N' Roses announced it's latest reunion tour. Or since Tad from Feather Brook FINALLY talked Erin into getting overalls so they could be twins.

As Bon Appetit Magazine explains, Chorizo is sort of like Hot Italian Sausage in texture but its flavor is all gussied up with chilies and vinegar. The secret to Tad's Chorizo is the pigs themselves. These are Heritage Hampshire Pigs who were selected at the ideal weight for the fat and flavor ratio. In Tad's words "they were happy piggies and they are yummy."  How animals are treated, what they eat, and how they are processed really matters.  As Michael Pollan said "You are what you eat eats".  It matters that they are fed a natural diet, have space to roam and be animals and are never, ever fed antibiotics or hormones. It means a far better life for the animals, for the Planet, and for us. In addition, as Tad says "they're yummy." Everyone wins. This week's chorizo is FRESH from the butcher. Enjoy immediately. 

Nella so Bella

Nella so Bella

We love working with Avery, the Manager and Co-Owner, from Nella Pasta at their outpost at the Boston Public Market. Their pasta is delicious, inventive and downright awesome (they sell out of their rainbow pasta every year at Pride. Love that.) They are committed to making products with the best possible ingredients always keeping an eye on whats best for the Planet. Love that too.

From Nella, on Nella: 

"Our name in Italian means “in the” because what goes inside the pasta is the trademark of our products. 

So what exactly is in our pasta? A unique, handcrafted mixture of produce, artisanal cheese, our signature wheat blend, and a profound respect for the freshness you find in Italy. We choose vegetables picked locally and in season whenever possible; roast, sauté or steam them for the best flavor, and complement them with creative and unexpected ingredients like specialty cheeses, fresh herbs, nuts and dried fruits. Then there’s our secret ingredient, a sustainable food movement, which is blended into each pillowy bite

When we asked Avery why he hearts pasta so hard he said:

"Whether it's introducing new foods to people, or taking your favorite foods to the next level- pasta is the perfect vessel. The kitchen is a playground...Have fun!"


Goats on G.O.A.T.s

Goats on G.O.A.T.s

People have been saying that Tom Brady is the G.O.A.T (Greatest of All Time). We don't know about that but we do know that the goats are Clark's Farm in Carlisle, MA are outrageously cute. Clark's is a certified organic farm that specializes in produce and berries and raises a variety of animals; including two farm dogs who have the combined energy of a Category 5 Hurricane. Andrew, the farmer at Clark's gave us a tour a few weeks back and offered to plant and harvest some micro greens for the shares. After tasting a few we landed on the pea shoots you see in this week's share. They are a delicate and tender green but they pack a bright punch of flavor. And the goats (and G.O.A.Ts) love 'em!  (Well.. we assume TB12 would eat them because they're not made of dairy, sugar, happiness, nightshades or any other the 3,000 things Brady won't touch.)

Whether you are prepping for the Big Game or just settling into a Big Lazy Sunday of cooking, we are really excited to have a few new things to share this week.

Where have you Bean all my life?

Where have you Bean all my life?

This week has been a busy one. We found magical beans, launched a blog, and put the finishing touches on Family Dinner's video. Here's a sneak preview. It'll be up on Facebook and Instagram later this weekend (we'd appreciate your likes and shares). We wanted to give you the first peek because we love you so much.

THIS WEEK'S FOOD (new blog!)

Several of you have asked us to publish ingredient lists a little bit earlier, so that you can shop for anything extras that might not be in your share. Starting next week, we'll share this week's food on our brand-spanking-new blog on Friday night.  We'll continue sending the ingredients by email on Saturday morning for those who like to be surprised.

This week we have whole and half chickens from Tad at Feather Brook Farms. Occasionally we will freeze his meat for convenience, so that you can throw it in the freezer at home and welcome it to your stove when you are ready. This week we left it fresh. These chickens were processed just days ago and that freshness, along with the loving care they get from Tad truly affects the flavor of the meat. When you do better by your product; your animals, your soil, your vegetables, the end products reflect all that love and return it to you in FLAVOR.

This week we also got to see Charley Baer, of Baer's Best Beans. We highlighted Charley back in December. We told him about Tad's amazing chicken and he suggested we pair them with Yellow Eye beans. This is a rich, creamy, but mild bean that will go beautifully with the fat of the poultry. I thought about thanking Charley for his advice and asking him where he had BEAN all my life, but decided no one needs a terrible pun at 6 in the morning.

In thinking about the recipes, we wanted to keep it simple. Understanding that there's a big game of some kind next weekend (GO Pats!) and that we will likely all be gorging ourselves on Jalapeno Popper Buffalo Cheeseburger 7- Layer Dip (totally local and ethically raised Poppers), we thought it would be nice to return to some classic recipes. A culinary calm before the Super Bowl Storm.

Get in my (Pork) Belly!

Get in my (Pork) Belly!

This week we have Pork Belly on the table. Tad from Feather Brook Farm (he's basically a superhero in overalls) was positively giddy to send it to us. Pork Belly is a boneless cut of meat from the underside of the pig. It's also the genesis of bacon - the second greatest thing under the sun... next to pork belly. This meat is incredibly tasty and is the darling of many cuisines from Columbia to Korea.

To figure out what to do with this gem, we asked our friend and long-time Family Dinner member Christine Liu for a few recipes. Christine is the Executive Editor for Web at America's Test Kitchen and knows a thing or two about whipping up delicious dishes. She also is wickedly funny, a competitive Olympic Weight Lifter, and has an enviable sock collection. Oh, and she plays the violin. Our members are so cool. 

From Christine: 

"I don't really have much to say about pork belly except it's delicious and fat is FLAVOR. And why pay like $9 for 2 pork belly sliders in some resto when you can do it yourself?"

We agree. Recipes ideas from her and the great folks at ATK below.

The Circle of Life

The Circle of Life

Wasting Food is the worst. To avoid it, Tim will eat things well past their sell-by date and deep into the time where your produce starts to looks like its been mummified. But sometimes there is just no way around it-you find yourself sadly throwing food in the trash.  Wipe away those tears of sadness, friends. There is another way.

Bootstrap compost is here to save the day. Their service will deliver you a lovely 5 gallon bucket into which you can throw your fruits, veggies, bread, teabags, hopes and dreams and egg shells.  They will come and pick up your full compost bucket and replace it with a new one either weekly or bi-weekly. Your goods are composted and every four months they deliver you 5 pounds of soil so you can start the circle all over again in your garden. They have composted over 2.1 MILLION POUNDS OF FOOD that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. We love these guys!

If you're keen to give it a go, Bootstrap will give Family Dinner Customers 2 free weeks of pickups when you enter  "Family Dinner" in the Heard About section of their new online form.

Let's save the world one rotten banana at a time.

A vacation far, far away.

A vacation far, far away.

Hey friends! 

Family Dinner is getting a face lift from our wonderfully talented, hilarious friend Amanda-who is also a Family Dinner subscriber. She's been noodling around on a few ideas and will be settling in on a new logo in the coming weeks. It feels somehow fitting that our logo should be a giant cleaver. Stay tuned!

Its how damn cold out?
We know that the bitter weather has us all feeling down and seriously considering changing zip codes to something slightly less arctic. We're all dreaming of places where the words "Bomb Cyclone" don't exist and digging your Honda Fit out of a polar ice cap for two hours seems like a distant nightmare. But here we are.

Food to the rescue. With this week's share we went back to our friends at Mi Tierra Tortillas begging them for their delicious, organic taco shells that would transport us to a warm and distant land. At least for the duration of dinner.

In our house, everything can become a taco. Or go into a pizza, frittata or fried rice. We are all for culinary traditions and preciousness- but when it comes to those Four Food Groups- anything goes. We will have you off to a wonderful start with the tortillas, Beef from Tad at Featherbrook farm and cheese from Luke.  What ever you add from the fridge of pantry that tickles your fancy and allows you to think you're somewhere toastier for a few hours- is your call to make.

We only wish we could have brought you drinks with little umbrellas in 'em for the sake of authenticity.

Your Lettuce Takes the Blue Line

Your Lettuce Takes the Blue Line

The folks at Corner Stalk Farms are growing lettuce year round (yes, year round, even in this weather!) in recycled shipping containers nestled in East Boston. Its a super energy and water efficient environment that produces over 20 varieties of heirloom lettuce and herbs. And it begs the question:

Where does your produce come from?

When you're walking around the grocery store, take a look, its a fun little game of Geography Bingo.  California, China, Mexico, or Yuma, Arizona might pop up on your radar. Chances are that your greens traveled across the country, or the world, to land on your plate. These leafy jewels that we have to offer you came from East Boston, Massachusetts. These little guys could have taken the Blue Line to be delivered to your house.

How the heck does that work?  Here's a bit of background from Corner Stalk Farm:

"We specialize in using Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA). LED lighting, temperature control and automatic water flow within insulated shipping containers creates the ideal environment that leafy greens need...Hydroponics is a soil-less growing method that allows the cultivation of plants using recirculated water with optimum nutrient inputs.  Compared to the harmful chemical and grey water runoff created by industrial farming and urban pollution, we have no runoff and use no pesticides or harmful chemicals. To top it off, we leverage vertical growing technology to grow 20 plants per square foot of farm space per month."

How cool is that? Who knew anything but our grumpiness and animosity could grow in New England in January? 

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Feast of the Seven Fishes

Ok... it's just Two Fishes. Seven would have seemed excessive.

The Feast of the Seven Fishes is an Italian American celebration typically held on Christmas Eve. In Italian its called La Vigilia, the Vigil. This all day Bonzana can have 7, 11, or even 13 courses ranging from anchovies, whiting, sardines, lobsters, clams, eels (no thank you) and salted cod.  Recipes for this day often call for the dishes to be accompanied by homemade wine - and we are all for that.

While we don't have 7 fishes to offer, we bring you two beautiful selections from Red's Best. Pollock, an under-appreciated but delicious white fish and scallops, which our friend and longtime Family Dinner Member Renee refers to as "mouth candy". 

We hope you have time to enjoy the Feast of the Two Fishes with some homemade or store-bought libations while watching Love Actually for the 64th time.  'Tis the Season for Liam Neeson.

Curry in a Hurry.

Curry in a Hurry.

We brought you a warm Curry Spice in this week's share with incredible Chicken from Tad at Feather Brook Farm and Sweet Potatoes from Luke at Brookford, to dust off the winter weather blaaahs. 

We went back to Claire at Curio Spice for the second week in a row asking for her Jedi Spice Mind Tricks. She sent us away with the Comfort Curry and we can't stop eating it; in soups, on veggies, coating almost any meat or fish. But (Spoiler Alert) Curry Powder is not actually an Indian Spice:

 A Culinary History Lesson From Taste @ HuffPo

"Curry powder can be a lot of different things. Actually, that’s exactly what it is: curry powder is a combination of a bunch of spices. It can range from five ingredients to more than 10, and it can include spices such as: cumin, coriander, turmeric, ginger, dry mustard, fenugreek and black pepper. 

The idea of "curry powder" . (It resembles the North Indian spice mix garam masala, but it isn’t a spice mix most Indian cooks would recognize.) British manufacturers came up with curry powder in an attempt to create a ready-made flavor that could recreate the flavors of South India that British colonists came to love.

In fact, the term curry for Indian cooking is also British in origin ― they lumped all the savory, spiced Indian dishes into one category called curries. You can't go to India and order "a curry" ― it just doesn’t exist. There are several possibilities for where the word British word “curry” comes from, one being that it was derived from the word Kari, which is the word for sauce in Tamil, a South Indian language. "

This spice has a complicated origin story.  It's not quite the authentic Indian spice mix that most of us might think it is, but it is incredibly versatile and delicious.

Spilling the Beans.

Spilling the Beans.

One of our absolute favorite things at Family Dinner is introducing our members to new products and the wonderful people who make them. 

In addition to bringing back a Spice mix from our friends at Curio Spice Co, this week we traveled to Maine to meet with some of the folks from Baer's Best and learn about their love of heirloom beans. We toured the farm, checked out some crazy bean machines and brought you home some delicious souvenirs. We know that beans can seem annoying and time-consuming. However, Baer's Best crop is always fresh harvest and cooks quickly, without the need for pre-soaking. And they are super tasty.

In Charley Baer's own words: 

"For over 25 years our farm has been growing dry beans, mostly heirloom varieties that have grown here in the Northeast since colonial days. These types include Jacob’s Cattle, Yellow Eye, Soldier and others. Dry beans originated in Central America, and as with other staple crops such as corn and potatoes, were brought here by Native Americans.

"These days only a few New England farms still produce dry beans, most of them small operations in Central Maine. I learned to grow beans in this region, and at the same time began collecting unique local varieties from farmers that had been growing them for generations. These days many of these beans are rarely if ever seen in markets. Most bean production has shifted to the West where only a few common types such as Navy and Pinto are produced on huge acreages. Lost in this transition were the wide range of beautiful range of colors and shapes of this highly nutritional food that these days are seldom seen."

We love working with guys like Charley and his team to bring you these rare little gems. Enjoy!

No more turkey, please.

No more turkey, please.

We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and got to enjoy delicious food and time with folks you love. Thank you all for the love and kind words that you shared about Andy Baumgartner. We were lucky to spend the holidays surrounded by friends and family while celebrating Andy's awesome life and everything he did to make this world a better place.

From our side we are still working our way through a metric ton of leftover stuffing which has been re-used and re-purposed about 7 different ways. It is always awesome. We assume that you also overdosed on turkey last week, so we decided to pump the brakes on poultry this weekend. We turned to our friends at Red's Best for some magnificent Salmon fillets to switch up the flavor profile.

In the coming weeks we are planning for comfort food recipes to warm your belly and soul. We know we can't locally source everything for your pantry and we'd recommend stocking a few items that are always great to have on hand:

  • Stocks - We tend to make ours and freeze it, but the store varieties are great. Bullion works too if you are short on space.
  • Canned Tomatoes - Chopped San Marzanos are delicious. They are a little more expensive but the flavor is worth it. These plum tomatoes add a welcome sweetness and slight acidity to any vegetable soup, chili, or stew you cook up.
  • Rice - Whether its a comfy bed for a curry, a bit part in a vegetable soup, or the starring role in the Kale Rice Pie (below), it always makes makes sense to have a versatile white rice on hand. Basmati or Jasmine can work their way into a lot of dishes.
  • Parmesan Cheese - The Good Stuff. We put that sh*t on everything and throw the rind into our soups and stews. Buy yourself a microplane to grate this extremely finely - it's like fairy dust made out of cheese. And if you've got spare cheese rinds, you can store them in the freezer until you're ready to use 'em.