Monday, October 15, 2012

Apple Picking Fall 2012 With Slow Food Tufts

Our apple picking adventure for The Food Project got off to a bit of a rocky start, or perhaps muddy is a better word (refer to picture below).  Once I realized that my roommate's car had 4 wheel drive, we were golden.  Yes, I'm not too proud to admit it.  Perils of several years of riding a bike.  

Look what you missed by staying inside on this rainy morning!

Once we got unstuck from the mud, we had a grand time picking apples...with some intermittent drizzle, but it didn't cramp our style.  

We ended up picking 400 lbs of apples for The Food Project to sell, which helps them support their wonderful youth empowerment programs through farming and leadership development.  

We even got to stay and pick up any apples that had fallen on the ground to take home.  Two weekends of canning later, Franciel and I have finally emptied our apple stores.  

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fresh Pasta Night!

We were all inspired to speak Italian last Thursday night while making homemade sun dried tomato pasta, spinach linguine, mushroom sage pasta and just plain old spaghetti. Okay, so maybe the Italian part is an exaggeration, but to say the food was out of this world is right on! A group of Friedman students and friends got together to learn how absurdly easy it is to make your own pasta. It's just egg and flour, people!

We used a food processor to bring the dough together,
and to get creative we added finely diced sun dried tomatos, fresh spinach (you have to add a lot more flour if you do this.), fresh mushrooms and dried sage and ros
emary. We used a Kitchen Aid pasta making attachment to flatten the pasta, but for the batches with sun dried tomatoes in them we opted to lay the flat sheets out and cut them with a pizza cutter. This particular kind would have jammed the pasta making attachment, and the thick strips we made turned into beautiful, thick strips of artisan-looking pasta. I guess it was in fact artisan...a la Friedman. Dinner was divine... a little carb heavy perhaps, but wonderful. It was an ideal way to kick off Spring Break.

A wonderful evening was had by all!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Yogurt Making Skill Share

Our evening of yogurt making was a smashing success. Joan VanWassenhove and her boyfriend, Dean Paetzold welcomed us skill-sharers with delicious hors d'oeuvres and wine while we all chatted and got acquainted with their cats.

Soon the much-anticipated time came for the yogurt-making, so we all followed Dean into the kitchen where he went through the whole process for us from start to finish. He had even made three batches the night before so we could taste the different kinds. He made one with goat yogurt because there was a request for that from our group. It tasted great, but turned out a little bit thin, so he is going to tweak the recipe. The other two kinds of yogurt were made with cow's milk and were major crowd pleasers. He showed us how to sterilize the pot
you use, how to heat and cool down the milk, add the yogurt and then put it in a warm place to incubate and let the bacterial cultures do their work.
To incubate they wrap the pot in a heating blanket and set it in a laundry basket overnight.
The temperature is easily controlled that way. He then showed us how you strain it through cheese cloth to make it different thicknesses. We were all brainstorming what to make with the leftover whey and one of our members mentioned she had seen a limoncello recipe that called for whey...possibly a future skill share in the making.

The whole process was surprisingly simple, but you may have to do a little bit of trial and error experimenting. However Dean has done a lot of that for us, so if you follow the directions he has provided below, you should make a successful batch of yogurt. Joan and Dean had also prepared a batch of delicious homemade granola, also which they kindly included below. The yogurt was great plain, or with a little spoonful of honey...or my personal favorite, with a little bit of fresh-ground peanut butter. I know that sounds weird. It did to me too at first, but try it. You just might like it.


Skill Share: Basic Yogurt Making


½ gal. - 1 gal. milk (the best to use in my experience is whole milk from Jersey cows. The
higher percentage if protein results in thicker yogurt without straining)
2 Tablespoons plain yogurt with live active cultures
Pot, Whisk, Kitchen thermometer, Cheesecloth, Colander, Bowl

1) Sterilize
Sterilize all vessels and utensils. Boil a few cups of water in such a way that the steam
comes in contact with everything the milk will come in contact with. That is, put the whisk in
the pot and let the boiling water steam the whisk for a few minutes.
Empty the water from the pot and put the whisk on clean surface (such as the sterilized lid
from the pot).

2) Heat Milk
Pour the milk into the pot and heat the milk to 180 degrees F. Stirring will help keep the milk
from burning on the bottom.

3) Cool Milk
Cool the milk to 110 degrees F. This can be done rapidly by having a sink half full of cold
water at hand. Place the pot in the cold water and stir the milk while slowly pushing the pot
back and forth to agitate the water.

4) Add Yogurt culture and Incubate
Once the milk is at 110 degrees use the same whisk to deliver the inoculation. A couple
tablespoons of any plain yogurt with "live active cultures" will do the trick.
Cover the pot and maintain a minimum of 105 degrees and a maximum of 120 degrees for at
least 6 hours and not more than 12 hours. The ideal temperature is 110 degrees. An 8-hour
culture seems best. Swaddling the pot in a heating blanket and extra blankets works well.
An oven with just the pilot burning may be warm enough. Do not disturb the yogurt.
After this period of time the yogurt should be ready. It can then go into containers and into
the fridge.

5) Strain to thicken
Pour a little boiling water over cheesecloth, colander, and bowl to be used.
To drain: place a colander in a bowl, line the colander with cheese cloth that has been
double or triple folded, pour yogurt into cloth, and fold excess cloth over the yogurt. Placing
a light plate or bowl over directly on the cloth will help facilitate more thorough draining of the
Draining 40% to 50% of the whey from the yogurt will result in a thickness similar to what you
find in many store bought yogurts. This may take 1 to 2 hours. To achieve thicker, greekstyle
yogurt drain about 75% out.

Example: For normal thickness, drain 1.5 to 2 quarts of whey from 1 gal. of yogurt, leaving 2
to 2.5 quarts yogurt.
Fully thickened "greek" yogurt may need 3 to 4 hours of draining, or overnight in fridge. If
you let it drain for 2+ days you will achieve something akin to cream cheese.
Pour off clear/yellow whey to allow for more drainage if your bowl is not deep enough.

Clean Up
When done, wash cheesecloth by hand in several changes of warm, soapy water. Air dry.
Store in ziplock bag to reuse.

Homemade Granola
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Prepare 2 very lightly oiled baking/cooking sheets.
In saucepan over high heat, reduce 1 cup apple cider down to ½ cup.
In a large bowl mix dry ingredients:
4 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts
¼ to ½ cup each any seeds or grain flakes to taste. Ground flax and wheat germ
works well.

In a separate, small bowl mix wet ingredients:
3 tablespoons canola oil
½ cup reduced apple cider (see above)
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Spread evenly on greased baking sheets. Bake for a total of
40 minutes, rotating pans and stirring granola every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
Add any desired dried fruit after baking.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Melt Cheese Like the Swiss Skillshare

by Elaine Siew

A couple weeks ago, I invited Slow Foodies over to my house to explore the decadent world of fondue and raclette. I spent a year in Switzerland as an exchange student in 2005-2006, and was very fortunate to learn about the sweet melty-cheese-magic of fondue (not just for chic 70’s parties anymore) and raclette (stinky cheese heaven). For the first time two weeks ago, I ate BOTH in one night with my fellow Slow Food cheese-lovers!

So Swiss cheese fondue (French for “melted”) is a delicious combination of Gruyere cheese, Emmental cheese (what we would commonly know as just Swiss cheese – with the holes in it), white wine, and lemon juice, with a couple subtle spices. I cooked this on the stove and then poured it into a garlic-rubbed fondue pot over a flame, but traditionally you would cook this in a heavy stoneware or cast iron “caquelon” and eat right out of it. Also, in Switzerland, you would normally just eat this with bread cubes – oh yes, carbs and cheese all night long – but at the skillshare we added grapes (and you can really dip anything that you like covered in cheese!). And we drank wine with the fondue of course, because many a Swiss person will tell you that you can only drink wine or hot tea with fondue – or you will die (seriously).

To double-dose on cheese, we also prepared raclette – my FAVORITE Swiss meal. It is basically melted raclette – a pungent-smelling, soft cheese abundant in Switzerland – over boiled potatoes and cured meats, sprinkled with cracked pepper and garnished with cornichon pickles. Traditionally, the Swiss would take a massive half-wheel of raclette and prop it over an open flame, then take a big knife and scrape off the melted layers onto the accoutrements on your plate (it’s amazing to find a raclette hut mid-mountain when you’re skiing the Swiss slopes). Today, you can buy special raclette grills – with mine, you can grill veggies on top (to also get covered in cheese, of course) while you melt slabs of raclette on little paddles in cubbies under the grill.

For dessert, we enjoyed Swiss “carac” tarts – which are tartlet shells filled with chocolate ganache and fondant, as well as bars of Cailler chocolate – the most amazing chocolate in Switzerland that they sadly do not export (but were shipped to me by a very sweet friend in Geneva).

All in all, a beautiful evening celebrating everything that is good and right about Swiss cheese, and proving yet again that you can never, never have too much cheese.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Mobile Poultry Processing with Pete and Jen

By Elliot Hohn 
This Fall I was lucky enough to be able to join Peter Lowy and Jennifer Hashley, founders of Pete and Jen’s Backyard Birds, on their beautiful farm in Concord, MA to help with the harvesting of their flock of chickens.  Jen and Pete regularly invite volunteers to come out and get their hands dirty (or rather, bloody), and to get an up-close look at our food system in action. 
Jen and Pete started raising chickens in 2003, and the farm is now home to over 600 hens, as well as pigs, rabbits, and sheep. All of the animals on the farm are pasture-raised, with humane and sustainable practices being essential aspects of Jen and Pete’s farming philosophy. Additionally, Jen and Pete are state licensed to slaughter their birds using something called a Mobile Poultry Processing Unit (MPPU), which is a custom-built trailer outfitted with a killing-room, a feather-plucker, and set of processing and cleaning stations.

The long day of chicken harvesting starts early, with volunteers arriving before 7am for coffee, home-baked bread, and a quick briefing from Jen on evisceration techniques and hygienic practices during the handling of freshly killed birds. Joining me for the day were a handful of other Tufts students, a half-dozen students from the Cambridge Culinary Institute, and a random assortment of folks from the Concord community and from around Boston. 
For the next six hours, we worked hard to process around 375 birds, including capons, Freedom Rangers, Cornish Rocks, and even one large (and handsome, I might add) turkey. Surrounded by good company and the feeling of being a part of what is, in my opinion, one of the more impressive and respectable operations that exists within our food system, we enjoyed a long day helping put tasty, humanely-raised  chickens on the tables of Jen and Pete’s loyal customers.
To anyone who is interesting in getting gaining a deeper understanding of where the food they eat (or don’t eat) comes from, I would highly recommend making a trip out to Jen and Pete’s place. They are a wealth of knowledge, and the experience just might change the way you look at the food on your plate.

For more info, visit their website at