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Nothing But Farm Fresh Meat For Six Months
Jun 11th, 2011 by

The meat from the farm comes frozen in individual packets.

The meat from the farm comes frozen in individual packets.

Six months ago we joined a meat CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). During that time all of our meat came from the Houde Family Farm in northeast Vermont.

The meat has been tastier, and I believe healthier, than anything you can get in a supermarket. Each month we’ve had tender cuts of steak, veal cutlets, lamp chops and the most delicious bacon delivered to our door.

Home delivery is a real plus as most CSAs (both meat, produce and fish ones) require you to pick up your weekly or monthly allotment at a drop-off point.

The cost per pound is higher than supermarket prices ($7.50) but I don’t believe we’re spending more money on meat. Perhaps, we’ve cut back on our meat consumption (I haven’t kept score). But I don’t buy meat anywhere else and my freezer is always filled with plenty of meat.

The types of cuts you get varies from week to week. Each delivery is comprised of 50 percent higher priced meats such as steaks and perhaps an occasional rack of lamb and 50 percent lower priced meats, such as ground beef, pork and bacon.

You can also choose not to get certain types of meat. For instance,  if you don’t like lamb (and I’m not sure why you wouldn’t) or veal (are you insane?) you can specify that when you buy your share.

The deal is you have to pay up front for your meat share. This allows the small independent farmer to plan his business better.

Houde Farm now offers four month plans and you can choose to get 10, 15 or 20 pounds delivered each month. In Massachusetts they deliver to Andover, Arlington, Belmont, Cambridge, Lexington, Lynnfield, Lynn, Malden, Marblehead, Medford, Melrose, Nahant, Peabody, Reading, Salem, Somerville, Stoneham, Swampscott, Wakefield, Waltham, Wilmington, Winchester and Woburn.

You can also order extras each month for an additional cost. Extras include farm fresh eggs (much better tasting than supermarket eggs), pork roasts, honey, and jam.

Surprisingly, I think the most notable difference between farm fresh meat and supermarket meat is in the lesser-priced meats. The hamburger, ground veal and bacon are more flavorful. And the pork roasts, divine.

Not too many independent farmers sell chicken because they cost a lot to produce, but Houde Farm started selling chickens this month (more on that in another post).

Meanwhile, consider doing yourself and an independent farmer a favor. Look into CSAs in your area and/or shop at farmer’s markets.

The season for locally grown, fresh produce is upon us and I can’t wait to finish off a succulent steak dinner with a serving of shortcake topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries.

Vegetable and Cheese Strata For a Breakfast Meeting
Aug 1st, 2010 by

The strata took center stage at last week's breakfast meeting.

The strata took center stage at last week's breakfast meeting.

Working from home has its benefits and one of them is being able to plan a breakfast meeting in your own backyard.

Last week I held an editor’s meeting in the great outdoors. No sterile company conference room or institutional cafeteria for us.

Since we’re a new company, the purpose of this meeting was for everyone to meet each other and share notes on how best to get started with the work at hand. Everyone learned from each other and I believe the seeds of friendship were sowed amid laughter and free flowing conversation that lasted more than two hours.

That’s right, a two-hour meeting that was productive and fun. I like to think the food (see below) and music (Beatles) had something to do with that.

Here’s the menu:

Vegetable and Cheese Strata

Fresh fruit bowl

Lemon/Cranberry Scones (OK, I bought these. No recipe here) with butter and strawberry jam.

Fresh Iced Tea

Coffee

Vegetable and Cheese Strata (Recipe from the Feb. 1991 edition of Gourmet Magazine):

Don't tell my son, Gabriel, we borrowed his mug for our meeting.

Don't tell my son, Gabriel, we borrowed his mug for our meeting.

  • Ingredients/Shopping List:
  • Onion (1 1/2 cups, chopped)
  • Scallions (1 cup, chopped)
  • Mushrooms (3/4 pound)
  • Olive oil (3 tbsp.)
  • Red bell pepper (2, about 2 cups, cut into thin strips)
  • Green bell pepper (2, about 2 cups, cut into thin strips)
  • Italian bread (About 1 loaf; enough to measure 9 cups, cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • Extra-sharp cheddar cheese (10 oz or 2 1/2 cups, grated)
  • Parmesan cheese (1 cup, grated)
  • Large Eggs (12)
  • Milk (3 1/2 cups)
  • Dijon-mustard (3 tbsp.)
  • Tabasco (6 or 7 dashes or to taste)

What I did:

Cook the onion, scallion and mushrooms in oil over low heat, stirring until the onion is softened.

Add bell peppers and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over moderate heat, stirring for 10-15 minutes or until liquid evaporates and peppers are tender.

Arrange half of the bread cubes in a buttered shallow (4 1/2-quart) baking dish.

Spread half of vegetable mixture over bread cubes and sprinkle half the cheddar and half the parmesan cheese on top.

Arrange the remaining bread cubes over the cheese layer.

Top with remaining vegetables and then the remaining cheese.

In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, the milk, the mustard, the tabasco, and salt and pepper. Then pour this evenly over the strata.

Chill the strata covered, overnight.

Let the strata stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before baking it in the middle of a 350-degree oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour or until it is puffed, golden and cooked through.

This recipe serves 8.

Find more recipes in the Food section.

(Note: If you’d like to print this recipe, click here or on the headline on this post and then use the print button at the bottom of the post. In other words, print from the “permalink” not from the homepage.)

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