Tonawanda News — by danielle haynes
It’s Week Three of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York’s locavore challenge, and while some of you may be diligently completing each day’s challenge for the month of September, others may be picking and choosing as you go along.
That’s fine, says Marty Butts, NOFA-NY community education and outreach coordinator, because even little changes are good for the local economy, but also for your health.
“The biggest thing healthwise, is when you eat local, you tend to eat whole-food picked at its peak ripeness, and in turn its peak nutritional density available.
“A locavore meal wouldn’t include some of the big no-nos that are causing health issues in the United States, high fructose corn syrup being the biggest,” he said.
So grabbing that local apple for a snack instead of pre-packaged snacks — many of which aren’t made locally with local ingredients — is a better choice for your health.
A few of this week’s challenges — cooking with local oil, butter, honey and maple syrup — may not have the same health benefits of say, an apple from Becker Farms, but go ahead, check out our list of resources below to help you find these ingredients. Just remember, moderation is key.
Without further ado, your Locavore 101 guide, part three.
Sept. 17 — Cook with a local oil or butter
Take a quick trip over to Five Points Bakery in Buffalo, which is one of the only — if not
only — retailers of locally produced sunflower oil in Western New York.
Christa Glennie Seychew, a local food advocate described the taste of the oil as “green and flavorful.”
It “tastes as good as olive oil,” she said.
Sunflower oil works as a replacement for olive oil in cooking, but can also be used in baking, said Five Points Bakery owner Kevin Gardner.
For New York butter, try checking out Hoover’s Dairy in Sanborn, butter from Byrne Dairy at the Lexington Cooperative in Buffalo or butter from Hillcrest Dairy at Five Points.
Food of the day: butter
Sept. 18 — Swap sugar for local honey and maple syrup (use TON locavore 2.jpg here)
Like last week’s tips on baking with whole wheat flour, Gardner said cooking with honey or maple syrup instead of white sugar is all about the consistency of your batter or dough.
“If you’re adding honey in the place of sugar, you’re adding moisture or liquid that wasn’t present before so you’re going want to take out some other liquid in order to compensate,” Gardner said.
The baker suggested backing off a little on milk or oil in your cake and cookie batters. Or, if you use Five Points Bakery’s locally produced whole-wheat flours, which are a little drier than traditional all-purpose flour, you might not have to make any changes at all.
“Look at it in the bowl,” he said. “If you mix it all together and you say ‘that looks like soup,’ you’ve got to change it.”
Try picking up some local honey or maple products from a nearby farmers market, Becker Farms, Five Points Bakery or the Lexington Co-op.
Food of the day: honey and maple syrup
Sept. 19 — Compost your kitchen scraps
This is one of those challenges that might take a little forethought and planning. A composting project is not an overnight thing. And at first glance, one might not see the connection between composting and local eating.
“The locavore movement addresses, among other things, the number of inputs going into and out of your food,” including shipping, fertilizers and packaging, Butts said. “Composting ties right into those pieces. It lowers the amount of waste you send to landfill, and provides you an end product that you can use to grow your own food.”
Can’t get more local than growing food in your own backyard.
Visit a local home and garden store to get some ideas on how to set up composting for even the tiniest of outdoor spaces.
Food of the day: lima beans
Sept. 20 — Join a food co-op or winter CSA
Community support agriculture is one way folks can make sure to have a variety of local produce throughout the growing season. Customers pay farms an investment and for a certain amount of time — anywhere from just a few weeks to the entire growing season depending on the program — they receive a portion of the farm’s harvest each week.
Most CSAs operate through the summer months, usually sometime between May and October, but a few offer fall or winter shares of greenhouse or storage crops. Take a look at these farms and see if a CSA is right for you. Many offer produce pickups throughout the Buffalo area, so don’t be afraid to look into the more far-flung farms.
• Becker Farms — 3724 Quaker Road, Gasport. Call 772-2211 or visit www.beckerfarms.com.
• Canticle Farm — 3835 South Nine Mile Road, Allegany. Call 373-0200 or visit www.canticlefarm.org.
• Native Offerings — 8501 Maples Road Little Valley. Call 257-3006 or visit www.nativeofferings.com.
• Porter Farms — 5020 Edgerton Road, Elba. Call 585-757-6823 or visit www.porterfarms.org.
• Root Down Farm — 8386 County Road, East Amherst. Call 949-1204 or visit www.therootdownfarm.com.
• Roots and Wings Family Farm — 523 Kent Street, Cherry Creek. Call 338-6153 or visit www.rootsandwingsfamilyfarm.com.
• Thorpes Organic Family Farm — 12866 Rt. 78, East Aurora. Call 655-4486 or visit www.thorpesorganicfamilyfarm.com.
Food of the day: garlic
Sept. 21 — Eat at a locavore restaurant (Use TON locavore 1.jpg)
When Carmelo Ralmondi, chef and owner of Carmelo’s Restaurant in Lewiston, celebrated his restaurant’s 30th anniversary a couple years ago he did it by recruiting some fellow chefs to prepare fabulous foods with locally grown products.
Everybody who attended the event tasted amazing gourmet creations. Better yet, they walked away understanding the gatstronomic benefits of supporting local farmers.
Ralmondi has elevated the locavore trend to near artform and his menu is rich with details about where his meats, fruits and vegetables were raised and grown.
But, unless you know personally of restaurants that make an effort to buy locally, chef’s with a penchant for doing so can be hard to find, according to Seychew.
“It’s a real challenge,” Seychew said about finding locavore chefs. “We don’t have a network here that make it easy for people to eat locally.”
Seychow lists her favorite restaurants, farms and wineries on her website www.eatlocalbuffalo.com. Along with Carmelo’s, she recommends Bistro Europa, Sample, Shango and Trattoria Aroma in Buffalo, as well Torches in Kenmore and Curley’s in Lackawanna.
— Michele DeLuca
Food of the day: turnips
Sept. 22 — Read a locavore book (Use TON locavore 3.jpg)
Do a little further research about just why some people find the locavore movement to be so important. Need some recommendations? Butts has a few ideas:
• “Locavore Way” by Amy Cotler
• “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan
• “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball
Food of the day: cucumbers
Sept. 23 — Make your own butter, yogurt or ice cream
Making your own butter, yogurt or ice cream sounds like a really great idea, but sometimes these things take awfully expensive equipment to churn these things out.
Taking a look back at a “Curious Culinarian” column by Tonawanda News writer Jill Keppeler, you’ll see making your own ice cream doesn’t always have to take expensive gadgetry — and can be a great way to have the kids burn off some of that extra energy. All you need are some plastic bags.
“The following recipe is pretty easy (it’s been adapted from several variants). Note that you may need more ice cubes than you would expect ... I thought a tray would be OK and that wasn’t even close.
“Once the contraption was assembled, I handed the bag off to my preschooler to shake and he had a ball with it ... until our second surprise. All that ice with all that salt gets very, very cold ... too cold for little hands. If I’d thought about it in advance, I might have dug out the winter mittens first ... as it was, I wound up finishing the last six or seven minutes or so with dish towels wound around my hands.
“After all that time, though, the mixture was surprisingly similar to soft-serve ice cream. I hadn’t thought ahead on mix-ins, so we just tossed in a handful of chocolate chips that were handy. Chocolate syrup, caramel sauce, nuts, berries, chopped candy bars, extracts ... I see no reason why they wouldn’t work too.
“Do note that this mock ice cream melts much faster than the real thing ... my dawdling 6-year-old was annoyed when he came to the table late and found mostly ice cream soup. And it’s not as rich as the real thing, doubtless due to the lack of real cream or long churning process.
“But if you want ice cream in a hurry ... or a fun activity for your kids ... this might just be the way to go.”
Homemade ice cream
1 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Ice cubes (we used three trays worth, enough to fill a gallon-sized plastic bag halfway)
1⁄2 cup salt
Pour the half-and-half into a resealable sandwich bag (make sure it’s one that seals well). Add the sugar and the vanilla. Seal.
Place half the ice cubes in a gallon-size resealable bag. Add the salt. Place the smaller bag inside. Add the rest of the ice cubes. Seal the bigger bag.
Shake the bags until the mixture condenses into the texture of soft-serve ice cream. It took us about 8 minutes, more or less.
Take the smaller bag out, squeeze into a bowl, add any additional ingredients (we used some chocolate chips) and eat.
Food of the day: milk and creamContact features editor Danielle Haynes at 693-1000, ext. 4116.