Pancakes with Fresh-Ground Flour

Fluffy, nutty, gritty: the fresh-ground whole wheat pancake. Something you need to try.

I think that pancakes are probably one of the finest foods in the world. They’re easy to make, impressively adaptable, and fabulously delicious. Eaten plain, with a little maple syrup? Yes. With fruit and whipped cream? Yes. Studded with chocolate chips and stuffed with peanut butter? Yes. While its true that there exists some debate about whether they should be thin and crispy or thick and pillowy, this is an argument kept afloat by fools: they should most certainly be big, puffy, and ready to sop up whatever’s beside them on the plate. They’re a near-perfect comfort food.

While the pancake’s ability to stand up to anything you can throw at them has helped them to be one of the world’s most popular foods, a little something can be lost through these additions. The rise of the garish, stuffed-to-the-gills pancake seems to have accompanied the advent of boxed pancake mixes made from inferior ingredients: when you’re cooking with leaden bleached white flour, or a just-add-water supermarket mix, you could probably be forgiven for needing to throw in a bunch of sugary extras just to make it palatable (though you’d not be forgiven for purchasing that boxed stuff in the first place). Can’t we cheer, every so often, for the dish at a far more basic level? Can’t we enjoy a pancake made from pretty much just wheat, baking powder, liquid, and a little salt? We can — especially when we’re lucky enough to be able to mill the flour ourselves. Read more of this post

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Boston’s 2011 Food Truck Challenge: Vote Now

Boston's city Hall Plaza -- one of the ugliest places in the developed world. Sustainable food trucks would spruce up the area, improve Boston's rep as a leading green city, and, you know, be delicious.

As has been mentioned here previously, the City of Boston has recently begun an initiative to populate City Hall Plaza with (hopefully) sustainably-minded Food Trucks beginning in approximately April of next year.  The Mayor’s office’s folks just finished running an open call for submissions; that call is now over, and they’ve winnowed down the entrants to a list of 12 Semifinalists. That list is available here; please check out the entries and vote on which six concepts you’d like to see advance to the next phase.

As a reminder, there’s a good chance that the restaurant which wins the contest will actually be serving many thousands of meals in City Hall Plaza to the workers of downtown Boston next year, so its important that we select a business whose sustainability plan seems earnest and legitimate. It’s obvious, when reading the blurbs, which businesses gave more thought to this than others.

(Sorry, Sushi Station — you’re probably not making my Top 6).

Downtown Boston really, really needs healthy, sustainable alternatives to the food that’s available there right now. Go read about the potential trucks and vote!

The 2011 Boston Food Truck Challenge

Clover Food Lab has enjoyed a very successful summer in Dewey Square. Who will be the star of next summer's mobile food scene? // weeklydig.com

 

Food trucks! Long a staple of the West Coast food scene, food trucks have been gaining popularity both locally and nationally in recent times. They’re a hit with consumers (especially young ones) because they offer quick, lower-cost meal options which don’t necessarily offer a significant downgrade from restaurant-quality food. Local governments, too, are starting to pay attention to them, seeing them as a low-cost way to potentially attract foot traffic and patronage to previously underutilized public spaces. The trucks are just one part of a resurgence in the larger “street food” scene; carts, bicycles, and towable stands have all been benefitting from renewed interest in this form of straightforward food delivery. The city of Boston jumped on the bandwagon this summer when they worked with the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy to install a number of mobile food vendors on the Greenway. Now, the mayor’s office wants to do the same for City Hall Plaza

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Can you have too many tomatoes?

The answer is NO. Absolutely not, you cannot have too many tomatoes.

Although, it may seem like you do when you order over 20lbs of them in bulk from your CSA for canning. I think it was just first-time-canning-tomatoes-jitters, but I was terribly worried I wouldn’t be able to get through all of them. Thankfully, peeling tomatoes (which I had never done before) is so amazingly, miraculously easy that prepping these tomatoes for processing only took about an hour out of my evening, and I still managed to make dinner! (If you don’t know – all you do is cut a little cross in the base of each tomato, dunk them in boiling water for 60 seconds and then immerse them immediately into cold/ice water. The skin comes right off!)

I decided to turn all 20lbs into canned crushed tomatoes, because I’ve found that’s what I buy most frequently at the store. I think this is a good way of choosing what you’re going to can. If you buy whole peeled – can whole peeled. If you buy crushed, then get crushing. This will, hopefully, prevent you from running out to buy the aluminum canned variety at the store mid-winter, when the only fresh tomatoes in sight are Florida, California or Chile. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that cooking the tomatoes for more than 5 minutes would break down their natural pectin causing separation in the jars. Some of them don’t look perfect, but they’ll still be just fine to eat!

Vegan Carrot + Ginger Soup

My love affair with carrot ginger soup started in England, when I was around 13 or 14. Before tetra paks became a popular way to package premade soup, the British were packing soup in milk cartons and keeping them on the refrigerated shelves of the supermarket. For whatever reason, this is a distinct memory of mine from childhood – going to grandma and grandad’s house in England and eating soup out of a milk carton instead of a can. Anyway, my favorite flavor which I could never get in America was carrot ginger. Now, it seems, this flavor has gained popularity and is available everywhere, though none of the soups I’ve ever purchased have been as good as the vegan version I made for dinner last night.

Hungry Bruno had mentioned in her CSA Week Twelve post that our carrots from our Stone Soup Farm CSA were a bit woody this week. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to boil them up and obliterate them with an immersion blender along with some ginger to recreate one of my favorite childhood food memories. When I was browsing the internet for inspiration, I found that almost every recipe for this soup contained dairy. Not understanding this, or thinking it was necessary, I went ahead and made my own vegan version. I had about 1/4 of a can of coconut milk in my fridge so I decided to use that to make the soup creamier, and it really worked. The end product was silky and delicious. To make it a little bit more filling, I cubed up some firm tofu I had leftover from making fresh spring rolls for a party this weekend and mixed it in.  It works either hot or cold, so it’s a versatile summer or winter soup. Delicious!

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Teeny Tiny Tomatoes

Finn’s parents came into town a few weekends ago to help us out around the apartment. His mom has volunteered her time to make all of the curtains for our place! We have a lot of windows – that’s a lot of curtains. On top of that, whenever they come they bring us mounds of fresh produce from their amazing vegetable garden. Last time, that produce included some sungold tomatoes from a plant we had given them at the beginning of the season. I couldn’t believe my eyes – her tomatoes, same breed, were about four times the size of the tomatoes our plants had been putting out. I asked why this could be, and Finn’s mom said “Water, honey. Water.” So, as it turns out, we haven’t been watering our tomato plants quite enough, so our larger than life plants produce smaller than average sungold tomatoes. They taste excellent, of course, and as you can see from the photo above – they’re also totally adorable. I just want to eat them up, and I think I just might!


Taking a Load Off

A few of our sungolds, resting in the rain. // Boston, MA

After five straight days of gray and constantly rainy weather, we’re scheduled for a weekend of nothing but sunshine. I figured it’d be a good time to head back into the city to check on our old back alley garden and pluck whatever was ripe in advance of a probable growth spurth over these next few days. Since we recently moved to Watertown, we’re only able to stop and check on the plants once every week or so; I arrived yesterday to bunches of ripe sungolds, and picked off about a pint in all, leaving behind plenty of green ones and even some new yellow flowers to receive lots of sugary attention in the next few days.

Above, a little bunch of tomatoes has made its way through to the Western (shaded) side of the trellis, and is clearly taking advantage of the added support, though these little guys are certainly not getting as much sun as they’d like to. A few days of heat and sunshine should make for a great weekend for the city’s gardens.