Thursday, December 31, 2020

Farm-To-Table 2020 Style

This year has been about change. Many of us have had to change our lives to protect others and ourselves. I had to change from being an in-person farm-to-table food journalist to a virtual journalist supporting and buying from farmers and local companies over the Internet.

Peaches from Lane Southern Orchards.
Copyright 2020 by Helen A Lockey

This blog is about all my farm-to-table purchases I made (eventually) from the comfort of my house and the convenience (and safety) of my desktop computer. 

For fresh produce at the beginning of the pandemic, in March, I belonged to a CSA (community Supported Agriculture) farm called Holman’s Harvest and picked up weekly shares of fresh produce directly from their farm. When their season ended I started going to other farms to wait in line (in my car) to buy boxes of freshly picked vegetables, curbside style. Some of the farms I visited were Colab Farms in Stuart (loved their bagged salad greens), You Farm Fresh in Loxahatchee (couldn't get enough of their Florida grown blueberries), and Mecca Farms in Lantana. I also bought organic turmeric and oyster mushrooms from Gratitude Garden Farm in Loxahatchee. When their growing season ended I started my virtual search.

Jack Scalisi Online produce order. Copyright 2020 by Helen A Lockey

I found two farms that would deliver Florida grown vegetables: Veggie Orphans, a branch of Alderman’s Farms in Boynton Beach (I bought their dinosaur kale by the boxful), and then Pontano Farms Produce (loved their homegrown romaine lettuce). When their seasons ended I found a vegetable wholesaler who had just started selling retail items: Jack Scalisi Online. Scalisi required a minimum purchase of $60 to deliver; they had the cheapest radicchio I have ever come across. I also bought from Got Sprouts?, a local organic sprout growing company (delicious sunflower sprouts)  that delivered for $5 with a minimum purchase of $20.

I bought seasonal fruit from farms online that were farther away but would ship their produce. I got oranges and early season Georgia peaches from Al's Family Farms (Ft. Pierce). I bought peaches and pecans from Lane Southern Orchards (Georgia), and late season peaches from a grove in South Carolina. I bought yummy heirloom apples from Scott Farm Orchard (Vermont). And I bought sustainably harvested kelp from Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company in Maine (devoured their dulse seaweed). I bought finger limes, avocados and delicious passion fruit from Shanley Farms (California), and I bought fresh dates from Rancho Meladuca Date Farm (California).

I bought sour cherry juice (full of melatonin) from King Orchards (Michigan): elderberry syrup from Fat Stone Farm (Connecticut); small batch roasted coffee from Pumphouse Coffee Roasters (Florida); and rose-hip/cranberry barbecue sauce from Alaska Wild Harvest (Alaska). 

Bread made with flour from Carolina Ground flour mill.
Copyright 2020 by Helen A Lockey

I also bought some other items like flour and yeast from several mills around the country including Hayden Flour Mills in Arizona (wonderfully delicious farrow berries), Hodgson Mill in Illinois (the best yeast), Anson Mills  in South Carolina (fantastic heirloom grits), Carolina Ground in North Carolina (great place to buy bulk flour), and King Arthur Baking Company (Vermont). 

With all these purchases I was able to make amazingly yummy dishes, and feel satisfied that I was supporting farmers. 

Hopefully you will find this information inspirational and start on your own journey supporting local farmers from the comfort of your home computer.

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Delicious Vegan Vegetable Pot Pie Recipe

Vegan food can be delicious with the right ingredients. This baked vegetable pie (pictured below) is filling and full of yummy flavors but it is also dairy free, and meat free. 

Start by preheating your oven to 350 Fahrenheit (approximately 177 Celsius). The ingredients you'll need are: 1 medium sized beet, 1 medium sized sweet potato, 2 medium sized carrots, 1 medium sized red onion, 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, and 1 package of vegan Alfredo sauce mix ($6 online purchase from Urban Cheesecraft Dairy Free).  The equipment you'll need is a mandolin, a 1.5 quart (1.4 liter) glass casserole dish (oven safe) with glass lid, a knife, a vegetable peeler, and a spoon.

Start by peeling the beet, sweet potato and carrots. Then grate them along the mandolin to produce very thin slices of vegetables. Keep each vegetable's slices separate from each other.

Then peel the red onion and cut it, with the knife, into thin slices and set them aside.

Then bring out your oven safe casserole dish and begin layering thin slices of one type of vegetable, in an alternating pattern, for example start with a bottom layer of sweet potato, followed by a layer of beets, followed by a layer of onions, and finished with a layer of carrots. Repeat this pattern until you run out of vegetables. Then spread the vegan margarine over the vegetables and place the glass lid on top.

Place the casserole dish on a rack that's in the center of the oven and bake for 50 minutes.

While the pie if cooking make up the vegan Alfredo sauce mix by following the directions on the box.

When the pie is finished cooking, remove it from the oven and let it cool 3 minutes before cutting a slice and putting it either in a bowl or a place. Then dazzle it with a generous portion of Alfredo sauce and top with something pretty. I used some baked sweet potato curls I picked off the casserole.

And enjoy your delicious vegan vegetable pot pie.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Farm-To-Table Online Ordering

It’s hard to buy farm-to-table products when you’re stuck at home. I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store since April. Instead I have found farms, and other independent companies that deliver and ship their products. In this way I feel I am supporting local, even if the farm/company is in California.

Above, Deep Dish pizza made with flour from Carolina Ground Flour Mill (N.C.), active yeast from Hodgson Mill (IL), vegan pepper jack cheese from Urban Cheesecraft (OR), fresh rosemary from R. Pontano Produce (Fla. farm), red bell peppers from Jack Scalisis Produce (Fla. distributor), and other ingredients from Publix (Fla.) through InstaCart.

Here's a list of farms and companies I have been buying from online starting in Florida with farmers and wholesalers turned retailers that do contactless delivery:

1. R. Pontano Produce, Boynton Beach farm, specializing in herbs, fresh vegetables and fruit. They deliver in Palm Beach County and Broward County with a min. order of $25.

2. Jack Scalisis Produce, West Palm Beach, a mini grocery store with fresh vegetables, fruit, cheese, pasta, oils, eggs, Asian food items, Italian food items, and even some household items. They deliver in Palm Beach County with a min order of $60.

3. Truffle Guy Home Delivery, West Palm Beach, specializing in Italian food items including oil, olives, flour, pasta, cheese and some frozen fish and mushrooms. They deliver in Palm Beach County with a min order of $50.

4. Al's Family Farm, Ft. Pierce, specializing in growing citrus and during the summer selling peaces harvested in Georgia. They ship.

Above, Peaches purchased and shipped from Al's Family Farm, in July, 2020.

5. Got Sprouts?, Riviera Beach, specializing in fresh wheatgrass, sprouts, and growing equipment for sprouts. They deliver and ship.

6. Castronovo Chocolate, Stuart, specializing in artisan small batch bean-to-bar-chocolates. They ship.

Above, Bread made using flour from King Arthur Flour Company and The Truffle Guy, yeast from Bob's Red Mill, and cane syrup from a farmer friend of mine in Central Florida.

Next are the companies and farmers that are located outside of Florida but still in the United States.

1. Anson Mills, S.C., specializing in heirloom flour, grains, rice and beans.

2. Carolina Ground Flour Mill, N.C., specializing in unique and heirloom flours.

3. King Arthur Flour, VT, specializes in flout but has so much more like flavorings, utensils, grains, sugars...etc They have yeast but I did not find it very effective.

4. Hayden Flour Mills, AZ, specializing in Heritage Grain flours and whole grains. They have yeast but I did not find it very effective.

5. Bob's Red Mill, OR, specializing in flour and so many other ingredients. They have yeast that is very effective.

6. Atlantic Holdfast Seaweed Company, Maine, specializing in sustainably harvesting wild seaweed, kelp, and irish moss in Maine.

7. Shanley Farms, CA, Specializing in finger limes and other seasonal fruit. They ship.

Above, fresh Bahri Dates from Rancho Meladuco Date Farm, CA, shipped to Florida.

8. Rancho Meladuco Date Farm, CA, specializing in homegrown dates. They ship.

This list of farm-to-table farms and companies will help you have the most delicious meals and conscience, knowing you are helping them stay in business.