A Practical Guide To Healthy Living
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Category — Boston Food

It’s Time to Think About a CSA

Hey Sweeties!

I’m re-running this post from last year, to remind you to think about signing up for a summer CSA share this year . . . we’re on board for Picadilly Farm’s CSA again this year and I can’t wait for all that organic veggie goodness to start arriving!

Cheers,

Sarah

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It’s springtime and here in the Northeast, things are greening and leafing and my thoughts are turning to locally grown vegetables. After a long winter of trucked- and flown-in produce, I’m ready for locally-grown: It’s flavorful, fresh-picked and fabulous. How to get your hands on some of that? Your local farmer’s market is a great source, and you might like strolling around, talking to the merchants and picking out your produce each week. Or you might want to join a CSA.

[Read more →]

March 7, 2013   4 Comments

urbantag

I know you tune in to Semi-Sweet to read posts about and see lists of my recommended spots to eat and shop, and now there’s another platform to follow my travels – urbantag. It’s launching today, and it should be great – you know how Pinterest gives you a chance to curate all your favs in whatever categories you choose? Well, urbantag’s similar – it lets you curate your own personal collection of places to share with your friends.

In short, urbantag’s an easy way to:

• leave a quick opinion on real-world places
• discover new places from trusted sources
• curate once, publish anywhere

For more info, sign up here: http://www.urbantag.com.

I’ve been made an urbantag “Tastemaker” (love this!) and I’m using urbantag to bookmark and share places I love. I’ve kicked it off by building a map called “Healthy Restaurants and Markets in Greater Boston” that you can view here: http://urbant.ag/02G9Oa. Let me know what you think. Once you follow my map, you can also have access on the go by downloading the iPhone app here.

Now you tell me: What should my next urbantag map be?

March 28, 2012   No Comments

Resolution Follow Through: The Boston Food Bloggers Launch

So it’s the third week of the new year . . . how’re you doing on those resolutions?

One of my professional biggies for ’11 is to network more.  Since launching Semi-Sweet in August of ’09, I’ve read and admired so many fellow bloggers, many of them in Boston . . . but have I met any? Like, “in real life” (as L. would say)? Not until last night. [Read more →]

January 18, 2011   5 Comments

CSA Inspirations

picadilly farm logo

This spring and summer, I have the pleasure of being part of the Picadilly Farm CSA.  Each week, I get to pick up a box of goodies, grown organically in New Hampshire.  This past Wednesday was my first pickup, and the box was packed with salad greens, radishes, hakurei turnips, cilantro, bok choy, pea tendrils and some lovely red Russian kale. 

I started getting creative from day one – I love the challenge of being presented with ingredients and having to dream up recipes.  I had a rotisserie chicken in the fridge and so we had whole wheat rollups with lettuce, cilantro, chicken, grated sharp cheddar and enchilada sauce.  The next night was steamed tofu with bok choy and pea tendrils over rice, with a sauce made from low-sodium soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, tabasco and chopped cilantro.  It was tasty, and it was pretty:

rice bowl

Saturday night, I sauteed the kale and added spicy Italian chicken sausages, tomatoes and garlic and served that over whole wheat penne with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.  Delicious comfort food – and the kale was tender and sweet.

sausage and kale

And last night, it was giant salads.  Red leaf lettuce topped with halved cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes and salad turnips.  I added some buffalo chicken meatballs from Trader Joe’s (pretty good and heat ‘n’ eat to boot!) and this delicious ranch dressing, inspired by a recipe in Eating Well magazine:

1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 c. chopped fresh chives

 

Combine all those in a jar and shake it up – preferably a little bit before dinner so that the flavors have some time to mesh . . . it’s creamy, tangy and a great compliment to the spicy meatballs and crisp lettuce.  Here’s what the final creation looked like:

buffalo chicken salad

 So hearty, and healthy . . . and once you start making your own ranch dressing, you’ll never long to go lookin’ for that hidden valley again!

Eating veggies this fresh spoils a girl . . . even for premium produce the likes of Whole Foods’.  There is just no substitute.  I’ll keep filling you in on what I’m doing, and for even more inspiration, check out this great blog, A Bushel of What

Do you belong to a CSA?  What’re you whipping up from your spring share?

June 14, 2010   2 Comments

Restaurant Review: East By Northeast

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D. and I had dinner at Phillip Tang’s newish place, East By Northeast on Saturday night, and it was superb.  Another small place, though, so timing is everything (I’d say strive for 6:00 if you don’t want to wait) – although the crowd waiting to be seated isn’t as big as it is at Coppa.  But you know what?  It should be.  [Read more →]

April 29, 2010   3 Comments

Chickpeas & Chard

chickpeas

On Saturday morning, I headed out in the chilly rain to gather some appetizers to take to our friends’ house that evening.  In old-world-style, I made a couple of stops – collecting my favorites from Sevan Bakery(Watertown) and Eastern Lamejun (Belmont).  At Sevan, I got some hummus (theirs is the only purchased hummus L. will deign to eat), some whipped feta spread (really, you’ve GOT to try this – whipped feta and red peppers – so yummy I want to put my face in it), and some muhammara (Aleppo pepper, walnuts, pomegranate molasses – rich and a deep rich flavor unlike any other – great as a dip or slather it on baked chicken or fish). At Eastern Lamejun, I bought ½ dozen meat lamejunwith garlic and a bunch of house-made pita chips. 

Have you ever had lamejun?  They’re delicious – a piece of very thin round dough is covered in minced meat (lamb, beef, and E.L. makes them with chicken, too) and spices.  You heat ‘em and eat ‘em.  They even freeze well.  By the way, keep this idea in your back pocket, because they’re a great summer convenience food – think 2 or so per person and whip up a nice fresh salad – stuff salad inside the lamejun, roll and eat.  Dinner, done!

Anyway – this is all a long lead-in to today’s recipe.  Because I had a minute to browse at Sevan, I sought dried bean inspiration.  I came away with a big bag of dried chickpeas, just like mama used to make.  As you know, I’m trying to eat fewer canned foods, and one of my canned-goods staples is chickpeas.  I came home and cooked up ½ the bag to use later in a recipe.  Now be forewarned – should you get bold and try to cook these at home, they take a super long time to cook – something on the order of 2 hours!  Not for the faint of heart . . . but you’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts.  Freshly cooked chickpeas are firmer and more flavorful than their canned cousins.  And much, much cheaper.

This easy Armenian recipe is not only tasty, but it’s a nutrient blast – chard, chickpeas, lycopene from the tomato paste and a little olive oil to help you absorb all the nutrients . . . do yourself a favor and serve it over brown rice, at least, to keep up the momentum!

Chard ‘n’ Chickpeas (adapted from this recipe at The Armenian Kitchen)

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 head chard, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 t. crushed garlic
3 T. tomato paste
3 c. chickpeas (or two cans, drained and rinsed)
½ c. low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until they’re translucent.  Add the chard and sauté until it is wilted.  Add the chick peas, tomato paste, broth and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat until the chard is tender, about 20-30 minutes.  If you have any Aleppo pepper on hand, it’d be awesome in this dish.  I sadly forgot to pick some up that day!

Serve over brown rice pilaf.

Serves 4.

April 22, 2010   1 Comment

A Food-a-Licious Day ‘N’ Night

Last Thursday was a banner food day for this food-lovin’ mama.  I had lunch at Coppa with a couple of friends, and let me assure you, it’s just as fab for lunch as it is for dinner.  But I do urge you to try both – because while the menus have some overlap, there are far fewer cooked dishes at lunch.  The crostini are superlative, and the pizzas are scrumptious, but you’ve gotta try the pastas and the meatballs, too.  Lunch was a lot less crowded, so if you’re in the ‘hood (or desire a field trip), you should definitely give it a whirl.  Note also that the patio is now open – too cold for us to eat there last week, but it’s in full sun at noontime and would make for a truly spectacular lunch or dinner experience when it warms up.

Later that evening, I attended a great event at the New Art Center in Newton called “The Art of Making Food Beautiful.”  The evening was divided into two halves, a sweet and a savory (my kinda event!); mine started with sweet.

beautiful food party favors demo 

John Pergantis, the owner of Party Favors, demonstrated cake decorating technique.  Party Favors is well-loved around Boston for its fanciful decorations and tasty cakes.  They can create pretty much anything your heart desires in terms of cakes – in fact, they did a 3-D Tigger cake for L’s first birthday that was truly amazing.  While I don’t have the patience to do any serious cake decorating (if my cakes have 2 layers, well, that’s somethin’), it was interesting to see how these famous goodies are frosted.  And did you know that Party Favors’ delicious butter cream frosting is made from only butter and powdered sugar?  (I always add a bit of milk or cream to mine.)  They apparently beat it forever to get all the air out.

beautiful food party favors cake

This is what their finished product looked like.  I love the monkeys! 

 Next, each of the attendees got to try her hand at cake decorating.  Party Favors provided us all with white-frosted chocolate or vanilla cupcakes and set us to work with various icing tips and colored frostings.  Here’s the creative and energetic D.H., hard at work on her masterpiece, which she promptly devoured.  I didn’t even bother with the formalities, I just dug in.  It was, of course, delicious – moist and flavorful and the frosting was to die for.

beautiful food Dana and cupcake 

In the next half of the evening, Jeff Founier, the chef and owner of 51 Lincolnin Newton Highlands, talked about his food and art.  Like many local chefs, Fournier is focused on fresh, local food, served simply.  Fournier also spoke about translating his love of clean, bright color and simplicity from canvas to food.  He had some great examples on hand – the vibrant colors in his paintings were picked up in squeeze bottles of bright purees  (think pinky/purply beets and brilliant yellow bell peppers) and made for stunning stripes of color on plates of über-fresh ceviche and carpaccio. 

beautiful food Jeff Fornier

The food was tasty and his tips helpful.  When asked what “mere mortals” can do in the home kitchen to jazz-up food, Fournier brought up vinaigrettes.  He said flat out that no one should be buying salad dressings – they’re so easy to make (sound familiar?) and gave a few off-the-cuff recipes like a citrus vinaigrette with OJ, shallot, champagne vinegar and canola oil; an easy bleu cheese dressing with buttermilk, Hellmann’s mayonnaise, bleu cheese and white vinegar; and a “smoked strawberry” one with grilled strawberries.

And his advice for a great way to get your dinner guests’ attention? Contrast – either in flavor or in temperature.  So think bursts of intense flavor layered with more subtle ones, or something cold or hot added to a dish of the opposite temperature. 

 It’s always interesting to hear chefs talk about where they find their inspiration and I definitely would like to try 51 Lincoln – the menu changes based on the season, the chef’s whim and the availability of ingredients – sure to make it a fun and interesting dining destination.

I happily waddled home that night, visions of paté, charcuterie and cupcakes dancing in my head! 

April 21, 2010   No Comments

A Q for U

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Happy Friday, everyone! Some of you saw this post from mid-day the other day, but for some reason, my feed burner didn’t pick it up to let all the feed subscribers in on the action.  Would you take two minutes today to fill out my little survey?  Let me know if you’d like to participate in a Semi-Sweet Supper Club.

We could try new restaurants, cuisines, explore a new neighborhood, etc.  I’ve drafted a very short survey to get a read on your interest and availability.  Click below to let me know what you think – even if you’re not interested, I want to hear that, too!

[polldaddy survey="408BEA53B396B205" link_text="Take my survey"]

March 12, 2010   3 Comments