I’ll admit that I sometimes take for-granted the wonderful produce Eric and I have access to. Our weekly vegetable pick up is full of locally grown, organic ingredients. For those items that might be missing, we’re within walking distance to a farmer’s market or grocery store. It’s a luxury, I know, and it’s one that many residents in areas around Boston and other cities don’t share.
Around the country, nearly 24 million Americans live in what are referred to as “food deserts.” In fact, there are 71,000 people in Boston who live without ready access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That’s nearly enough people to fill up half the Boston Common! Which is why I’m thrilled to be partnering with Naked Juice and Wholesome Wave on their Drink Good. Do Good. campaign to educate folks about food deserts in urban environments. Even in Boston, which is surrounded by countless farms, there are areas of the city where people do not have many options. Not all neighborhoods have stores or farmer’s markets, so for individuals without access to a car, it’s a challenge to acquire fresh ingredients. And, of course, there’s the issue of affordability. In parts of the city, like Dudley Square, 50% of the residents make $25,000 a year or less.
As a part of their Drink Good. Do Good. program, they’ll be donating up to 500,000 pounds of produce these communities. And you, dear readers, can help too! Simply take a photo of yourself holding a piece of fresh produce, post it on Instagram and use the hashtag #drinkgooddogood. Lastly, tag a friend to do the same. For every person who posts, Naked Juice will donate 10lbs of fresh produce.
Learn more about the Drink Good. Do Good. campaign here.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Naked Juice and Wholesome Wave. Working with these brands to get the message out about such an important issue is something I feel strongly about. As always, any opinions expressed in this post are my own.
I consciously took a week off from blogging. As much as I fought it, I think I needed a little break. Once again I was finding that I was putting pressure on myself to post because that’s what I’d grown accustomed to. That’s not a reason to blog. It’s not why I want to blog. So, I took a little time off. I’m back now and feeling pretty darn good about this space, the creative process, and, most importantly, the recipes I plan to share over the next few months.
There was a bit of an inner struggle about what to post. I knew I wanted to do something seasonal, but I felt like I’d covered all the bases recently with the dishes I’ve created using tomato, corn, cherries and berries. What was there left to do? I looked through the local market and saw these beautiful plums. I didn’t know exactly where it was all going, but I knew I didn’t want to do a cake. Been there, done that. Poached? Eh. Not really doing it for me. Ok, so cooked and then turned into something. A soup. Cold. That’s summer, but then, maybe, just a little hit of fall flavors. Cinnamon and ginger. This is one of those dishes I knew was going to work as soon as I smelled it cooking. Our whole house filled with the aromas that I find so comforting in the cooler months, and, yet, here we are with a chilled soup to enjoy during these last hot and humid days of summer.
Yogurt makes for the ideal garnish for a sweet soup like this, which needs a bit of tang to balance it out. In recent months, I’ve really grown to appreciate all the ways one can apply yogurt to a dish. For those interested in such a subject (believe me, I wasn’t at first, but now I’m hooked), my friend, fellow blogger, and cookbook author, Cheryl Sternman Rule, recently came out with Yogurt Culture. Just flipping through the book will have you rushing to the store to pick up a container.
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The moment came where I had to make a decision: do I go the easy route and bust out the food processor or mix the butter in by hand. Normally, I’d go with the former, but right now I feel like taking my time and getting my hands dirty. This is how Jessica does it in her book, Stir, and, having just finished reading it, I felt compelled to follow in her footsteps. Rubbing each cube of butter into the flour with my fingertips, I could focus on the feel of the dough and how it was forming. At the point it resembled a “coarse meal,” I picked up the bowl of buttermilk I’d mixed together (a combination of milk and white vinegar, because we rarely have buttermilk in the house) and drizzled it in as I circulated a wooden spoon. When all was combined, I gave it a taste. As a cook, I can’t help but try uncooked dough before it hits the oven. This met all the marks: buttery, a touch of sweetness, and a hit of salt. While the biscuits baked, I mixed together the vegetarian mushroom gravy. We had some cherry tomatoes around, which gave the sauce some acid and sweetness. I’ve now made this twice for breakfast, though, I think it’d would make for a delightful dinner as well. Just throw together a light green salad on the side and you have a meal.
I should step back and talk about Stir a bit more. This was a book that I knew nothing about before its release. I didn’t know who Jessica was despite her living in Cambridge and being a fellow food blogger who created her site, Sweet Amandine, around the same time I did. But as soon as her book came out, her name kept popping up around the blogosphere. I marked it down on my books to read this summer and I’m so glad I did. This isn’t a cookbook, which she states very clearly from the start, though there are recipes. Instead, Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home focuses a brain aneurism that she endures and the subsequent complications from the illness and corresponding procedures. But food has always played a powerful role in her life. Following her time in the hospital, she struggles to get back into the kitchen… so she turns it into a goal. If I can bake x, it means I’m still me. The writing is striking, personal and honest. But, most importantly, it’s inspiring. It made me think hard and deep about the important things in my life. And it made me want to get into the kitchen and make something, with my hands, and feed it to the people I love.
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