Community Philosphy Blog and Library

Posts Tagged ‘Cooking’

Welcome to the “Real World”

Monday, July 11th, 2011

This summer I’m getting in touch with “reality”.  Two months ago I joined the “real world” as a proud post-graduate.  While many of my peers are searching for jobs, joining volunteer corps, or backpacking through faraway lands, I am making my first “home” in an off-campus apartment and commuting to work sleepy-eyed, fair-trade coffee in hand, with the rest of the working world every morning during rush hour.  Don’t get me wrong! I feel forever grateful to have a job in this economy, let alone to be working at an organization that lets me explore my interests, communicate with like-minded folks, and savor the goodness of homegrown living, a lifestyle I am eagerly adopting.

I’ve heard horror stories of newbie professionals eating Ramen noodles every night for dinner, living in cramped quarters, and pining away for college life.  I’ve managed to avoid all that by continuing to educate myself on all things homegrown.  From shopping for ingredients to reconstructing leftovers, recycling waste into something useful, or planting from seeds and cooking a meal with my own hands.  And (thankfully), it can all be done on a post-grad budget!


Homemade Pizza Night! Local (hydroponic) tomatoes and our own basil in the sauce, topped with locally-made mozzarella

I’ve embraced the philosophy of in my search to establish a post-graduate lifestyle that encompasses all of my interests and values.  I want to know where my food comes from.  I want to eat healthfully and enjoy the bounty of each season.  I want to sharpen my culinary skills.  I want to consume less and waste less.  I want to learn to make a home, rather than just live in limbo in apartments from month-to-month.  I want to learn from and teach others the importance of living HOMEGROWN.



Digesting (with music) after our local-foods 4th of July "picnic"

So, how successful has this mission been?  Well, so far, I’ve dedicated two nights a week to feasting with friends, sourcing local ingredients and creating healthy meals together that we can enjoy as leftovers for the rest of the week.  I’ve been composting when I can, recycling everything (thanks to single-stream recycling!), and making smarter purchasing decisions when I need some retail therapy.  I’m paying more attention to where and how my clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and food are made, aiming for local, sustainable, and chemical-free products.  I am maneuvering a refurbished bike around my neighborhood, and walking and taking public transportation wherever I need to go.  I am trying my green thumb at container gardening in my apartment.  I am reading more about the way I want to live, and practicing experiential learning in the process.  Lots of my new skills are ones gleaned from reading YOUR posts on, and from the wide array of blogs, websites, and books at my fingertips. Keep the information flowing!






Fun with food - local parsnip and radish lobster, complete with a native mussel garnish for a centerpiece!

While most college kids and recent post-grads think they are “know-it-alls,” I consider myself a “know-nothing”.  I’m a blank slate ready to complement my schoolhouse skills with real-life know-how.  I’ll let you know how it goes…For now, here’s a peek at my life and what I’ve been up to in my first summer out of school.  Welcome to reality!


Mussels and Beer from New England!


Local Kale!



Massachusetts native beets, parsnips, carrots, and radishes make for a mean meal!

The Great HOMEGROWN Cook-Off of 2011

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

What’s cookin’, HOMEGROWNers? It’s peak growing season and these days local food is being celebrated across the map! From food co-ops, to farmers’ markets, restaurants to home kitchens, folks are foraging for their favorite seasonal goodies and whipping up homegrown recipes that embody the freshness of the summer. In Massachusetts, June brings a cornucopia of beets, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers, lettuce, peas, peppers, radishes, scallions, spinach, strawberries and kale.  And, we’ve got blueberries, corn, summer squash, melons, peaches, raspberries, and tomatoes coming down the pike!  These foods provide a veritable feast of good eating for summer picnics, and many can be preserved for annual enjoyment and nourishment.  Paired with proteins and grains, this produce provides a base for a delicious and wholesome homegrown meal.


(Photo Credit: Cornelia)

Cooking with local foods and attempting to “eat your zip code,” not only promotes sustainable living, growing and eating, but it provides a real opportunity to flex those creative culinary muscles.  While I may not be the next Food Network star, I am learning to avoid the far-traveled supermarket fare and choose fresh, local food straight from the source.  Since my neighborhood farmers’ market has opened, I have experimented with pickled daikon, baked kale “chips”, sautéed beet greens with garlic over chicken, roasted beet and chevre salads, and my fair share of sauerkrauts and coleslaws.


(Photo Credit: Cornelia)

By committing to eating locally, I am recycling old standby recipes, learning more about combining flavors and textures, and creatively reconstituting and stretching my meals into leftovers until the next market run. Inspired by Kerry’s successful attempt to stretch one organic chicken into 22 meals for $49 bucks, I have kept my wallet and my eating healthy, and my recipes unique with each home-cooked meal.

Lots of my inspiration and knowledge has come from you – the members who have mastered the arts of living homegrown, and the newbies who are sharing their experiences as they commit to the HOMEGROWN lifestyle.  I find myself utilizing our search box when I buy an unfamiliar ingredient, or when I am at my wits end with the pests in the garden.  You folks come through with helpful tips and tricks, recipes and resources that run the gamut of homegrown living.  Groups like Hunting, Gathering, Foraging, Food Preservation, Urban Gardeners, and Favorite Farmers’ Markets provide a community of like-minded individuals to bounce ideas off of; discussions such as “Urban Food Co-ops” and “Farmers’ Markets Are Open!” keep the conversation flowing; blogs like “Is There a Crisis in Home Cooking?” and “Farmhouse Scramble” explore and celebrate good eating and local living; and our growing photo and video collections illustrate the importance of CSAs, farmers’ markets, and backyard agriculture.


(Photo Credit: Ross P)

So in the spirit of the season, we have a little competition brewing!  Last year we hosted a CSA Cook-off.  As a result of this challenge, we now have a library of beautiful photos and lots of delicious recipes to sift through when we need a little dinner inspiration.  This year, we want to give the cook-off a little twist:

  1. At least 50% of your ingredients must come from all or any of the following sources: A CSA share, Farmers Market or your garden (of that of a friend/neighbor).
  2. Post your recipe (each week or however often you like) as a member blog for all to enjoy. Bonus points for naming the farm, photos or video in your recipe.
  3. A weekly prize will be awarded for the best overall recipe, judged on the basis of ingredients, creativity, and presentation. The prizes include: a HG T-shirt, a mix CD curated by our HOMEGROWN Shepherdess and Flock-Tender, the honorable title of HOMEGROWN Chef-herd / Chef-herdess, and immortality in the end-of season HOMEGROWN Cook-off Cookbook.

Please keep in mind when submitting your dishes that we can only put original recipes in the cookbook.  The weekly deadlines for entries is every  Monday through August 30th!

Show us the bounty of the season in your neck of the woods!  Find a farmers’ market, co-op, or family farm through the Eat Well Guide, then post a member blog of your recipes, photos, videos, and experiences with local foods this summer by August 30 – we can’t wait to see what you’ve got cookin’!


(Photo Credit: Cornelia)

HOMEGROWN Life: Six Tips For Eating HOMEGROWN On A College Kid Budget

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011






At 19, I moved into my first apartment, a shoebox studio that I shared with a fellow student in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood.  Our kitchen was just big enough for the mouse we called Einstein to scurry about. He was a genius at avoiding traps we set out in every nook and cranny, which left us little room to concoct culinary creations on our Playskool-sized stove. So, we sustained ourselves by eating cereal out of paper bowls, and hummus straight from the container. Nevertheless, my roommate and I did find the time, tools, and ingredients to make many messes, and some meals, on the 2’ x 2’ counter space.

Living on a college-kid budget, I spend more time eating samples at Whole Foods Market than buying actual ingredients, but inspiration comes home with me, and I (attempt to) recreate meals on the cheap.  Stockpiling dry goods in bulk, and splurging on fresh foods of the season has allowed me to spend and save, and eat well in the meantime.  By keeping ingredients from rice to spices in the cupboard, and supplementing with local produce from the market, meals are easy to whip up in even the smallest of kitchens.  What tastes better on bitter Boston evening than crock-pot stews of root vegetables, or spicy greens and heirloom tomatoes on a city summer day?  By foraging for zesty foods to enhance staples, you can forget the Mickey D’s and have a truly happy meal!

creepy ronald6unhappy-meal

While it would be sustainable and great to source all of your food from local, organic farms and markets – especially with reports of food safety and genetic modification cropping up too often in the news – it is not entirely possible for those of us who still eat iceberg lettuce and canned peaches from the dining hall a few times a week.  Here are some tips for those out there short on time, cash, and ingredients:

1)    Explore your local farmers’ markets. It is a great place to find out what’s going locally, and meet the farmers who are growing your produce or producing your meats.  Spend the afternoon perusing the seasonal selections, and ask others how to prepare some of the more “exotic” finds like kohlrabi and kale.

2)    Join a CSA or community garden! Opportunities to get your hands dirty and see where your food comes from make the food on your table taste that much sweeter.  Splitting the costs of the share or plot with foodie friends can also cut down on costs, and splitting the goods and making meals together is always more fun.

3)    Have a potluck with friends and screen films that celebrate good food from family farms.  Choose one ingredient to be the “focus food” and make dishes that bring out its flavors…and share the recipes with friends.

4)    Buy organic and local when you can. There are lists like this one that expose the “dirty dozen” foods to avoid.  If your food is healthy, then you are healthy.

5)    Eat sustainable on the go. Even if you are grabbin’ and goin’ there are many companies and local joints that uphold tenets of sustainability and serve good food to go.  Chipotle is one such place to get some grub and do some good.

6)    Take action to change your campus. By joining student groups that promote local food, the organic movement, or celebrate sustainability, you can bring change to your campus food system.  Check out what’s going on at Northeastern University, and start working on your school!


Caroline has been part of the HOMEGROWN and Farm Aid family since she first volunteered at the Farm Aid concert in 2008, and again in 2009. In the winter and summer semesters of 2010, she came on staff as a Northeastern University Co-op intern. She graduates in May (congratulations!) and you’ll soon be seeing a lot more of her here as the HOMEGROWN Flock-tender! Welcome Caroline! We’re lucky to have you!