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Norman Rockwell Dinner for the VP Debate

October 13, 2012

After last week’s disaster of a presidential debate (disaster for me since I’m a FrObama supporter), all I can say is that at nearly 70 years old, Joe Biden was refreshing. I invited some of my girlfriends over for dinner before the debate; one of them had the foresight to bring a huge bottle of wine in case we needed it, which given how the last debate went and given how all our weeks were going, the wine would come in handy. 

In typical “me” fashion, I planned most of the dinner about a week before. I got 3.5 pounds of potatoes in my last CSA share and I wanted to make something delicious and comforting since the weather decided to drop about 20 degrees. The change from summer to fall always reminds me of fall in New Haven, where I experienced seasons for the first time in my life (I’m from California). About this time three years ago, a few friends and I made truffled mashed potatoes in their tiny cramped kitchen and we ate it sitting around the floor.

That was my last fall in New Haven and I’ve been a little nostalgic, so I decided to make truffle mashed potatoes as an homage for the debate, featuring Fightin’ Joe and P. Ryan. I also decided to finally try a recipe I found a while ago for baked honey mustard chicken tenders and they turned out surprisingly well thanks to the garlic powder and dried thyme I mixed into the honey-mustard “dredge.” The key is to use Japanese panko breadcrumbs for crispiness if you’re baking them vs. frying. And if you don’t have a baking rack, just be sure that you cook them on a greased baking sheet and let each side crisp up before flipping, about 12-15 minutes at 425 degrees.  

For the potatoes (Serves 4-6 sides)

1. Peel and boil 4-5 medium potatoes until soft. 2. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and bring one cup of skim milk to a simmer; add the garlic. 3. Mash the potatoes and incorporate the garlic-infused milk. Salt to taste. 4. Stir in truffle butter or truffle oil while the potatoes are still warm. 

For the chicken (we bought pre-sliced raw tenders for ~5)

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. 1. Mix together 2 tbsp honey, 1/4 cup dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/4 tsp dried thyme. 2. Coat the chicken in the honey mustard mixture and let marinate for 20 minutes. 3. Coat the tenders with Japanese panko crumbs, preseasoned. 4. If you have a baking rack, place the tenders on the rack and bake for 25-30 minutes. If you don’t have one, grease a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, flipping in between. 



We’ve Moved!

June 28, 2011

You might have noticed that things have been a little quiet around here lately. That’s because we’ve packed up and moved on over to a brand new blog! We’ll still be maintaining this space, posting students’ long form academic work once school starts, so do check back regularly– for updates on everything else food and farming in New Haven and around the world, go see what’s going on over at the Tumblr!

Good Food Jobs

February 12, 2011

Taylor Cocalis’s motivation for founding with her friend Dorothy Neagle was a simple one. “We wanted to change the world before the world changed us,” Taylor told a group of undergraduates at Thursday afternoon’s Good Food Jobs event, sponsored by the YSFP with the help of Undergraduate Career Services. In their hour-long presentation, Taylor and Dorothy outlined a set of simple and practical tips for finding your place in the food movement, both over the summer and after graduation. Suggestions included making a 5-year plan, joining the food community through whatever avenues are available, being assertive, and working for free (if you have to). They emphasized the food world’s low barrier of entry, encouraging interested undergrads to try everything — cook, farm, volunteer, research, intern, read and contribute to blogs, make connections, facebook stalk, follow up. Specifically tailored to the student audience was the encouragement to make use of winter and spring breaks and reach out to Yale alumni in the field.

After Taylor and Dorothy finished, the YSFP’s own Jacquie Lewin and a few other students shared their experiences with WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms), through which travelers are given room and board on a farm in exchange for work. Zan Romanoff was also on hand to discuss the YSFP’s Summer Farm Internship and leading Harvest pre-orientation trips, both of which are now accepting applications.

New Haven Public Schools to Get Salad Bars

February 7, 2011

The United States Department of Agriculture unveiled its plan Thursday to award two salad bars to New Haven Public Schools as part of the the Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools initiative, which will provide up to 6,000 salad bars in public schools over the next three years. Executive Director of New Haven Public School Food Services, Chef Timothy Cipriano, who has worked tirelessly in the past on programs to put healthier foods like local fruits and vegetables into school cafeterias, was one of the major proponents of the initiative.

Supermarket coming to New Haven

February 3, 2011

After nearly year without a major grocer, New Haven residents will get a full-service supermarket. Stop & Shop announced yesterday that it would open a new store in the derelict 150 Whalley Avenue space in the near future. According to the New Haven Independent, the company is “very committed” to bringing affordable groceries to the underserved New Haven community. Let’s thank the tireless work of community activists for this triumph for the Elm City.

Terra Madre: Where Local Meets Global

November 8, 2010

YSFP Program Coordinator Zan Romanoff reports on her first trip to the four-day conference:

Terra Madre, a meeting of farmers and food activists from around the globe that takes place biennially in Turin, Italy, is Slow Food’s answer to that mundane grind that is the modern conference. Instead of days packed with Powerpoints and buzzwords and long lines for bad food, Terra Madre is a four day feast of conversations, presentations, and artisanal edibles that aims to engage the senses as well as the intellect. Combined with its sister event, a market cum fairground called the Salone del Gutso, it does Slow Food’s emphasis on ethical pleasure proud, providing a forum in which one daily gets to learn by tasting.

Panels and speeches take place in the Oval, an enormous domed structure divided into makeshift rooms for the occasion. Because the conference is so resolutely global, small portable radios and headphones are handed out as you enter each talk, allowing attendees to tune into simultaneous translation of the proceedings in their native languages. This year, Vandana Shiva spoke on scarcity and hunger in a wealthy, productive world; Raj Patel called on American delegates to consider the population that grows and harvests most of the food consumed in our country, joking that the national meeting in 2012 might well be held in Spanish. I heard stories from small farmers scattered across South America in the Q&A that followed a session on Indigenous Peoples in Agriculture and listened in on a reindeer herder being interviewed by the local press.

It is, however, difficult to cultivate conversation with headphones on, waving around a tiny radio and searching for reception, and so perhaps the most vibrant part of the Terra Madre experience happens just outside these rooms, in waiting lines and workshops. The redheaded young man sitting next to me in a Salone-run tasting of port and Parmigiano Reggiano turned out to be a Canadian chef celebrating his birthday; the German brewer drawing us drafts when we went out afterwards insisted that they be gratis. I met a friend of a friend, a girl whose name I knew but who I’d never met, who was there with a project that brings gardens to AIDs patients in Rwanda. The sense of community is raucous, vibrant, deeply joyful. Despite language barriers, everyone is eager to talk.

And also, of course, to eat. The Oval is the schoolroom to the Salone del Gusto’s insane cafeteria, a series of enormous warehouse-style spaces fitted out with rows upon rows upon rows of booths offering samples of traditional, native products. Most present are Italian producers, organized by region, but there is also an international section replete with French pastries, Guatemalan coffee and Mexican vanilla, as well as lesser known fare. Many are products championed by Slow Food’s Presidia program, which helps those who make “unique, traditional or rare” foods market their product and preserve their cultural heritage.

The Salone, though modeled after a market, calls itself a fair, which is perhaps a better name—“market” doesn’t quite capture the bustling conviviality of the place, the sense that everyone has come on holiday and doesn’t mind a bit if it is occasionally too crowded to walk. You can just stand still and spear another sample of prosciutto, lardo, shepherd’s cheese and dense, delicious traditional breads.

It’s easy to imagine Terra Madre as a festival of self-indulgence, foodies from around the world gathering to gobble up rare bites from exotic lands. What makes the consumption aspect interesting is Slow Food’s insistence on the cultural value of food; stories, both historical and personal accompany the tastes. To wander through the Salone silently is to miss its essential convivial purpose; the marketplace has long been a nexus for cross-cultural human connection, and this aims to reestablish that vibrancy. Going to the supermarket is a basically mute task, an opportunity to make and then burn through a to-do list efficiently, certain of what you need and what will be available. It is a chore to perform, rote. You cannot shop the Salone in the same way; you never know what will be offered at the next table or around the corner, or what connection you will make with the person offering it.

“Responsibility without pleasure is drudgery; pleasure without responsibility is gluttony,” Slow Food USA president Josh Viertel noted in a speech to the assembled US delegates. Terra Madre and the Salone del Gusto support and inform one another, the one providing a tangible reminder of the results of the conversations taking place in the other. After a long day of simultrans, nothing is more welcome than a chat with vendors, a couple of samples, and the universal language of mmhmms that accompany good food. Inevitably, you walk home at night stunned and dizzy, far too full. In this, Terra Madre perhaps does resemble its corporate counterparts: no matter how early the next morning is coming, you always end up stretching out the day, waking exhausted and somehow still enthusiastic; yesterday has passed, and now you are hungry for more.

Fall Festivities at the Farm

October 18, 2010

The eerily ominous New Haven clouds and ever-sharper wind gusts were no match for my enthusiasm, which propelled me up the Hill. Even my Texas-blooded aversion to New England chilliness couldn’t slow me down. For today was a special day: the YSFP’s annual Harvest Festival, a day to celebrate all of the crisp weather and crisp produce a New England fall brings.

Today, my skills as an Events Intern (read: maker of delectable brick-oven farm pizza) needed to shine. While I was certain that we interns possessed the skills to make a labor-intensive farm festival look like a simple walk in the park (or a stroll through the plant beds, as it were), the public need not be fooled by our cool, collected demeanor. But perhaps they could not ever be so duped. One look at our pizza makers’ flour-dusted jeans, ash-streaked forearms, if not faces, and beet-stained “Murderer hands”—as Zan likes to call them—and anyone could see through our benevolent deceit.

As Jasmine and I got down to stretching and forming pizza-dough, Jacque got the fire started in the brick oven. The smell of wood roasting in a fire (what I like to call “The Christmas Smell”) filled the air and my mind began to wander, conjuring up romantic images of an activity we really didn’t get the chance to do much during the Texas “winters” of my childhood, when a drop in temperature to, say, 50 to 60 degrees on Christmas Eve gave us enough excuse to break out the Yule logs. The addition of birch bark made the fire just as pleasant to hear as it was to smell. We chatted casually about the beauty of the bright oranges and vibrant yellows that had begun to break forth from New Haven’s trees, especially when set against the gray that was the typical fall New Haven sky.

Ah, fall. Despite what your lack of heat did to the elasticity and rising power of my pizza dough, I will inevitably find myself waxing poetic about your finer qualities. A smile spread across my face as I realized that this Year’s Harvest Festival was providing me the perfect opportunity to do so.

In our pizza making world, fall had brought about an exciting array of new ingredients—Pesto prepared earlier in the summer and saved for such sparser produce seasons, Asian eggplants, leeks, green tomatoes, candy-stripe beets, and best of all, an abundance of butternut squash, which we sprinkled with olive-oil and coarse salt before roasting to coax out its autumnal sweetness. In addition to making pizzas, we also roasted whole cashews, hazelnuts, and almonds (to which Josh ingeniously added olive oil and rosemary) and set up a makeshift stove to heat fresh apple cider.

The crowds began to arrive around 3pm, and after 5 hours of pizza prep, we were ready to celebrate. We baked a few potato-leek-ricotta and tomato-parmesan-pesto pies, and continued to invite our visitors to take a stab at their own delicious fall creations. The apple cider warmed hands while the pizza warmed bellies, and the music of Plume Giant and other Yale student acoustic bands filled the air with a certain lightness and gaiety. The Harvest Festival successfully brought the Yale Community and many volunteers from the New Haven community together in celebration of the flavors of fall. Feelings of satiety were all around—not just of appetite, but also of spirit. -Jordan Zimmerman, ’12

Celebrating Fall Produce with the SoNo Baking Company

October 14, 2010

Last Thursday afternoon, a little over a dozen people gathered under the farm pavilion to learn from John and Chris of SoNo Baking Company & Café how to make apple galettes. Both men were trained at the Culinary Institute of America. John is the owner and Chris the head baker. As they walked us through the steps of making the pastries, John spoke about his philosophy of food: a preference for skilled hands instead of machinery, the beauty of simplicity and rusticity, and the important link between food and community.

Galettes, in particular, strengthen this link. They are prepared and eaten together. John described watching the people of Auriac, France toting their dough to a communal oven, where a woman baked it. With that romantic image in mind, I jumped into learning how these pies were made.

Galettes, French in origin, are broad, thin cakes of bread or pastry. The dough is pâte brisée (“the mother dough,” to use John’s words)⎯which bakers will recognize as basic pie dough: 3 parts flour, 2 parts butter, and 1 part water, by weight, with about ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ of sugar per pound of butter. The ingredients should be cold, the butter and flour thoroughly mixed and then the water added gradually. When the right consistency is achieved, the dough is rolled out until quite thin and cut into circles of 4-5 inches in diameter. The dough is spiked with a fork to allow for airflow in the oven, and if necessary, chilled for 5 or 10 minutes in the freezer. Then each circle is placed on the oven tray because unbaked galettes are difficult to move.

Meanwhile, the apples are peeled and sliced into thin semicircles with a mandoline, and then laid on top of the dough in spiral patterns. For a true galette, leave a half-inch of dough and fold that over to create the edge. Brush melted butter over the top, and sprinkle confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon over that. This keeps moisture in, aids in caramelization, and makes the pie taste and look great. Bring the oven to 375 degrees and bake the galettes until golden. John made whipped cream from heavy cream, vanilla, and sugar, which he served on top of the little pastries. As we devoured them, the brilliance of the autumn afternoon sunk into sunset over the Yale Farm.

At the Farm: See our new picnic tables!

August 9, 2010

Here at the Farm, we recently celebrated the arrival of our new picnic tables, designed and built by Ted Esselstyn, who was so nice to share some photos of the table-making process with us.

The wood for the tables is local…very local: two red oak trees across the street from the Farm, which were sick and endangering the building they stood next to, were harvested for the new picnic tables. Ted milled the trees with the YSFP’s help, and created beautiful and functional furniture out of what would have just become another pile of mulch.

Check out the slideshow from tree to table — it’s a great reminder of how great it can be when we go local not just for food, but for other services as well.

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Stories from the Farm: How will we eat?

July 12, 2010

We asked our Lazarus summer interns the provocative question “How will we eat?” and got a surprising range of answers. From becoming aware of the true diversity of vegetables available at farmers’ markets, to thoughts on how to implement small organic farms nationwide, read on and join the conversation. (Feel free to leave comments!)

Sam Huber, Morse ’13

Last night, I made a salad out of Lacinato kale, Chioggia beets, Hakurei turnips, kohlrabi, and zucchini.  Two months ago, I could have identified exactly one of these vegetables (zucchini), and the only salads I’d ever made involved tearing some iceberg lettuce, maybe (just maybe) cutting up a tomato, and pouring on a bottled dressing.  The questions of what we eat and how we eat it have been nagging at me for a while now, but until this internship my answers were mostly dependent on the microwave and a few select aisles of the supermarket.  Kohlrabi rarely shows up in Whole Foods, much less the local Stop & Shop, which makes me doubt whether I would have ever discovered it on my own.  The supermarket seems to function as a closed loop:  its patrons might easily be convinced to visit a farmers’ market if someone showed them a Kohlrabi, let them taste and hold it and made them curious enough to seek one out, but the only produce you know when you shop at a supermarket is supermarket produce.  It took me six weeks of actual farm work, of learning enough about a vegetable to nurse it to harvest and sell it at market, to get me to last night’s salad. But now that I’m here, that supermarket produce is going to be a much harder sell.

Ian Sprague, Jonathan Edwards ’12

How will we eat? This question often loses out to its competitor, “what will we eat?”. After all, ‘what’ seems like the most loaded term — it implies a whole range of possible foods that one could ingest, and suggests the danger that the modern consumer faces when trying to sate his or her appetite. Ask this question of a food-lover and they will thank you profusely before starting out on their personal rant about “good food”. But now that I think about it, “what” delimits the issue to a simple matter of substitution; for example, will we eat processed meats that are injected with antibiotics, or will we buy from the local cattle rancher who lets his steer out to pasture? A question of preference and economics. However, there is more at stake here than a simple change in consumer preference. “How” encapsulates everything that goes into eating and living well. “How” allows us to consider the pleasure of cooking one’s own food, and the passive stagnation of waiting in line to receive food being cooked without care, for a cheap price. “How” allows to think about the speed with which we expect to be fed, and after-affects of food after we swallow it down into our stomachs. Let’s face it here, eating is one of the number one activities we humans engage in, and considering how we go about the act maybe a fruitful contemplation. Just as how there is a right way to harvest wash lettuce on the way to market, there is a right way to feed oneself and one’s loved ones every day. How, then, shall we eat?

Patrick Vergara, Silliman 2011
If the executives at Monsanto have their way there will come a day, not terribly far in the future, when their ultimate vision is fulfilled. Their business plan complete, and the world saved from all unsavory plant species, they will sit back and cross their pinstriped arms. They’ll look at each other and know that because of their hard work their sons and daughters will only ever have to eat one type of soybean. That because of them their apples will only be fire-engine red and perfectly shaped. Their corn will be fat and tall and as yellow as the butter no doubt destined for its surface. Their melons a perfect sphere grown on vines progammed to arrange themselves in parallel lines. Their potatoes precisely porous enough to absorb as much french-fry oil as possible. Their tomatoes as round as a hamburger would want. That’s what they will get to eat.

Yasha Magarik, Calhoun ’12

“How will we eat?” implies another important question: “How will we grow?” My answer, after reading Bill Duesing’s 1995 book review of Ishmael and two competing reports on the future of agriculture, involves not just abolition of the fashionably vilified corn subsidies or GMO patent laws, but also comprehensive land reform. Duesing quotes Cary Fowler and Pat Mooney, the co-authors of one of the two reports: “The green revolution answered the problem of hunger and rural unrest with increased production, not with land reform or employment projects; essentially it offered a technological solution to a social and political problem.” What is needed is the redistribution of 10,000- and 100,000-acre farms to many small, organic growers, each managing no more than 20 or 40 acres apiece. Whether through eminent domain or the more gradual route of subsidies for small organic farmers (especially those who replace synthetic fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides with more intense labor—thus employing many more people), we need to solve the sociopolitical problem that Malcolm X saw as “the root of every revolution.” Only then will small farmers have the power necessary to properly implement crop diversity, rotation, and care.