All the Best of All Things Local

What We’re Up To

  1. Thanks and Giving

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    Giving-Thanks-Locally----Fe

    This year I’ve been researching my ancestry.  Many (many) years ago, when I was in fourth grade, my great grandmother wrote to me  relaying all she could remember about my family history that intersected with her part of the family.  One thing she revealed was that we had direct descendants who arrived on the Mayflower.  At the time I didn’t consider the magnitude of this information, which I was finally able to confirm this year (at some point I will write more about this).  At this time of year I can’t help but reflect on the importance of that first feast of thanksgiving.  Little is really known about it, but one thing we do know is that those hearty souls experienced nothing like the bountiful tables around which so many of us are now privileged to gather.

    This year I especially give thanks to my Soule, Mullins and Alden family members (and all the pilgrims) who traveled to this new world and were a part of that first autumn feast, shared with their Native American allies who graciously helped them learn to live in this new land.   As we celebrate Thanksgiving this year, may we pause and give thanks for living in a blessed nation that still offers people seeking freedom and opportunity a place to call home.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you!


    In coming days I’ll post some new favorites, but first I want to share (again) our family’s favorite Thanksgiving menu (link to the recipes are below)!

    THE MENU:

    Roasted Turkey with Herb Butter

    Apple Cider Gravy

    Apple-Chestnut Stuffing

    Smashed Red Potatoes with Goat Cheese and Caramelized Onions

    Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Bacon

    Crème Brulee in Sweet Dumpling Pumpkins

    THE RECIPES:  A Local Thanksgiving Feast — menu & recipes

    Give Thanks

  2. Greens, Eggs & Lamb

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    Freshly foraged ramps

    Freshly foraged ramps

    Today a small group of us will gather to begin preparations for an early spring dinner being held at Fern Hollow Nature Center.  This event, benefitting the Center’s education programs, celebrates the first foods of spring that emerge in the forests, farm fields and gardens after a long (and very cold) winter.  Farmers, foragers and others have generously donated local ingredients that will feed a small group of lucky guests (to this sold-out event) a dinner full of the season’s treasures.

    As we provision, prepare and feed these friends of the Center, we will also educate about the value of eating locally, seasonally, and sustainably.  Along with locally raised lamb, eggs, potatoes, and vegetables, we will enjoy ramp fritters, garlic mustard pesto, greens and beans with sautéed nettles, wild mushroom crostini, and other foraged delights.

    Thank you to all who provided, all who attend, and of course, to Fern Hollow staff, board and volunteers for incredible programming and community engagement that allow us to enjoy nature and learn with each and every encounter it provides to nurture and cherish it.


    Ramps are one of my favorite early spring edibles.  These wild treasures are insanely popular, leading to irresponsible harvesting by some.  Be sure to get your ramps from those who wish to protect their delicate habitats to ensure their availability for years to come.

  3. Call for Local Artisans

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    Are you a farmer, small producer or independent artisan with products that should be found among all the best of all things local?  If so, we want to know!!

    Eight years ago I created Local Goodness out of a passion for local products and the amazing people, and stories, behind them.  Over that time I used television, print, radio and educational appearances to help raise awareness of local farms, producers and artisans, tell their stories, and hopefully inspire people to seek out local products in their own communities and across the country.

    In late 2013 we launched the Local Goodness Marketplace — an online market offering all the best of all things local — with an inaugural group local farmers, food producers and artisans to help connect consumers more easily to these local heroes and their products.  We are now in the process of identifying select others to join the Marketplace.

    Below is our Call to Artisans that provides a general overview of the Marketplace concept and the types of locally-made products are currently looking to showcase.

    You can review more information about becoming a Supplier Partner at http://localgoodness.com/be-a-supplier-partner.html as well as FAQs at http://localgoodness.com/supplier-partner-faqs.html that provide additional detail regarding how we work with artisans such as you.

    If you’re interested, I’d love to talk with you!

    Call to Artisans:  LGM Call to Artists – Summer 2014

  4. Cherries and July 4th!

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    Single Cherry on Branch

    It’s that time of year again…as the July 4th holiday arrives, so do the cherries (at least in PA).

    One of our best summer days EVER was a day trip to Erie County.  It started in the morning at Mobilia Fruit Farm (and winery!) picking our own cherries under a crystal clear blue sky.  Afterward, with our bounty of cherries loaded in the cooler we headed to the beaches of Presque Isle for a day of soaking up the sun, kite flying and body surfing the waves of Lake Erie.  This particular day started something we now strive to repeat every year in late June/early July when the cherries are in season.

    The entire northern edge of Erie County borders Lake Erie and is a bountiful region of fertile farmland with a unique growing climate tempered by the lake waters.  Well-known for its vineyards, the area also boasted a number of successful cherry producing farms in the early to mid 20th century, from which emerged a thriving fruit packing industry.  Today’s farms that offer pick-your-own cherries honor this industry’s heritage, many growing both sweet and sour varieties.  Mobilia Fruit Farm that we visited not only offers fresh, pick-your-own cherries, they also pit and freeze their sour cherries, beautifully preserving them for cherry pies and other tasty treats year-round.

    Less than a 2-hour drive from Pittsburgh, the Lake Erie region of the Keystone state is a perfect day-trip, whether you’re headed to the beaches, to one (or more) of the many farms to pick your own summer treats … or both!

    Those freshly picked cherries were a refreshing snack that sunny summer day on the beach…and they were equally delicious in a number of dishes we created back home, including this version of summer’s favorite dessert – ice cream!  Can’t wait to get back there this year!!

    Frozen Custard with Sour Cherries

    Yield: 1 1/2 quarts

    I love that the sour cherries are a tart surprise hidden in this sweet creamy frozen custard. Feel free to substitute sweet cherries (or any summer fruit) if that’s your heart’s desire!

    Ingredients

    • 4 eggs, beaten
    • 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 2 cups skim milk
    • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 2 cups pitted sour cherries, halved (frozen work well!)

    Instructions

    In medium saucepan, whisk together eggs, ¾ cup sugar, milk, vanilla seeds and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat a metal spoon. Cool and then cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour. When cool, strain through a fine mesh sieve if desired to remove any lumps (this is an optional step), cover and keep refrigerated until ready to freeze.

    While the custard mixture cools, place halved cherries in a bowl and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Stir and let sit until sugar has dissolved and cherries begin to release juice. Set aside until ready to use.

    When ready to freeze, stir heavy cream into the chilled custard mixture. Pour the combined mixture into your ice cream freezer. Freeze according to manufacturer's directions. When the freezing process is complete and the ice cream is still soft, stir in the cherries and accumulated juice. Transfer to freezer-safe containers, cover and freeze about 2 hours until firm.

    http://localgoodness.com/blog/local-goodness/cherries-july-4th/

    For more cherry treats from past visits, see our other posts HERE.

    ….and HAPPY July 4th!!

  5. Celebrating Spring … Signing up for a CSA

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    Early Summer CSA

    The first day of spring is a great time to sign up to share in the bounty of summer’s harvest through a CSA program.

    The concept of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) originated in Sweden and Japan in the 1960s and was introduced to the United States in the 1980s where it has gained tremendous momentum as consumers seek to eat responsibly, support local family farms, enjoy food at its peak, and connect more meaningfully to their community.

    Simply stated, CSA is defined as a “community” of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes, either legally or spiritually, the community’s farm, where  growers and consumers provide mutual support and share in the risks and benefits of food production.  In the U.S., CSAs are a typically based on a subscription model where individuals annually purchase a share of a farm’s annual harvest. Members or “share-holders” of the farm buy a “share” to help cover the anticipated costs of the farm operation and farmer’s salary. In return, they receive a portion of the farm’s bounty throughout the growing season ….sharing both the risk and rewards of farming.

    CSAs benefit both the farm and the subscriber:

    – CSAs provide the farmer with important working capital and predictability by knowing in advance of planting the market for their farm’s products. This helps them plan their crops and other farming activities as well as offer a more efficient and cost-effective way of getting a farm’s products into the hands of customers versus farmers markets and other time-intensive and unpredictable marketing & sales efforts.

    -Customers (CSA subscribers/members) are rewarded with a season full of farm-fresh products at the peak of freshness as well as the satisfaction of reconnecting to the land, participating directly in food production, supporting local family farms and strengthening their own community.

    We love the CSA that we’ve been a part of over the years (I believe this is our ninth year)!  Of course we love the weekly treasure box of seasonal surprises that often contain delightful new discoveries (who knew kohlrabi would become a family favorite!).  But it’s more than just reaping the rewards of the harvest.  The greatest satisfaction of being a part of a CSA is the sense of connection and the relationship we now have with the incredible family whose passion, dedication and hard work make what we get in return so much more than simply the items in our weekly boxes.  It’s the people behind the food that matter…and that make what we put on our table all that more meaningful.  Essentially this is Local Goodness at its best!

    A few things to know about CSAs:

    – Over the years, CSAs have both expanded and evolved greatly.  While many CSAs are offered during the “growing season,”  year-round CSAs can also be found, especially in areas of the country with year-round growing conditions.

    – Each farm has its own unique CSA program so you will will want to shop around to find the one with options that fit your particular needs.  You will find a range of flexible options – weekly, bi-weekly, large shares, small shares, ala carte – as well as farming methods.  There are CSAs that incorporate meats, dairy, eggs, plants, baked goods, honey’s, jams, pickles and preserved items in addition to their fresh, seasonal produce.  The variety is endless, so there is surely a CSA that can meet your needs.

    – There are very few CSAs with home delivery.  Almost all  CSAs, however, have a variety of pick-up locations, so look for one in your neighborhood or near your work.   (Note: Many farms will will add new pick-up locations for those willing to host a pick-up site at their home or place of work, particularly in neighborhoods they don’t currently serve.)

    With the rapid proliferation of CSAs across the country, it’s now pretty easy to to find a CSA in your area.   A quick internet search for “CSA” or “Community Supported Agriculture” in your city will point you in the right direction.  Additionally, you can also contact local Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters to find CSA farms in your area.

    Many CSAs sell out well before the season begins, so don’t wait too long to seek out and find a CSA that’s right for you!

     

  6. We birthed a “baby”…the NEW Local Goodness Marketplace

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    LocalGoodnessMarketplace

    Well, at least that’s what it’s felt like!  We are so excited about the “birth” of our new Local Goodness Marketplace, which happened at 4:00PM on Thursday, September 27.  Several months past due, but what a joy it is to see it live and bouncing around the Internet where you can buy local from family farms, small producers and independent artisans all across the country!

    And we are so delighted with our inaugural family of supplier partners, stretching from Virginia and Pennsylvania all the way to Hawaii!!  We’ll introduce you to all of them over the next few weeks…and others who will be joining us.  We want you to get to know these awesome people and their amazing products…all raised, produced and created locally and now available for delivery from their “home” to yours!

    So, welcome to the Local Goodness Marketplace where you can find and enjoy  all the best of all things local!   Contact us and let us know what you think!

  7. Grab the last bit of summer at a Fair or Festival near you!

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    Garlic copy 2

     

    No matter where you live, there are fairs and festivals galore that give you a chance to grab a little bit more  summer fun before school begins. Rhonda (Local Goodness) joined Paul Guggenheimer on today’s Essential Pittsburgh to talk about a few of the festivities on her hit list…all within (or an easy drive from) Pittsburgh, including two festivals celebrating the delicious “Stinking Rose” (garlic).

    Listen HERE.

     

  8. Time to Preserve the Harvest-before it’s too late

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    DSC_0005

    Watch today’s Local Goodness segment HERE.

    Peaches and tomatoes are still aplenty at farm stands and farmers’ markets….but not for long!  Stock up and use two simple preservation techniques to have these farm-fresh, local ingredients available until there back next year.  Check out McConnells’ Farm for the best peaches ANYWHERE!

    Water bath canning and freezing are two methods perfect for these summer fruits (yes, botanically tomato is a fruit!).

    On today’s Local Goodness segment we gave you a sneak peek at these two techniques. To delve further into these and other preservation methods, join me at the Market District Cooking School on Sept 13 and 20 for my “Preserving the Harvest” classes.  Come to one or both…each will be different, but will show you a variety of methods for preserving seasonal ingredients to enjoy during the cold months ahead.

     

    Links:

    Water Bath Canning Method — How-to

    Canned Farm-fresh Peaches in Light Syrup

    Raw-Packed Canned Farm-fresh Tomatoes

     

    For Peaches visit McConnells’ Farm

    For Tomatoes visit Dillner Family Farm

    USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning

    University of Missouri – Guide to Freezing Fruit

    University of Missouri – Guide to Freezing Vegetables