Wednesday, January 27, 2010
We were going to wait until the next winter farmers' market to get some, but I decided today that I couldn't wait any longer. We went out to Portsmouth, NH and stopped by Sanders Lobster to pick up a 5 lb bag. At $1.99/lb, I believe they're a little more expensive than when you get them straight from the fishermen, but $9.95 for enough shrimp for a couple of meals (plus heads and shells that we can use for stock) seemed still to be a plenty good bargain to me! (Keep in mind if you're buying these that you lose about 1/2 the weight of your purchase to the heads and shells - so 5 lbs of shrimp will yield about 2 to 2 1/2 lbs of meat.)
At first when I looked at the shrimp that we had brought home, I was a little overwhelmed by all the legs and eyes and bodies in the bag... but after a couple minutes, you do get used to them. Reminding myself what a privilege it is just to have access to these fresh, local, sustainably fished creatures definitely helped!
A couple words about sustainability... when I first heard about these shrimp, all I could wonder was "how many other creatures died in the harvest?" I've read about shrimp trawling, and the devastating effect it has on ocean life (on the other side of course there's shrimp farming, and the devastating effect it has on the environment as well). Given all our family puts into making sure our poultry, beef, pork, and eggs are all sourced from farms and farmers who we believe are engaged in ethical, humane farming practices, I wanted to make sure our seafood was given the same consideration. A call to the nice folks at Yankee Fisherman's Co-Op put my mind at ease. They weren't flustered at all by my questions (I'm sure they've answered the same questions 1,000 times before!), and they explained how they avoid issues related to by-catch, how they use a grate system that ensures only those shrimp that are mature enough to be eaten are harvested (and young shrimp go back into the ocean to keep growing bigger and to eventually make more shrimp), and how they just generally use practices that ensure there will be many more shrimp harvests in years to come. I'll not try here to put down all their words, as they're best heard "straight from the source" - if you have questions, I highly recommend that you give them a call too! Suffice to say, I was happy with what I heard, and I feel that these shrimp are sourced in a way I can respect.
Back to our "processing" and cooking adventure - we removed the heads, and then soaked the shrimp bodies for about an hour in cold water to loosen the meat from the shells, as recommended everywhere I've seen. Then we removed the shells, and put them (along with the heads) in a bag in the freezer so we can make stock later. The picture above shows the shrimp just before we cooked them. Aren't they beautiful!?
To cook them, we sauteed them VERY briefly (they really do cook "so quick you can't even turn around before they're done," as a friend of mine said) with a little oil and butter, garlic, onions, and white wine. YUM!! And they truly are just fabulously tasty - I can't wait to get more, so we can try them boiled, in shrimp fried rice, and in an oven-baked shrimp scampi recipe that sounded yummy (except we'll be leaving out the Cheezits the recipe mentions!!).
The shrimp season in our region only runs until I believe April - so if you're looking for a tasty local treat, don't delay!! Or, as the author of the article I linked to for the scampi recipe above said, "Now is the time to buy as much Maine shrimp as can be eaten or stored in the freezer for the summer time." Sounds like a plan to me!
Monday, January 25, 2010
2 tablespoons sugar
3-1/2 teaspoons salt
3 packages active dry yeast
1/4 cup butter or margarine - softened
2 cups very warm water (120 F to 130 F)
Place 5 1/2 cups flour, sugar, salt, yeast, and butter in mixer bowl. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to Speed 2 and mix about 20 seconds. Gradually add warm water and mix about 1 1/2 minutes longer.
Continuing on Speed 2, add remaining flour, 2 cups at a time, and mix about 2 minutes, or until dough clings to hook and cleans sides of bowl. Knead on Speed 2 about 2 minutes longer.
Cover dough with plastic wrap and a towel. Let rest 20 minutes.
Divide dough in half. Shape each half into a loaf. Place in greased 8 x 4 x 2 inch baking pans. Brush each loaf with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 12 hours.
When ready to bake, uncover dough carefully. Let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Puncture any gas bubbles which may have formed. Bake at 400 F for 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from pans immediately and cool on wire racks.
Sunday, January 24, 2010
For the local items, the tenderloin and garlic were from New Roots Farm, the potatoes and onions from Meadows Mirth, rutabagas from Heron Pond, and the garlic powder from Two Sisters Garlic in Canterbury, NH (they have wonderful garlic products - and we were able to order their garlic powder via mail-order since Canterbury is a bit of a drive from where we live - definitely convenient!). For semi-local we had Cabot butter in the rutabagas, and Stonyfield milk in the mashed potatoes. The olive oil, lemon juice, and salt were definitely not local.
Great news - New Hampshire folks looking for more local food options have another winter market to check out. This one will be held in Concord the last Saturday of the month for the next 3 months (1/30, 2/27, 3/27). For details, check out this posting on Seacoast Eat Local, or email market coordinator Joan O'Connor at joconnornh @ yahoo (dot) com. Joan is a local food advocate who I met a couple years ago at the Concord farmers' market, where she was selling compost worms (and also offering lots of advice for those new to composting). She's a wonderful resource if you're looking to learn about how worms can eat your garbage too :)
Saturday, January 23, 2010
We brought home rutabagas, kale, carrots, potatoes, onions, bok choy, ground pork, and a small roasting chicken. I haven't had chicken for weeks - so I'm definitely looking forward to this one! But since I picked up some organic mushrooms yesterday, the chicken will wait and tonight's mostly-local dinner will be a stir fry of kale, mushrooms, and bok choy. Yum!
If you live locally and haven't checked out one of the markets yet this winter, the next one is February 13, in Exeter. Check out Seacoast Eat Local for more info, directions to the market locations, etc.!
Monday, January 18, 2010
Once I finish the goat book, I'll move on to the "to read" pile that I keep on my writing desk (unless another library book catches my eye, in which case I'll read that first!). Right now, the pile is focused heavily on the practical. Stacked up to the side of my computer, I have: Quite a Year for Plums, by Bailey White; We Wanted a Farm, by M.G. Kains; Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal, by Joel Salatin, Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon (yep, it's a cookbook - but it has a lot of "extra" information that I want to read through), and Singer's Sewing Step-by-Step. Which reminds me - we've got the sewing machine threaded and working, so now I just need to figure out how to make something useful. So far, I'm still working on mastering "sewing a straight and even line" :)
I'm definitely looking forward to my year with books! What are you reading this year?
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Thursday, January 7, 2010
Sunday, January 3, 2010
As to this week's spotlight meal (Week 7), we were mostly snowed in the second half of Friday, and all of yesterday. So we dug the grill out of the snow (again!) and grilled up some local kielbasa (super yum!!). We also made mashed potatoes, and steamed some broccoli. The kielbasa was from New Roots, potatoes from Meadow's Mirth, and broccoli from Heron Pond. The horseradish that went with the kielbasa wasn't local - and the butter and milk in the potatoes were from Cabot, so though still from New England, they're certainly not as local as the items we got "straight from the farm" (or farmers' market, as the case may be...).
Speaking of the farmers' markets, the winter markets start up again next Saturday - hooray! Check out Seacoast Eat Local's website for a list of dates that includes the Seacoast Eat Local markets in Exeter and Rollinsford, as well as other great markets in Newmarket, Rye, and other towns too!