Pumpkin & Kale (or Spinach) Lasagna

The Berry Farm’s creamy colored rombo pumpkins for sale at Troy Farmers Market

The Berry Farm’s creamy colored rumbo pumpkins for sale at Troy Farmers Market

Denison Farm’s richly green spinach at the Troy Farmers Market

Denison Farm’s richly green spinach at the Troy Farmers Market

Fresh curly parsley from NOFA-NY certified organic Slack Hollow Farm

Fresh curly parsley from NOFA-NY certified organic Slack Hollow Farm

Sliced up pumpkin, lightly basted with olive oil, ready for oven roasting

Sliced up pumpkin, lightly basted with olive oil, ready for oven roasting

Rombo pumpkin, unexpectedly fibrous, sufficiently puréed by hand with potato masher

Rombo pumpkin, unexpectedly fibrous, sufficiently puréed by hand with potato masher

Spinach sautéed in olive oil and garlic to be layered directly from pan into baking dish

Spinach sautéed in olive oil and garlic to be layered directly from pan into baking dish

Ricotta, half the Parmigiano-Reggiano and an egg to be whisked in bowl

Ricotta, half the Parmigiano-Reggiano and an egg to be whisked in bowl

Freshly grated nutmeg: better get a nutmeg grater to use next time

Freshly grated nutmeg: better get a nutmeg grater to use next time

Franesca’s pumpkin lasagna steamy hot out of the oven

Franesca’s pumpkin lasagna steamy hot out of the oven

Dinner option for non turkey eaters on Thanksgiving

Dinner option for non turkey eaters on Thanksgiving

Francesca’s Pumpkin & Kale (or Spinach) Lasagna

Francesca Zambello, the Artistic & General Director of The Glimmerglass Festival (in its 2016 season offering performances of Puccini’s La Boheme, Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie, Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd and Robert Ward’s Crucible, based on Arthur Miller’s dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials) in Cooperstown (Otsego County, NY) has shared a favorite lasagna recipe that grows out of her love for using local and seasonal vegetables. Her pumpkin and kale lasagna recipe is so delicious that it is a perfect option for vegetarians as a Thanksgiving entrée. Turkey lovers will also be tempted to enjoy a serving. With no tomatoes or mozzarella, its layers of sweet creamy ricotta, aged parmigiana reggiano, and puréed pumpkin upends the traditional tomato/mozzarella lasagna with subtle flavors of creamy sweetness and aromatic nuttiness from freshly grated nutmeg. Francesca notes that this lasagna freezes well and suggests making several trays to pull out for company. Served with a huge salad, it’s “always a hit.”

Sharing Francesca’s enthusiasm to use local foods, a Saturday morning visit to the year-round Troy Waterfront Farmers Market in Troy (Rensselaer County, NY) across the Hudson from my home in Albany was the source for local pumpkins to roast and purée for this recipe. (A friend who cooked up the recipe and admitted to using canned pumpkin, nonetheless received kudos from a fussy daughter who loved this comfort food.)

The Berry Patch Farm in Stephentown (Rensselaer County) was offering orange pie pumpkins as well as the beige squatty rumbo pumpkins. Relying on the advice of Berry Patch Farm’s Ila Riggs (a real benefit of shopping at a farmers market is getting to know the farmer who grows your food), I decided to use the rumbo pumpkins for the recipe. Although kale was available at the Troy market, the beautiful spinach available at the farmers market stand of Denison Farm, located in Schaghticoke (Rensselaer County), was too tempting for this spinach lover to pass by. Substituting spinach for kale made the lasagna resemble the flavors of a Greek spanakopita, which is similarly creamy, tangy, eggy and delicious. Fresh curly parsley with its deep green color from Slack Hollow Farm of Argyle in Washington County, NY (a popular vendor at the Troy market with its especially sought after NOFA-NY certified organic produce) added color, flavor and nutrition to this special lasagna.

Other ingredients from local sources, available at the Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, included hand made whole milk ricotta cheese from Maplebrook Farm (just across the border  from New York in Bennington, Vermont), “Meadow Butter” made from grass-fed cows from Kriemhild Dairy Farms located in Hamilton (Madison County, NY), the home of Colgate University, an alma mater shared by both Francesca and myself, and Oliver’s Organic Eggs in Frankfort (Herkimer County, NY).  These “pastured, cage free, free range, non GMO, Soy Free and certified organic by NOFA-NY” eggs are well worth the $5.25 for a dozen. The co-op was also the source for Champlain Valley Milling’s whole wheat pastry flour (organic grains milled in Westport, Essex County, NY) and the tangy cultured milk (kefir) from Cowbella Dairy (Jefferson, Schoharie County, NY) used instead of milk.

High quality ingredients, not available from local farm sources, were also purchased at my local Albany, NY food co-op, including Bionaturae’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil from first cold pressed 100% Italian olives. And after some discussion with Christine, a very helpful co-op cheese department worker, I opted for the raw milk Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P. ($10.99/lb) “aged to perfection for two years in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy” instead of the less expensive parmigiano reggiano cheese from Argentina. Grating a little more than 1/2 pound of the cheese produced the needed two cups for the recipe. Christine shared a wonderful tip to save the cheese rinds, which could be frozen, and later used by adding to soups, especially tomato based, as they cooked.

The co-op’s remarkable Bulk Foods Department, with its hundreds of bins (where you can buy as much as you want or as little as you need), was the source for salt, pepper, pine nuts, whole nutmegs, and Foulds organic 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles (with its simple ingredients of organic whole durum flour and water). At $27.99 per pound, I was glad to have the option of purchasing only a half an ounce of Tierra Farm’s organic pine nuts for $1.12 in the bulk foods department. (Whether to substitute walnuts for pine nuts is an issue, and not only due to price, but also concern for preserving the remote pine forests of Siberia, Korea and northern China which are the source for pine nuts. According to a story by Dan Charles for National Public Radio, the pine nuts are hidden inside the cones of certain species of pine, such as the mighty Siberian pine, which covers thousands of square miles of Siberia.) I tend to use salt lightly in preparing food, and like to use the co-op’s coarse Himalayan Pink Salt available in bulk from Saltworks, which is “one of the purest found on earth having been protected by hardened java within the Himalayan salt beds for 250 million years.” Its beautiful pink color indicates a beneficial amount of trace elements and iron that occur naturally. I grind fresh, as needed in food preparation, organic black peppercorns from Mike’s Spice available in the co-op’s bulk foods.

Finally, special attention is properly paid to the nutmeg, since its warm sweet bite adds special flavor to this delicious lasagna. This was a first time experience (at my ripe old age) to grate fresh whole nutmeg.  At $53.63/lb, the four or five nutmegs, also from Mike’s Spice like the peppercorns, cost $1.61 at the co-op, and they felt treasure-like as I grated half of one for the recipe. A lesson learned: using my inexpensive cheese grater was tricky and prompts me to purchase an actual nutmeg grater sooner than later. A fascinating side note: according to the nutmeg entry in  Edible, An Illustrated Guide to the World’s Food Plants (Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, Washington, D.C., 2008), there was an actual Peter Piper, famous for the tongue twister, Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled, yes, nutmeg. In history, Pierre Poivre (poivre is French for pepper, which in Latin is written as piper) broke the Dutch monopoly by smuggling nutmeg plants, Myristica fragrans,  from the Moluccas (Spice Islands in Indonesia) to the then French island of Mauritius.

Francesca’s Pumpkin Lasagna Recipe (with some personal annotations in italics-FWB):

13-inch X 9-inch baking dish
(You can use the tin foil ones and put them in the freezer if you are making in bulk.)

2 cups pumpkin puree
3 cups kale or spinach greens
3 Garlic cloves
1 pound of lasagna noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
3 eggs
2 cups fresh ricotta
2 cups freshly grated Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter
pine nuts (optional)
chicken stock (optional)
salt & pepper
olive oil
parsley (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Bowl #1: Pumpkin

Start by chopping up your pumpkin and roasting it. Medium sized pumpkins are better than those huge ones! Roast it with a little olive oil or butter for about an hour at 350 degrees. (It took a long hour, close to 90 minutes, for me to roast the pieces of Rumbo pumpkin whose flesh was somewhat fibrous, and I basted very lightly every 20-25 minutes or so with olive oil to keep the pieces moist. FWB) Then cool it and scoop it out of the skin and mash it. (You can also do this and freeze a lot of mashed pumpkins to make bread or muffins later in the winter). Whisk together with 2 eggs and some salt and pepper and set aside in bowl.

Bowl #2: Greens

Sauté garlic in olive oil and then add kale or any of your greens.
Chop and keep to the side in a bowl. (I’ll admit to keeping the sautéed spinach, used instead of kale, in the large pan- avoiding another dirty bowl to wash- and without chopping, layering it directly on the puréed pumpkin-FWB)

Bowl #3: Sauce

Melt 3 tablespoons butter, add the flour and whisk for 1 minute.
Whisk in the milk (cultured milk known as kefir in my preparation-FWB) and the nutmeg. Cook until slightly thickened.
You can add stock here if you have it for more sauce if you wish.

Bowl #4: Cheese

In another bowl, whisk together ricotta, half the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the remaining egg.


• Spread a layer of lasagna sheets on the bottom of the pan
(I first cooked, for only 5 minutes in boiling water, and of course drained immediately, the organic 100% whole wheat lasagna noodles I used for the recipe, since they would later bake for an hour in a hot oven-FWB.)
• Then spread ½ the pumpkin mix on top of it
• Then spread the greens on top of the pumpkins
• Add second layer of lasagna sheets and then the other half of the pumpkin mixture. Spread most of the cheese mix over this pumpkin layer
• Pour most of the sauce over this layer
• Then make a top layer of lasagna sheets and spread with all of the remaining cheese mixture, followed by the last bit of sauce
• Top with remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, pine nuts and parsley for color and any other loose bits!

Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

(Frank W. Barrie, 11/20/15)

A Garden’s Simple Food Inspires Alice Waters’ Flavorful New Recipes

Alice Waters hardly needs any introduction. For decades she has championed the cause of the organic food movement, strongly believing it is better for the environment and people’s health. A proponent of a food economy that is “good, clean and fair,” she has been in the forefront of the Slow Food Movement and since 2002 has served as Vice President of Slow Food International. Her numerous books, the Chez Panisse Foundation (established by Waters in 1996 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her Berkeley, California Chez Panisse Restaurant, the pioneer of farm to table dining) and which became the inspirational Edible Schoolyard Project in 2011, and vigorous public advocacy over 40+ years has earned Alice Waters recognition as an authority on the good food movement. Her most recent book carries on this praiseworthy life’s work.

In The Art of Simple Food II (Clarkson/Potter, New York, 2013), Waters focuses on the rewards to be obtained from growing one’s own food. The book is subtitled Recipes, Flavor and Inspiration from the New Kitchen Garden and indeed is as much a paean to the satisfaction to be gained from growing one’s own food as to the pleasure of cooking it. Not only does fresh, organically grown produce taste better, but as any gardener will attest, there is also the deep satisfaction that comes from planting, nurturing and harvesting it oneself.

In a conversation with Leonard Lopate on his radio show produced by WNYC, Waters noted she felt a need to follow-up on her earlier book, The Art of Simple FoodNotes, Lessons And Recipes From A Delicious Revolution (Clarkson/Potter, New York, 2007) in order to focus on the need to take care of the land and “to ground” her latest book on real food (as opposed to fast, cheap and easy food) by treasuring the farmer and growers of food. She believes it to be necessary “that cooks be gardeners and gardeners be gastronomes” in order to ensure the integrity and sustainability of our food system. Thomas McNamee, in his biography of Waters, Alice Waters and Chez Panisse, The Romantic, Impractical, Often Eccentric, Ultimately Brilliant Making of a Food Revolution (The Penguin Press, New York , 2007), notes that Waters’ Chez Panisse, is as much a “standard-bearer for a system of moral values” as a restaurant: “It is the leader of a style of cooking, of a social movement, and of a comprehensive philosophy of doing good and living well.”

But the reader need not fear the prospect of being burdened with the responsibility of saving the planet: Waters delivers her message in an engagingly simple and down-to-earth way.  Nor does she suggest that a large kitchen garden, brimming with a sumptuous array of vegetables and fruits, is required. Many of the vegetables, herbs and fruits that she writes about can be cultivated in small areas or in containers such as window boxes or planters.

True to the promise of simplicity inherent in the book’s title, Waters eschews complexity and instead relies on the satisfaction that she has obtained from fresh ingredients prepared in a straightforward way. It’s hard not to warm to a serious cookbook that salutes the grilled cheese sandwich and includes a hint to enliven it (add a couple of sage leaves). The book also contains many personal touches: Waters considers garlic such an essential ingredient that she carries with her a head of it whenever she travels! An account of her personal discovery of the lowly lettuce reveals the huge potential of so many varieties and makes you want to dash out and get hold of as many as possible.

Simple tips on growing abound, from the perfect time to plant turnips (early spring or late fall to ensure tender sweetness) to pinching back flower buds and bolting tips of leafy herbs such as basil and anise hyssop to prolong life and increase yield. Issues such as soil quality and enhancement, placement of particular plants relative to sun and shade, mulching, pruning and the timing of planting and harvesting are covered extensively. Nor are aesthetics ignored: there are notes on herbs or fruits that catch the eye in the garden due to their flowers or foliage (and those that attract butterflies) and suggestions for plant placements that complement each other.

And as one would expect from Alice Waters, the recipes are wonderful. There are nearly 200. They cover a full range of dishes from soups and salads, pickles and conserves, stews and roasts, to tarts, desserts and even liqueurs. They feature vegetables and fruits as mainstays as well as complements to meat, fish and fowl. None of the recipes are elaborate but, true to the promise of the book’s title, they epitomize the art of simple food.

The book contains a helpful “tools and resources” section that includes practical information about essential garden tools as well as seed catalogs, websites and newsletters. There is also a glossary of food labeling terms where the difference between terms such as “cage free” and “free range” is explained. Finally there is a glossary of gardening terms. The latter will be very useful for the new gardener.

The book is beautifully produced and contains numerous exquisite ink and charcoal drawings by Waters’ longtime collaborator, artist and printmaker Patricia Curtan. This informative and beautiful book would make a special gift for someone who is contemplating growing their own produce, or for someone already engaged in gardening. Or better still, treat yourself.

(Eidin Beirne, 11/17/15)

[Editor’s Note- Alice Waters wrote the foreword to (the accomplished Irish chef and teacher) Darina Allen’s 30 Years at Ballymaloe, which was previously reviewed on this website by Ms. Beirne. (FWB)]

Hard To Know Where Your Salmon Comes From

Fish counter at Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, New York

Fish counter at Honest Weight Food Co-op in Albany, NY

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is: $18.99/lb lends support that the fillet is truly wild caught King Salmon

If the price is too good to be true, it probably is: $18.99/lb lends support that the fillet is truly wild caught King Salmon

Oceana, established in 2001 by a group of leading foundations (The Pew Charitable Trusts, Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund) to protect and restore the world’s oceans, has conducted “the largest salmon mislabeling study in the United States to-date.” The organization has reported that 43% of the 82 winter salmon samples its investigators tested were mislabeled. The most common form of mislabeling was farmed Atlantic salmon being sold as “wild salmon.”  In addition, there were six instances in which supposed high-value chinook (also referred to as king salmon) was actually farmed Atlantic salmon, and one in which the cheaper chum salmon was sold as king salmon.

The mislabeling rates were more than three times higher in restaurants (67%) versus grocery stores (20%). Oceana’s report also notes that “salmon fraud” varied by region as well: with mislabeling highest in Virginia restaurants, where eight of nine samples collected (89%) were mislabeled; eight of 11 samples from Washington, D.C. restaurants were mislabeled; New York City had the lowest restaurant mislabeling rate, at 38% (but New York City had the highest grocery and market mislabeling, at 36%).

In an earlier 2013 national seafood fraud report, Oceana researchers found low rates (7%) of mislabled salmon. The organization suggests that the lower rate was likely “because the large majority of samples were collected at the peak of the 2012 salmon fishing season, when wild salmon was plentiful in the market.” Its recent report shows that mislabeling is much more common during the off-season (i.e., in the winter months).

Oceana’s recent report was based upon its study/investigation conducted during the winter of 2013-2014 in Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C. and several locations in Virginia. Eighty-two samples from a variety of restaurants, large grocery stores and smaller markets were identified using DNA analysis at the Canadian Centre for DNA Barcoding in Guelph, Canada.

Oceana used a conservative interpretation of mislabeling for its analysis.  The FDA’s Seafood List provides acceptable market names for seafood sold in the United States. In the case of salmon, acceptable market names for “wild salmon” (following the FDA principle of using “scientific common names for seafood”) would include coho, sockeye, chinook, pink or chum. However, the FDA’s Seafood List is only provided as “guidance” and according to Oceana “is often not followed when it comes to salmon.” Salmon is commonly sold as simply “wild” or “Pacific” salmon. If a sample labeled as wild, Pacific or Alaska, but with no species common name, was analyzed and determined to be “sockeye,” for example, Oceania’s investigators did not consider it mislabeled (even though a small amount of Pacific salmon is now being farmed).

According to Oceana, the United States “has some of the highest-quality salmon, caught by responsible fishermen, in some of the best-managed fisheries in the world.” Through its “fishermen catch,” the U.S. has “enough salmon to satisfy over 80 percent of our domestic demand.” (Salmon are caught commercially in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California and even Michigan (after being introduced to the Great Lakes), although Alaska catches 95 percent of the salmon in the U.S.) However, on average, 70 percent of that fishermen catch is exported instead of staying in the U.S.

Farmed salmon makes up an estimated two-thirds of the salmon consumed in the U.S. each year, and the vast majority is imported from Chile, Canada and Europe. Salmon farmed in Chile, and certain farms in Canada, Scotland and Norway that use “open-water net pens,” are rated as “avoid” by the Monterey Bay Aquarium [MBA] Seafood Watch due to their negative impact on the surrounding environment, the potential for disease transfer to wild populations, and the liberal use of antibiotic and pesticides. Further, according to MBA Seafood Watch, the feeds used on many farms can be highly inefficient, requiring between 1 and 3 pounds of wild fish to produce enough fish oil for 1 pound of farmed salmon.

Oceana’s report also notes that the U.S. exported more of our wild domestic salmon to China than to any other country, sending around 85,000 metric tons of wild-caught American salmon to be processed, with only 37,000 metric tons of what is presumed to be U.S. domestic salmon exported back to the U.S. However, Oceana notes that “A 2014 study estimated that up to 70 percent of the wild salmon exported to the U.S. via China is illegally caught Russian salmon.” Worrisome is the connection between “Russian salmon to organized crime, poaching and criminal environmental abuse in Russia, as well as corruption and tax evasion that extend to several trading partner countries in East Asia.”

Oceana proposes “that all seafood have catch documentation as a condition to market access.” The organization points out that if more Americans were aware of these issues, “we might see a purchasing shift toward the more sustainable, domestic salmon.” People need to know where their fish was caught or if it was farmed as well as its real name. Kudos to Oceana for these three common sense guidelines for consumers: (1) Seafood buyers should ask more questions, including what kind of fish it is, if it is wild-caught or farm-raised, and where and how it was caught; (2) Support traceable seafood since “Products that included additional information for consumers, like the type of salmon (chinook, king, coho, etc), were less likely to be mislabeled;” and (3) Check the price and if the price is too good to be true, it probably is.

(Frank W. Barrie, 11/10/15)



Food Writer/Activist Mark Bittman Speaks at Albany’s Writers Institute


The insightful New York Times food writer, recipe guru, and activist Mark Bittman, as part of the Writers Institute’s speakers series (founded by William Kennedy, Albany’s famed novelist in 1983), spent an afternoon last week at a recital hall on the campus of the State University of Albany and explained how he “accidentally” became a food writer. He also gave generously of his time and voice to answer, sometimes acerbically, questions from an eager audience of students, faculty, and fans of his cookbooks and newspaper columns, who all seemed to share his strong opinion that Americans need to “eat more food from the plant kingdom.” According to Mr. Bittman, success for him would be to “get every American to eat rice and beans” at least once a week.

Later on the same day, Mr. Bittman appeared at a downtown Albany auditorium before another friendly crowd at a “conversation” about cooking, recipes, food policy and his books (including his latest, A Bone to Pick, The good and bad news about food, with wisdom and advice on diets, food safety, GMOs, farming, and more (Pam Krauss Books, imprint of Crown Publishing Froup, a Division of Penguin Random House, New York, NY, 2015)  with Steve Barnes, a popular local reporter, restaurant and theater reviewer, and blogger for the Albany Times Union.

The Vegan Before 6:00PM (VB6) advocate came to Albany as a result of his long friendship with Donald Faulkner, the Director of the New York State Writers Institute. Faulkner and Bittman, as writers (post-college), shared an office in the late 1970s at Yale New Haven Hospital, and under the guidance of Eugene Cooney, a newspaper man, wrote hospital stories for modest compensation, in an attempt to reinvent the hospital’s in-house magazine. Bittman’s appearance in Albany represented a “reunion” with Faulkner to celebrate the spirit of Eugene Cooney with a memorial lecture, which turned out to be more of a probing Q and A session on food topics and the unexpected path Mr. Bittman took in becoming a well-compensated and popular food writer.

Some luck and good timing had much to do with Mark Bittman (whose first freelance piece was on the subject of glue for Popular Mechanics) becoming the well-regarded food writer. During a karate class in 1979 at the ripe age of 29, Mr. Bittman learned of the opportunity to earn $50 for writing theater and restaurant reviews for the New Haven newspaper. With these writing clips, Bittman could call himself a “writer.” After tiring of writing restaurant reviews in the New Haven area, he found satisfaction in the late 80s “teaching people how to cook” through his now proven, and compensated, writing ability.  This eventually led to his becoming editor of Cook’s Magazine and subsequently a food writer for the New York Times. When the Times started its Dining section, a relaunching of an earlier Living section, Bittman’s weekly column, The Minimalist, in the new section of the newspaper became very popular with readers.

Mr. Bittman’s succinct answer on the best way to improve America’s food system consisted of three excellent points: (1) control the marketing of food to children; (2) eliminate antibiotics from the food supply; and (3) cook for yourself.  According to the Public Health Law Center at the William Mitchell College of Law, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that in 2009, food and beverage companies spent $1.79 billion to market their products to kids.  Seventy-two percent of this total was spent to market just three types of products—breakfast cereals, fast foods, and carbonated drinks. We have previously reported on actions taken by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to control the unsafe use of antibiotics in animal feed. Bittman’s third point to “cook for yourself” has also been vigorously made by Michael Pollan in his Food Rules: Rule 82, “Cook,” is short and sweet.  According to Pollan, “Cooking just might be the single most important thing you can do for your dietary health . . . Cooking for yourself is the only sure way to take back control of your diet from the food scientists and food processors, and to guarantee you’re eating real food rather than edible foodlike substances, with their unhealthy oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and surfeit of salt.”

Later in the evening, a challenging question was posed by Robert Jones, the President of SUNY-Albany, who holds a doctorate in crop physiology. Although unable to be present at Mr. Bittman’s conversation with Steve Barnes, the university president’s question was relayed to Mr. Bittman for his response: “What is the best way to end world hunger?”  In this era when companies like Monsanto and Cargill contend that only industrial agriculture practices can “feed the growing world’s population,” Mr. Bittman’s answer was appreciated: “End world hunger, by ending world poverty.” He elaborated further by pointing out that small scale farming uses 30% of the world’s agricultural resources to feed 70% of the world’s population while industrial agriculture uses 70% of the world’s agricultural resources to feed 30% of the world’s population. His column in the New York Times from a couple of years ago, How to Feed the World (10/14/13), elaborates further on this important point. Mr. Bittman shares a similar position articulated by Maria Rodale in her Organic Manifesto (Rodale, Inc. [distributed to the trade by Macmillan], New York, New York, 2010), reviewed earlier on this website.

One question Mr. Bittman did not answer, which was posed twice in the course of his day in Albany, was the name of his new employer. In his “last regular opinion column on food” for the New York Times,  A Farewell, he explained he wanted “to try to change the world, not just write about it” and was taking “a central role in a year-old food company . . . to make it easier for people to eat more plants.” Mr. Bittman’s fans and readers will have to wait a bit longer for this information.

Frank W. Barrie, 10/27/15

[Editor’s note: A week or so after Mark Bittman’s appearance at the Writer’s Institute in Albany, the New York Times reported that he “is joining the Purple Carrot, one of the many new meal kit delivery services that have sprung up over the last several years.” Reporter Stephanie Strom noted that “The Purple Carrot is a vegan version of subscription meal kit services like Plated, Blue Apron, Green Chef and HelloFresh.”



South Pond Farms’ Flavorful Celery Root & Leek Soup, Sweetened Subtly With A Pear

Celery Root & Leek Soup

Danielle French, a creative chef and the owner of South Pond Farms in the Kawartha Lakes area of Ontario, about 75 minutes from Toronto, has shared a favorite soup recipe that eases the chill of autumn. With its deeply rich celery taste, this hearty and creamy soup has a pure vegetable flavor.  Danielle suggests serving the soup with a crusty bread (in the Toronto area, the Blackbird Baking Company has a prominent spot in our craft bakery directory) and a glass of white wine.

South Pond Farms, a popular venue for weddings with its picturesque barn, fields and pond, offers a lunch table open to the public on Wednesdays during May to September and a four course supper on the last Thursdays of the month from May to October. In addition, brunches with classical music are regularly scheduled throughout the year; cooking classes and workshops drawing together artisanal food, art and culture are also offered at the farm.

1 celery root, peeled and cut into 2 inch pieces
2 leeks – white parts only, washed and sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 handful of parsley leaves
1 pear, cored and cut into 2 inch pieces
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper
1 T butter or olive oil

In a heavy saucepan, melt the fat and add the leeks.  Turn the heat to medium low and sauté the leeks until tender about 10 minutes.

Add the celery root, pear and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  (Celery root and apple is also a great combination and an apple can be substituted for the pear in this recipe; Early macs or cortlands are a good apple variety to use.) Simmer for about 15-20 minutes until the celery root is tender and then add the parsley.

Turn the heat off and let cool slightly.  Purée the soup with a blender or hand-held immersion blade until smooth.

Season with pepper and salt to taste.  Serve with a dollop of cream or yogurt (in Ontario, Best Baa Dairy Yogurts is included in our farmstead and artisinal yogurt directory).

This simple soup of celery root and leek is delicious with just these two special ingredients with the celery root lending creaminess and depth of flavor, but this recipe can also be used as a soup base to which other vegetables are added.  For example, increase the broth component by 1 – 2 cups and add 2 cups of diced carrots or squash.

[Editor’s note: We take special pleasure to promote opportunities for a diner to enjoy a meal at a farm.
In addition to our listing of South Pond Farms in the dining directory for Ontario, our dining listings include a number of listings worth special attention: In the Vermont dining directory, Cloudland Farm in North Pomfret (Windsor County); in the New Hampshire dining directory, the Hilltop Café at the Temple Wilton Community farm, one of the oldest CSAs in the country in Wilton (Hillsborough County), and Ariana’s Restaurant at Bunken Farm in Orford (Grafton County); in the Maine dining directory, Flanagan’s Table in Buxton (York County), Wolfe’s Neck Farm in Freeport (Cumberland County) and Graze at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester (Cumberland County); in the Massachusetts dining directory, Just Right Farm in Plympton (Plymouth County); in the New York dining directory, Dancing Ewe in Granville (Washington County), Fable at Stone & Thistle Farm in East Meredith (Delaware County) and the Bees Knees Café at Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow (Albany County); in the Virginia dining directory, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm in Lovettsville (Loudon County); in the Ohio dining directory, the Malabar Farm Restaurant in Lucas (Richmond County); in the Indiana dining directory, The Loft Restaurant in Zionsville (Boone County); in the California dining directory, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena (Napa County); and in the Arizona dining directory, The Farm at South Mountain offers 3 dining options, The Farm Kitchen, Morning Glory Café and Quiessence in Phoenix. FWB]

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