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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.

We received our first order from Boston Organics this week.  In the box: grapefruit, oranges, apples, pears, bananas, broccoli, spinach, sprouts, a butternut squash, a bell pepper, a tomato, and an avocado. Right now we're getting their smallest box, half fruit and half veg, every other week -- though we may change this to every week if we live up to our plans to cook more in the new year.

I'm excited by the prospect of not knowing exactly what's going to show up at the door with each delivery. It's almost like a little Iron Chef show right in my own kitchen: "Secret ingredient is... butternut squash!"  To make things easier, Boston Organics includes several recipes for the items in the box. On this week's menu? Spiced squash stew with couscous, spiced sweet potato fries (people ordering larger boxes received yams), and tangy broccoli.  We decided to take the stew for a test drive.

The raw materials from Boston Organics:

squash stew raw materials.jpgAnd the final product:

squash stew.jpgThe recipe definitely lived up to our expectations, so we'll be game to try the others.

The low down on Boston Organic's goods: "We buy locally as much as possible. During the late spring, summer, and fall, alot of the produce comes from Vermont, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. However, because of a limited growing season, difficult growing conditions, scarce labor pool, and suburban development, the organic wholesale market in New England is limited. As a result, a large portion comes from California. Tropical fruit, such as bananas and mangoes, comes from organic farms in Central and South America."

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