Recently in farms Category

We first found quarts of Crescent Ridge chocolate milk at the Whole Foods on Prospect Street in Cambridge.  Then that store started carrying quarts of 1% (and probably 2% and whole, but we didn't really notice).  Now the Whole Foods on River Street in Cambridge is carrying 1/2 gallons of skim, 1%, 2%, and whole mile.  Crescent Ridge is taking over Boston!

crescent ridge.jpgPeople of Boston, unless you've got a couple of milking cows hanging out around the back of your brownstone, this is the closest you're going to get to local milk.

We were originally excited by the glass bottles, which are recyclable and/or returnable and/or reusable -- but come on, how many flower vases can one household really accommodate?

Good news: Whole Foods is charging $1.50 as a deposit on each bottle, which you get back in the form of a WF coupon when you return it to the store.  Now go get your local milk!

Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont is fast becoming one of our favorite cheese makers.  We had some of their Bayley Hazen Blue (a raw milk cheese) and Constant Bliss (a soft cow cheese that tastes more like goat cheese) back in January.

Just the other week, we bought some their Bartlett Blue over at at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. Andy (one of the two brothers that owns Jasper Hill) told me: "Bartlett Blue is a cheese we make seasonally. We make it only in the summer months when the cows are out on pasture. We only make it once a week so it is quite limited in availability."

bartlett blue.jpgAdmittedly, I did have a mild panic attack over eating a summer cheese during February.  Fortunately, after about four seconds I realized that Formaggio just stores seasonal cheeses like this in its cheese cellar until the cheese and I are ready to be joined together.

I'm having a bit of trouble remembering exactly what the  Bayley Hazen Blue tasted like and how it differs from the Bartlett Blue -- perhaps I'll have to line up a side by side tasting sometime soon -- but I can say with confidence that we greatly enjoyed both! 

Stinky Hooligan

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If you haven't sussed it out already, I'm a bit of a cheese hound. And Hooligan has been hands down my favorite cheese since I found it at South End Formaggio right after we moved to Boston several years ago.  It's stinky stinky stinky in that wonderful way only cheese can get away with. And though I won't complain (any Hooligan is a good Hooligan), it's usually a bit riper and creamier than the tidbit I sampled recently.

hooligan.jpgHooligan comes from Cato Corner Farm in Colchester, CT, where "the mother-son team of Elizabeth and Mark raises 40 free-range Jersey cows without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics."

Next year I hope to get my hands on some Drunken Hooligan, which is washed with red wine and only available from November through January.

Haven and I were at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge today and saw some eggs from Wicken Fen farm in Topsham, Vermont.  They had packages of tiny quail eggs (which I'd only seen on TV and in restaurants), huge goose eggs (which I don't think I'd ever seen before anywhere), and beautifully colored chicken eggs (which I couldn't resist).

colored eggs.jpgIt was only when the woman rung them up at the register that I realized they were $8.95 for a half dozen!  Holy chicken shit!!  Are you kidding me?!  I justified the purchase as "blog research" and tried to remind myself that the price of conventional eggs doesn't factor in the true costs to our health or the environment, but my mind immediately started reeling with questions: What percentage of my $8.95 was going to get back to Fran Hurlburt at Wicken Fen and how much would be pocketed by Formaggio?  How much of the markup -- insane or not -- was justified by the fact that I wouldn't even know about Wicken Fen if it weren't for the Formaggio's foraging efforts?  And what the heck IS the true cost of a half dozen clean eggs anyway?

Ok, on to the eggs themselves.  Hooray!  I fried them sunny side up with just a dash of salt and pepper. I also cooked some Niman Ranch applewood-smoked bacon (not necessarily local -- Niman partners with 600 family farms across the US -- but at least raised naturally) and toasted some organic 7 grain bread from Nashoba Brook Bakery in West Concord, MA  (delivered by Boston Organics).

bacon and eggs.jpgWere they worth the cost?  It could have been all in my head, but I have to say they were pretty good.  Haven and I both detected something subtly "healthy" about them.  To me, the yolks almost tasted like the hay the eggs were delivered in.  But for $8.95 I was expecting these eggs to absolutely knock my socks off.  I guess I'm still getting used to the economies of eating clean and local, but for now I'm going to have to limit my Wicked Fen purchases to very special occasions.

Apparently the Formaggio folks found Wicken Fen at some (unnamed) Vermont farmer's market.  You lucky Vermonters, you.

On our recent trip to Whole Foods on River Road in Cambridge, we stopped by the cheese counter and asked, "What's local?"

We bought two cheeses from Jasper Hill Farm in Greensboro, Vermont. The first was a Bayley Hazen Blue raw milk cheese, which was mild, earthy, and on the dry side (it broke into several pieces when I laid on the cutting board) but still soft and creamy. Jasper Hill's Web site describes the texture as "dense chocolaty paste that melts on the tongue." The second was Constant Bliss, a soft cow cheese that the cheese monger suggested after I confessed my love for ripe, creamy goat cheese. I think she actually thought it was a goat cheese, and I have to say the tangy flavor could have fooled me too.

We also got some Ascutney Mountain cheese from Cobb Hill Cheese in Hartland, Vermont. This cheese was similar in flavor to gruyere, but with an airier texture.  Yum!

All three were wonderful and as a trio they complemented each other nicely.  But if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the Bayley Hazen Blue.  It was just so different from the blues I typically see at the market.

vermont cheese.jpgMateo, Andy, Victoria, and Angela Kehler (two brothers and their wives) are Jasper Hill's owners. They say that their cows are "quite spoiled." "Our cows go out on a fresh piece of pasture after every milking during the spring summer and fall and are fed a ration of dry hay through the winter, when they stay in avoiding harsh winter wind and snow and listen to a great selection of jazz and classical music." I love it!

Cob Hill Cheese is part of Cobb Hill Cohousing, "an intentional community" on 270 acres dedicated to "socially and ecologically responsible" living and working.

In our first Boston Organics delivery a couple weeks back, we got a package of sprouts from Jonathan's Organics in Rochester, MA

jonathans sprouts.jpgSince the sell by date was January 16th, I figured I better get a move on and do something with them, so I hopped on Jonathan's site and found a recipe for bean sprout and spinach squares. I took a few liberties, substituting wheat flour for regular, dropping the amount of butter, and using raw spinach instead of cooked (hey, I was in a rush).  The results?  A flavory savory snack that is, as Jonathan's web site says, tasty both hot and cold.

I like it a bit more toasty than it is in this picture, but it's in the perfect state here for reheating in the toaster oven without getting dried out.  Next time, I'll take the time to precook the spinach.

Shy Brothers Farm Cheese

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bison and noodles.jpgI was excited to see that today's edition of Daily Candy ("the insider's guide to what's hot, new, and undiscovered -- from fashion and style to gadgets and travel") featured a family of farmers and cheese artisans from Westport Point, MA: Shy Brothers Farm.

The Shy Brothers' web site says that the "brothers are careful with their animals and of course don't use any antibiotics or hormones on their milkers."

Their bite-size, bell-shaped cheeses -- which come in shallot, rosemary, lavender, and chipotle flavors -- look so good!  I can't wait to get my hands on some.  You can find them in various locations around RI and MA or buy them online.
Today I pulled a buffalo chuck roast from Yankee Farmer's Market out of the freezer for dinner. 

bison chuck roast.jpgTo keep things simple, I threw it in the crock pot with some French onion soup mix, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and some beef broth. Voila:

bison and noodles.jpgIt was damn good.  The folks who raised our dinner are Brian and Keira Farmer (really), whose Web site explains that "all of our buffalo are naturally fed and raised free-range. Our wide variety of buffalo meat ... DO NOT contain growth hormones, stimulants, or antibiotics." They also tout the health benefits of buffalo, which include: 2.42 grams of fat per serving (less than chicken); 1 gram of saturated fat; low in calories, cholesterol, sodium, and protein; high in iron, protein, and Omega 3's and 6's.

The Farmers open their farm in Warner, NH to the public every weekend, and their farm store is also open during the week (closed Wednesdays). If you don't want to make the drive, you can order online with just one day transit time within New England.

They also sell elk, ostrich, venison, chicken, turkey, and pork -- but it seems that their true love is bison (the scientific name of the American Buffalo).

Crescent Ridge Dairy

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I'm not a huge chocolate milk fan, but Haven picked up some Crescent Ridge chocolate milk recently at the Whole Foods on Prospect in Cambridge -- and he loved it.

A blast from the past, Crescent Ridge does home delivery throughout the Boston metro area.  (When I was growing up in Des Moines in the 1970's, we used to get our milk delivered.  I didn't think any company still did this.)  They also bottle their milk in glass bottles, which are returnable, recyclable, or reusable. We're using ours as a vase.

crescent ridge milk bottle.jpgThe company's Web site says, "all Crescent Ridge milk is from cows not treated with the rBST growth hormone." Its homepage also has pictures of cows munching on grass out in a field -- but I wanted to make sure this wasn't just propaganda, so I emailed Crescent Ridge to ask about the cows' diet and access to pasture.

Marketing Manager Brad took the time to respond: "The cows are treated very well.  All of our whole milk comes from the Howrigan Farm up in Northern Vermont and is a very awarded farm.  The have 500 head of Holstein that are fed corn grown on their property.  The cows are also out in the Pasteur to feed on grass through the day.  None of the cows are treated with growth hormones to increase the milking.  Our Skim milk comes from various different farms in the Vermont area from a Coop called St. Albans.  Crescent Ridge Dairy pays a premium to receive milk that comes from cows that are not treated with growth hormones.  St Albans has many inspections to the farms that are part of the coop to make sure the quality is of the highest."  Thanks, Brad!


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