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October 2008
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December 2008

Oysters Sound So Good

Came across two good audio pieces on Virginia oysters.

EDFT_1729_lg WMRA newswoman Nancy King reports "there is a glimmer of hope for the beleaguered bivalves." Interesting piece on what some VA oystermen are doing with oyster aquaculture.

Virginia Public Radio's With Good Reason serves up a tasty program about the reason to be optimistic for Chesapeake Bay oysters to make a comeback. "Chefs, oystermen, conservationists, oyster-lovers, and poets Nikki Giovanni (Virginia Tech) and Tim Seibles (Old Dominion University) all weigh-in about the legend and allure of Crassotrea virginica."

You can weigh in on the comeback of the Chesapeake oyster by responding to CBF's Action Alert urging the Army Corps of Engineers to support alternative 8A of the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on native vs. non-native oyster introduction in the Bay. Alternative 8A supports restoration and aquaculture of the native Chesapeake Bay oyster. You can find out more about the draft EIS on CBF's website.


Rally_image_272x171_4859 Yesterday, while state and federal officials met inside Union Station for their annual Executive Council of the Bay Program meeting, CBF led a rally and performance action to protest the government's slow progress on Bay restoration. Turnout was excellent -- thank you to our Bay supporters who came down to D.C. to participate!

In the park outside Union Station, 200 or so folks chanted "EPA: Don't Delay, Save the Bay." Ken Smith, president of the Virginia State Waterman's Association broke down while he spoke about the losses that the watermen are suffering.

Rally_image_190x150_4673 In the words of Emily from Oceana, "Ken Smith of the Virginia Waterman's Association had to pause and choke back tears as he told the crowd about his memories of the Bay. "Those days are gone, but I'm hoping it will happen again."

CBF Board chair Keith Campbell and Sue Brown of the National Wildlife Federation stirred the crowd, and former Maryland State Senator Bernie Fowler vowed we will not give up until he can see his feet through clear Bay waters.

As CBF President Will Baker described it in an e-mail to staff last night, "Then in an unprecedented action, long lines of our ralliers in black t-shirts walked slowly and solemnly, with cameras from the media rolling, across the main floor of Union Station where the meeting was taking place. Described by onlookers as "awesome" and "eerie," the action was a powerful statement of frustration with the slowness of progress."

There's a good video on WJZ-TV's website. Photos and more video will be online soon.

If you attended the rally or happened to be in Union Station at the time, share your thoughts with us.

Photos by Nikki Davis


Butternut Bounty for Thanksgiving (and some special news)

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Before I tell my farm visit tale, I want to let you know Homestead Gardens is holding a Farmers Market Holiday Outpost every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Food products—not crafts or greenery—are being sold from local producers. I'll have the luscious Chape Creamery and Chery Glen cheeses plus Chesapeake Fields delectable snack, which is also extremely healthy (but you can keep that a secret.) Bonaparte Breads is also there with irresistable almond croissants, breads and soups. Around the very cool miniature train display is seating and often there is live music. It's quite a festive destination in itself. Come and hang out!

 

While scouting and exploring for a future farm tour, I had the pleasure of experiencing some of the beautiful winter produce from the largest organic farm in Maryland—One Straw Farm. Lovingly tended by Drew and Joan Norman since 1985, One Straw Farm supplies families, restaurants and wholesalers with the finest certified-organic produce. Joan has also initiated the Faith-Based Initiative with her CSA. She now services eight churches in the Baltimore region. Joan presented me an entire case of my favorite squash which led to every conceivable recipe I could create and test!


 

DSCN1233So let’s get back to cooking winter squash—specifically butternut along—with an outstanding recipe inspiration for the holidays. Originally conceived by Bon Appetit magazine, I wanted to tweak the style to represent more of the Chesapeake Region’s bounty.  We’ll be consuming it for Tiki Turkey Day, the annual Chesapeake Bay Foundation’s staff Thanksgiving meal. This year the “Best Dish Competition” will feature recipes made with as much local product as possible. Let’s see if my favorite recipe gets the prize. 

And yes, we’ll publish all of the winning recipes.

PLUS: I ‘ll be posting another Butternut (or pumpkin or even sweet potato) recipe I created as soon as I test it one more time!

Butternut Squash Gratin With Local Goat Cheese And Pecans 

8 to 10 servings

Squash is often sold already peeled and seeded, making this recipe even easier.

3 1/2 pounds butternut squash (about 2 medium), peeled, seeded, cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

2 tablespoons olive oil

coarse kosher salt

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, divided

3 cups sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only)

1 1/ teaspoons chopped fresh sage

5-ounces soft fresh goat cheese ( about 2/3 cup)

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 cup pecans coarsely chopped

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add sliced leeks and chopped sage; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sauté until tender but not brown, about 15 minutes. Coat 11x7-inch baking dish with remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Spread half of leek mixture over bottom of prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with half of squash and half of cheese. Repeat layering with leeks, squash, and cheese. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Pour cream mixed with curry powder evenly over gratin. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Bake uncovered until gratin is heated through and cream is bubbling, about 30 minutes (40 minutes if previously chilled).

TO GO: This gratin is a good choice for transporting because it travels well. Either complete the dish at home (wrap it tightly to keep warm) or wait until you get to your destination to add the cream and nuts and then bake.

 

Have some fabulous beta carotene!

 

Best,

Rita

Posted by Rita Calvert. Rita is a chef, educator, and writer and a founding member of Buy Fresh Buy Local Chesapeake Region. Visit her website On the Road With Chesapeake Local Bounty.


Oyster Dressing and Other Bountiful Recipes

When CBF's Oyster and Fisheries Scientist Tommy Leggett got tagged to appear on the Emeril Green show, we were all pretty excited. Emeril brought Tommy and his fresh Chesapeake Bay oysters to the show's kitchen in the Whole Foods store in Fairfax, VA. Now, fresh from Emeril's website, here is the recipe for Emeril's Chesapeake Bay Baked Oyster Dressing, just in time for Thanksgiving. For more tips from Tommy and Emeril, view the video.

CBF's Clagett Farm also got it's own feature on another episode of the show, Bounty of the Harvest. Emeril gave CBF seasonal employee Gail Taylor and Buy Local afficiando Rita Calvert tips for cooking when you have so many vegetables you don't know what to do with them all.

Emeril's Chesapeake Bay Baked Oyster Dressing

Tommy Leggett (wearing the hat), CBF's oyster and fisheries scientist in Virginia, cooks oyster stuffing with chef Emeril Lagasse. Cameras film the scene at Whole Foods Market in Fairfax, VA, for the cooking show, Emeril Green. Yield: 4 to 6 servings (about 5 cups)
(With assistance from CBF's Tommy Leggett, photo right)

Ingredients:
2 dozen shucked oysters, with their liquor
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped bell peppers
1 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 cup water
4 cups cubed white bread
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Method:
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Drain the oysters, reserving 1 cup of the liquor. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, and cayenne. Saute‚ for about 5 minutes, or until wilted. Add the bay leaves, garlic, and parsley. Saute‚ for about 1 minute.

In a mixing bowl, combine the bread mixture with the oyster liquor and enough water to moisten.

Add the moistened breadcrumbs to the vegetables in the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the oysters and the Parmesan cheese. Stir to mix well and remove from the heat.

Oil a 9 X 11-inch baking pan and pour in the mixture. Top with more Parmesan and bake for about 1 hour, or until bubbly and golden brown.

Remove the bay leaves and serve hot.

This recipe was originally featured on the A Local Thanksgiving Episode of Emeril Green, Lagasse's original series on Discovery Channel's Planet Green network, courtesy Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, Inc.

Emeril Lagasse and CBF seasonal employee Gail Taylor Visit the Emeril Green website for the following recipes from Bounty of the Harvest, as well as more tips and farmers' market inspired recipes:

(with the assistance of CBF's Gail Taylor, photo left)
Emeril's Smoked Tomatoes a la Rita Calvert
Emeril's Eggplant, Oven Dried Tomato and Skordalia Stacks
Emeril's Carrot, Orange and Fennel Salad with Carrot Juice Dressing
Emeril's Sweet Potato Empanadas with Mexican Style Pickled Cabbage
Emeril's Miso Vegetable Soup with Smoked Tofu

Photo from the Emeril Green website