Compost Cooking!

Mindful cooks, through the generations, have had ways to reduce food waste: stir fry, frittata, quiche, quesadillas, soups, stews, homemade broth, etc. Of late, many professional chefs are challengoing themselves to use food that would otherwise be wasted. Here are a few of their successful experiments:


Brussels Sprout Stems

* San Francisco Chef Chris Cosentino splits Brussels sprout stems lengthwise and roasts them with salt, pepper, and olive oil; the inner “marrow” of the stem can be delicious when served on grilled bread.

slicedBSleavesBrussels Sprout Leaves

  • Leaves of Brussels sprouts can be cooked like kale or collards: Stack the leaves and cut horizontally into wide strips, then sauté in a hot skillet with olive oil. (You can crush a couple of garlic cloves and let them warm in the oil before adding the greens. The whole crushed cloves lend a soft garlicky flavor – remove them or eat them before serving.) Add a scant pinch of chili flakes, for some spiciness.

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Carrot Tops

* Carrot Top Pesto – (recipe developed by James Beard Award-Winning Cookbook Author Diane Morgan)

Serve as a dip with crackers and/or crudites or on top of bruschetta smeared with fresh goat cheese . . . or any way one uses traditional pesto. Great on pasta. (Makes about 2/3 cup)

1 cup lightly packed carrot leaves (stems removed)

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large garlic clove

1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine sea salt

3 tablespoons pine nuts or walnuts, toasted

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

Puree it all in a blender or food processor.

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Broccoli Stalks

*Broccoli Stalk Soup (from Food: Too Good to Waste)

You can use leftover stems of leafy vegetables such as Brussels
sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach or kale. Adapted from Irene
Pizzie and Love Food Hate Waste UK. Yields 4 servings.
4 potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 handful pearl barley, red lentils, or leftover rice
1 cup leftover broccoli stalks
1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds (optional)
salt & pepper
sour cream or Greek yogurt
fresh herbs
Put the potatoes, onion, carrots, pearl barley (or lentils or rice) in a large
pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat and simmer
for about 10 minutes. Add the broccoli stalks and fennel seeds and
continue to cook until all the vegetables are just tender. Remove from
heat and allow to cool. Purée until smooth. Taste and season. Pour into
warm bowls and add a little sour cream or yogurt, swirl into the soup and
add a few sprigs of herbs such as tarragon (optional).

* The New Yorker has a great read on what Chef Dan Barber is doing in New York. And there’s more about his WastED project at

Also see . . . and

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Norwich Farmers Market – August


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Local Tortillas Coming to Vermont!

Custom Shaping Brass Tortilla Cutter

Custom Shaping Brass Tortilla Cutter

Read Seven Days story of collaboration of  Vermont Bean Crafters and City Market to help All Souls Tortilleria get started.

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Local Acorn Flour!

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I splurged this weekend. For some, a splurge might be a bottle of wine or a meal at a fine restaurant; for me, it was a quart jar of acorn flour purchased at Killdeer Farm Stand, where Jason Avis was premiering his Oaklore acorn products . . . and offering samples of delicious acorn pancakes. That quart jar set me bsck $24.99 . . . but if ever there was a value-added product, this is it! Gathered in the fall, the acorns have been sorted, dried, shelled, ground, leached of their bitter tannins, and dried again.

The annual nut crop from oak trees in North America surpasses the combined yearly yield of all other nut trees, both wild and cultivated. Acorns were the staff of life for many Native American groups, who ground the nuts into meal for bread and mush. Might acorns once again become a source of nutrition for modern day localvores? My breakfast this morning was a localvore treat made with Beidler Family Farm whole wheat flour, Oaklore acorn flour, Luna Bleu eggs, Strafford Creamery milk, and Vermont maple syrup.

Killdeer Farm stand’s Scott Woolsey says he has made delicious pasta by substituting 2 tablespoons of acorn flour in his regular recipe. I look forward to experimenting with this “new” local product.

More info on Jason’s venture at  as well as an earlier story

Valley News article:

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“Starve a Landfill”


Did you know that food waste accounts for 25% of all our fresh water use? And wasted food represents 23% of global agricultural land?  What can be done to reduce this misuse of resources?  We are fortunate to have Willing Hands in our area, collecting and distributing donated food to those in need and reducing waste in the process.  Vermont has passed legislation aimed at composting food waste . . .  but how much better if we were generating less waste.

Today’s NYT has an encouraging article, “Starve a Landfill”.  “Wasting less in the kitchen is just smart economics, said Dana Gunders, a project scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council whose book, “Waste-Free Kitchen Handbook,” comes out in May. “Eating better may cost more, she said, but an efficient cook can make up the difference. “We are so price sensitive in the store, and 10 cents will swing us one way or other,” she said. “But in the kitchen we throw out so much money without even thinking about price.”

The article tells of chef/author Dan Barber, who is so dedicated to ending food waste that he is turning his Greenwich Village restaurant, Blue Hill, into a pop-up in which every dish is based on waste. It’s an extreme extension of what many chefs already do.  For his project, which begins on March 13, Mr. Barber and his cooks are putting kale ribs into a pressure cooker and turning them into vegetable rice . . .  He has created a burger from the vegetable pulp left over from a fresh juice company. He tops it with cheese trimmings from Jasper Hill Farm in Vermont and serves it with pickles made from cucumber butts and ketchup rendered from beets rejected by plant breeders at the University of Wisconsin.  Even the food left on diners’ plates at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, his restaurant in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., feeds the restaurant’s laying hens.

A list of the country’s best chefs have volunteered to do cameos at Mr. Barber’s pop-up this month. One of them is Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and the NoMad in Manhattan.  Considering how to use all the food that comes into Mr. Humm’s restaurants is a constant concern but offers opportunities for innovation. For a while, he was preparing a broccoli dish that produced copious amounts of stems. They became a gratin for the staff meal. “Then I started liking the stems better,” he said. “If you cook it right, it’s as great as an asparagus. We ended up just using the stems for the dish and serving the florets to staff.”

*  *  *  *  *

I have learned to save the tough outer layer of onions and the residue from pressing garlic, for making vegetable stock. I no longer peel carrots (just scrub them.) Bread, milk, vegetables, pesto . . .  you can freeze almost anything and defrost it when you’re ready to use it. With a little googling, I have come up with a few more waste-not tips:

* Freezing leftover coffee as ice cubes used in iced coffee.

* Freezing leftover wine as ice cubes for use in cooking.

* Replanting the cut ends of scallions which will grow again. Head lettuce too. (I am eager to try that this summer – probably easier to do with a longer growing season than northern New England.)

* Pesto from carrot tops? This I have to try!

Of course, these are just tiny steps . . . the bigger ones are to not buy more than you will use, to store goods appropriately (I never knew that apples should go in the fridge), and to compost scraps that will contribute to next year’s garden.

Do you have an effective way to avoid food waste?

Food: Too Good To Waste, a partnership between the City and County of Honolulu, the EPA, and the contributing restaurants found in this guidebook/cookbook:

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Sylvia Davatz’ Solstice Seed Catalog

“So many people are rising up like germinating embryos to claim food sovereignty, to rescue local seeds, and to guard human civilization’s cornucopia.”

 – Janisse Ray, poet and author of The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food

Sylvia's Garden & Greenhouse

Sylvia’s Garden & Greenhouse

Janisse Ray calls Hartland’s Sylvia Davatz a “Local Hero” for her efforts to preserve seeds.  Sylvia develops seeds using a variety of criteria, looking for seeds that will contribute to our year-long food supply, be well-adapted to our growing environment, have great flavor, be productive and disease-resistant and, thereby, worthy of preservation. She has once again made her seeds available through her Solstice Seeds Catalogue which you can download below:


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40 Acres and a Mule

40acres_Mule_1I loved this post from a localvore in Georgia:

“Let’s be honest: This is no Vermont. Have you ever noticed how many organic, small-farmed, value-added products originate in Vermont? I think we in the South need to do what the railroads did in the mid-1800s: recruit by all means necessary. We need to paper New England with flyers describing what an idyllic, easy life can be had amongst central Georgia’s granite quarries and pine tree plantations. Just show up, bring your chevre and your micro-greens with you, and we’ll give you 40 acres and a mule.”

Good luck to Georgia. . . and kudos to all the chevre producing, micro-green eating localvores in New England!

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