Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Get your paws on some pawpaws

Have you ever eaten a pawpaw? It is one of the most delicious fruits on earth.

The Frederick News-Post published an article today about a commercial pawpaw orchard north of Westminster called Deep Run Pawpaw Orchard. Run by Jim and Donna Davis, it is one of few commerical pawpaw orchards in the world. I wondered how these folks could deal with the temperamental nature of these fruits, which have the softness of a banana. According to the FNP article,
The fruits are picked slightly under ripe "at just the right time" and stored in bins by variety and in a chilly 36- to 42-degree refrigerator to slow the ripening process and where they can keep for up to two weeks. Fruits picked too soon will not ripen properly and that will affect the taste.
I know this is true because a friend of mine picked some early once and they never ripened. It's pawpaw season in the wild now too, if a little on the late side, and the best place to look for them is on the banks of the Monocacy or the Potomac.

The pawpaw is a native plant in Frederick, MD, though the varieties grown in the orchard are hardier cultivars:
Each variety has unique characteristics. Shenandoah, with a custard-like texture and a sweet, but mild fruity flavor, and Alleghany, which has a richer flavor, are farmers' market favorites, said Donna. Susquehanna produces larger fruits that are firm with a buttery texture and sweet fruity flavor. PA Golden has a more pronounced pawpaw flavor. Overleese is much like Shenandoah, only smaller. Taytwo has a smooth yellow flesh and a sweet flavor.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, the orchard may be the largest pawpaw grower in the world. This is exciting because a local chef has been trying to find a supplier of these for some time and they have been in our backyard all along. Want to get pawpaws? CSM shares how:
The harvested pawpaws are stored in the cooler and shipped out twice a week to buyers. Some go to Mackintosh Fruit Farm in Berryville, Va., for retail sale, some to other farms, and others are sold to the websites and, where they are marketed as a gourmet delicacy for $10 a pound...Some of the Davises’ pawpaws will be made into ice cream again this year by South Mountain Creamery, a Middletown, Md., dairy that produces homemade ice cream, Donna says.
The pawpaw is in the same family as a cherimoya (also called a custard pear), and its flavor and smell are surprisingly tropical. The CSM article states, "The air at Deep Run Pawpaw Orchard carries the faint aroma of banana and mango. Inside the walk-in cooler where the harvested pawpaws are stored, the scent is much stronger, sweeter — so powerful that you can almost taste their tropical flavor, reminiscent of banana, mango, pineapple, and custard."

Other interesting facts about the pawpaw from CSM:
Many people may have never heard of a pawpaw, but it is the largest edible fruit native to the United States, Mr. Davis says. It was cultivated by American Indians, nourished early settlers and passed down through generations of some families, he says, but it is gaining a new interest as well among chefs and the local food movement.
For more on the pawpaw, see this other article from CSM.
Picture is reprinted from the Christian Science Monitor with the following caption: "Jim Davis surveys his pawpaw trees on his five-acre Deep Run Pawpaw Orchard in Union Mills, Md. (Ken Koons/Carroll County Times/AP) "


Monday, September 28, 2009

Fresh Edamame!

I am sorry there are no pictures, but I left my phone in my parents' truck when I borrowed it this weekend to take down our fair booth. Today, I hung out at lunch with my friends Jessica and Kay, and Kay brought edamame for us! It was still on the plants, so Jessica and I picked them into a bag and gave the plants back to Kay for her compost. We split the pods with our friend Heather and I STILL had enough for a meal tonight. With a fresh honeycrisp apple. What? That's weird? Well then you've never had fresh edamame and a honeycrisp apple, because you wouldn't want to eat anything else.

To make edamame, it's easy. Take fresh edamame pods, put them in boiling water for five minutes, drain, and sprinkle with kosher salt. Squeeze the little soybeans out of the pods with your teeth. The end.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Check out the eggplant challenge entries!

I am excited we got so many wonderful entries for the eggplant challenge by midnight last night! At last count there were seven. This was so much fun, I will definitely do it again. For those who missed the deadline, it's not too late (Tom Myers). Send in your eggplant pictures this week and I will post them. I have tagged all of the eggplant posts so that if you click on this link, you can see all of them. By the way I tasted my eggplant and lamb shepherd's pie this morning (I made a mini one just in case) and it was awesome.

Thanks to Steve, Chelsea, Trout, April, Dianne, and Jackie for posting your gorgeous photos and sometimes even the recipes! No I am not going to pick a winner, because I can't taste the food. The dishes created showed a really cool variety of ways to feature eggplant. I also noticed that these dishes all happen to meet different types of diets without sacrificing creativity or apparent flavor (I have to say apparent because I can only imagine eating them, though I am very good at it):

  • In a casserole with other fall vegetables (vegan)
  • In a comfort-food homestyle shepherd's pie (gluten-free)
  • With a Thai/South Asian flair using chili garlic sauce and tempeh (also vegan and gluten-free)
  • In a fresh saute served alongside turnip greens (appears to be vegan and gluten-free)
  • Classically prepared in an eggplant parm (vegetarian)
  • Made into fries with an onion dipping sauce (vegetarian)
  • Stir-fried with shrimp and other fresh veggies in an Indian-style curry (gluten-free)
The individual posts are:
  1. Steve Small's one-of-a-kind eggplant dish

  2. Eggplant and Lamb Sausage Shepherd's Pie

  3. Figs and Twigs does eggplant and tempeh

  4. Trout's Sauteed Eggplant with braised turnip greens

  5. Eggplant challenged by 1000 Pizza Doughs

  6. Eggplant fries with creamy onion dip from Dianne

  7. Eggplant Challenge is on

I hope this gives all of you with CSAs some ideas about what to do with your eggplant! Enjoy!


Saturday, September 26, 2009

Steve Small's one-of-a-kind eggplant dish

This is great. I mean how fun is this? The entries keep coming in! Here's Steve Small's eggplant casserole with zucchini, squash and peppers from his CSA. From Steve:

"I never made eggplant before, but since I had accumulated 2 of them from the CSA I had to do something with them. I did a little research online for recipes and studied the pile of veggies on my kitchen counter and decided to do a casserole with the whole lot of them. I sauteed the eggplant, some zukes, squash, and peppers with one of those big, juicy Summer Creek Farm garlic cloves, layered them in a baking dish with crushed tomatoes and shredded vegan mozzarella, topped it with panko bread crumbs and baked it. The eggplant practically melted with the cheese, permeating the dish with its tangy flavor. It was sad watching the casserole shrink each time I scooped out a portion to reheat for the next meal, but as the flavors had more time to marry it continued to improve. Alas, today I bade farewell to the casserole as I finished the last serving. There's another eggplant in the fridge, so I might try it again, but since it was completely improvised, like a Jazz solo, the dish can never be replicated."


Eggplant and Lamb Sausage Shepherd's Pie P.1.

I am making eggplant shepherd's pie. Yes it's late. But I had dinner at my parents' tonight and am making this for dinner with friends tomorrow night. It has some superficial similarities to shepherd's pie but it is pretty different. The bottom is lamb sausage (Rohrer's) in place of minced lamb, eggplants (Chesapeake's Choice), and leeks (my yard), sauteed in a cast iron pot and mixed with a tomatillo (my yard) sauce I made this afternoon. The tomatillo sauce is too salty because I used a commercial chicken stock and reduced it to caramelize it. I added sour cream in the style of a stroganoff to complement the tartness of the tomatillo and knock down some of the strong flavors. I think it worked..

The top is mashed potatoes (Summer Creek Farm) and turnips (Glade Link Farm) mixed with 1/2 c half and half and about 1/8 tsp salt. It's in the fridge now to be baked tomorrow.

It might be awesome or it might be awesomely bad.


Figs and Twigs does eggplant and tempeh

I am so excited!!!! Figs and Twigs just posted its eggplant entry, and the result is a fantastic-sounding Eggplant and Tempeh in a Chili Garlic Sauce. The sound of this dish reminds me of some excellent food that I had once at an exquisite little asian fusion restaurant in Pittsburgh. Check out the blog for another picture and the recipe!


Trout's Sauteed Eggplant with braised turnip greens

This dish is from Trout. It's Sauteed Eggplant with Braised Turnip Greens. I just got turnips at the market today and am excited about using the greens. Whoo! I love all of the eggplant pictures!!!!


Eggplant challenged by 1000 Pizza Doughs

1000 Pizza Doughs has posted its response to the eggplant challenge and the answer is: Eggplant Parm. The post also shares the recipe. April is a nice person for sharing the recipe. This dish is beautiful.


Eggplant fries with creamy onion dip from Dianne

Dianne's Dishes has pictures and a recipe up for eggplant fries with creamy onion dip that look very yummy.

Yay eggplant!


Pretty things at the market

I had a really nice time at the market this morning. The produce was stunning and the market wasn't as busy as usual (probably due to the fair and the weather), so I got to chat with the vendors for a while.

I returned my milk bottles and picked up a quart of mocha milk, some teriyaki meat sticks, and a yogurt at South Mountain Creamery. If you have not tried the mocha milk, you shouldn't. Save it for those of us that are addicted to it.

I bought some gorgeous multicolored eggs at Whitmore Farm. Some lady bumped into me and cracked one, so I had to cook it as soon as I got home. It had an incredibly deep-colored, rich yolk.

I bought turnips from Glade Link Farm. I never cook with turnips, but I keep meaning to try them in something. On the way home I realized I was going to make a variation of shepherd's pie for the eggplant challenge, with lamb sausage and eggplant in the meat layer and mashed turnips and potatoes in the potato layer. Previously I had thought I was going to make a spiced curried stuffed baby eggplant with lamb. Funny how similar ingredients can make totally different dishes. Today is the last day of the eggplant challenge, folks, though I may make exceptions for you if you send me something next week-I have heard from a few people who are planning to do it and I definitely want to see their dishes!

I also picked up some Thai hot peppers from Summer Creek Farm. My friend Richard eats them raw. They are hotter than habaneros. I don't understand him either. I may end up making a hot Thai eggplant with basil dish later this week because I also bought an eggplant at Tomatoes Etc.

Scenic View Orchards had sold their last honeycrisp apple before I got there, so they promised to hold some for me next week. Thanks! And though I have my own tomatoes in the garden, I was stunned by the beauty of the ones at Jubilee and had to take a picture.

Hope you are enjoying the season and all of its gorgeous produce. And don't forget- today is the last day of the fair if you have not been there. (Tip: the food vendors in the ag section are local and their stuff tastes better- plus they support the local economy. Try a beef ham sandwich from Hemps, and bean or Maryland Crab soup from the New Market Grange. The bean soup is made by a 79-year-old man from scratch. And the corn dogs on that end are hand-dipped and fresh. Just sayin'. And then go to the farm bureau ice cream stand in the first commercial building in the grandstand.)



Thursday, September 24, 2009

Top Chef Spoiler Alert

Another week has passed on Top Chef and our local peeps are still in the running. The Frederick News Post did a good recap this week.

The quickfire challenge saw Bryan V get dissed for a black and white angel and devil dessert dish that was supposedly "poorly executed". Maybe I am a favoritist but it looked well executed and he seemed surprised. Well it had lychee in it. Lychee is my favorite. Mike V made a dish of salmon smoked in traditional and nontraditional ways, and I wanted to eat it. According to contestant Eli in his blog post, "The dish that should have won was Michael V. Everyone in the room saw how elaborate his work was, the level of execution, and were just stunned. It was brilliant. He integrated two dishes, as opposed to a duo, while showing multiple techniques and philosophies." Robin won the quickfire with her salad and cobbler, which obviously seemed unfair to several of the chefs, including Eli, because they griped about it. But here's the thing: if she's not that good then she'll be out soon anyway.

The elimination challenge this week was to deconstruct a classic dish. And by classic I think the producers meant a classic dish that people can make at home. Chefs drew knives with the names of the dishes written on them. Lucky Kevin drew chicken mole. Bryan V got a Reuben and Mike V got a Caesar salad. According to judge Tom Colicchio, "Mike...created his dish brilliantly. Brilliantly. The dish had all the components of a Caesar Salad but was beautiful. If you ate it blindfolded, you’d think, “Oh, Caesar Salad!” Kevin edged him out for the win simply because his mole was just so flavorful. But they were both special." Kevin's mole looked awesome, and I was dying to try it. I also wanted to try Mike V's dish. Bryan's deconstructed reuben made with tuna also looked like something I want to eat as soon as possible. Eli's dish deconstructed itself by exploding out of its pressure cooker. And last but not least, Ashley's caramelized pot roast had pretty little foams and blended things next to it that looked like the rites of spring. Kevin won the elimination challenge, of course, and it was a great turnaround from a mole he had not done so well with in a previous episode.

Ron went home, because he some how mixed up overcooking a paella with deconstructing it, though the other chefs tried to give him pointers.


Fresh this Week from Summer Creek Farm

Fresh This Week

  • Acorn squash
  • Peppers
  • Raspberries
  • Summer squash
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Beans
  • Fingerling potatoes
  • Basil

From Farmer Rick

We are already working on planning next year. Over the winter you will get a couple notes on what is going on at the farm. We are currently planning several courses at different places in the state on farming and gardening. I also have been asked to write for a new magazine on local farming and food. I appreciate any comments you want to e-mail on our CSA.

Thanks to all who have blogged about this year’s CSA. I have read several very nice blogs. Thanks to those continuing into the fall season. Food is very important to each of us and growing good food is what we are about! Your most valuable asset is your health; eating fruits and vegetables is the best thing you can do for yourself. I hope you have enjoyed our efforts this year. You can sign up for the 2010 season in November when our new form is available. Thanks for a great season.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are members of the tuber family, like other potatoes. Though sweet potatoes are often called yams, true yams can grow much larger than sweet potatoes, and are rarely produced in the U.S.; yams are generally only available in Latin markets.

Sweet potatoes become soft and sweet when cooked. They are an excellent source of Vitamins A, B6 and C, potassium and dietary fiber. One cup of plain baked sweet potato has 180 calories.
Sweet potatoes should be plump and unshriveled. Keep in a cool, dark, dry place, but do not refrigerate. Sweet potatoes are fairly perishable for tubers, and should be used within a couple weeks.

To bake sweet potatoes, preheat oven to 425°. Wash sweet potatoes and poke a few small holes in each, with a thin-bladed knife. Bake in a foil-lined baking pan, turning once, until very tender (about an hour). Serve with salt and pepper, or butter and cinnamon.

Sources: How to Cook Everything (Bittman), Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (Madison),

Recipe Feature

Sweet Potato Biscuits
adapted from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman

About 10 biscuits, 20-30 minutes


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
  • 1 scant teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons cold butter (more is better)
  • 1 cup cooked sweet potato or winter squash, pureed (a food mill or potato ricer works well for this)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk (see instructions*)

Heat oven to 450°. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl or food processor. Cut the butter into small bits and pulse in food processor, or use a pastry blender to incorporate the butter into the flour, until butter is smaller than pea-sized.

Add the pureed sweet potato to the butter-flour mixture and mix well. *Add only enough yogurt or buttermilk to form the dough into a ball (will need lesser amount if potatoes are moist). Press the dough to 1/2-inch thick and cut into 2-inch rounds with a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass. Put rounds on an ungreased baking sheet, and repeat until all dough is used.

Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, until golden brown, and serve within 15 minutes.

Link of the week

Summer Creek Farm CSA page – bookmark us for next year!

Contact us:


Fresh this Week from Rohrer's Meats

Greetings from the farm. It is a busy time of year with all of the school activities, local festivals and fairs competing for your time. I know that I would like to attend some, but with markets every day from Thursday through Sunday, it is next to impossible. The Pennsylvania All-American Dairy Show is occurring this week. While I am no longer in the dairy business, I still like seeing beautiful cows. Plus, there is a dairy collectibles and antique show which is always interesting.

The purpose of this writing is to entice you to attend the farmers market before you start the rest of your weekend activities. I have some frozen product in my freezer that I would like to move. I also need to move it because I have a batch of chickens at the processor waiting to come home. Therefore, this will be a clearance sale, so to speak, and the discount only applies to frozen, not fresh, product. There will be ribeye, T-bone, strip, and sirloin steaks 10% off. I also have smoked ham steaks and boneless lamb shoulders 10% off. My chicken supply is low, except for the larger birds. Whole broilers, weighing 7 pounds will be 10% off. I also have a supply of pork spare ribs which will be 20% off. These discounts are good while the frozen supply lasts, first come, first served, all though I will accept orders.

I will also have my regular line of products available this week.

If you would like to place an order, please do so by noon Friday. Eat fresh, eat local, and I will see you at the market.

Rohrer's Meats


Local Farmer's Markets get shout out

The Washington Post's All We Can Eat Blog recently featured a farm-to-table dinner hosted at local Whitmore Farm and prepared by friend of the Farmer's Markets Bryan Voltaggio. Check out the writeup, the cool pictures, and the shout-out at the bottom to local farmer's markets Everedy Square & Shab Row market and West Frederick market. I did not realize this but Washington Post has a guide to Farmer's Markets in the Washington area. Cool!

Local farm produce for the dinner came from the following featured farms:

  • Summer Creek
  • Whitmore Farm
  • Earth and Eats Farm
  • Eco Friendly Foods
  • Glade Link Farm
  • Scenic View Orchard
  • Tuscarora Organic Growers

Some of these farms are new to me and I plan to look them up. Like Eco Friendly Foods.

Picture is from the Washington Post. Caption reads: "Course No. 6: Whitmore Farm spring lamb, eggplant chickpeas, roasted pepper, and lima beans with ras el hanout. (Bonnie Benwick -- The Washington Post)"


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eggplant Challenge is on

Folks, we have our second eggplant challenge entry. This was a delicious curry with eggplant and shrimp prepared by my pal Jackie.

On the dish: she used mostly all farmer's market vegetables, including japanese eggplant, which she says made the dish sweet. The chicken was from Rohrer's meats, but the shrimp was from elsewhere. I like how she mixed in a lot of fresh vegetables.

This crazy photo arrangement shows some delicious fall vegetables.



Sunday, September 20, 2009

Eggplant Challenge

Last week I decided to create an eggplant challenge for all of you chefs, food bloggers, home cooks, and other food lovers out there. Here's the challenge: make anything you want out of eggplant by midnight on September 26. Take pictures. Send us the pictures or the link and we'll post them or link to them. And have fun! Yesterday at the West Frederick Farmer's Market, I picked up a bunch of tiny purple and white striped eggplant from Chesapeake's Choice, so I'll be poring over my cookbooks to see what recipe I can adapt for these gorgeous babies.



Top Chef Spoiler Alert

It took me a while to post this week because I promised some friends I would wait until this morning to watch the episode with them after getting together for breakfast. Granted, I already knew by Wednesday night who had won the challenges because all of my other friends were crowing about it on Facebook, but I waited. As much as I love the friends I breakfasted with, I am not going to wait next week. I am going to watch the episode at Volt and DVR it, so that I can enjoy the experience of watching the show there and then actually hear it later at home.

On the good side, about breakfast: we made gluten free blueberry pancakes with blueberries I had gotten at Glade Link Farms and frozen. We ate them with vanilla yogurt and strawberry preserves and they were awesome. And we had Danny Rohrer's bacon.

Now let's discuss this week's episode. The challenge had a Southwestern feel, with guest judge Tim Love. The quickfire challenge was to come up with a dish made of cactus. (Once, I was camping with a friend in the North Dakota badlands, and I decided I was going to cook and eat cactus. Needless to say I ended up with the spines all over my pants. The cactus itself tasted a lot like a mild roasted green pepper, but with less pepper taste and more slime. Anyway I was determined and I ate it. It was not particularly good but I was still proud of myself. My camping friend refused to try it). Chef Mike Isabella won the challenge and $15K with a preparation that involved soaking the cactus in salt to draw out the slime, and serving it with a tuna tartare. It was a well-executed dish that showed the knowledge necessary to showcase the main ingredient, and he deserved to win, though his comments on the show about women certainly don't make him my favorite contestant. I have it on good authority from a friend that he is actually a very nice person and I am willing to believe this is true and that he just needs to learn how to put a cork in it. But this he desperately needs to learn.

The elimination challenge saw our friends deposited in a desert ranch with very crude cooking conditions, including fire pits (these pits were actually supplied with propane, so not quite as crude as they appeared). The food storage was even more crude; several of the dishes ultimately served to the judges were rancid and made them ill. This was brought out some in the show, but even more in the blogs, where the judges complained about food poisoning. For preparing a ceviche with rancid cod, Mattin was sent home. Judge Tom Colicchio called Mattin "the Dauphin of the Overplan" in his blog, which was funny and smart but not very nice; nevertheless, I am not sorry to see Mattin go because he was always talking so highly of himself and making crappy food and the chasm just got to me. I also watched Mattin throw Ashley under the bus over a non-asparagus veloute last week and I had it in for him. I gave Mattin a going-away scarf for his exit.

Oh, and Bryan won. Again. His pork loin with polenta, dandelion greens, and rutabaga was solid, the pork perfect, and the quality so much higher than that of most of the other challengers. He also attempted to work within the language of the local food, and I think this won him the challenge. Frankly under the conditions he did exceptionally well.

I didn't think I had any point in writing these updates other than for my own amusement until I discovered today that some people actually do read them and get a synopsis from them. Sorry I was late this week-it won't happen again!



Friday, September 18, 2009

Cakes for Cause: Woo Hoo!

So, we’re sitting here with the doors open to catch the early morning breeze, drinking coffee (made in our own coffee machine), at tables and chairs that we just put together (the place smells like a combination of wood, varnish and rubber!-), wondering how to replace our fancy compact fluorescent bulbs, and contemplating our grand opening. What’s that you say? A grand opening date??? Yes folks, it’s finally here and we can say with a 99.5% level of confidence that we have set the date for the grand opening of Moxie. Tell me, tell me, tell me (we imagine you yelling…perhaps only in your head since you’re at the office)! Okay then, Cakes for Cause will be opening our social enterprise Moxie Bakery & Café, on Saturday October 17th at 9:00 am. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors, tell everyone you meet on the street, put a banner on your house (we’ve spent a lot of money in the last few weeks so we want this to be a BIG day)…whatever you do, please make time in your day to visit us at the café for a cup of java, one of our delightful pastries, some soup, or dessert. Sit at one of our indoor or outdoor tables, enjoy the fountain at 7th and Market Street, line up outside our door starting at 5:00 am (we hope) but make sure you don’t miss it.

Moxie Bakery & Café
A Social Enterprise Operated By Cakes for Cause
629 North Market Street
in the Bernard Brown Community Center
Saturday October 17, 9:00am
Indoor and outdoor seating available

But Don’t Forget the Farmers’ Markets!
We’re still there and some of you are still there but ALL of you are not there. There’s tons of local produce still available this time of year…squash for soup and roasting, kale to sauté (have you ever tried it on pizza?), onions and potatoes for stews, fresh and local meats, and your favorite comfort breads, croutons, and biscuits to partner with your fall meals. Whether you get inspired when you visit the market or call us in advance, Cakes for Cause has some delicious products when the cooler weather hits so make the farmers market part of your Thursday or Saturday routine.

Downtown Frederick (Shab Row)
Thursdays 3-6 on East Street at Church Street

West Frederick
Saturdays 10-1 on Baughman’s Lane behind the Quality Inn on Route 40 in Frederick

Swag, Swag, Not Enough Swag
Alrighty, the weather is starting to cool off so the ¾ sleeve baseball shirts are looking pretty good right now (we know, we should have done a sleeveless for the summertime). We still have a few left in adult and children’s sizes. Remember, if you’ve purchased any of our other t-shirts it’s only $18 for you!

Cakes for Cause


Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's up, food bloggers? Eggplant Challenge!

September has been a slow month for our local food bloggers but thankfully they are starting to pick up. I really enjoy reading the local blogs, seeing what people are getting in their CSAs and what delicious meals they are making.

Chelsea from figs and twigs has a gorgeous post up that describes a purple cauliflower and white bean puree. The recipe sounds delicious. I have to go check the garden tomorrow to see if my purple cauliflower made it. Image from figs and twigs.

April from 1000 Pizza Doughs has posted yet another 60's style photo of a dinner that she made to cook away her most recent CSA haul. She claims the entire meal took only 40 minutes to prepare, "including scrubbing the dirt from the potatoes". Check out the post to see pictures of Mountain Rose potatoes- they maintain a pink swirl after cooked. Image from 1000 Pizza Doughs.

I Used to Be a Person shares pictures of her bounty from week 14 of her CSA. The CSA boxes are looking mighty good this time of year.

Dianne's Dishes has a pretty picture and a recipe for smash potatoes. Image from Dianne's Dishes.

And last but not least, Volt taunts us with their Whitmore dinner menu- a farm to table event that I would love to attend if I were not taking a class out of town next week. The menu features dishes that highlight local farms:

  • Summer Creek
  • Whitmore Farm
  • Earth and Eats Farm
  • Eco Friendly Foods
  • Glade Link Farm
  • Scenic View Orchard
  • Tuscarora Organic Growers
I was thinking it would be fun to start more of a dialogue with the local food bloggers and our readers, so I am going to throw out a challenge: some time in the next two weeks, put up a post focused on eggplant or send us an email and we'll post your eggplant dish. I would love to see how many eggplant dishes our friends can come up with. You have until midnight on Saturday, September 26.



I missed the market!

I missed the market today. I had some friends in town and we got off to a late start. Then I realized I had to get a prescription in Middletown before noon, and we stopped by The Main Cup, located at 14 West Main Street in Middletown. I really like this place and I always stop there when I have to go to Middletown. They have a solid menu that is fairly inventive, and they use quality ingredients. They also have a great coffee selection and a number of organic and vegetarian options.

Our friend Joe knows the owner Bob and so we chatted with him for a while. I asked Bob if they use local produce and he said that they get their hamburger from Hemp's Meats, because they grind it every day and it is super fresh. He is looking to get local milk delivered but has not found a provider yet. I suggested to him that a number of restaurants in Frederick (Volt, Isabella's) have the same predicament, in case there are any dairies that read this blog (hint, hint).

Anyway, I enjoyed my lunch today and plan to go back the next time I am in Middletown. As for the farmer's market, I think I will visit Urbana tomorrow to get my fix.



Friday, September 11, 2009

Top Chef Spoiler Alert

For those of you following our local heroes Bryan and Michael Voltaggio on Bravo's Top chef, we've had a thrilling run to date. Last week (while I was gallivanting around the desert in Nevada), we saw a very touching episode with the Air Force Thunderbirds, where Michael made a bacon lettuce wrap that was braised in heaven's wonderfulness. The judges are still talking about it on their blogs. Preeti obliviously earned her exit with a boring pasta salad that many of us could make in our sleep.

This week, Jesse was knocked out in the quickfire. I will miss her; I think other than some obvious personal issues she was a talented chef who could go far with a better cooking vocabulary through a more formal education. Bryan won his challenge with an amazing "Warm Cured Trout with Deconstructed Bearnaise" that he made with the insecure thunder-stealing Mike I. Let's talk about this dish a little bit, because it was hard to understand what was so amazing about it from the show. Judge Tom Colicchio explains best in his blog why this dish won:

As Mark Kurlansky wrote in Choice Cuts (2002), “You have to be dominated by Escoffier [French chef, 1846-1935, who popularized French cooking] before rejecting him becomes meaningful.” 30 years ago, when I started cooking, we were taught French food, true classics like a Chasseur, a Béarnaise, an Américaine. Unfortunately, these are not generally taught properly here in the States nowadays...Michael Isabella was right to say that he would admonish future chefs to “learn a Béarnaise.” As we witnessed in the program, where Michael had the concept of deconstructing the Béarnaise, but Bryan had to walk him through how to execute that concept, all of our chefs should know the classics first.It’s funny – at this stage of the competition, we knew the chefs well enough to know that the winning dish was in the style of cooking that Bryan does, that it just didn’t seem like a Michael Isabella dish...

A note about the winning dish: remember how I said that the fish seemed simple, but I knew it involved a far more complex preparation than it seemed to? You can find out about a similar preparation of that fish in Thomas Keller’s book, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide (2008), on page 88. Bryan took the two top fillets, placed a thin layer of prosciutto between them, used a powder called Ajinomoto RM Transglutaminase (affectionately called “meat glue”) to glue them together, and sous-vide them, cryovac-ing them. The flavors remain pure and the texture delicate. Bryan did this perfectly. While both leading dishes were excellent, we all just kept coming back to that fish in our discussions. It was simply the most memorable item we sampled in the whole challenge, and this is why it garnered Bryan the win.

For this challenge, Chef Hector went home for his butchery of Chateaubriand.

It's obvious now that the chefs to watch are our local faves plus Jen and Kevin. Of course you know who I am pulling for!


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fresh this Week from Summer Creek Farm

Fresh This Week

  • Eggplant
  • Garlic (maybe the last week)
  • Raspberries (every week now!)
  • Mountain rose potatoes (red skin with red swirl inside)
  • Carrot
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Hot and green peppers

From Farmer Rick

Please submit fall CSA forms and payment soon. Checks are payable to Summer Creek Farm, and you can mail them with your forms to: 15209 Mud College Road, Thurmont, MD 21788.

Current members get first shot for the fall. Slots are limited so I can make sure I have enough produce for all. Fall is coming and we are very busy planting. Tomatoes have really slowed with all the cool weather. Soon will be hard squash and sweet potatoes. Please let us know about the fall CSA soon so we can plan. Enjoy the bounty!


Although we most often see the oblong dark purple kind, there are dozens of eggplant varieties. Smaller eggplants contain fewer seeds and are less likely to be bitter. Choose very firm eggplants with green stems (an indicator of freshness) for best taste.

Store eggplants in the refrigerator and use them as soon as possible. Although the outside appearance remains the same, the inside can become soft and bitter within a few days.

To prepare, trim the stem end. Peeling is optional, but not necessary. You may want to salt eggplant before using in a recipe, to remove bitterness. To salt, slice the eggplant as indicated in the recipe. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let rest in a colander for 30 minutes to 1 hour, then rinse, pat dry and proceed with recipe.

Eggplants are tasty roasted, grilled, broiled, sautéed or stir-fried.

Source: How to Cook Everything, 2008 edition, by Mark Bittman

Recipe Feature

Penne with Eggplant & Mozzarella
adapted from Deborah Madison, Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Serves 4 to 6. Takes nearly 2 hours, including cooking time.
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds eggplant
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped basil
  • 1 pound penne or macaroni, cooked al dente and rinsed in cold water
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella
  • 1 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Slice the eggplant into rounds ½ inch thick, then into ½-inch-wide strips. Salt and set aside while you make the sauce.

Warm 1 ½ tablespoons oil in medium skillet. Add onion, thyme and pepper flakes, and cook over medium heat until the onion has softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook about 4 more minutes. Add tomatoes and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375°. Oil a 3-quart baking dish. Pat the eggplant dry. Heat the remaining oil in a large skillet, add eggplant and cook over medium heat until golden and tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Season with pepper and toss with basil. Mix the eggplant with tomato sauce, cooked pasta and cheeses in the baking dish, cover with foil and bake 35 minutes.

Link of the week

Real People Eat Local – companion site to Edible Chesapeake magazine

Contact us:


Cakes for Cause: What’s Better on a Rainy Thursday?

Cakes for Cause that’s what! We’ll be at the Shab Row market today and there’s some special treats in store for everyone. We’ve heard a rumor of some craft activities where kids can make animals out of we don’t really know what that’s going to be like but it sure sounds interesting! Come out and join us today or on Saturday at the West Frederick Farmers’ Market for the best in seasonal produce and plants, delicious baked goods, hot coffee and cold tea. Cakes for Cause can sweeten the deal even further and offer you the opportunity to volunteer at our booth in Frederick or at Shab Row. You’ll get to choose a pastry for your very own and learn how to shake the perfect lemonade…it’s not an opportunity to miss!

Downtown Frederick (Shab Row)
Thursdays 3-6 on East Street at Church Street

West Frederick
Saturdays 10-1 on Baughman’s Lane behind the Quality Inn on Route 40 in Frederick

Yes, you heard that right, we’re getting keys this week and we’re moving tons of furniture and fixtures into Moxie Bakery & Café, the home of our social enterprise classroom. We have to assemble chairs, unpack china, and generally find a home for all the cool stuff we’ve collected over the past year. Your mission…if you choose to accept it…is to be a part of the excitement for just a few short hours on Saturday or Sunday. We’re trying to keep things manageable and we’ve only got 10 slots on each day so if you’re really excited you can sign up to volunteer for both days but save some room for others. We’ll feed you beverages and lunch and you can be the first people to see the space as it comes together. Thanks for your help.

We Never Like To Do This, But…
We like to remind you every once in a while that Cakes for Cause is a non-profit and there are several ways you can support us. We’ve been waiting for a year and a half for our café to open and serve its purpose, not only as a training program for youth, but also as a source of revenue that supports the mission of our organization. We’re pretty conservative with our cash and we’ve gotten a lot of bang for our buck so far but there’s lots of little bits of equipment and supplies that we will be providing to the youth in our program and you can help with that…by visiting us at one of the farmers’ markets and purchasing our products (hopefully you think they’re delicious), by sponsoring a chair in our café, or by making a direct tax-deductible donation to our organization. We’re in the final stretch right now and we wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for people like you…so thank you for everything.

Twitter Alert
Did you know that Cakes for Cause is on Twitter and Facebook? We just realized that people actually responded to us on Twitter so it’s probably going to be a lot more useful to us in the future!-)

Cakes for Cause


Monday, September 7, 2009

Inspired by Sweet Onions

Will of Whitmore farm brought delicious white sweet onions at the downtown farmer's market. I bought them the other day and made these little tarts. The recipe was from Tarts: Sweet and Savory by Maxine Clark and I modified a bit (less chopped rosemary. Also need to cut down butter for cooking onions next time).
It requires several steps to make these tarts - you need to make the crust and blind bake, cook the onion for one to two hours, cook garlic in oil and make the cream filling (steeping some rosemary). Beautiful Saturday mornings usually work for me to get in the mood for making tarts. If it was rainy, I would probably have made onion soups instead.
I also made onion marmalade following a recipe from Preserving by Oded Schwartz. This goes very well with lamb dishes. We served the onion marmalade with lamb kebabs at a gathering this weekend.
I have been making pickles, jams, sauces and even grape juice. Feeling a bit tired of canning, but I am sure I will be thanking myself in the coming months.