Thursday, November 23, 2017

Talking Turkey

Local turkeys sold out this year up in Wendell. At over $3 a pound, it's hard to believe that fowl such as this would be in such high demand. But there's a reason to pay top dollar and there's a reason you're eating Butterball. Tom, a turkey from Wendell, agreed to talk turkey about life on the farm in Franklin County.
ValleyLocavore: So are you a male or female?
Turkey: You talking to me?
VL: Yeah, I'm looking at you, aren't I?
T: I'm a tom, a male turkey, also known as a gobbler. They named an entire country after me. Ever been to Istanbul?
VL: I'm doing the interviewing here. So tell me about the farm.
T: Where's my doughnut?
VL: How did you learn to talk?
T: How did you? I'm up in Wendell right now at a turkey farm where they sell chickens, pies, turkey pot pies and eggs, plus some other local stuff like cider donuts.
VL: What's a typical day like for a free range turkey?
T: Get up early, do some reading. I like Michael Pollan. Go out and range a bit with the other birds, eat some feed, drink some spring water, go online.
VL: You seem to have a lot of time on your hands. Are you free ranging?
T: We're in and out of the "free-roam" coop. I can't complain.
VL: Pretty crowded?
T: Not bad. I get out, but nobody sees me.
VL: What do they feed you?
T: We get water from a spring in Wendell, grain and some corn from Williams Farm in Deerfield. No growth enhancers or hormones.
VL: So you guys go for over $3 a pound, whereas a supermarket turkey is under a dollar a pound and sometimes turkeys are given out free at work.
T: Where do you work?
VL: Back in the day, factory workers were given a turkey every Thanksgiving and every Christmas.
T: Yeah, and they sold mashed potatoes at the automat.
VL: Nice attitude.
T: I'm just glad I didn't make the cut this year.
VL: How come you didn't make the cut?
T: I hid under an old Ford out back where I can pick up wifi from the neighbors' house.
VL: Nice. Don't they count the birds before slaughtering them?
T: It's called "dressing." No time for that… around the holidays it's pretty busy and they run this place very well. You might want to read some Michael Pollan if you want to learn more about turkeys and how food is produced in general.
VL: I've heard of him. Didn't he write about being an omnivore? A skinny guy, looks kind of like a tur—..skinny guy?
T: Michael Pollan teaches journalism at Berkeley in California. He wrote The Omnivore's Dilemma in 2006 and then this year he wrote In Defense of Food. The first book explains what it is we're eating by looking at four ways to eat: industrial food— McDonald's, for example—organic food, alternative food, and foraged food. The other book is a straight-talk approach to figuring out what to eat. He says that we should eat food, not too much, mostly plants, and don't touch anything your grandmother's never heard of, like "whole grain white bread" or "tofurkey."
VL: Why do eaters need a manifesto? I like to forage as much as the next person, but "manifesto" is a fighting word.
T: Pollan calls it a manifesto because we have to take food, literally, into our hands and out of the hands of agribusiness, factory farming, the "man," whatever you want to call it. That crap will either poison you or make you fat or both.
VL: Tough talk.
T: I'm a turkey, a tom. If you want to hear a bedtime story, talk to a Butterball.
VL: Right. If you had to use one word to say why local turkey is better than Butterball, what word would that be?
T: Blood.
VL: Blood?
T: Yes, blood.
VL: In terms of slaughter?
T: "Dressing!" And, no, that has nothing to do with it. When turkeys or any animals get a lot of exercise, the blood is closer to the bone, which makes the dark meat. And that is where the flavor is. With the snowy white breast, there's not so much taste, not to mention it's squishy. But the dark meat… that's where we keep it real.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Introduction, or L is for Love

I once bought a bag of granola in California made with lavender and love. There were other ingredients listed on the package but “love” came first. I consumed the granola while standing on the banks of Tomales Bay. It didn’t taste like love. It tasted more like going to a fancy party where, because the light isn’t so great in the bathroom, you eat dried flowers by mistake.

I am here to tell you, there is such a thing as too much lavender. Love, on the other hand, that’s a whole other bag of granola.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cooking with Carly: Wild Kitchen Class Series

Meet and eat over 30+ wild edible and medicinal plant species 

Explore both time-honored and innovative
techniques for harvest, processing, and preparation 
Taste a wide range of flavors to enhance your everyday cooking and diversify your diet.

Learn easy ways to weave wild foods and plant medicine into your routine

For questions or to request an application 

More Details Here! 
Sign up deadline April 22nd

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

From Take Magazine 



Maine’s isolated Tides Institute and Museum of Art encourages artistic collaborations between artists and between countries.
Created on the Bay of Fundy in the tiny town of Eastport, Maine, the Tides Institute and Museum of Art (TIMA) established a wet-foot dry-foot policy early in its inception. All artists would be welcome to show their work and do residencies whether they came from the U.S., from over the border in Canada, from across the mile-wide strait from New Brunswick, or from across the Atlantic Ocean.
That was 15 years ago. Today TIMA and the town of Eastport—population 1,200—are riding high on art and innovation due to the imperative of their locale.
“We developed a Maine and New Brunswick [Canada] task force in 2010 so cultural leaders on both sides of the border could talk and meet. It’s the reason we started the institute,” says Executive Director Hugh French, who is one of TIMA’s founders. “There is too much of a tendency of stopping at the border in the U.S. and Canada while artists are crossing the border. It’s silly not to follow them.”
Interior of TIMA’s 1819 North Church Project Space with large scale installation, “Undertow,” by artist, Anna Hepler. Project space has 23 foot high vaulted ceiling and exceptional acoustics. Photo by Allison Osberg.
Interior of TIMA’s 1819 Free Will North Church Project Space with large-scale installation, “Undertow,” by artist, Anna Hepler. Project space has 23-foot high vaulted ceiling and exceptional acoustics. | Photo by Allison Osberg.
Eastport is located on Moose Island and connected to the mainland by a causeway. It sits at the entrance of Passamaquoddy Bay on the border of Canada and is at the most eastern part of the US. It’s a place you might expect to be a little sleepy, at least when it comes to the arts and innovation. But you’d be wrong.
TIMA, whose studio, museum and housing for artist residencies overlook the U.S./Canada boundary, is a beehive of artistic activity. Community renewal, an active residency program, and an aggressively diverse permanent collection are just a few of the parts that make up the institute’s game plan. That diversity is also one reason funding and artists are drawn to the space, French says.
“Early on we felt we had to operate on different interests. Architecture and history, for example,” says French. “Our collection includes painting, photography, architectural elements, a historical collection and a strong interest in contemporary work. We foster new work. That is the reason for our residency program—so contemporary work can be created here.”
Tides Institute and Museum of Art
Tides Institute and Museum of Art| Image courtesy TIMA
Last year’s TIMA’s residency program had nine artists—six from the U.S. and three from abroad. This year the program will host 10-12 artists. This summer a two-year collaboration between Portland, Maine photographer Shoshannah White and Halifax interdisciplinary artist Charley Young will have its premiere in an exhibition in the 1819 church now known as the Free Will North Church Project Space.
TIMA’s main building was the organization’s first regional revitalization effort, a strategy of cross disciplines that began 15 years ago when the organization began. “The long-term effort started with tackling a threatened crippled building in the center of downtown,” says French. “We put $1.2 million to bring the building back. Now we have six buildings.”
Tides Institute and Museum of Art New Year's Eve sardine drop | Image courtesy TIMA
Tides Institute and Museum of Art New Year’s Eve sardine drop | Image courtesy TIMA
Although Eastport is physically isolated, TIMA and the community are not. The populace comes together every year for “Artsipelago,” an event that includes galleries, chefs, and ferries. To celebrate yet another year of tides, TIMA annually organizes the New Year’s Eve Maple Leaf and Sardine Drop. During that popular event, a giant red maple leaf is lowered at midnight Atlantic time (11pm EST) to commemorate the Canadian new year while a brass band plays “O Canada.” An hour later, when the New Year reaches the States, an 8-foot sardine is lowered as the band plays “Auld Lang Syne.”

Friday, February 10, 2017

School Lunch Expose

School Lunch Expose
Revenge of the Lunch Lady is Jane Black's astonishingly well researched account of what happened to school meals in Huntington, West Virginia—after Jamie Oliver left.
Surprise: They got better!
The subtitle explains why: “How an unassuming bureaucrat outsmarted Jamie Oliver and pulled off an honest-to-god miracle in one of America’s unhealthiest cities.”
--Marion Nestle

"He built a gleaming cooking center in a long-empty building downtown. He introduced a range of made-from-scratch school dishes—beefy nachos, tuna pasta bake with seven vegetables, rainbow salad with creamy dressing. And he did righteous battle with the unimaginative bureaucrats who seemed to want kids to keep eating the same sludge." --Jane Black, author of "Revenge of the Lunch Lady."  Read her HuffPost overview here.... 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Take Your Marks! Get Set! Grow!

English Shelling Peas

The American Farm Bureau Foundation is holding a First Peas to the Table contest again this year and it starts Feb 20!  

Grades K-5 compete in a pea growing contest using no more than 20 pea seeds (English shelling peas). 

Whichever class grows the most peas (in cups) by May 15 wins a visit from Miss America 2017 Savvy Shields!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dean of Dean's Beans and his oud-playing daughter raise money for Syrian Refuge Children

In a recent MassLive story, Mary Sereze writes the following: 
PETERSHAM -- A local woman who plays the oud, an ancient stringed instrument, is asking people to share a   on Facebook to raise funds for Syrian refugee children.
Aliya Cycon and her fellow musicians can be seen on YouTube performing the "Carol of the Ouds." Through December 25, every time the video is shared on Facebook, her father will donate one dollar to the Wounded Angels project.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Restaurant Review: Farm to Take Out

“Farm to Take Out”

Prepared NY
Chatham NY

In search of the perfect croissant, I traveled about six miles to Chatham where a chef is presiding over a take out place. The take out place is a couple of doors down from where the chef heads up a restaurant that is open six days a week. The chef doing double duty has a secret weapon. She is a baker he plucked out of semi-retirement with an offer she couldn’t refuse; later hours.

Which is why I went to Chatham a quarter of an hour before the lunch. NY Prepared opens at 11 a.m and I sat alone at the counter looking out on a leafy tree with sun pouring in. I’m in tears. 

"You got away, didn't you babe..."

It’s the second time today. The first time it was because of a note from a friend about Leonard Cohen’s passing....

"You just turned your back on the crowd..."

Then the perfect corner of this sunlit croissant turned tears for Leonard, gone, to tears of joy.

"we are ugly but we still have the food..." *

Mid bite, mid cry, Dominic Giuliano, the chef, came out to make an inquiry but I could not see him due to the flurry of flakes covering my napkin, my sweater, the floor, my lips.  

"How is it?" he said.

A thing of perfection! The butter content, the flakiness, the weight, the flavor, the butter that went along with it, my spot in the sun but I referenced the edges of the pastry referencing a college experience at Mrs. London's Bakery where the importance of a crispy edge was stressed. It was coming on noon and a man walked by us there in the restaurant and said, “I didn’t learn a thing in college.”

I asked Dominic how he could create such a Paris perfect piece of food to which he responded, "Wait a minute."

Dominic returned with a gamin of a creature wearing stripes and a short pixie haircut. She flashed her big brown eyes in my direction and then toward chef.

 “I am Madeleine,” she said putting out her hand, “like the story book for children.”

“She’s Mado,” said Dominic.

“If you wish,” she said with a Gallic shrug.

“We’re in this together,” said Dominic.

“The Turkey Pot Pie!” said Dominic, “Your puff pastry…”

“Your filling!” said Madeleine.

You get the picture. I came back another day because of a chalk board out front. Dominic walked me past the offerings of meats and sides. He pointed to each and recited names of farms responsible for the the food like so many flavors of gelato proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that NY Prepared serves seasonal cooking with local meat, vegetables, fruit and mushrooms.

All restaurants should put a chalk board on the wall listing farms. Although two chefs I most recently said, “no, no, no,” the chalk board includes us all; the patrons and the suppliers. Without the suppliers, where would we be?

NY Prepared is like Stone Barns if it were featured in a Jean Luc Goddard movie.  

20 Main St. 

Chatham NY 

*Chelsea Hotel No. 2, Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

STORY: Nasturtium

photo: Mary A. Nelen
There was something about the tendril....

Nasturtium is a story written for a jewelry catalogue called "Signs of Life" published yearly in Seattle. I was given a photo of a necklace and told to write something about it without mentioning jewelry so I came up with a tale of a flower, a marriage and a crow.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

RECIPE: Fallout Shelter Cornbread

Fallout Shelter Cornbread photo by Mary Nelen

RECIPE: Fallout shelter cornbread.

After many months and really years I’ve finally found the perfect recipe 

for cornbread. Got it from the Pioneer Woman. Not sure who she is but 
witha name like that, she has gotta know how to make cornbread the way
like it; in a skillet. The reason I’ve been laboring so is because
cornbread is a perfect vehicle for Pioneer Valley ingredients.

If you’re reading this I don’t have to tell you that heritage corn,
(non-GMO) corn is grown in Hadley. Its also milled in the Valley
and sold as flour. Yes, that’s right, heritage grain grown in the
loamy soil of Hadley where the soil gets a good soak in a crook of
the Connecticut River. Combining this corn, grown in the Valley, 

dried in the Valley and milled in the Valley with area yogurt, the most 
local of eggs, Cabot butter from Vermont and flour from folks named
L’Etoile at Four Start Farm in Northfield represents all that is great 

about eating where you live.

The fact that my first batch of the Pioneer Woman recipe shaped itself
into the symbol for a fallout shelter may not be purely coincidence. 

The taste of this crispy edged bread in a skillet is the best thing you can 
eat in times of peace or emergency. if Hillary doesn’t get better (as of
this writing, she has phenomena) a fallout shelter might be in our future. 
Stock up.

Here is Pioneer Woman’s recipe for cornbread. Note the inclusion of
baking soda with the wet ingredients rather than the dry. I modified
this this recipe substituting 1/2 C of yogurt for 1 C buttermilk. In
addition, I substituted butter for shortening. Sorry Pioneer Woman!
Larder’s vary depending on what food is local and 

the proclivity of the cook.

RECIPE: Fallout Shelter Cornbread 


1 C cornmeal (NextBarnOver, Hadley MA)

1/2 C flour (Four Star Farms, Northfield MA)

Pinch salt

1T baking powder

1 C milk (Your favorite local brand)

1/2 C yogurt (Side Hill Farm, Hawley MA)

1 egg (your favorite hen(s)

1/2 t baking soda

1/4 cup butter (Cabot creamery, VT)

2 T butter


Preheat oven to 400

Mix dry ingredients

Mix wet ingredients

Heat butter 1/4 C butter in skillet on top of stove

When cooled, add 1/4 C butter to wet ingredients

Mix wet and dry ingredients together

Heat 2 T butter in skillet on top of stove until bubbling

Add batter and leave on burner for one minute

Place skillet in oven

Bake for 25 minutes

Remove when golden brown on sides and firm in center. Enjoy and eat
soon. You never know what tomorrow will bring.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Wonder Not! Bread Festival Parade

Poster Design by Emma Kholmann

The annual Wonder Not! Bread Festival

Sunday, September 18 
11am to 5pm
Hungry Ghost Bread
62 State St in Northampton

Parade at Noon! Musical guests include Beth Fairservis & The Pachamama Puppets will lead Parade along with the Expandable Brass Band! Volunteers needed & wanted to be inside puppets, to pass out bread samples & wheat seeds, to stroll along & saunter en masse down Center, Main & State Streets!

The annual Wonder Not! Bread Festival, includes vendors, music, puppet parade, and, of course, the most local bread possible, right out of the oven! 
Food vendors will include: Chase Hill Farm Cheese, Red Fire Farm, New City Brewery, Beaumont Berries, Behrens Boards, Invisible Cities Apiary, Northampton Olive Oil, Full Moon Ghee & others....