By Analiese Paik
Teacher assignments, open houses, orientations, school supply lists – it’s all suddenly upon us. So are the last crops we’ll harvest before putting our gardens to bed for the winter. Why not do a few special, and memorable, green food activities before summer’s end? Here’s to building our fortitude to make it through another New England winter.
- Try a New Vegetable – Dandelion greens are a great one to consider. Blanch the chopped greens for 10 minutes in salted water, drain, then saute in olive oil with chopped garlic, two tablespoon of pine nuts and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Eat as a side dish or use as a pizza topping, then revel in the accolades! Believe it or not, kids have eaten dandelion pizza at my house – both mine and guests – and loved it.
- Eat Part of a Vegetable You Usually Throw Away – Our Cast-Off Cooking Series of articles includes recipes for rarely used plant parts that are both perfectly safe to eat and quite delicious when prepared properly. Eating cast offs is a partial antidote to our country’s enormous food waste problem and will stretch the family food budget. If we can be mindful about eating whole animals, why not whole vegetables?
- Attend a Farm Dinner – Dinners at the Farm is over for this season, but the Schoolhouse at Cannondale still has a few open dates for their Farm to Fork Dinners at Millstone Farm in Wilton. If you’re able to travel to Litchfield, I strongly recommend Winvian’s fundrasier for CT NOFA. This Relais & Chateaux hotel and restaurant has its own edible garden and Chef Chris Eddy’s food is elegant, refined and bursting with local flavors. If you can’t make any of these, Wakeman Town Farm’s September farm-to-table fundraiser will be announced soon.
- Pick Your Own Fruit – Jones Family Farm and Bishop’s Orchards are two top destinations for PYO in the area. The last day of picking in the blueberry fields at Jones Farm is today, Wed., August 21. Raspberry picking is underway at Bishop’s Orchards! Always call ahead to be advised of picking conditions, hours and closings due to inclement weather.
- Preserve the Harvest – whether you make jams and jellies, can tomatoes, or dry herbs, now is the time to get going. A jar of dried, homegrown herbs is a wonderful gift from your organic garden to your friends’ kitchens that takes no time at all.
- Enjoy Local Food at Stamford’s Restaurant Week – When it’s too hot to cook, let the chefs do the work for you. Stamford’s restaurant weeks are featuring food grown in Stamford and the list of participants and prix fixe offerings are enticing and affordable
- Visit a Farm Stand or Farmers’ Market – This is where the best produce and fruit are, hands down. Most produce and fruit at the supermarket was picked before it was ripe, and has typically traveled a great distance. But corn, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, cucumbers, green beans, cherries, peaches, squash are picked daily at their peak of ripeness by local farmers. Grab and friend and go. An heirloom tomato from a local farm is one of the joys of summer!
- Celebrate the Honey Harvest – Red Bee Apiary will be toasting to this year’s honey harvest with their final Talk, Tour and Tasting of the beekeeping season. Jeff Marron, co-owner of Saugatuck Grain & Grape, joins the festivities this year and will be creating special honey-inspired cocktails and liqueurs for the tasting menu.
- Have a Meal at an Organic Restaurant – Most of the restaurants in our Organic Restaurant Guide source at least some ingredients locally, but all of them are committed to serving organic food. Choose from bakeries, cafes, juice bars, lunch counters, and formal eateries serving a wide variety of foods that will please everyone from raw vegans to omnivores.
- Enjoy the Sunset with a Glass of Sustainable Wine – Head to the beach with a bottle of your favorite organic or biodynamic wine, a few glasses, and your mate or friends. I highly recommend Miraval rose, which is made with organically grown grapes. Enjoy a toast as you watch the sunset and share highlights of your summer. Preferably complete activities 1-9 above beforehand so you have lots to talk about!
Got another idea? Please share below!