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Gloucester’s Saints

Sunday, June 25th, 2017

 

The older women, dressed in nice jewelry, holding heavy pocketbooks, begin arriving at the front door as early as 11:30 in the morning.  They take the first seats in the large room, built intentionally for this day, to honor St. Anthony, off the center hall of John and Angela Sanfilippo’s Gloucester home.  The room is lined with folding chairs all facing the broad far wall which is tiered with candles, fresh flowers and shiny vessels arranged to honor St. Anthony, the saint of lost things.

The women’s lined structured faces still bear the lees of being pretty young Italian girls.  The pretty young Italian girls arrive a little later, equally dressed-up, but late because they were at their jobs, and had to wait until noon to leave, or they had to put a baby down for a nap before the sitter arrived. The arriving men – young and old –  go right to the back yard, where the other men are grilling whiting, and already gathered in circled lawn chairs after having set up the tents, tables and chairs.  

In the formal parlor across the front hall, the priest is arranging his robes.  He is extremely tall and thin with dark trimmed hair and beard.  Reaching to fit the robes over his head, he fills the room like a long-limbed El Greco subject fills a canvas, reaching for the skies.  The priest’s expression is kindly and gentle.  He speaks Italian with melodic, fluidity, not the choppy Southern Italian dialect of the gathering crowd.  

Downstairs, Angela, her friends and family are finishing preparing the twenty or so dishes for the feast that will follow the mass.  Sixteen feet of table are completely covered in platters, pots, and bowls, each covered loosely in foil to keep the food warm through the mass.  

 

Angela’s husband and brother are fishermen, as was her father and all her family members back in Porticello, Sicily.  On this table there is freshly caught whiting, monkfish, ocean catfish, haddock, scallops, and squid – breaded and baked, grilled, deep fried, barbecued, chilled in a salad, hot in a chowder.

This is Gloucester, where saints are prayed to, talked to, begged to for everything from lost keys to lost loved ones every single day.  Saints are taken as seriously in this city – heavily made up of Sicilians who came here to fish – as politics and the weather.     

Even if you don’t understand Italian, you know by his affectionate cadence that Father Andrea is not preaching today, but telling the St. Anthony stories, how the saint advised a young prince with paralyzed legs to marry the poor young girl who came alone to church every day and cried at the altar.  The prince married the girl, and walked on his wedding day.   Father Andrea is telling the story of how St. Anthony  raised a murdered friend from the dead to testify against the wrongly accused, and then repositioned the victim in Paradise on his return.  

Angela Sanfilippo has her own St. Anthony miracle.  At nineteen, her father was captured by the German Army in World War II.  Angela’s grandmother didn’t know where her son was or even that he was a prisoner, but she prayed every day to St. Anthony for his return.  Two years later, her son walked into the Sicilian village, and the mother’s lifelong vow to St. Anthony began.    For the rest of her life, although she was a comfortable woman, she went door-to-door in Porticello begging for donations to her St. Anthony’s feast.  At every year’s feast, she laid out her finest linen, china, and crystal.  Her first guests were always three orphans selected from the local orphanage and a monk, allowing the poorest from the community to enjoy the riches of a king for a day.  

Angela came to America as a child with her family, first to Milwaukee and then they settled in Gloucester for fishing.  Angela’s grandmother stayed in Porticello, continuing her famous St. Anthony tradition.  When Angela had her own home she started the St. Anthony tribue on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

St. Anthony, St. Joseph and St. Peter are Gloucester’s saints.  Each saint’s feast day (the day they died, meaning the day they left their humanity behind and became a saint) is almost more important than Christmas and Easter.  The feasts days are like a birthday and a major holiday all wrapped up in one.  Like Angela, the Sicilian people have personal attachments to these saints; they ask them for favors large and small. Their pictures hang on walls and watch over the families like a beloved uncle.  St. Anthony, to this adoring crowd, is right there with them hearing their stories and prayers, laughing and crying, serving himself some antipasti.  At the same time his June death is as big as Christmas.  People in Gloucester travel around to each others homes saying novenas to him, sharing cookies and coffee afterward – for 13 days in advance.  On the actual feast day people take time off from work; they dress in their best; they go to mass, and they cook.   Friends, relatives, local dignitiaries skip breakfast that day knowing that fish from the Gloucester waters will be prepared fifteen different ways for lunch, and not one dish is to be passed over.

Most people imagine that St. Peter, the fishermen’s saint, the saint celebrated at fiesta with greasy pole walking, seine boat races, and amusement park rides, is Gloucester’s headliner saint, but there was a time when the entire city shut down on March 19th for the feast of St. Joseph.  Today, buses take crowds from altar to altar all over the city celebrating St. Joseph.  At Angela’s that day, St. Anthony drew a standing-room-only crowd.

At each saint’s feast, the bread is taken to the altar and blessed.

 

Goodbye FFT, hello The Other Cape.

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

 

 

 

 

Well, it’s ALMOST time for me to say goodbye to Food for Thought. The site will still stand, and I will post the occasional OMG Recipe, the recipe so good I just have to print it, or a really good fish story, but mostly I will be working as managing editor of The Other Cape.

If you haven’t already, check it out. Today’s story is once again about Lila Deluca, the 10-year-old Rockporter competing on this season’s MasterChef Junior Thursday nights at 8:00. The photography is gorgeous, and there is a bonus video in which Lila teaches how to make Slime. Upcoming stories will be on Mayflour Confections, Lynzariums Plant Shack, and Cape Ann winter surfing. Follow us!

The Food Project Seen Through the Lens of Five Alumni

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017

Manny

(photo credit Ross Condit)

A vision imagined by farmer and activist Ward Cheney, The Food Project has been uniting urban and suburban youths from the Greater Boston area on farms since 1991.  

“When it was founded it was radical,” Casey Moir, 26, Food Project alumna, says.  “It was completely against what everybody else was doing.  It intentionally brought together a diverse group of people, and it did something that nobody was doing yet, which was growing food on the land in the city and outside of the city.  It was really connecting things.”  

Agriculture and kids have both changed and not changed at all in twenty-six years.  There were almost no CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture Programs) when the Food Project began.  Farmers’ markets were in their infancy, as was email.  The iphone hadn’t been invented.

Today the Food Project farms 31 acres in Lincoln, 34 acres in Wenham, 2.5 acres in Boston, 2 acres in Beverly, and an acre in Lynn, a mix of urban and suburban agriculture.  CSA programs and farmers markets are important ways the organization funnels fresh produce into communities with poor access to good food.  About iphones, there are strict rules surrounding them and headphone use:  none of it, even on the youths’ commutes to the farms together.  (Fines, deducted from their wages, are levied for abuse.)  That wasn’t an issue twenty-six years ago.

But farming is still about long days in the hot sun or cold rain, and kids still love doing things together.  Those things haven’t changed.  Many hundreds of teenagers have passed through the Food Project since those early Cheney days.  You see them in dark green Food Project t-shirts waiting on the Porter Square commuter rail platform for the train to the Lincoln farm.  You see them in Beverly, those green t-shirts bent over in the fields at Long Hill.  You see them bundling lettuces and radishes at the Dudley Town Common farmers market.  (The Food Project also has tents at the Egleston farmers market in Jamaica Plain and the Lynn Central Square farmers market in Lynn.)  You see youths in green t-shirts delivering crates of produce to the Open Door in Gloucester, one of the hunger relief organizations that receives the youth-grown food.  The Food Project aspires to donate and distribute 40 percent of its harvest to food insecure communities.  You see youths in green t-shirts shoveling compost into raised bed gardens in communities like Dorchester, Mattapan, Lynn, and Gloucester, building gardens, then teaching people how to raise their own fresh healthy food.

The Food Project teaches youth how to grow and distribute food, but it also teaches them the ways our food systems reflect this culture’s social and racial inequalities.  Social justice is as important a part of the Food Project curriculum as planting, and might be its most important mission; through meaningful work and exposure to the realities of this country’s inequities, the Food Project cultivates future leaders.

Here are the views of five Food Project alumni, examining their time at The Food Project, and how it shaped them.

 

Lucas Munson, 22

Lucas Munson, like all the alumni, started at the Food Project when he was fifteen, the summer before his sophomore year of high school.  He had never farmed and didn’t really cook.  His older sister had been part of the Food Project, and his family often talked about it around the dinner table.  

“I was a typical suburban kid from Arlington, MA; I had no connection to agriculture, but I was really excited the first day; the combination of being on a farm and not knowing a single person was really exciting.”

“We would take the train from Porter Square and then the Food Project would pick us up at the station with a bus.  We’d arrive at 8:50, and have 15 minutes of check-in.  We would work in crews of 12.  There would be the task of the day – picking potatoes, weeding carrots.  We would work with a buddy in a leap frog system.  We worked across from our buddy, one of us would hold the crate for harvest.  When we approached the team in front of us we would leap frog them farther down the field.  Depending on our energy, we would race each other.”

“At the end of the first week the Food Project people created a meal for us they called ‘Lunch from Around the World.’  I thought it was going to be stuff like Mexican food, but no.  Some people got cold, dirty old beans in a paper cup; other people got beans and rice.  And then some people were allowed to go to a cordoned off section, and have chicken and fruit.  We learned how much life is just luck; I’m just lucky to have been born into my comfortable suburban life.”

Lucas spoke to me over Skype from Rome, where he is doing an Urban Studies initiative through Cornell University where he is an undergrad.   

He said he realized after that lunch, “there’s something bigger going on here; the Food Project shows you your role in the food system.”

Lucas said the hardest part of the Food Project was when he saw blatant racism or sexism, “when I was the white guy people would come to, but I really didn’t know anything.  That was hard, really facing the reality of the world.”

“One time we were at a hunger relief organization, a Wednesday.  Some one was there serving Cambodian food.  I had just arrived, and there was a lot of confusion, but there was a black girl who had arrived ahead of me, and she had been given all the information about the event.  She was my peer, and she knew what was going on, but everyone kept coming up to me as if I should be the one to know, because I was the white guy.  It got really uncomfortable because it kept happening over and over again, even though I didn’t know anything, and she did.  People kept deferring to me as the one who should know.”

Through the Cornell Cooperative Extension, a state-wide program, Lucas has continued the kind of work he began at the Food Project, participating in nutrition education programs in Brooklyn and Queens.

“In Queens we talked to people, helped single moms think about ways to get healthy meals on the table even though they are incredibly busy, how they can get their kids to stop watching so much television even though the moms are so over stressed.  They were teaching me 80% of the time I was supposed to be teaching them!”

Lucas felt strongly that the Food Project directed the choices he has continued to make.

“The Food Project makes a craving in you.  Once you leave you seek that out.  You seek out people who don’t take the world as it is, who aren’t shut down to the problems.  The Food Project definitely fosters that mentality in individuals that I haven’t seen other institutions do.”

 

Valerie Cardoso, 24

Valerie Cardoso grew up in Dorchester, right in the neighborhood where the Food Project gardens.  Valerie’s soccer coach, Kathleen Banfield, had worked for the Food Project, and suggested Valerie apply.

She remembers her first day like this:  “I was really shy.  I was nervous.  My dad dropped me off at the Commuter Rail in Porter Square and I was so nervous, but once I got to the farm I was excited.  I was nervous about people, but excited about the work.”

“A lot of the summer is spent weeding.  You smell like garlic and onions all the time.  You get on the Commuter Rail at the end of the day and there is dirt all over your legs and shoes.  I didn’t like the smell but liked touching the dirt.  I like weeding because you can see the difference so clearly afterward.  We would set goals of weeding beds, and it felt really good to see the cleaned rows.”

One of Valerie’s favorite Food Project memories is of the day they harvested watermelons.

“We had a line of people down the bed.  Someone would pick a watermelon, and toss it to the next person, who would then toss it down the line.  I couldn’t catch them all – I’m a small person –  and would drop them occasionally, but we got to eat the dropped ones!”

“I come from a low income family, but I didn’t know (before the Food Project) that there were words for the reasons behind it.  At the Food Project I learned the vocabulary of what this is.  We had a lot of discussions on poverty, race, inequality, how that relates to food justice.  I had never thought about that before.  That was just my everyday life, the fact that my mother had to take a bus to get to a grocery store because no grocery store would come into our neighborhood.”

“When I was an intern we did an exercise in Jackson Square where there is a large Dominican community.  We had a certain amount of time to find as much quality food as we could in a certain area.  It was very hard.  This was usual for me, but eye-opening for the suburban kids.”

But privilege is nuanced, Valerie also learned; there is an “intersectionality” to it.

“We do a privilege workshop at the Food Project:  It starts with a series of statements, like ‘I was once homeless’ or ‘I come from a one parent household.’  All the participants stand in a row.  If anyone can answer one of these statements they take a step backwards.  Then there are statements like, ‘I have a college education’ or ‘I am heterosexual,’ statements which, if you can answer, you step forward.  

In the end, Valerie learned that while she is female, and a person of color, she is also heterosexual, a college graduate, Christian, and comes from a two parent household, all points that might actually advance her beyond a white gay male without a college degree.  

Valerie attended Boston College, where graduated with a major in Sociology and minor in African American Studies.

She spoke to me by phone from a two-day City Year workshop she was leading in Skowhegan, Maine.  She is now part of the City Year Team “Care Force.”  They build outdoor classrooms, garden beds, picnic tables, sandboxes, paint murals and walls for schools identified as needing “beautification.”  It was at the Food Project, Cardoso says, that she learned how to lead volunteers, a skill she employs everyday at her City Year job.

“I think the Food Project was one of the most important things I have done.  It was the first place I talked about race, class, gender, the first time I experienced nature, and even good food in general.”

Today the Food Project staff in Dorchester still wave to her dad on their way to the gardens.  

 

Emmanuel Encarnacion, 26

“The Food Project is a way of thinking,” Lynn native Emmanuel Incarnation says, “of asking the question, ‘what is really going on?’”

Emmanuel Encarnation (Manny) started working at the Food Project’s Lynn fields when he was 14.  His aunt had heard about the Food Project, and recommended it to Manny’s mother.  Manny’s first day was hot and hard.  

“It was a lot of labor outside, not what I wanted to be doing on my summer vacation.”

Manny was one of the kids who had a hard time balancing the work with the fun.  The youths spend long days with friends, but ultimately there is still a job that needs to be done.  

He described the Food Project rules, intended to create a safe workplace, one that allows youths to grow, that presses them to interact, but not too much.  Talking is good, but not too much talking.  

Youths must all meet from their transportation in Central Square, and walk together, wearing their shirts, to the fields.  They have to walk together and they can’t take off their shirts, no matter how hot it is.  They can’t swear.  They have to handle tools appropriately, as in they can’t hold shovels up high, just because they could hurt themselves or someone else.  Every violation has a step.  If you swear in week #1 you get a warning, but if you do it again $7.00 is deducted from your pay.  If you don’t swear at all the following week you get your $7.00 back.

Of course, class clowns get lower pay checks.

“The hardest moment was seeing one of my crew members fired,” Manny said.  “He was a good kid.  He had built up a lot of violations.  They just kept asking him to take it down a notch.  It affected my crew.  We were down one person, the dynamic went away, but, also, we realized ‘this can happen.’  We can get fired.”

Half way through the summer the staff started talking to them about food justice and social justice.  That’s when Manny experienced “The Lunch,” as he calls it, the exercise in which the youth are separated into the wealthy, the middle class, and the lower class.  Manny was middle class.  

“The group we had was rebellious.  There were a lot of kids who didn’t like it.  One kid walked out of the lunch; he was really upset at what was going on.  (The staff subsequently caught up with him and explained.)  Some tried to steal meat from the upper class.  Since the upper classes were also their friends, they tried to pass food over to the poor, but the staff wouldn’t allow it (as part of the lesson), faux-defending their position, “we earned this food!  We worked for this food!”

Manny came back as a crew leader.  That year the Food Project repeated this exercise with the entire summer program – 150 kids from both the Greater Boston program and the North Shore.  

“These kids didn’t know each other at all.  They were packed into the Copley Square Church.  The lower class had dirty water from buckets.  There was definitely anger, rebelling, mixes of classes trying to help each other.  It was more realistic this time because they (the participants) didn’t know each other.  It got very serious.”  

Manny continued at the Food Project through high school.  By this time he had also started seriously dancing hip-hop at the Mak’n Step Squad and Dance Team in Lynn.  He graduated from Salem State University, where he was vice president of the repertory dance theater and a Presidential Arts Scholar with a double major in business entrepreneurship and dance.   

Soon after graduation, at the recommendation of former Food Project staff, Melissa Diamond, Manny became the program coordinator for the first “Food Insecurity Program” at Chelsea HealthCare.  

Manny’s initial job was screening visitors coming in for pediatrics, pre-natal, and adult medical center appointments on food insecurity, surveying the population with two basic questions:  

#1. In the past month have you not had money to buy food?  

#2.  Do you want information on healthy eating habits on a budget?

From there Manny supported the affirmatives.

“I worked with food stamp applications.  I worked with the food pantry there (in Chelsea), which began serving 12 families a month, and now serves 120 a month.  Now it has a partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank. I helped that program to grow.”

Manny has been at the Chelsea HealthCare Center for 3 years now.

“The undertone of how much the Food Project affected me came when I got this position, I felt so strongly about it.”  Call it “The Lunch” lesson.   

Manny said that long before his Food Project experience, if he saw someone homeless on the street, he resented them, and didn’t want to give them anything.  The Food Project opened his eyes to the number and variety of roads that lead to homelessness, an education that built compassion.  Today, Manny says if he sees someone homeless on the street, he doesn’t just offer them a dollar, he says, “you want a burger?”  

Manny dances today – contemporary, modern, and jazz – with the Impact Dance Company of Boston.

 

Casey Moir, 27

Casey Moir is a head-of-the-class student of the Food Project’s social justice lessons,

actualizing exactly the expression, “ask what is really going on here.”   She speaks affectionately of the Food Project, as if it were family, but she is also a tough critic.

Casey started working at the Food Project at fifteen; she was the kid with the eye-roll, the “this is stupid, I don’t like working on a farm” line ready to zing.

“And so I missed out on some of those first inspiring moments,”  she adds with a half-smile.  At the end of the summer a supervisor called her out, saying she needed to stop having an attitude:  “Casey, I don’t think you understand.  If you put your mind to it you can achieve whatever you want.  You have all the tools for it.”

Zinged back, in a way, Casey pivoted, becoming one of Food Project’s greatest supporters.  She worked all the crews through high school, and returned for two years after graduation from Hampshire College.  The Food Project was the subject of her college thesis, entitled, “Just because I didn’t speak up didn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention’: Envisioning Youth and The Food Project.”  Casey ultimately left the Food Project at age 24, when she began teaching 12th grade English full-time at City on the Hill Charter School in Roxbury.

“The Food Project gave me an outlet when I was in high school, a place where I could be seen and heard, and I had a community.  It also gave me a sense that it is important and possible to change the systems you live in.”

Today, Casey believes the Food Project should aim higher and clarify its goals.

“The worst two moments of my time at the Food Project were both firings, firing two kids from foster care.  It was the best example of where the system is not working for these young people:  why are we hiring them if we’re not serving them?  If we’re just going to say at the end, ‘sorry, you couldn’t be part of this community, you violate the standards too many times,’ is perpetuating the same systems. Schools do this, too. I think the Food Project is taking steps to think about that, but I would like to see more.”

“What would it look like if the Food Project’s programs more directly addressed structural racism?” she demands.  “I don’t think that they are not acknowledging that, and they are doing lots of community work around that, but the question is can you direct that more at youth?  Is the Food Project doing all it wants to achieve if it’s hiring 70 percent youth of color and 30 percent white youth, and the white youth are having the more profound learning experiences, and the youth of color are saying, “Yup, already knew that?”  

Casey ignites over the problem of structural racism, the ways in which almost silently public policies, institutional practices, and cultural representations perpetuate racial inequality in this country.

“Similar to many institutions, the top staff of the Food Project does not mirror the entry level.  This is true also if you look at almost any organization, company, school, from what I can tell.  Even a place that intentionally brings in a group of diverse young people at 14-15 years old, by the time you get to the executive director, the staff is dominantly white.  And in the case of the Food Project like other non-profits, they are white and female.  So the question is how did we get to that if your are bringing in such a diverse group of people?  The answer has to be to me that whatever is happening in the youth program isn’t doing enough to resolve that inequity.

Not that it necessarily should, not that the Food Project is going to change structural racism, but this is an issue for me.”

Casey acknowledges the Food Project may be in transition going into its second quarter of a century, but she asks that they take a look at processes in play.  

“Do they care (about race?)  Is race at the heart of the organization or is food justice at the heart of the organization, in which case it’s ok that the administration is not diverse.  I don’t think they would say that it’s ok that it’s not diverse.  The people I know who are there know, and think about it, but I wonder whether or not they can make all those changes from within with limited capacity.

“It would sound like I’m really critical of the Food Project but I think that comes from two places:  one, that it is a place I care really deeply about, and when you care really deeply about a place it’s also really important to make it a place that is as good as possible.  And I want the Food Project to be that place.  And the second thing is that I have worked in a lot of other schools, non-profits, places run by the government, places not, and the Food Project is doing better work than most of them. and I think that that is the nature of the terribleness of the system we’re in currently that even in a place that is doing really good work they cannot get it all the way right because there are so many forces causing it to not work for them.”

 

Jess Liborio, 38

“I build gardens.”  

Jess Liboio spoke while sorting seedlings in a Food Project greenhouse  – tomatoes, squash, kale, and peppers.  Currently the Greater Boston Programming and Community Outreach Manager, Jess started at the Food Project when she was 15 and has never really left.

“We’ve built fifty raised beds for individuals in the Greater Boston area – Roxbury Mattapan, in public housing areas.”

When asked what it feels like to see people work their gardens over the years, Jess says,  “Oh my god!  It’s so fun!  People are so grateful to have a garden!  The families and children are so excited.  Seniors are looking to stay active.  The gardens help with the family budget.  It’s a bright spot in people’s lives.”

As a young teenager, Jess had thought farming “was a weird thing to do.”  Recalling her first Food Project day at the Lincoln farm she says, “I was from Somerville.  I had very little experience being in a big field.  There was so much more sky than there was in Somerville!”

Very quickly the Food Project’s mix of joy and valuable work captured her.  She remembers a day that first summer when she and her crew were harvesting food for the Central Square farmers‘ market.

“We were late.  My crew had to work fast and hard.  It was so fun!  We had to work together and do this really fast intense teamwork that felt really meaningful; this really mattered.  I had only experienced that on a sports team before, where it mattered, but not that much.  This was bigger than just us.”

There were hard, real lessons, too.

“That summer we were at Drumlin Farm, the Massachusetts Audubon property that leases land to many farmers.” Liborio said, her voice deflating.  “There were other farmers there that day, and they were slaughtering their chickens. That was a tough day.  I remember there was a dark mood over the farm just because all the chickens were being killed.  Parts of them went into the compost pile and we could smell that for a long time.”  

Jess studied and farmed at Hampshire College for a year, and then finished a degree in economics at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.   She returned to the Food Project at 25.

“I remembered how much I loved working on the farm.  I didn’t think I would stay but I ended up farming for the next eight seasons.”

“For me what’s different (coming back to the Food Project) is being old!  But one thing I love is that there is an expectation that everyone who works here – young or old – is pushing themselves in evaluating their roles.  That has been true in every role I’ve been in.   The work is so challenging that no one can come into any role and say, ‘I’m good; I can do this.’ – Learning how change happens in neighborhoods, building community food systems that provide healthy food in Dudley or Lynn, opportunities for residents to be leading in that work – these are things that no one hows how to do.”

An example of this groundbreaking work is the corner store owner, Ann Sidalgo, from the Dudley neighborhood who, with Jess’s help, is opening a wholesale business selling fresh vegetables to other corner stores.  Rather than vendors – even farmers – coming into their community, selling produce, and leaving with the community’s dollars, the fresh produce business becomes integrated into the neighborhood.  Part of what makes this project function is that, because the other corner stores are close, there is not the need for expensive refrigerated trucks in the distribution.  This effort gives the community ownership of their food system.  

As a Food Project leader, Jess says her hardest moments are having to having to tell a youth they cannot be part of the next season’s returning crew.  Each season begins with 36 new youths and 22 returning youths.

“We have so many young people and cannot hire them all.  There are tears when a youth is told they cannot be part of the returning group.”

At 38, Jess already has a long view of the Food Project’s impact on her life.

“I am most grateful to Food Project founder Ward Cheney.  Ward didn’t shy away from what is unlikely – young people in Boston, out growing food – harvesting and distributing food with young people from the suburbs.  He coined the first Food Project mission statement, ‘for love of land and people.’  That is still a guiding idea for me, it’s what is important for me.”

This handful of Food Project alumni tell a consistent story of personal philosophies honed, visions expanded, and futures shaped by the simple idea of putting young people on a farm together and teaching them how to grow food.  The Food Project understands the enormous lessons shallowly buried in that vision.  Casey Moir names those lessons:  “it is about relationships and having love be something at the center of the work.”   

The Big Shindig, the annual Food Project event that funds this work, is being held April 26th at Boston’s Cyclorama.  Have a great donation idea?  Want to be a sponsor, or if you just want to purchase tickets, contact me at Haatwood@gmail.com or the Food Project here:   http://thefoodproject.org/contact-us

 

 

Power Bars for The Women’s March on Washington 2017

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

 

I’m reposting this recipe in case anyone is looking for a good snack to take to a protest march.  I’ll be packing these for my bus ride, leaving Gloucester at midnight, January 21st, heading to Washington, D.C.  https://www.womensmarch.com/

white_house_south_side_2011

Power Bars, nutrition bars, energy bars, fitness bars, meal bars, granola bars.  They come wrapped in many packages under many names.  Athletes eat them; people consider them a smart snack at work, and moms pack them in their kids’ lunches.  How healthy are they, and should we just be baking our own?

Along with fish tacos and caesar salad, fitness bars (the term I’m choosing here) are perhaps one of the foods that could define the 21st century lifestyle, and were probably born in the 1970’s as muesli and granola entered our culinary vocabulary.  Running, biking, workouts, fitness, and the gym became as much a part of our lives as going to the movies, and granola bars got fitter.  Grocery store shelving is evidence of how healthy the industry is, at least in sales.

But what should a fitness bar be?  It’s not a brownie.  It should be low in fat and sugar, and high in carbohydrates, fiber, and protein.  Most nutrition websites insist, like all prepared foods, we should be looking for a short list of ingredients we can pronounce.  Sugar, even in the form of brown rice syrup, shouldn’t be the first ingredient.  Isolates are promoted as an easy, digestible way to pack in protein, but they are controversial at best, demons at worst.  Soy and whey isolates are manufactured proteins that, because of the process in which they are produced, create a highly acidic environment.  Cancer loves an acidic environment; it’s an easy jump to why isolates are bad guys, but commercial fitness bars are often packed with them.  Also, 90 percent of the soy in this country is genetically modified; all that soy in commercially produced fitness bars, even in the form of an isolate, is a GMO product.

There is a great site called “Fooducate,” which has an app that immediately provides nutritional information for a food.  They have a long, hefty analysis of all kinds of nutrition/fitness bars.  Once quick glance at these sites makes you realize homemade is a much better nutritional choice, if not a good economic one.   Special K Protein Meal Bars, billed as a healthy “meal” bar,” for an example, is filled with transfats, sugar, inulin – not real fiber – BHT a possible carcinogen and TBHG which can cause nausea and delirium, artificial everything.  Fooducate assigned it a D, the lowest score.

I grabbed a Cliff Bar and a Larabar off the shelves, took a bite of each without studying the ingredients, and tasted pure sugar.  In fact, the Cliff Bar’s first ingredient is Brown Rice Syrup, but a further read made me think the bar was all cane syrup and soy, ingredients that repeated themselves in twenty different forms.  The Larabar was nothing but cashews and dates, but it tasted like that.  It was sweet, gummy, and not very satisfying.

I discovered Kate Baron and her Baron bars while working on this story.  Baron is a competitive runner, an organizational psychologist, and a certified holistic health counselor.  When the website “Trailblazer” published her regimen, the crowds demanded the recipe for her homemade fitness bars, something she calls Baron Bars.  I’m now a fan.

Baron is loose with her recipe, but offers a scaffolding.  I made my batch almost exactly as they are written here, using wheat germ instead of wheat bran, and equal parts cinnamon and nutmeg, which was absolutely delicious.  Baron recommends Pumpkin Pie Spice, but I didn’t have any.  I think mace might be a nice addition to the spice blend, too.  She sometimes uses sunflower seeds, and recommends you be creative.  These bars are definitely on the chewy side of a granola bar, but I like that.  Some recipes use straight granola, which has a lot of oil in it, and some recipes have you toast the grains in oil in advance, definitely making them crunchier.  The sweet, toasted taste of granola has its place, but, I eat these bars recognizing the halo of “fitness” that comes with them.  I want a healthy taste, and I don’t want to feel like I’m eating candy or a brownie.  These bars, extremely low in fat and sugar (1/2 cup of each distributed among 20 bars), and have the wholesome, healthy taste I want in something that nutritious.  One bar contains 224 calories, 11 grams of fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, and 7 grams of protein.

My best baking test is how well something tastes with a cup of coffee; these are outrageous with a hot cup of French Roast in the afternoon.  For those stronger than I, Kate’s husband, Michael, eats his bars slathered in peanut butter.

 

 

Baron Bars

 

Ingredients

 

4 cups whole oats (not quick-cooked)

1 cup wheat bran or wheat germ

1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (salted or not)

1 cup raisins or any dried fruit you like

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup honey

4 eggs

1/2 cup canola or olive oil

1 tablespoon cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice

1 teaspoon salt (sea)

 

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until combined.

Line a 12” x 18” cookie sheet with parchment paper.  (Kate says it’s fine to use other size sheet pans here, but you want the bars to be 1/2 inches thick.)  Wet your hands, and press the batter around in the pan to be even distributed.

Bake for until toasty brown on top.  Mine took about 15 – 17 minutes.

Remove from oven and cut into desired size squares.  (Kate is generous; hers are 3” x 5”.)

Place in a tupperware container, and freeze.  This helps the bars hold together, even after they have thawed.  Enjoy right from the freezer or thawed.

 

 

Hainanese Chicken Rice – what to eat in January.

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

chicken-rice-half-bowl

#45 on the list of world’s best dishes “Chicken Rice” is #1 on the list of the world’s plainest names, but it is exactly what you want to eat right now.

Also called Hainanese Chicken Rice or the national dish of Singapore.

Poached chicken over a rich, chicken-y rice, zinged-up with lime-chili sauce, fresh scallions, sesame oil and soy sauce, freshened with cucumber slices, “Chicken Rice” is both ridiculously simple and seductive sublime. It’s southeast asian home-cooking. Every Chinese coffee shop, Singapore restaurant and street vendor sells a version of “Chicken Rice.” The fast food chain “The Chicken Rice Shop” claims to be serving “grandmother’s traditional Hainanese secret recipe chicken rice,” and is franchised all across Southeast Asia.

Pay attention to the popularity here, and don’t be deceived by the simple name. If you have never tried it, “Chicken Rice” bears no resemblance to any soup or casserole from this quadrant of the earth. Hainanese Chicken Rice has a market on deliciousness that nothing in the American repertoire can challenge. (You don’t see Ma’s Chicken Soup on the list of the world’s 50 Best Dishes.)

This is the season when so many of us retreat from figgy pudding to the fresh, bright flavors of Asian cuisine, that fluid exchange of sweet and salt, brightened by fresh. “Chicken Rice” offers all those tastes, but has the added advantage of being soulful. By soul I mean broth. This dish is all about the power of chicken broth without being soup.

The chicken is poached in water, which becomes the stuff with all that folkloric goodness. The rice is then cooked in that unstrained broth – retaining all the flu-defeating, antibiotic properties chicken fat is famous for, creating power rice – rice that glistens with chicken-y richness. The chicken is removed from the bone and laid to rest over the rice. The brightness comes next:  a lime/chili sauce covers the chicken, then fresh scallions, and then a quick shower of toasted sesame oil and soy sauce. Cool, crisp cucumber slices come in as the finisher taste.

 

chicken-rice-table

 

Many of the traditional Hainanese recipes call, (naturally – we’re talking about Southeast Asian home cooking) for an older chicken that might be tough but full of flavor. I just happened to have made my “Chicken Rice” with Seaview Farms laying hens. They were exactly that – a little tough but unbeatable flavor, which made my broth that much more delicious. If you are lucky enough to find an older chicken, skip the ice bath in the poaching part of the recipe, and simmer the chicken for at least an hour, or until it is tender. (Seaview Farms seems to have a good stock of these frozen hens.)

 

chicken-rice-whole-dish

Hainanese Chicken Rice

serves 6

Ingredients

For the chicken:

1 3-4 pound chicken
2 teaspoons salt for rubbing chicken
2” fresh ginger, smashed
3-4 scallions whole

For the Chile Sauce:

2 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons poaching broth
4 tablespoons sriracha sauce
4 cloves garlic, grated
1” fresh ginger, grated
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
For the dish:

2 cups jasmine rice (or long grain white rice)
4 cups of the broth from the cooked chicken (unstrained)
1 cucumber
1 bunch scallions
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
dark soy sauce or black vinegar for drizzling
toasted sesame oil

Instructions:

1. Rub the chicken liberally with salt. Put the knob of ginger and the scallions into the chicken cavity. Place the chicken in a pot large enough to poach it. Cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Lower temperature, and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the leg joint loosens easily, and the chicken is definitely cooked through.
2. In a medium sauce pan add the rice and 4 cups of the (unstrained) broth. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid.

3. Remove the chicken from the bones as neatly as possible.

4. To make the sauce, simply whir all the ingredients in a blender.

5. Take 1-2 cups of the remaining broth and warm in a sauce pan.

5. To serve, spread the rice out on a platter. Lay the chicken over the rice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Spray the scallions and cilantro over the chicken. Drizzle with soy sauce and sesame oil. When serving, if the dish seems to have cooled too much, spoon some of the hot broth over each portion.

The Power of New Year’s Day Lentils – 2017 needs them.

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

Sook's Lentils 2

Almost every culture has their what-to-eat on New Year’s Day that promises the best for the new year.

Mine, borrowed a zillion years ago from my Italian friends, is lentils, greens, and pork – gastronomic code for luck, good health, and prosperity.

Grateful every day, I take my New Year’s Day lentils seriously.

2017 looks like the most lentil-challenged year in a while, maybe ever, so I am reposting the best lentil recipe I know, borrowed from Sook Bin, a dental pathologist and a great cook who has lived in Ipswich for a long time now.

Make a lot of these lentils. Double, even triple the recipe. We need the luck. Serve them on a large platter, and invite people in to share. Spread luck thickly.

On a bed of Bibb lettuce, the healthy greens are included. Put a pork roast beside it, grilled sausages, even a platter of prosciutto, and prosperity is covered.  Consider it duty; in 2017, we need the power of lentils.

 

Sook’s Lentil Salad

Ingredients:

1 pound Du Puy lentils, roughly 2 cups

1 cup dried currants (you could also use raisins or other dried fruit such as cherries or sweetened cranberries, coarsely chopped)

1/2 cup capers

1 medium red onion, diced

Vinaigrette:

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon strong mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Optional add-ins: Arugula (Sook recommends this as it best balances out the sweetness of the dried fruit) Walnuts Goat cheese Fresh herbs: flat-leaf parsley, basil

Directions:

1. Rinse lentils well, drain. Place in a pot and cover with a 3-4 inches of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Check lentils for doneness after 15 minutes, but they should take no more than 20 minutes in total. Overcooking the lentils is the death of this dish. Be careful!

2. While the lentils are simmering, make the dressing by placing all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake vigorously to combine.

3. When the lentils are cooked, remove from heat, drain and place under cold running water to stop the cooking process (you don’t need to do this if you cook it 17-18 minutes). Place lentils in a large serving bowl and toss with dressing. Add capers and currants (or other fruit). If using other add-ins such as herbs, greens, or cheese, wait until just before serving. Otherwise, this salad keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple days.

Almost every culture has their what-to-eat on New Year’s Day tradition that will promise health, luck, and prosperity in the new year.  Mine, borrowed a zillion years ago from my Italian friends, is lentils, greens and pork.  Mostly lentils.  This has worked really well for me for a long time now, but 2017 is promising to be the most lentil-challenged year I’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever.

 

Olives Ascolana

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

oa

“The olives.”

“OH! The olives.”

“Oh. The olives. They are so much work. Should we make the olives? They are so much work.”

“But, ooooh, the olives, they are so delicious.”

I first heard about Olives Ascolana through a conversation at the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives that sounded something like the above. Rafaela Terzo and Angela Sanfilippo reckoned with them, fearful of their tediousness but tempted by their awesomeness.

oa-pitted

Olives Ascolana were created in the Marche of Italy. They are a traditional dish made with the overly large pale olives native to this Adriatic-lined Italian region where Rafaela Terzo was born and raised. She has lived in Rockport for years now, raised her son there, but still speaks with a musical Italian accent. After hearing Rafaela and Angela assess them, I needed to make The Olives.

oa-stuffed

 

oa-breaded

oa-frying

This is one of those wonderful old world recipes that slows clocks. It consumes time, demands focus, even asks for a little knife finesse. But, like embroidery or model building, it consequently creates its own bell jar of time and space. These olives ask for about an hour away from the world, an hour of carving the pits from their fruits, creating a stuffing, and frying in hot oil. In a world mostly delivered by tweets and posts, we could all use a slow hour.

The recipe should really include at least two people, one to pit the olives, and one to make the stuffing and talk to the person pitting the olives. Even better, do this with friends.

The result is a gorgeous bowl of olives Ascolana. The crunchy fried exterior shatters to fleshy, succulent olive and warm meaty centers. Serve this for a holiday party and you will be a star; your party writ as epic. Even smarter, make them in the hours of New Year’s Eve when everyone is waiting for midnight, certainly one of the slowest evenings of the year.

I made these with the largest olives from Pastaio via Corta on Center St. in Gloucester.  Pitting them is a bit of a thing.  I actually made a video, but lost it, so I have tried to write it out.  The Silvia Colloca site has a good video for explaining this.  Also, you can prep these olives right up until frying, and freeze them for a later date.  What a treasure to have in your freezer.

This recipe has been adapted from Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca, a pretty fabulous site for Italian recipes.

 

oa

Olives Ascolana

makes 30 olives

For the Olives

30 large green olives,

4 eggs

2 cups plain flour

2/3 cup dried breadcrumbs

sunflower oil, for deep-frying

For the Stuffing:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small brown onion, roughly chopped
1 small carrot, roughly chopped

1 small celery stick, roughly chopped

2/3 cup pork sausage meat, removed from its casing

1 chicken thigh fillet, cut into cubes

1/4 cup diced mortadella

2/3 cup white wine
salt flakes

2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs (see below)

2 tbsp freshly grated parmigiano or pecorino

1 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

finely grated zest of ½ lemon

Instructions:
1. Place the olives in a bowl of cold water for 30 minutes to get rid of the briny flavor. Dry them and set them aside.

2.  To make the stuffing, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add the onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened. Add the pork, chicken meat, and mortadella and brown well. Pour in the wine and cook over high heat for 1–2 minutes or until the alcohol has evaporated, then reduce the heat to low.  Season with salt and cook for 15–20 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

3.  Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs, then set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

4.  Transfer the mixture to a food processor and whir for 10–15 seconds or until it looks like a thick paste. Scrape the paste into a large bowl and add the cheese, parsley, nutmeg and lemon zest. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly.

5.  Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then mix 3 tablespoons of the beaten egg through the stuffing (reserve the rest for later). Rest for 30 minutes.

6.  To prepare the olives: take a small paring knife. Working slowly, in one complete motion, start cutting across the top of the olive. Cut across, beneath the dimpled top. Keep the knife moving, and continue moving the tip of it slowly down the whole side of the olive. Now, under that olive flesh, set the length of the blade against the length of the pit, and move the knife to circle the pit that way, carving the pit out from under the olive’s flesh. You should come all the way around the olive, and then be able to just pull the pit away, leaving the flesh in one piece.  (I actually made a video of this, but somehow lost it; watch for a new video soon!)
7.   Using your fingers, roll 1-2 teaspoons of filling into a ball, and then tuck it inside the olives.  Depending on the thickness of your filling, you might end up just pressing it in, but you should be able to do this with your fingers.  They should be plump with stuffing.

8.  Roll the filled olives in the flour, then in the reserved beaten egg, and finally in the breadcrumbs. Roll them one last time in egg and breadcrumbs to create a super-crunchy double coating. You may need to replace the breadcrumbs halfway through rolling, as the wet egg mixture will inevitably make it a bit too sticky to be workable. Likewise, you may need to add an extra egg or two if the olives absorb more than you predict.

8.  Half-fill a large frying pan or deep-fryer with sunflower oil and heat over medium–high heat to 180°C or until a cube of bread browns in 15 seconds. Add the stuffed olives in batches and fry for 3–4 minutes or until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

To freeze, arrange the stuffed and crumbed olives on a tray without touching.  Freeze for about 2 hours, and then remove them to a ziplock bag for further freezing.   They keep for up to 4 weeks.

Any leftover stuffing mix can be turned into mouthwatering meatballs or filling for tortellini; Rafaela says that this mixture is the most traditional tortellini filling.

 

Persimmon Pudding, the ideal early winter dessert

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

persimmon-pudding-sliced

Persimmons are one of those fruits, like quince, starfruit and kumquats, that grocers shove onto a weird little shelf, wedged between pineapples and mangoes, this time of year.

persimmons

Fufu and Hachiya persimmons in a bowl

Fuyu persimmoms look like small, weirdly squat tomatoes. Hachiya are voluptuous, bright orange fruit shaped somewhat like an avocado.

In Italy this time of year persimmons are an almost comical vision. Persimmon trees can grow very large. By November they look like any other large, leaf-less tree, except they are covered in heavy, bright vermillion-colored fruit, looking like someone has decorated the bare branches in extra-large orange Christmas balls. People must keep a watchful eye upward, looking for the occasionally drop, avoiding the serious SPLAT! of a falling persimmon.

Most grocery stores in my Cape Ann region do not sell very good persimmons. They are old, wrinkled, and far too squishy or they are cement-hard and will probably never ripen. I was so forlorn this November, and so in need of something delicious to eat, I drove to the Chelsea produce market and picked up 3 crates of gorgeous persimmons, a combination of Fuyus and Hachiyas. The vendors in Boston’s Haymarket have loads of them, by the way. (Haymarket is open Friday evening and Saturday morning.)

Beautiful persimmons can be found, but you have to make the effort. I had enough persimmons for a high-impact Thanksgiving centerpiece, which meant I had too many even more me to eat afterward.

persimmons-on-table-2

 

This very simple dessert reflects all that gorgeous ripe persimmon moistness in a bar. The cake is low like a sheet cake but soft and moist like a pudding. It has a slightly fruity quality, the way applesauce adds moisture and sweetness in a cake, but the persimmon also makes the bar light.

persimmon-puree

 

This is one of those early winter desserts that still retains the light naturalness of a fleshy fruit, and is not yet heavy with pantry raisins and brown sugar.

Donna Glantz directed me to this recipe online.  She added the toasted walnuts, which I think make the recipe perfect.  (We both agreed to cut back on the sugar in the original recipe.)

persimmon-pudding-baked

 

Persimmon Pudding

makes a 9” x 13” pan

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups persimmon pulp
 (about 4 persimmons)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

2 cups white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder
 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch salt

2 1/2 cups milk

4 tablespoons melted butter

1 cup chopped walnuts

Instructions

  1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine persimmon pulp, baking soda, sugar and eggs. Mix well. Add flour, baking powder, cinnamon, vanilla, salt, milk and melted butter. Stir to combine.
  3. Pour into prepared baking dish.
  4. Toast the walnuts for 5 minutes in the oven. Then scatter them over the batter. Bake cake for 55 minutes. The pudding will rise but will fall when removed from oven.

Turkey Mole Nachos, a better leftover

Monday, November 28th, 2016

serving-nachos

Make this recipe with the very last of your turkey. Prepared by Danielle Glantz, former Chez Panisse chef and owner of Pastaio via Corta, these nachos are hipper than turkey soup. No one doesn’t love the integration of crunchy and gooey that nachos deliver. But these nachos reserve a little of the the Chez Panisse “eat local” foundation; Glantz incorporates our locally grown, Cedar Rock farms cabbages for a little healthy body.

danielle-making-nachos

The mole is adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe; it’s a little less pure than his, but definitely more authentic than something from a jar. Yes, there are a bunch of steps – the toasting of almost everything separately, then cooking down the onions and tomatoes – but the process isn’t difficult, and that is basically all the cooking necessary for this meal. A suave, mysterious, sweet and nutty sauce that glues these nacho elements together, the mole is a shy but powerful back up singer here.

izzy-shredding-turkey

We made two pans of these nachos, and served 8 people for dinner. We had 3 bags of chips, but basically the same amount of the other ingredients. In the recipe below, I anticipate the nachos will be more loaded than ours.  Lucky you.

 

Danielle’s Turkey Nachos
serves 4-6 for dinner, 8 for an appetizer.

Ingredients for the nachos:
1 cup water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 bag of corn chips (or more if desired.)
2 cups shredded turkey
1/2 a small green cabbage, thinly shredded
2 cups mole
12 ounces queso fresca or mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup guacamole (mashed avocado, lime juice, salt and pepper. Izzy added chopped cherry tomatoes)
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves only

Ingredients for the Mole
makes about 3 cups. You will happily have leftover.

Ingredients:
12 dried chiles (ancho, guajilla, whatever you have.)
5 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tsp. whole fennel seed
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1⁄2 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp. dried marjoram or oregano
1 dried bay leaves, crumbled
1 (1 1⁄2″) stick cinnamon, broken into pieces
approximately 3/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 cups chicken or turkey stock
1⁄4 cup skin-on almonds
1⁄4 cup raw shelled peanuts
1⁄4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1⁄3 cup raisins
3 stale corn tortillas or approximately 6 ounces stale bread
7 cloves garlic
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound chopped fresh tomato
1 cup grated Mexican chocolate (or dark, unsweetened chocolate)

Instructions for making mole:
Soak chilis in scalding water for 1/2 hour.
In a small skillet over medium heat toast sesame seeds for 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder. Toast fennel, peppercorns, and cloves, and transfer to a spice grinder with the thyme, marjoram, bay leaves and cinnamon. Grind to a powder, and transfer to a bowl. (If cinnamon does not completely grind remove the last chunks.) Set aside.
Strain chilis, reserving liquid. Pat the chilis dry, and fry quickly in 2 tablespoons oil. Transfer chilis, oil, reserved liquid to a blender and process. Set aside.
In a 8” skillet over medium heat 1/2 cup oil. Working in batches, one ingredient at a time, fry the almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins until each batch is toasted brown, about 20 seconds for each. Remove to paper towels to drain.
Toast the tortillas or bread in the same oil until brown and crispy. Remove to paper towels but reserve oil.
Strain the oil from above, to get rid of any burned bits, into a medium Dutch oven. Add a few more tablespoons, and heat to medium. Add the onion and fresh tomato and cook for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to break down and the oil and liquid begin to thicken.
Add all the nuts, seeds, raisins, bread and tomato mixture to the mixture in the blender, and process to smooth.
Return this mixture to the Dutch oven, and add the toasted spices, the grated chocolate, and turkey or chicken stock. Simmer for at least 15 minutes, or up to 2 hours, adding more stock if the mixture gets too thick.

Instructions for the Nachos:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
About 20 minutes before assembling the nachos, soften the onion and jalapeño by bringing the water, vinegar, and salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, and then pour hot liquid over the onion and jalapeno. Let sit for 20 minutes. Drain well when ready to serve.
Spread 1/3 the chips evenly over the baking sheet. Cover with 1/3 each of the turkey, then cabbage, drained red onion slices, jalapeño slices, a few tablespoons of mole, and then cheese. Continue with two more layers, using all those ingredients and finishing with a good layer of cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is well melted and the top chips beginning to brown.
Top hot nachos with guacamole and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding from “In Cod We Trust”

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016

 

allan-penn-photo-indian-pudding

photo credit Allan Penn

My cookbook, “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, The Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” is full of wonderful Thanksgiving recipes, from the traditional Wampanoag stew, Sobaheg, to this recipe for Indian Pudding.

There are hundreds of recipes for Indian Pudding, but anyone who ever dined at The Flume restaurant in Mashpee will affirm that Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding is the best. It doesn’t hurt to remind people when you serve your Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding that this recipe is that of Chief Flying Eagle, chief of the Mashpee Wampanoag Indians. A lovely twist of fate makes Mills not only a revered Indian chief, but also a respected chef. Mills has many wonderful, authentic recipes that represent the Cape Cod land, sea, woods, and fields – corn chowder, clam cakes, clam chowder, succotach; in its day The Flume was considered the best restaurant on Cape Cod. Among Indian Pudding recipes, Mills’ cannot be equalled.
I was lucky enough to have lunch with Earl in Mashpee, and he shared his secrets.

Earl Mills’ Indian Pudding
serves 6-8

Ingredients
4 cups milk
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon grapenuts
1 tablespoon tapioca
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
Combine all of the ingredients in a double boiler, and whip over simmering water
Continue to cook over a low flame for an additional 1 – 1 1/2 hours, whipping occasionally, until the pudding starts to thicken. Once it starts to thicken, remove the whip and allow the pudding to thicken naturally, and forma skin or crust on top.
Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.
If serving later, refrigerate. Warm in a microwave or double boiler. Add milk if necessary.