Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘recipe’

Accepting Submissions for the End-of-Season HOMEGROWN Fair!

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011

Recently I traveled back to my roots in rural Connecticut to celebrate an annual agricultural tradition – the Durham Fair.  The Durham Fair is the largest agricultural fair in Connecticut, and growing up as a local, I’ve never missed a fair season! There’s something magical about fair season; a wonderful communal culmination of a year of agri-culture that connects us all back to our roots.

Photos courtesy of Caroline

The beauty of agricultural fairs is the celebration of a rich farming history and homegrown skills.  Family farmers who have worked the land for hundreds of years come back annually near harvest time to show their animals, crafts, art, baked goods, preserves, and plants, share traditional skills and demonstrations, and to eat amazing food and enjoy the exhibits.  Community groups and schools work behind booths to sell their products and their food – much of it local and in support of community-building initiatives.  The spirit and culture of these fairs reminds me very much of the philosophy of – a space for folks to come together and share their knowledge and skills with one another and to enjoy a lively conversation about good food and good living.

Photos courtesy of Caroline

As we approach the end of the harvest season and prepare for winter (here in the Northeast, anyway!), we can all take a little time to look back on a year of progress in living HOMEGROWN.  Share your successes, failures, thoughts and experiences with the HOMEGROWN community – fair-style. Anything new that you’ve done, built, created, explored, or learned, share with us!

  • Submit photos of your backyard livestock, chickens and pets.
  • Post recipes for your favorite dishes that use locally-grown ingredients.
  • Share planting, growing, and food preservation tips.
  • Upload instructions on creating homegrown art, crafts for the upcoming holiday season, or projects you’ve been working on all year.
  • Create a virtual skillshare of new skills learned and share with others.
  • Comment on other’s work, and foster the sense of community that we are proud to build on

While we can’t display your bountiful harvests, beautiful dishes, and crafty projects in a physical space, we want to share them with all in our community through the fall season. Upload your photos, videos, and blogs with “HOMEGROWN Fair” in the title so that they are recognizable submissions.  Of course, we will award prizes for the best of the best – a prize pack, HOMEGROWN Mix-Tape, and a few surprise goodies.  We want to showcase the work that you’ve done this year and how you’ve done it! So get those submissions ready and enjoy the first-annual, end-of-season HOMEGROWN Fair!

Photos courtesy of Caroline

A Review (and giveaway!): Artisan Cheese Making at Home, by Mary Karlin

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Photo courtesy of Artisan Cheese Making at Home, 2011

If you’re just dipping your toes into the art of cheese making, or if you have some experience under your belt, Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin should be the only book you’ll need to complete your toolkit. This detailed guide to cheese making is a gorgeously presented, all-in-one picture book, text book, recipe book and inspiration for anyone interested in getting serious with fresh dairy.

The book begins with a detailed outline of equipment and supplies available, a chart of cultures and each one’s specific purpose, and all basic lessons in the alchemy of culturing. This one is a dense chapter that you’ll reference again and again.

The beginners’ chapter is chock full of all of the information and recipes that a newbie could possible dream up – ricotta, yogurt, cottage cheese, and more “exotic” varieties like haloumi, mascarpone, and goat feta.

Subsequent chapters: Intermediate (stretched-curd and semisoft, firm and hard cheeses) and More Advanced (Bloomy rind and surface-ripened cheeses, washed-rind and smeared-rind cheese and (oh my) blue cheeses!) and Cooking with Artisan Cheeses are advanced and detailed, but not to the point of wonk – you are given what you need to know – no more, no less – in a straightforward manner. For example, this recipe for a blue cheese galette:

Photo credit: Ed Anderson © 2011

Blue Cheese, Bacon, and Pear Galette

From Artisan Cheese Making at Home by Mary Karlin

Makes one 10-inch tart


2 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond flour or almond meal

11/2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled

About 3/4 cup ice water


2 tablespoons olive oil

4 ounces bacon, cut crosswise into narrow strips

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced into wedges

3 large shallots, thinly sliced into wedges

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

2 large pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 12 wedges each

3 ounces mild blue cheese or Coastal Blue (page 184), cut into 8 thin wedges


Reserved maple syrup mixture

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon chopped rosemary leaves

To make the dough, combine the all-purpose flour, almond flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces are the size of a pea and still visible. Slowly add 6 tablespoons of the ice water and stir to incorporate, adding more water as needed until the dough comes together and forms a ball. You may not need the full amount of water. Do not overwork the dough. Once the dough holds together, form it into a 6-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To make the filling, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, then add the bacon and cook, stirring often, until the bacon is crispy and the fat is rendered, about 7 minutes. Set aside on paper towels to drain. Remove half of the fat from the pan, add the onion and shallots, and sauté until lightly caramelized, about 7 minutes. In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, vanilla, and cardamom. Toss the pear wedges in the syrup mixture to coat, then leave them to soak in the mixture.

Working on a sheet of parchment paper, roll out the dough into a rough 14-inch circle. Lift the parchment with the dough onto a baking sheet. Leaving a 2-inch border, evenly distribute the bacon-onion mixture over the the dough. Place the pear wedges in a decorative pattern over the bacon-onion mixture, overlapping if needed. Fill in the center with small pieces of pear. Reserve the maple syrup mixture to use in the glaze.

Moving around the tart, fold the edges of the dough toward the center and over the filling, pleating it as you go to securely enclose the filling. Place on the lower rack of the oven and bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with the wedges of blue cheese and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the crust is crispy and very golden and the pears are caramelized.

Meanwhile, make the glaze. Combine the reserved maple syrup mixture, sugar, water, and chopped rosemary in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a low boil and cook until the sugar is melted and a slightly thick syrup is created, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Using a pastry brush, spread the glaze over the top of the galette. Let cool for 15 minutes, then cut and serve.

Reprinted with permission from Artisan Cheese Making at Home: Techniques & Recipes for Mastering World-Class Cheeses by Mary Karlin, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc.

Be sure to visit the Q&A section on the Artisan Cheese Making web site where Mary invites a further conversation about the book and the processes outlined in it.

From her detailed writing on the art of cheese making Mary Karlin is clearly passionate about artisan food. In a brief phone conversation with her, I learned that she is also committed to teaching skills like cheese making to make one’s community stronger and more empowered – something that is right up our alley, too.

Is there a place in your community where you can learn food skills like cheese making? Canning? Cooking? If so, tell us about it? If not, we want to hear that, too! Leave a comment with your response, and be entered to win a copy of Artisan Cheese Making at Home. We’ll choose a winner on October 18th!



HOMEGROWN Life: Back-to-School in HOMEGROWN Style

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011






Remember the days of sticky pleather school bus seats, mystery meat Mondays in the cafeteria, and field trips to the same museum year after year? September is back-to-school season! Whether you’re back in the classroom yourself, or sending your little ones off on the bus, there are many ways to live homegrown this school year.  Wholesome peanut butter and berry-wiches? Yum! Waste-free lunch kits? Genius. After-school canning with kids? Piece of cake. Try some of these ideas for a homegrown school year for you and your kids.

Photo by Lynn S.

School Lunches

Whether lunch comes in a brown bag or on a school lunch tray, think about ways to make your meals more homegrown.

  • The movement to change school lunch menus through Farm to School programs is changing the face of the cafeteria.  Farm to School “connects schools (K-12) and local farms with the objectives of serving healthy meals in school cafeterias, improving student nutrition, providing agriculture, health and nutrition education opportunities, and supporting local and regional farmers.” Join the movement and get involved – it’s good for the farmers and good for your family! Farm Aid’s Farm to School Toolkit is chock full of  great information to expand your school lunch programs and revitalize cafeteria food.
  • We all got sick of the weekly chicken patties as kids pretty quickly, and so are some teachers! Fed Up With Lunch a blog written by the anonymous “Mrs. Q.” tells one teacher’s story of eating lunch in the cafeteria every day for a year with her students.  She digs deepers into the school lunch system, provides her two-cents from a teacher’s standpoint on current education issues, and shares new resources for teachers, parents, and students.

Photo by Lynda

Take a family field trip to your local farmers’ market (Local Harvest can point you in the right direction), and stock up on the season’s bounty for your lunchbox.  Then, take those ingredients and check out some great recipes from and Whole Foods Market to make a local lunch!

What do you pack all of these homegrown lunches in? Try to reduce, reuse, and recycle your containers, utensils, bottles, and napkins.

  • One mom sends waste-free lunches for her son. It may sound like a lot of extra work when you’re busy getting those kids off to school on time, but check out her 5-Steps to a Waste-Free Lunch, adapted from

The 5 Steps to a Waste-free Lunch

  1. Replace paper bags with reusable lunch bags.
  2. Use reusable food containers to eliminate single-serve packaging.
  3. Switch from plastic baggies to reusable snack & sandwich bags.
  4. Reusable napkins, utensils and even straws replace their disposable counterparts.
  5. Kick the bottled water and juice habit with a reusable water bottle
  •’s waste-free lunch kit saves about $371 annually.  Their site has tips on choosing the right styles, sizes, and materials for your lunch bags and containers. Join the Waste-Free Lunches in Schools Campaign, which reduces consumption on a daily basis, preserves natural resources, saves money, and encourages healthy eating habits! By committing to a waste-free lunch, you can even earn cash or prizes for your school!

School Supplies

  • Instead of buying new notebooks and pens, try upcycling, recycling, or repurposing old materials you have around the house. If you do have to purchase something new, Rodale’s Nontoxic Back-to-School Shopping Guide is full of information for parents and students about the safest school products for humans and for the environment.

Extra-Curricular Activities

How do you teach your kids to live homegrown during the school year? Get their hands dirty and grow, cook, make, and do together!


  • Take a field trip with your family to local farms, markets, and demonstrations.  Have them learn new homegrown skills at a local skillshare! Start a garden or get some livestock at your own home.
  • Get everyone involved in the growing! Cultivate a school or community garden in your district.
  • Visit the Discussions Forum for the HOMEGROWN 101’s.  These handy guides can help you with all kinds of growing, cooking, making, and doing. Lots of projects are easy to do and are family-friendly – try the butter-making! Check out the Goodies – make your own seed packets, canning jar labels, and garden plant labels! Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, try the projects on the printable HOMEGROWN How-To Cards
  • Teach your little ones about food, the environment, and sustainability on the day-to-day.  Five tips from
  1. Grow something you all can eat
  2. Kitchen science with green products
  3. Be a detective
  4. Recycle
  5. Save water
  • Get inspired by Project Homestead: Kids where the whole family is growing, cooking, maple tapping, and enjoying the land together
  • Become a scientist in your own kitchen by canning with kids.  This blog has great recipes and concoctionx to try at home.
  • Take the Urban Land Scouts pledge and become a better citizen of the Earth by completing the 10 levels and living the values of the ULS.  Earn badges and learn about the natural world. Visit the Urban Land Scouts blog and get scouting!
  • If you’ve got a child interested in farming and agriculture, find out if there are Future Farmers of America chapters in your area.
  • 4-H is another great way to get your kids involved with science, healthy living, and citizenship.  There are many homegrown skills to be shared in 4-H chapters, and lots of fun at 4-H fairs!

While the back-to-school season can be overwhelming, living homegrown through the year doesn’t have to be.  Try a few of these ideas out, and figure out how best to live homegrown everyday. Share your thoughts, ideas, or experiences with all of us this school year!