Farmers market; Thai Basil Beef

As you already know, I’ve got a freezer filled with beef, Tasha being the forward thinker, took out a steak earlier in the week for tonight’s meal. After a early work day (7-4), T and I headed to the Groton Farmers market. Having skipped a week of shopping, we were low on just about everything. Which made me a happy farmers market shopper! We came home with heirloom tomatoes, corn, potatoes, watermelon, eggs, duck eggs, thai basil, sage, carrots, peaches, bagels, onions, chocolate chip cookies, and peach jam.
With all that bounty I was initially thinking steak, sage potatoes, and corn for dinner, but I couldn’t get the smell of the thai basil out of my head. It’s been one of my favorite flavors for some time now. When we returned home, I decided to make something using the Thai basil;

Thai basil beef

1 top round steak, sliced thin
1/4 white onion sliced thin
1 carrot Julienned
1 package of rice vermicelli
3 tablespoons oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup Thai basil
3 cloves of garlic diced
1 Serrano chili diced
1 lime sliced for garnish

Start a large pot of water for vermichelli.
Place chili, garlic, 1/2 the basil, a touch of course salt in a mortar and grind to a paste.
Heat oil over medium heat in a large skillet.
Saute paste until fragrant.
Season meat, and add to pan covering bottom in a single layer allow to brown a bit, then toss until 1/2 cooked.
Add onion, carrot, fish sauce, soy, sugar, then stir
Reduce heat to low, then top with all but a few sprigs of basil.
By this time the water for the vermicelli should be boiling, remove from heat and add noodles. Stir regularly, until al dente, about 6-8 minutes.
Drain the noodles add to a bowl, and pour sauteed meat and veggies over the noodles, and toss.  If the stirfy was dry, and more liquid is desired; deglaze the pan with a touch of chicken stock. The goal is to finish the noodles in the liquid from the stirfry adding flavor.
Plate, garnish with remaining basil sprigs, and serve with a lime slice.

more homeless people in MA?

I’m going to make this quick… as I am blogging at 1:30 (yeah, good idea).
But I wanted to post some observations – three nights ago I was driving in Hollis NH in the dark, when I startled, passed a man on a bicycle. He had no light, scruffy appearance, and the look of one who had all his belongings attached with him.
Odd, but as an isolated event, maybe not so.
This morning, on my way to work I saw a man sitting on a bench in Groton, who again, had the general appearance of a homeless person.
Strange, but so be it…
Tonight, on my way home from work, I saw a third man, on a bicycle, again appearing to be unkempt, worn clothes and so on, and he was riding with a large bag of cans gathered from recycling bins. This was in Westford.
It is a unusual to have seen three potentially homeless people in such a short time in some of the wealthiest towns. Of course I am not denying their existence, but it’s not something I have observed save the occasional notice, like I did these past few days. Truth be told, they do stand out in this area. I’m not sure what to make of it; it could be seasonal as homeless people with some mobility move toward cities or other locations where shelters exist for the winter. I just hope this isn’t indicative of an increase in the numbers of homeless in our state…

How a freezer can help you eat local.

When I was growing up, we always had a large chest freezer. Tasha and I have both wanted a chest freezer for some time now. This summer we had the funds and space to have one, so we bought a 13 cu.ft chest freezer. Our objective in buying the freezer was to be able to buy more in bulk, saving money. There has been a cool side effect; as we’ve started to fill the freezer, I’m realizing this will also allow us to eat more local food.
The freezer arrived in prime berry season. When Tasha returned with a flat filled with Pick Your Own strawberries, we froze a great deal of them. The same happened when she returned with PYO raspberries. We’ve frozen several pints of blueberries purchased in season from the farmers’ market. We also managed to freeze the excess pints of black berries gathered from our driveway. T talks of this as her winter stash of fresh fruit. We already have an entire basket filled with local berries, just waiting for winter gloom to set in. I also hope to put away a box of tomatoes, and a bushel or so of apples. This will add tomato sauce, apple slices, apple sauce, and pie filling
to our winter stores. Consider it a deep freeze pick-me-up.
One of the alpaca farms where our female alpacas stay was planning on raising meat chickens this spring. After finding this out, Tasha made arrangements for them to raise some meat birds for us. The ten free range, hormone free, locally raised birds are now also filling a sizable section of the freezer. And they are delicious.
Out on a bike ride near the house Tasha noted a small farm advertising local grass feed beef. This piqued my interest. We’ve been buying black angus beef from the local slaughter house for quite some time. While having a slaughter house within a short driving distance might not be considered lucky for some, I consider Blood Farm an asset to the region. How else would I be able to buy beef that would be born, raised, and slaughtered all within a ten mile radius of my house?
We’d tossed the idea around a bit, but it came to fruition while visiting Pepperell’s farmers market (every Saturday from 9-1 in season). The farmers were regulars, going out of their way to bring cows for all to see. We were able to pick up some literature from them and ask questions about their animals. Their family has been raising polled herefords for 50+ years, and they live about 2 miles from our house. The buying process is easy; the hardest part is selecting your cuts. Once you select the amount you want, place a deposit, they will tell you your time slot. They will give you a slaughter date, and a pick up date. Just before the slaughter date they will go over your cut sheet, and finalize the pick up date. We placed our deposit late August, and we made our pickup Saturday afternoon right at the farm. The freezer is nearly full with fresh beef.
When we had originally talked about getting a freezer, I had no idea we would be buying meat birds or sides of beef. It’s been most unexpected that we could fill the freezer with local meat and produce at a reasonable price. Being able to fill our freezer with local food aligns with our personal goals of eating locally, and more sustainably. When you buy in bulk, pick your own, and in peak season, you get the best value for your money. So our freezer will have us eating local chicken, beef, and fruit well through the winter when it’s hardest to get local food, and it’ll be more affordable too. It’s hard to argue with that!

Seven years ago…

Tomorrow morning, seven years ago, it was a bright sunny fall morning. I was in a great mood and had the music from a CD cranked up as I drove to my office in Waltham, MA. Traffic was flowing, and I got to work sometime around nine. I walked in the building and passed by a cube where someone appeared to be listening to the radio out loud. Unusual, but I didn’t think much of it. I greeted my coworker with an enthusiastic hello (we shared our office) and he looked at me and said “Have you heard?” “Heard what?” “A plane crashed into the World Trade Center in NYC.” I said, “Oh, really? What, a Cessna?” I’d immediately thought about those little planes flying close to the skyscrapers. “No,” he said, “a passenger jet.” My blood stood still and my heart sank. “Oh, wow.” I said. We talked about what he knew which wasn’t much. At this time, the second plane hadn’t hit the tower yet, but just moments later our administrative assistant rushed in, and said something like, “A second one has hit!” People started to gather in the corner conference room where there was a TV, and as we saw the images of the planes going into the towers, the fire balls, and began to piece together an attack on our nation like none of us had ever fathomed. I remember the fear for the unaccounted flights, seeing the other two planes go down, learning the two flights had left from Logan, wondering where my sister who worked at the Federal courthouse was, and if she was safe. I immediately started calling and texting her but had trouble getting through, as everyone did. I wondered who was on those planes, and in the towers, a question answered only many weeks later as those lost truly became known. Fortunately I did later hear from my sister, once she was able to respond. That would prove to be our main way to communicate in the next week. And I wondered what our future would become as a country.
In the days after 9/11 there was such sorrow. Such pain. Such unity. 9/11 disproportionately affected the east coast – my state of Massachusetts, New York City, and Washington D.C. It also affected Los Angeles, as two flights were destined there and several of the people on board were from California. And it left a scar upon the people of Shanksville, PA in what we believe was a story of heroism as the average Americans aboard Flight 93 realized they were being used as a weapon to kill more of us on the ground. But even as the east coast collectively mourned, Americans from across the nation – Florida to Iowa, Alaska to Alabama – mourned alongside. There was a renewed understanding we were bound together, and that we’d succeed or fail together.
Seven years and two wars later, we are still hurting. We seem to have lost so much in addition to the lives lost on that day. We are in many ways more divided, and we have given up personal liberties in exchange for promised security. Yet, really, we are no more secure from the unpredictable. Many Americans are more fearful, more cynical than other times in our nation’s history. We have seen our political leaders betray us, our corporate CEOs mislead, our jobs continue to move overseas, our housing market depressed. It hasn’t been a shining moment in our history.
We need to begin a new period where hope wins over fear; where we care about each other again; where we embrace the best of this country’s ideals, and no longer scrape the barrel with the worst. Perhaps this seventh day of remembering will mark our nation’s time to move forward again.

Starting small…

We haven’t blogged in a while, boo us. As usual, there is a ton of stuff going on. Most of it is good. But tonight I wanted to blog about my Squidooing. I am no Squidoo maven but I’m trying to see where this goes. I haven’t added new lenses in a while, but figured I’d start tracking my progress to see what I make. Keep in mind the earnings are for two months prior. So, in September, you get paid for July. In October, for August, etc. I did not Squidoo at all until August so July reflects 0 effort on my part; I only had some lenses that were very old and stale. Any prior earnings before July were unclaimed… of course I realize I could be using my time in other ways that will have a better ROI in the grand scheme of life but I enjoy making them so what the heck.
So, with no further ado, here is the beginning of my history:
July 2008: $1.59. Enough for a Gatorade at the QwickieMart. Had 4 lenses during this time.
Anyone curious can see my list of lenses on the left hand side.