camp season

August 30, 2015 § Leave a comment

ffpsession1day1byellieFriday was the last day of 2015 Farms, Food and Photography camp. This is the third year I teach the Agricultural Stewardship Association Camp at the Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY.  This summer, we featured different sessions and it was wonderful to meet new students on session one and work with returning students on session two.

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When Monday come around, we gathered in the conference room and I shared our exciting plan for the week — farm trips, photography lessons, cooking and sharing recipes, and reflecting on the important role that farms and food play in our lives. We still kept the week open to new experiences. Students voted on the foods they wanted to learn to cook and skills they wanted to gain.

Some wanted to make time-lapse videos, some wanted to learn to chop or make pasta from scratch. Others wanted to learn how to photograph action or how to use macro. By Friday, all of them had used digital SLR cameras and ipads to to document their experiences, visited farms and cooked with local ingredients! Thank you Andrea, Madison and Ashely for all your help! Thank you Amy Halloran for the amazing pancake clinic.

Thank you Homestead Farm, Denison Farm, Lewis Waite Farm and Washington County Fair for your wonderful hospitality.

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I am really thankful for the community that comes together to make this program possible.

Special thank you ASA’s business sponsors for their support of the “Make a Connection with the Land program”

Title Sponsor: Salem Farm Supply, Inc. Lead Sponsors: Stewart’s Shops and TCT Federal Credit Union. Other Sponsors: CaroVail, Currin Compliance Services, LLC,Fronhofer Tool Company, Kelly + Sellar Ryan, PLLC, Attorneys at Law, O’Brien Insurance Agency. Grant support from: New York State Agricultural Society Foundation and the Review Foundation.

Pictures of the foods we cooked are on my Instagram feed #farmsfoodphotography  Bellow some reflections from the students:

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Aiyana seeing above, making pizza during the camp. “Putting an egg on pizza is something I have never heard of and in this class, I learned that experimenting can have good outcomes, even with food. I took some risks and got out of my comfort zone this week. I’m proud of that. I learned how to capture a moving object without making appear as if it were still.”

Aiyana favorite picture was of a boy with his pig at the fair. “It gave me insight onto farmer’ lives are like, especially children. This boy told us about farms and what it’s like to be involved in farms that treat their animals with great compassion and tenderness. There were other children that were even attached and had strong relationships with their animals. It was beautiful.
I also learned some different skills in photography. I now can focus on objects and adjust the lighting and the shutter speed.
While taking photos, I try in use different angles to create an interesting picture.”

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Sofia, above, seeing while being photographed by campers, said she enjoyed cooking. “Yesterday we went to the Washington County Fair. There we saw a horse show, cows (like this one,) pigs and many more animals. Something that I really liked about this camp was that we got to experience different foods and take a lot of photos. For example, we made homemade pizza, West African peanut soup and much more.

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Campers making pancakes with Amy Halloran at the Arts Center

Hanna said she learned a lot of new skills in photography this week, including how to use macro.”It helped open up my mind to different types of photography using small details and composition. I had fun everywhere but I really had a good time exploring and taking photos of downtown Troy.”

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Wren, right, seeing above with Hanna is one of our returning campers.

“Reporting for Farms, Food and Photography on our breaking news:
>On Wednesday, we went to The Washington County Fair for the day. We spent all day photographing animals and their emotions. When we got back to the Art Center, we cooked African peanut soup. It must have been good because it was gone after ten minutes.Today we made fresh pizza with sourdough as crust. It was a really good taste and we all enjoyed it. Hanna and I put fresh pesto and mozzarella on ours, and it was delicious. Along with the pizza, we learned how to use controlled lighting and change the settings on the camera to take the perfect portraits. We all got to pose while people took our pictures and it was really fun. Well that’s all I’ve got on this story today, now back to our current news broadcasting.

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Last, but not least, campers wanted me to post the sourdough recipes we made

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Camp Sourdough Pizza

2 1/2 cups sourdough starter, room temperature

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon salt

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour (more if needed to adjust consistency)

(if short on time, add 1/2 tsp yeast to speed up the process)

In a  large mixing bowl, and whisk flour and salt. Pour in the sourdough starter and olive oil. Mix it together with a wood spoon and  to make a wet dough. Cover the bowl tightly with lid and let it sit on your kitchen counter until doubled in bulk, could take 4- 8 hours. (if short on time, add 1/2 tsp yeast to speed up the process)

Flour your working surface, using your hands, knead the dough for 5 minutes , then cover it with a large bowl, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 500 F.

Separate the dough into 2 balls. The dough will be weat, so roll spread the best you can onto a baking sheet with parchment paper or heated baking stone until 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 5 minutes without the toppings.

Remove the crusts from the oven, add your favorite  sauce, toppings, cheeses. Return to the oven and bake a further another 5-6 minutes, or until cheese is melted, crust is golden.

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For the Sourdough Crackers, we used King Arthur flour recipe

 

rhubarb barbecue sauce

June 15, 2015 § Leave a comment

When I started cooking at Nine Mile Farm in Delmar NY on Thursdays, I imagine I would learn, from Rebekah Rice, how to organically grow new foods. I planned to feed the farmers, put produce going bad to good use while developing recipes and bring home leftovers as a payment. But last but not least have fun.

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Before the produce gets to me, the food is touched by many hands, not machines. ( Reflecting on this makes me follow in love with the produce before I even start cooking!) Someone is sorting seeds, someone is planting, someone is weeding, watering, transplanting. On harvest day, someone is selecting, counting, sorting and by the time it gets to me, the cook, It has layers of stories that I may not ever know or hear during the few hours I am there each week. I appreciate the stories, I can taste them.

I have not cooked alone and that has also being great. Cooking along side farmers helps me understand what is like to cook and eat in season. The farmer told me: “Well, we have early onions so far, so that is what we will use!” So the Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce will have early onions and garlic scapes and some of last year’s sun dried tomatoes. I am also super happy about that!

I am learning so much from other cooks in the kitchen and improvisation is at the heart of this process. I rely on techniques I have internalized and just keep myself open to use what comes my way.

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Mid-week I get a text with what Rebekah, Azuré and Christian are harvesting, what they may have extras and what is coming up. I am of course reading these e-mails 11pm right before going to bed and then I can not follow sleep thinking of what a good problem it is to have lots of garlic scapes and rhubarb. Yum, raw rhubarb on a tabbouleh salad and I am making beef patties and really need a barbecue sauce…

Problem solved. Yes, I am sure I can make some kind of rhubarb barbecue sauce?… I can figure out the details in the morning. I went to bed satisfied.

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce adapted from www.canadianliving.com

Rhubarb Barbecue Sauce
about 2 pounds of Rhubarb
1 to 1/2 cups of sun dried tomatoes
1/2 bunch of young onions
2-3 cups water, more as needed
1 1/2 cups of garlic spaces, finely chopped
1/3 cup rapadura
1/4 cup honey
3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp mild pepper powder
salt and pepper to taste
Add all ingredients to a heavy bottom sauce pan. Bring to a boil for a minute and then reduce to a simmer, cooking with the pot lid propped open, but to keep your stove top clean. Cook until rhubarb is tender, about 20- 25 minutes.

Say SCOBY

May 14, 2015 § 2 Comments

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Say SCOBY!  Symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. What a fun class!

And Kraut, Kefir, Kombucha, Fermented Salsa and Sourdough Pita.

Thanks to everyone who came to Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA) ” Can to Preserve the Land ” fermentation workshop at Honest Weight Food Co-op.  I love that I get to do these classes as an outreach coordinator for ASA. We are able to reflect on the role of local land and local farms. We talked about the local produce in season and how by learning to ferment we extend our opportunities to eat local food.

In this class, we talked about the nutritional and experimental nature of home fermentation and how the microbes do all the work to transform bland carbohydrates into sour, bubbly drinks and breads!

This time I was joined by Caren Irgang, RPI-Sage Hillel Civil Engineering major. She said that being a “hungry all the time” college student is only part of the motivation to learn about cultures.

“I like observing the magic of the process and products (explaining the world around me in a tangible, edible way), probiotics (because of chronic disease colitis and I am excited by structural properties (as a structural engineer).”

For me, a cook, experimenting with fermentation, I love the unique nature of working with cultures and partner with them to create delicious and nutritious foods.  As my family and I eat these foods, we are engaged by the produce and the environment around us. The process is as exciting as the outcome.

We used Sandor’s recipe from the book Wild Fermentation to make Sauerkraut

If you need to add extra brine mix: 1 1/2 TBSP ( 4.5 tsp) Sea Salt per 4 cups of water

For the Kombucha we used Cultures for Health recipe

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towerof pita

I am very thankful to Our Happy Acres for sharing online a delicious Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread. I adapted their recipe by adding a 30 minute autolyze and increased the water to 4 ounces. ( I did use matured White Whole Wheat starter, 100% hydration)

8 oz mature White Whole Wheat sourdough starter
8 oz White Whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp  salt
1 tbsp olive oil
4 oz warm water

1. Mix starter, flour and water and mix for 5 minutes.

2. Let dough rest 30 minutes in a dark place

3. Add salt and olive oil and mix on low speed with dough hook and knead for 5 minutes

4. Let dough rise in a oiled bowl for about 2 hours.

5. Divide dough in 8 balls, roll out and bake on a pizza stone on a preheated 500F oven for 2 minutes on one side and turn and bake one more minute on the other size.

6. If storing, let it cool, keep air thigh, it freezes well.

fermented salsa

and Fermented Salsa

  • 3 lbs of tomatoes
  • 1-2 onions
  • head of minced garlic
  • 1 bunch of fresh Cilantro (some prefer parsley)
  • juice of 1-2 lemons or limes
  • 2 tablespoons sea salt
  • Spices to taste (chipotle chili powder, cumin, oregano, fresh hot or sweet peppers, cumin, and cayenne)
  1. Pulse in a food processor until finely chopped, or dice by hand: tomatoes, peppers, onion and cilantro and garlic.
  2. Strain extra liquid if desired and add contents to a bowl
  3. Add lemon juice, salt, spices
  4. Pour into quart of half gallon size mason jars, leaving about an inch of head space, and secure the lid tightly.
  5. Leave on the counter for approximately 2-3 days and taste to desired flavor.
  6. Transfer to fridge to storage

This salsa will keep up to a few months in the fridge. I have read up to 8   months, actually. The flavors will actually intensify over time.

* If you are using whey use only 1 tablespoon of sea salt and add 2 tablespoons of whey.

Caren tested the ferment I brought from home for the class to taste using PH strips she ordered online. All good and ready to taste!

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Last we talked about  how to make Water kefir:

    • 3 cups of water
    • 1/3 cups of grain
    • ¼ cup sugar
    • Melt the sugar in boiling water, and then add some cold water to cool it off and fill up the jar. But I like the water to be a little warmer than room temp when I put the grains in.
    • Whenever I wake them up from hibernation it takes several batches of sugar water to get them going.
    • Dehydrating is very easy. I just spread them out on a piece of parchment paper, on a cookie sheet, for a few days until they are hard. They will shrink quite a bit, but plump right back up when you put them in the sugar water.

2 week ramp diet

May 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Eating seasonally is a way to savor life. It challenges me to make time to cook, enjoy the moment and the produce at hand. I look forward to ramps that are around 2 weeks in a year; if I can get them. Here how we are enjoying this gift from Chef Michael Lapi, who carefully forages them. Our 2 week ramp diet: raw, blanched on dishes, pesto, on pizza and with rice and lentils.

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rice lentil ramps

I am thankful for Spring. Or is it summer already? It sure feels like this week with highs around 80F. I am very happy to see the sun and the flours, but we need the rain. The sorrel is back and next I hope is the asparagus and radishes soon.

#ramppesto : blanched #ramps , walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice #pecorinoromano #cheflapiramps #eatinginseason #storycooking

A video posted by Ellie Markovitch (@elliemarkovitch) on

Ramp Pesto:

In the food processor or blender:

2 cups of ramps, cleaned and blanched
1/3 cup walnuts
1/4 cup olive oil
3 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
salt and black pepper to taste

Sweet Potato and Celeriac cakes

April 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

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Finally we see green in Upstate New York. We had some rain the past two days. Farmers are busy. I made to my garden this week to plant radishes, salad and peas. Still, we are eating in season, the very last produce from the button of our freezers and ferments. Today I visited the Denison Farm and they had left: celeriac, sweet potatoes, and shallots. There is no better way to cook for me than to use what I have in hands. I thought, uhm, I can make slaw, but cakes like latkes were perfect with some fish tonight. I see our sorrel coming up and I can’t wait for the asparagus… soon, very soon. But for now, these delicious precious local produce are still available and you may even get a good deal if you wish to buy extra to ferment. Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato and Celeriac cakes

1 1/2 cups of shredded sweet potatoes,

1 1/2 cups of shredded celeriac

2 small shallots, chopped

2 eggs

3 tablespoons of flour of your choice

Salt and pepper to taste

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Mix all ingredients in a bowl while heating up a couple tablespoons of high heat oil on a medium frying pan. I used a cast iron. Fry each cakes  for about 1 minute on each side on medium heat. We enjoyed with some sour cream.

Granola

March 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

granola

Yummy Granola

adapted from my friend Phyllis Capparelli’s recipe

I played with this recipe until I got a base that I can use different nuts and fruits and it is not too sweet. This recipe makes 1 gallon of granola. Oven 300

12 cups of Old Fashioned Oats

1.5 tsp salt

3 tsp ground cinnamon

1/12 cups of unsweetened shredded coconut

3/4 cup of almonds, chopped

3/4 cup of other nuts or seeds

3/4 cup of organic coconut oil, melted

3/4 cup maple syrup

3 cups dried fruit, added after the granola is baked

Mix the first 6 ingredients together.

Melt coconut oil, add maple syrup to it and mix until well combine

Add the liquid to the oat mix. Spread on roasting pans and bake oven 300 for about 1 hour, mixing every 15-20 minutes until golden. After it is cooled, add dried fruit and store in a glass container. If not eating for a while, it can be frozen.

We eat one gallon of #granola a month #coconutoil #maple #windowintomykitchen #storycooking

A photo posted by Ellie Markovitch (@elliemarkovitch) on

venison shepherd pie

March 25, 2015 § 2 Comments

shepherdpie

Shepherd pie, a meat pie with a crust of mashed potatoes is one of the ways we use frozen vegetables we grew the past summer. I have eaten similar dishes, Hachis (chopped or minced) in France or “escondidinho” (hidden) in Brazil and they all have this nice way to use root vegetables as well. The addition of a gift of venison made this a delicious meal.

Here how I made this dish, but one can make it without meat and use other vegetables they like. I decided on sweet potatoes but I often use carrots.

1) I start by prepping the venison. I add boiled water to the defrosted 1 pound of ground venison. Wait one minute and drain. Add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and saute the meat in high heat oil. Add to the meat 1 onion chopped, 5-6 large whole tomatoes from our garden (but you could use canned, sun dried or fresh in season), 2 sweet potatoes, diced (for sweetness), a whole head of garlic, minced, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 2 hours.

Whole frozen tomatoes in the pot #tasteofsummer #freezercooking #eatinginseason #storycooking

A photo posted by Ellie Markovitch (@elliemarkovitch) on

2) Meanwhile, I cooked 6 medium russet potatoes on salted water until soft enough to mash with a fork. Drain the water, add 4 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 cup of sour cream and mashed until smooth, reserve.

3) When the sauce is thick, add 2 cups of frozen green beans and 1 cup of frozen corn. Bring to a boil and turn it off.

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4) To assemble the pie, add the meat mixture to the bottom of the baking dish and spread the mashed potatoes on top. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and bake in the oven 400F for 15-20 minutes until golden and bubbly.

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