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Archive for June, 2009|Monthly archive page

Strawberries! – ’tis the season….

In Cooking Fresh, From the Land on June 26, 2009 at 8:56 pm

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It’s that time of year—the berries ripe for picking, as well as many other fruits and vegetables here in WNY. Fortunately, there are many U-Pick farms in the area, to allow you to be out in the field, savoring the sweet scent as you scavenge for the perfect fruit. Although strawberry and apple picking (in the fall) seem to be the most well-known, many farms have other fruits you can pick yourself, including raspberries, blueberries and cherries. Pickyourown.org is a great tool for finding local farms in the area. Most entries have hours and phones numbers listed, as well as a guide to what the farm grows. Of course, you should always call the farm before making the trip out there—that way you are certain the farm is open and the fruit or vegetable is ready for picking.         

Last week I visited Thorpe’s in East Aurora, a certified organic farm, to pick strawberries. They do not use any chemicals on or near the plants, and they even have a sign asking pickers not to smoke around the farm. Picking your own fruit is a great way to meet people in the field and learn what they make with the quarts of strawberries they are picking and possibly even swap recipes. A favorite response I came across was “jam.” I did find out that there are many different things to make with strawberries, and our four quarts (only $10 at $2.50 a quart!) left us with two log cakes, two pies (see recipes below), chocolate covered strawberries and some left over.         

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Restaurant.com – Enjoy Some of WNY’s Top Restaurants for a Little Less this Summer Season

In Restaurants on June 17, 2009 at 8:00 pm

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It seems that the word “bargain” has gained increase usage in our society today as individuals search for the best deals and steals to help them weather the economic storm swooping through our country. As a bargain hunter myself, I was elated to find a website (Restaurant.com) that combines local restaurants with reduced prices. Here, customers can purchase gift certificates to restaurants in Western New York, paying less than full price for a certificate. For instance, a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant, may cost a customer only $10 to purchase. These certificates are honored at various local restaurants such as Sample, Tempo, Sonoma Grille, Shadow Lounge, Brodo,  The Village Inn, the Falafel Bar, Cozumel, and several other excellent restaurants scattered throughout our area.

When clicking on the website, you can search for restaurants that are located within a 1-30 mile radius of your home. Once you’ve found a place, the website provides the restaurant’s menu, so you can look over the food, prices, and possible options. Whether it’s a local favorite or a new place you’d like to try, Restaurant.com gives people in WNY the opportunity to dine at some of the best restaurants in our area. It also gives individuals the chance to support new and local places, keeping our dollars local!   

When dining out with my friends, we utilized a gift certificate to Shadow Lounge and Restaurant. Not only was the food great, but also having the certificate made us more apt to try items on the menu, such as their three cheese and roasted tomato fondues. The process of selecting, purchasing, and printing the gift certificates from my own computer was so easy that I decided to use it again to purchase a certificate to Sample Restaurant

The certificates do sell out, so the best time to purchase certificates to a coveted restaurant would be at the beginning of the month when the website refills them. However, at the end of each month, there are special deals, in which a person may pay only $3 for a $10-$20 gift certificate-talk about a bargain! I would recommend this website to friends, family, and even out of town visitors who are looking to enjoy a night out but also want to save money. Don’t like purchasing items on the web- you can call Restaurant.com’s number (1-888-745-6991) to order your certificate! In economic times, having a website like this one makes it easier to live on a budget- Enjoy!

posted by Lauren Daniel

Field Trip – Gong Garden CSA

In Community Supported Agriculture, Cooking Fresh, From the Land on June 13, 2009 at 7:22 am
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Peter, owner of Gong Garden, speaks to SUNY Fredonia students

 

Field trips and college are two things that are not normally associated with each other. However, before the semester ended in May I was given the unique opportunity to visit Gong Garden with my Sustainability in America class at SUNY Fredonia.

There were too many of us to fit into the school van, so a few students volunteered to drive the remaining students. Luckily, directions to the farm were very easy. It was less than ten minutes from the campus! I knew there were farms in the area, but had no idea that one was an easy bike ride away!

At the farm we were greeted by Peter, owner of the farm. The family dog and Peter introduced themselves to each one of us, and he asked if any of us had ever worked or been on a farm before. Only one of our group of twenty-odd people raised his hand, a grim emphasis on the distance people have with their food. As we were walking up the drive we noticed we were being stalked. Gong garden is truly a family farm, and a young boy was hiding in trees and dodging behind various objects until we reached the farm.

Gong Garden represents the epitome of sustainability. On site there is a large solar panel, looking as if it came straight out of a science fiction movie. The panel powers one of the buildings, in which the plants that require a longer, warmer season are housed. We were allowed to take a look inside, but we had to do so in small groups due to the small size of the room. Crowded with eggplant, tomatoes and other plants beginning to sprout, wires and heating panels all in front of a large window it felt as if we were, as a fellow classmate commented, in a spaceship. There are also places to collect rainwater on the farm, quite useful in washing the food they harvest. The farm is self-sustaining–they grow a large variety of fruits and vegetables as well as herbs which the family lives on.

Our tour of the farm ended with visiting a strange wooden and round object, complete with a dome bubble on top. This he explained, was a yurt, one of the oldest shelter designs. For a few years while he attended SUNY Fredonia he had lived in this yurt, surprising the entire group. The shelter does not have any electricity or accommodations inside–it is quite simply an open space with a wood stove off to the side. This summer the yurt will be inhabited again by an intern.

As a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), Gong Garden usually takes orders for shares in the beginning of the year. However, they still have room for more orders as the season progresses. They have special accommodations for college students, who only return to the area in August, missing the majority of the season. I took advantage of this offer, and when I return to Fredonia in August I will join the rest of the shareholders and pick up a basket of fresh produce every Thursday. I wish I had found out about this years ago–it would have saved me a good deal of money and I will regularly have good food to eat for as little as $10 a week!

As we were leaving the farm, Peter’s generous wife offered us some freshly picked leeks and scallions. Although not as big as the produce offered in a grocery store they had so much more taste and we couldn’t get enough of the delicious smell. While saying our goodbyes at the farm we stood there smelling the leeks, and when I got back to my room on campus I presented them to each of my suitemates for their pleasure. The farm certainly has its place and it is quite obvious that they have a relationship based on mutual support with the community. For recipes or information on joining the CSA, visit Gong Garden.

posted by Ashley Zengerski

American Farmland Trust Announces “Best Farmers Market” Contest – Vote for Your Favorite Market Today!

In Edible Events, Feeding the Community on June 11, 2009 at 10:57 am

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This summer American Farmland Trust is supporting farmers markets across the nation with a national farmers market contest. This is part of their campaign to help spread the No Farms No Food® message and promote local farms and food across the country. Farmers market customers across the nation will be able to cast their votes for America’s Favorite Farmers Markets in order to support their community market. This will be a fantastic marketing opportunity for any farmers market participating. Whether you get the most votes or not, you will be able to rally support for your market and, hopefully get some extra press this summer. They want farmers market customers in every state to have the opportunity to vote and we need to get farmers market managers in our area to enroll in the contest.

In this unique three-month campaign, we will ask Americans across the county to show support for their farmers market by voting in our America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest! The three top markets: one small, one medium, and one large, will win a free No Farms No Food® tote bag giveaway for their market customers. Customers will be able to vote starting June 1st once farmers markets across the country have had the opportunity to enroll in the contest. Customers will enter their zip code, which will pull-up the farmers markets in their area. American Farmland Trust will be helping to promote the contest in your area and will be conducting outreach nationally. They will also be putting together a marketing toolbox to help market managers get the word out about the contest in their community.

Take two simple steps to make sure your farmers market customers will be able to vote for America’s Favorite Farmers Markets this summer.

1. Read more about the Vote for America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest.

2. Market managers can opt-in to the contest by clicking here.

Becker Farms Introduces 100 Mile Radius Dinners

In Cooking Fresh, Edible Events, From the Land on June 7, 2009 at 10:38 am

Becker Farrms

Becker Farms and Vizcarra Vineyards, located in Gasport, hosted the first of many dinners this past Thursday. In the midst of a moderate gathering, the farm introduced the new concept of 100 Mile Radius Meals, a bold attempt to bridge the gap between farm and table. Under this idea, Becker Farms will prepare and serve meals on a series of dates throughout the summer with food produced from the farm itself, or other local producers from within 100 miles. Thursday’s meal highlighted foods from local vendors such as Yancey’s Fancy, Snyder Farms, Upstate Niagara Cooperative, Apple Blossom Florist (they provided the centerpieces for the tables) and much more.

Each dinner will be served outside on the patio, and yes, protected from the elements of nature. I was able to enjoy the picturesque view while feasting on the delicious foods. Everything I tried was exquisite–and I heard small exclamations of delight over the homemade meatballs and comments of awe about how much effort must have been put into the small but intricately stuffed potatoes.

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Premier Gourmet 100 Local Food Fair – June 6th!

In Edible Events on June 1, 2009 at 3:33 pm

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When you sit down to eat a meal, each ingredient on your plate typically has traveled over 1,500 miles. Buying products from that far away takes money out of local economies, and puts it into national chains.

Premier Gourmet 100 encourages you to purchase products and ingredients made within 100 miles of where you live. Why? A dollar spent locally generates twice as much income for the local economy. The products have less distance to travel to reach you, meaning they are fresher, tastier, and have reduced transportation costs. 

On June 6, Premier Gourmet will be celebrating local food at their Local Food Fair at their store in Kenmore at 3465 Delaware Avenue.  From 11am-4pm you can meet local producers while sampling and tasting their products.  This free event will feature some of the best products our region has to offer.  Participating vendors include; Avenue Boys sausage, Baldwin Hill Farms maple, Brick Village Gourmet, Hill-n-Hollow Gourmet Vinegars & Chutneys, Lewiston Jellies and more…..

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