Farmers' Market Sticking to Homegrown, Homemade
|North Adams Farmers' Market members met Saturday at Mass MoCA to plan out this year's market.|
On Saturday, March 3, organizers of the market met with potential vendors to discuss plans for this year's market.
The meeting was chaired by Market Manager Diana Cirillo and convened by North Adams Director of Tourism and Community Events Veronica Bosley.
A number of issues facing the market were discussed. This year, the market will carry only products that are grown and made by vendors. There will be a restriction on crafts in order to focus on farm produce and home-made goods from around the region.
Eleven potential vendors were in attendance, including Square Roots Farm, Jaeschke's Orchard, Country Dreams Farm and Cricket Creek Farm.
Debate on several issues was heated. In the end, the group settled on a $10 weekly fee and plans to expand the present available methods of payment to include credit and debit cards as well as cash and SNAP benefit cards.
The group decided to look at planning one or two special weeks during which a combination Farmers' Market and Flea Market may be held as well as making it clear that this year, there will be no canceled dates.
"I remember when we were canceled for Wilco," said one farmer, "You know, that doesn't work for me. I can't go out into the field and tell the corn to stop growing for a week cause the market's been canceled."
Maryanne Kufs, who runs the EBT machine, responsible for accepting electronic payments and managing coupons and SNAP benefits, said the grant from Wholesome Wave that made it possible to give double dollars to SNAP beneficiaries who use their cards at the market was coming to an end, but there is some money left in the account and other grants are presently being sought to continue the program.
Unlike last year, this year's market marks a return of sorts to its roots. The first North Adams Farmers' Market was held in 1976, initiated by the Chamber of Commerce as part of the Fall Festival of Foliage. This year, the market will be governed by the tourism director, who will seek advice from a volunteer-appointed board made up of individuals from the community, all of whom have an interest in supporting access to local food.
Those wishing to sell baked or canned goods at the market will need a permit from City Hall. And anyone who packages food on-site is required by Massachusetts law to be certified Serve Safe. Fortunately, Greg Roach of Wild Oats Co-Operative Market, a member of the Market Advisory Board, is qualified and will be available to administer the Serve Safe exam at a considerable savings. Greg may be contacted at Wild Oats.
For further questions about this year's market or to ask for a copy of the rules, email Veronica Bosley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Nudel Owner Nominated for People's Best New ChefLENOX, Mass. — Once upon a time, Bjorn Somlo was a 16-year-old washing dishes at a pizza shop.
Now, the local chef and owner of Nudel Restaurant has received his second nomination in as many years as one of the top 100 chefs for The People's Best New Chef award for Food & Wine magazine. He's currently trailing in the New England region vote, which anyone can vote in until Sunday, March 11. The finalists will then enter another round of voting to compete for the title of People's Best New Chef and a spot in the July issue of Food & Wine.
Nudel Restaurant, which opened in 2009, strives to primarily include locally grown, organic and ethical ingredients in its dishes. The ever-changing menu currently includes four different pasta dishes and a variety of small and large plates.
The restaurant is located on 37 Church St. and is open for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday between 5:30 and 9:30 p.m.
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Mexican Supper Made EasyFrom time to time, grocery stores seem to end up with a surplus of certain products. In the produce aisle, you can often find packages of fruits and veggies that are right on the verge of being overripe.
Sometimes these are best avoided but they can present an opportunity to try out something that might seem too expensive to waste were you to buy it at full price.
This week, Guido's Market in Pittsfield seemed to be having a tough time selling poblano peppers. I love Mexican food and Chile Rellenos are easily one of my favorites. But because poblanos don't grow in New England, they tend to be expensive and as a cook who grew up in the north, the chances of my being able to do justice to these beauties seemed pretty slim.
At $1.35 for three good-sized peppers, I could be a sport. Time to try my hand at a Mexican pepper dish.
Chile Rellenos are usually breaded and deep fried — that's too much work and anyway, my husband won't eat a big chunk of deep fried anything. That meant they had to be baked, which is healthier. But would it still be tasty? Had to be, otherwise, I wouldn't eat it.
Next, I had to face the fact that we are always short on time and our kitchen is, shall we say, unsophisticated, so they had to be simple.
I decided to bake the peppers with a Mexican stuffing and see if they would satisfy my craving. The results were surprisingly delicious so now I have another budget supper dish that is relatively healthy and dead cheap. Here it is:
First, wash three mid-sized peppers and pop the tops off. You do this by pushing the stem of the pepper down into hollow center. The stem and part of the top will break off in a neat little circle and usually the seeds will still be attached. It's kinda fun.
Shake the topless pepper out over the compost bin, the rest of the seeds will fall out. Doesn't matter if you don't get them all, you'll never notice a few little seeds in the end.
Set the peppers aside.
Cut a medium-large sized onion in half, take the skin off and cut it into a bowl. You can dice it as fine as you like; I just cut little chunks off until it's all gone. It's easy and clean.
Next, get a few garlic cloves, three at least, more if you like, peel them and mash or cut them into the same bowl as the onion.
Take a slice or two of stale bread, any kind. The grainier it is, the better it will hold up. I like rye. Tear the bread into the bowl, (in fingertip-sized chunks.)
Find a few tomatoes or a zucchini or some mushrooms or a combination of the three but not a lot — one medium tomato, half a zucchini or half a dozen mushrooms are enough. Cut them into the bowl with your bread, onions and garlic, cut them small — once again, the size of your fingertip (just don't cut your fingertip!).
Cheese is next: use whatever you have in the fridge. I used about a half cup of very sharp cheddar, one called Coastal, that we like in just about everything. That said, it doesn't matter what kind of cheese you use as long as you like it. Your cheese pieces should be small, too,like everything else.
Next, dump in around a quarter cup of cumin. Yes, I know, it seems like a lot. Trust me, the second time you make it, you'll use even more. If you don't have cumin, use chili powder and use a little less maybe an 1/8 cup. If you don't have chili powder or cumin — are you sure you like Mexican food? Again, use whatever you have and like the most.
I add 1/3 cup of chicken stock, jellied. It’s something I usually have around but if you don’t have that, you can use canned stock or no stock at all — use a little olive oil and milk or vegetable stock or tomato juice or even a little bit of water. You just want it to be a bit moist, if you can add to the taste that’s great but it will still be good without.
You can also add some chopped chicken if you eat meat or a handful of nuts if you don’t.
Vegan? Leave the cheese out and substitute tofu or a cut-up avocado. If you like heat, now is the time to shake in some hot sauce, ditto for salsa.
Gluten-free? Use cooked rice instead of bread in the stuffing, and use gluten-free cheese or once, again, an avocado with a few pepitas (pumpkin seeds) inside.
Whichever was you go — now’s the time to toss the stuff in the bowl until it's evenly mixed and then, using a tablespoon, fill each one of the peppers as tightly as you can.
Once the peppers are filled, lay them on their side in a baking dish and put them in a 350 oven for an hour. You can cook any leftover stuffing in a dish alongside.
The result? The skins of the peppers will look black but the peppers will be sweet and mellow. Everything else melts together and the result is a simple main dish that looks and tastes like a summer dinner on the patio but feels warm and comforting.
Serve with rice and a salad, or rice and beans or roasted sweet potatoes and cole slaw, whatever you like. Easy yum.
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Winterfest Chowder Cook Off Pictures
Pictures from the Chowder Cook off during Winterfest.
David Aldecora from Hops and Vines dishes up a sample of his winning chowder.
Above, Kate Schilling serves it up for the Hub. Below, Annie Rodgers, Sarah Russell and Joan Leary had tried every chowder on Main Street by this point. Their favorite was Boston Seafood or Bounti-Fare.
Valerie from the Berkshire Food Project serves a great bowl of chowder and if you're in the neighborhood on the right day, you can't beat the price. (free) Berkshire Food Project's big fund raiser will be held on April 20th. Watch iBerkshires for more information and save the date!
Greg and Erica tag teaming the only red chowder in the contest with a traditional England version both from Wild Oats Co-op.
Williams College keeps their students happy with a clam and a corn version.
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Hops & Vines, Bounti Fare Win Chowder Cook-Off
Suzy Helme's bird sculpture in front of Shima won first place.
Coming in second for Judge's Choice was a creamy traditional chowder from Williams College Dining Services and Main Street's The Hub (was it the kicky jalapeno version?).
Taking second place in People's Choice was perennial favorite Berkshire Food Project and third was Desperados, which ran out before I got there — a lot of people told me how great it was. Maybe next year.
Desperados wasn't the only one to run out of chowder. Hundreds came downtown on Saturday to try cups of chowder concoctions ranging from spicy to creamy with pasta, potatoes, fish, corn, lobster, shrimp, and even clams. They packed into the two locations on Main Street and Holden Street where the chowder was being served and reviewed the ice sculptures (this year's winner was Suzy Helme).
Most of the merchants offered discounts or freebies and Nicole Maloney gave a sneak peak of the soon to open Luma's Muffin & Mug in Berkshire Emporium.
Also happening were children's activities on Main Street and at the North Adams Public Library.
The winners of the Chowder Cook-off were announced at Saturday night's WinterFest Skate Party.
From Veronica Bosley, director of the Office of Tourism: "First of all – THANK YOU to all of you who spent time serving chowder and carving ice today. Your efforts are much appreciated and you made the 15th annual WinterFest a huge success. I heard nothing but good things about all of you!"
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