The Whitlock

At the end of Katonah Avenue lies a restaurant filled with rich history, delicious food, and a sustainable promise. Two years after opening, the Whitlock continues to create a neighborhood community—from serving guests on a sun-lit patio to gathering family and friends on a night out.

 

The Whitlock prides itself on “utilizing fresh ingredients and supporting local farms,” which include everything from Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford, NY to Hilltop Hanover Farm in Yorktown Heights, NY to Longfords Own Make Ice Cream in Rye, NY. I had the privilege of speaking to half of the husband-wife team who runs the restaurant, Christina Safarowick.

 

One of the focuses of the neighborhood bistro is bringing a hyper-local experience to the community, which “immediately impacts our surroundings by supporting local business.” That means working and collaborating with a lot of vendors throughout Westchester. Even in the colder months, the Whitlock utilizes ingredients grown in the area. Christina explains, “many farms have now instituted greenhouses where they are able to push into the winter and still provide for us.” Because of this, the menu “definitely changes and is by availability.” For ingredients like meat and seafood, the Safarowicks prefer to buy from smaller businesses in the area, like their meat vendor who lives in Somers.

But, how does ordering for a hyper-local restaurant actually work? Christina explains that “in the beginning we created relationships by going to the farmers’ markets.” After establishing these friendly relationships, “the farms send an email to us at the beginning of the week letting us know what they have, and we’ll simply reply saying ‘we’ll take x, y, and z,’ and it’s there the very next day for us to use.”

 

After asking Christina about current local items on the menu, she excitedly mentioned a roasted sunchoke appetizer and their “heirloom tomato and burrata panzanella salad that uses local tomatoes.” Additionally, they do specials every night—”that’s where you’ll get the produce that came in that week.”

 

You can check out the Whitlock Tuesday through Sunday at 17 Katonah Avenue in Katonah, NY!

 

 

Faux Farmer’s Market Stand

John Jay Homestead Farmers’ Market is open Saturdays 10-2 and fits these criteria as a REAL local food market!

Summertime means farmers’ markets! These havens of fresh and local produce have gained massive attention over the past couple of years, evolving into places where families gather on weekend mornings. But, not all vendors are made equal! Here are our top three ways to spot out a faux farmer’s market stand:

 

  1. The produce isn’t in season or doesn’t grow in your area.

If a “local” vendor is selling items like pineapple or avocado in NY, they are most likely produce resellers. This link provides a harvest calendar from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets that shows what’s in season each month.  Of course, keep in mind some items may be grown in greenhouses out of their normal season like lettuces or tomatoes.

 

  1. Is it a producer-only market?

Not all farmer’s markets have the same enforced guidelines on who can sell and what they can sell. Check to see if they have a stand dedicated to the farmer’s market organization. If it is a producer-only market, then all the vendors are selling directly from their farms.

 

  1. The farmer/vendor cannot answer basic questions.

Ask the farmers about their produce! Try to ask beyond one to two questions and dig deep about their planting cycle and how they grow their food. Larger farms may not send their main growers or owners to farmer’s markets, but each vendor should know enough to answer these questions.

Roasted Sun Chokes with Herb Whipped Ricotta

Try this recipe for roasted sun chokes from the Whitlock for a quick and easy summer dish!

  1. Quarter sunchokes and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  2. Roast in a 375 degree Fahrenheit oven for 40 minutes
  3. Mix ricotta with fresh rosemary, thyme, salt, and pepper
  4. Toss sunchokes with cranberries and walnuts and serve over ricotta
  5. Finish with honey

Click here to read more about The Whitlock’s commitment to farm fresh food.

Bionutrient Food Association

Provided by BFA

Each month, community members interested in growing healthier food gather to share and learn in a local garden and enjoy a community-building, pot luck experience with the Bionutrient Food Association (BFA), Westchester/NYC Chapter. Meetings cover a range of topics, from succession and interplanting to compost tea. The BFA aims to educate consumers on healthier soil ecosystems, which yields a healthier food system, overall. Healthier soil also sequesters more carbon which is good for the climate.

We sat down with Ellen Best, co-leader of the Westchester/NYC chapter to learn more about the BFA.

Ellen first became interested in the BFA at a soil science event with founder Dan Kittredge and co-leader Doug DeCandia. Prior to her involvement, Ellen had gardened for a while, but she felt that her garden was dead: “I didn’t feel life. Something was missing. I looked at Doug’s garden at the Westchester Land Trust and it was so vibrant. It looked different. I looked into it a little more and realized that it connected all the dots for me.”

The mission of the BFA is to “improve the quality of the food system,” which can be defined in many different ways. However, “the main approach is to increase the soil health thereby increasing the health of the food.” In discussing soil health, we talked extensively on the indication of “organic” in supermarkets and farmers markets. “Organic does not mean that it’s nutritious. It just means that there aren’t any sprays of pesticides,” said Ellen. “If you don’t have minerals in the soil, then you don’t have them in the plants. Mineral deficiency is the basis for a lot of health problems.” The BFA aims to educate community members about the importance of maintaining soil health, which leads to more nutritious food and an increase of carbon dioxide sequestration from the atmosphere.

Ellen compared the soil ecosystem of a plant to the gut of a human. Humans cannot process all the nutrients they’ve consumed without the microbiome in the gut, which is similar to a plant— “the roots are in the dirt, but they can’t do anything without the healthy guys in the soil.” Specifically, this system not only allows fungi to break down rocks, but also “makes the nutrients available to the plant and creat[es] air pockets. It’s a water filtration and holding system.” She emphasized, “it’s not that we do not have enough water or rain, it’s that we don’t have healthy soil to take advantage of what we have.” In a healthy system, the covered aggregated composition of the soil takes in rainwater, which decreases runoff.

Ellen encourages the community to be educated on topics connected to nutritious food and regenerative agriculture, whether that be from starting with one plant in the backyard to learning about where their food originates from. Currently, the BFA is developing a hand-held meter that will soon be available as an app, which will allow individuals to “test the nutrient level at the point of sale.” Using this, consumers can compare the nutrient levels between produce to see what they are actually eating. She also recommends to test your soil: “A lab that we recommend, Logan Labs, tests for a lot of the micronutrients and trace minerals. A lot of the traditional testing labs just refer to the NPK (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium) that they see in the soil then. But if you have healthy soil, you are creating more of those nutrients. You are adding biology, not just chemistry.”

All are welcome to attend the Westchester Chapter BFA meetings and get involved in healthy soil practices. Monthly  potlucks/meetings are held either at Westchester Land Trust or local farms. For more info or to receive the newsletter, email westchesterbfa@gmail.com.

You can also check out the BFA Westchester’s You Tube Channel and Facebook Page. For more info on BFA click here.

A Year of Meatless Monday Recipes Feature Local, Seasonal Food

One year ago Bedford 2020 was in the midst of a Meatless Monday campaign to raise awareness about the connection between food and climate change. Even though that campaign has ended, we are happy to hear that many people continue to participate, and we are still hearing about its influence.

Bedford 2020 encouraged people to reduce their weekly meat consumption over a 12-week period because plant-based eating has a lower carbon footprint than eating meat. After the campaign, we reported the results back to the community – participating households, by skipping meat one day a week, saved the carbon equivalent of driving 56,113 less car miles! With these results, many people learned that eating less meat could be an important tool to combat climate change.

During the campaign, restaurant and business partners put up posters, promoted Meatless Monday on their social media platforms, and created additional vegetarian menu items. Similarly, Pound Ridge Organics signed on as a partner, and has continued their Meatless Monday efforts well beyond the 12-week campaign.

60 Meatless Monday Local Food Recipes

From the time of its inception in 2009, Pound Ridge Organics, a certified humane farm, organic food co-op and market, has encouraged members to go meatless one day a week. Pound Ridge Organics owner, farmer and chef Donna Simons signed her farm on as a Meatless Monday partner at the Bedford 2020 Climate Action Summit in 2018. Donna agreed not only to continue to encourage her readers to go meatless at least one day a week, but also committed to distributing weekly seasonally-inspired meatless recipes featuring locally sourced ingredients that she would make available in her market. 

Over sixty recipes later, Pound Ridge Organics’ robust readership is not only reducing their meat consumption (at least) one day a week, but also thinking seasonally and locally. Donna says “I feel an even greater connection with my Co-Op members and subscribers by helping them to break out of their comfort zone, try new and unfamiliar ingredients, and feel at ease and empowered in their own kitchens.” She says “preparing food should be as enjoyable as eating it” and she tries to impart that spirit in her weekly recipes.

Some recipes from her Donna’s winter collection include: Roasted Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed With Crispy Goat Cheese, Smoked Trout With Green Apple Horseradish Cream, Potato Apple Soup, and Lithuanian Borscht Soup.

Buying Local Food in Winter

While Meatless Mondays is just one way to reduce one’s carbon “foodprint” – it is a good first step to understanding the complexities of the food-climate connection.

© Donna Simons – Pound Ridge Organics

The next step, also promoted by Donna’s recipes, is to eat local food as much as possible. From avoiding the deleterious effects of industrial-sized livestock operations (CAFOs) to cutting down on “food miles” our food travels from farm to plate, eating local can reduce your carbon footprint.

Go Local for Fruits, Vegetables and Grains

Donna encourages, “local seasonal ingredients are tastier than those that sit on a semi-truck traveling 3,000 miles (organic or not).” Local food produced on sustainable small farms has a smaller carbon footprint, it is more nutritious, and your purchases support our local food system and economy.

This time of year in addition to local meat, eggs and cheese, you may find at your local farm market:

  • Squash, potatoes, various root vegetables, and apples from the fall harvest
  • Greenhouse grown salad greens, spinach, pea shoots, mushrooms
  • Seafood and shellfish
  • Breads and baked goods
  • Honey, preserves, salsas and sauces, and local cider and wine

Go Local for “Better Meat – Less Often

© Donna Simons – Pound Ridge Organics

Eating local and sustainably raised meat goes a long way to reducing your carbon footprint as well.  When you do choose to eat animals and animal products, buy local, grass-fed meat, local eggs and cheese, and sustainably and ethically raised poultry – and buy only what you will consume.

Donna Simons is also the leader of Slow Food Metro North, a chapter of the international Slow Food Movement. She proffers, “100% pastured meat from small, organic, local, high welfare farms will be more expensive than mass produced feed-lot meat, so I always recommend buying better meat and consuming it less often as a way to be kinder to our wallets, bodies and the environment.”

Try your local farm market, farm stand, or check out Pound Ridge Organics!

Learn For Yourself

Pound Ridge Organics Teaching Kitchen will begin offering classes in just a few weeks. April’s theme is ‘Starting From The Ground Up’ and will focus on the relationship between food and the earth as well as facilitating foundation kitchen skills for the beginner as well as experienced cooks. April’s sessions will include: Making Your Own Indoor Worm Composters; Knife Care & Skills; Basics Of Broths & Stocks; Feed Lot VS Pastured Meats; How To Make Home-Made Beverages And Cocktail Mixers and a Special Earth Day Tribute with a very special guest.

The schedule will be posted on  the website: Pound Ridge Organics, where you can also subscribe to the Pound Ridge Organics newsletter. You can learn more by following Pound Ridge Organics on Instagram and Facebook

Grow Your Own

Read about how one beginner gardener has ventured to grow food indoors this winter.

LITHUANIAN BORSCHT SOUP

By Donna Simons

Easy • Vegetarian (Vegan option in Chef notes)

Course: Lunch or Dinner Soup Course

Servings: 6

‘Borscht’, which has many variations, is any soup made with a sweet/sour beetroot base and can be served hot or cold. This simple tasty recipe is served cold with sour cream and potato, but my family used only beets and no starch at all. While it breaks Northeastern tradition to eat a cold soup in the winter, I think it’s a great way to utilize the last of the winter storage produce while looking ahead to the warm weather to come.

Aside from her fruit pies cooling on the windowsill, there is nothing that reminds me of my Eastern European Grandmother’s kitchen more than cold borscht soup. I’ve always loved borscht, perhaps because of the stunning deep magenta color or maybe it’s just an acquired taste — so bright, so sweet and sour, so full of contrast.

As a young child… I would sit on a stack of phone books in Grandma Sylvia’s kitchen – chin resting on the table – eyes aligned with the rim of the bowl of borscht in front of me. Using my spoon I would poke the cloud of white sour cream until the translucent magenta broth would become opaque bubblegum pink. The small beet squares would float and sink like little icebergs.

For me, Borscht is one of the simple comfort foods that could be as powerful as time travel. When I have the rare opportunity to have some, I am teleported back to Grandma Sylvia’s kitchen where my spoon can transform my bowl of soup in to a magical pink ocean with bright red icebergs almost too beautiful to eat.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs raw red beets
  • Juice of one lemon (or more if desired)
  • 2 TB Organic Sugar or Pound Ridge Organics honey
  • Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup sour cream – optional
  • Parsley or Dill sprigs for garnish – optional
  • 1 large or 3 small boiled and cooled new potatoes per serving (optional)

Preparation:

  1. Wear clothes you don’t care about and for goodness sake put on some gloves unless you want to look like you just killed something seriously, this is important!
  2. Peel and dice the beets. Compost the peels and ends.
  3. Place the diced beets in a saucepot with 9 cups of water, salt and pepper
  4. Simmer for 1-1/2 hours.
  5. Carefully ladle about 8oz of finished broth into a glass spouted measuring cup and set aside.
  6. Let the remainder of the soup cool down to room temp, cover and refrigerate until cold. Of course if it’s cold enough outside, you can cool your soup pot outdoors.
  7. Dissolve sweetener in the 8oz cup of warm broth that you have set aside and allow to cool to room temperature. 2 TB of sweetener will probably be enough but I recommend adding extra – even twice that amount.
  8. Just before serving, add lemon juice to the pot of soup.
  9. Then add the sweetened beet juice ¼ cup at a time – taste in between each addition and stop at the point that you like the balance of sweet to sour. The surplus sweetened beet juice need not go to waste. Just put it in a sealed jar and incorporate it in to your morning smoothie or juice .
  10. If your soup is too chunky, you can remove some of the beet squares with a slotted spoon. The surplus can be used in a salad another day.

TO SERVE:

Ladle cold soup in bowls, place (1 large or three small) potatoes in each bowl and garnish with parsley or dill. The sour cream can be passed around for those who wish to add it.

CHEFS NOTES

  • Sour cream can be omitted and sugar chosen instead of honey to make this a Vegan dish.
  • Try using golden beets for a new twist on this classic.
  • Our family served Borscht without potatoes – but it’s delicious either way.
  • In the Northeast the first beet harvest begins in the summer — making Borscht a great summer option as well. However there is something so refreshing about adding this colorful cold tangy soup to a hot winter menu for texture and contrast.

©Pound Ridge Organics 2018: All Rights Reserved

Baby Steps to my First Garden

In the world of “time is money,” “never-ending to-do list,” combined with “everything can be purchased sitting on your couch, delivered right to your doorstep,” why would anyone grow their own vegetables? What if I try, and find out I have a “black thumb”?  Why go through all the trouble?          

I grew up in Hong Kong, and despite it being one of the most densely populated cities in the world full of skyscrapers, we always had access to fresh whole food at affordable prices.  Fruits, vegetables, and yes, even fish swimming in a tank.  My mom would shop at these outdoor markets (see photo) every morning and prepare both lunch AND dinner for my family.  It was a ton of work, but she didn’t mind as she believes “food is medicine,” and joked that she would rather pay for delicious food than a doctor’s visit. 

Fast forward several decades later, after living on restaurant take-outs in my 20s to survive 80-hour work weeks, I finally took a more serious interest in food following the birth of my twin daughters. As a working mother, I realized I may not be able to cook two meals for them every day. But I want to pass on grandma’s wisdom “food is medicine” by exposing them to fresh whole food.  The fresher, the better; and my common sense told me it doesn’t get any fresher than grown right in one’s backyard. Not to mention food grown locally on a small scale and traveling very few miles (if any in this case!) has a much smaller carbon footprint, preserving the planet for our future generations.  The problem was I had never grown anything, and I couldn’t even keep a house plant (cactus) alive!           

To calm my nerves, I took baby steps; no clearing out a big plot on our lawn, not even building any raised beds, just a few containers.  To increase my odds of succeeding, I experimented with a variety of seeds (beets, bok choy, sugar peas and swiss chard) and containers (ceramic, plastic, even fabric).  The bok choy was a success (see progression from August to October in pictures below) and objectively speaking, the best I have ever had in my life!

Most recently, as the temperature kept dropping, I started wondering if winter will ever end.  One day while finishing up some salad greens and cherry tomatoes, I decided to give those plastic containers, along with leftover soil and seeds, a second life.  It took a few trials (e.g. how high to fill the soil, which window sill is best) to produce these little plants.  They are beautiful to look at and give me something to look forward to – spring – even though clearly it won’t be enough to fill my stomach!  For those of you who are unsure about making a leap into gardening, –  for fresh food, your health and our planet –  I encourage you to give these baby steps a try!        

Cabbage Hill Farm

As Mark Bittman explained at the Bedford 2020 Food Forum, if you want to do something about climate change, “eat less meat, and eat better meat.”  What Bittman meant by better meat – organic, local, sustainably and humanely raised, hormone and antibiotic free – is exactly what the Cabbage Hill Farm Foundation’s mission is all about.

Cabbage Hill Farm Foundation, a nonprofit located on a hillside near Mount Kisco, is a well-known NOFA-pledged organic farm committed to sustainable agriculture, raising rare historic and heritage livestock, and aquaponics.

The farm land is forever preserved by a conservation easement donated to Westchester Land Trust by Nancy and Jerry Kohlberg. The conservation easement enables agriculture to continue on 70 acres, protects environmental features on the land, and ensures the property will not be further subdivided.

Buy local, seek out sustainable, check out Cabbage Hill products! Sustainable, local agriculture results in a smaller carbon footprint, less pollution, supports sustainable food systems, and also produces delicious food.

Where to Find Products

John Jay Homestead Farm Market

Farm Market

You will find Cabbage Hill Farm organic and sustainably raised produce and meats, including beef, pork,lamb, poultry and fish, every Saturday through October at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market from 10am-2pm.

Local Purveyors

Click here for the restaurants, markets and institutions, including at Truck, 273 kitchen, and Mount Kisco Seafood, where you will also find Cabbage Hill Farm products. On the same page you will find a bonus list of 10 reasons to buy local food.

Cabbage Hill Meat Box Subscription (no-commmitment)

Cabbage Hill Farm will continue to sell their meats and fish through their weekly winter no-commitment meat box. Just sign up to get their email at the beginning of each week describing what will be included in that week’s box. If you would like to purchase the box, all you have to do is respond via email and pickup on Saturday between 10am-12pm. The box contains an assortment of Cabbage Hill Farm beef, pork, lamb, and occasionally smoked trout. The price usually ranges from $75-$90 and they also have an assortment of produce available at pickup. To sign up for the meat box or for more information about the meat box, contact Cabbage Hill Farm here.

Plant Garlic in the Fall

Just like tulips and daffodils, garlic bulbs need a cold cycle to grow well.  Get your garlic cloves in the ground 3-6 weeks before the ground freezes and you will be harvesting garlic next June!

Here are some tips we learned from Hudson Valley Seed:

Plant your garlic in early to mid-October.

Plant in location with:

  • full sun in spring and early summer
  • rich and fertile, well-drained, soil
  • free from weeds

Break apart heads of garlic into cloves.

Plant cloves root side down (pointy side up), 2″ deep, at least 6″ apart, in rows 12″ apart.

Water and cover with mulch.

Mark your rows.

In the spring you will see your garlic begin to come up as soon as the soil warms. Rake back the mulch to encourage the soil to warm faster.  Weed and water well, add compost, and cut off the garlic scapes since they will draw energy from the bulb (and taste good, too).

Harvest garlic when about 1/3 of the leaves are dry and brown – sometime in June!

Roasted Pumpkin and Garlic Lasagna

Roasted pumpkin, garlic, sage, cardamom, nutmeg, dried cranberries and apricots… its like eating fall!  We found this recipe from our friends at Meatless Monday who got it from Apron Strings.

Serves 12

  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • 1 2 pound sugar pumpkin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 15 ounces part skin ricotta cheese
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree*
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 10 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dried, sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried sage
  • 8 ounces lowfat mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 4 ounces parmesan cheese, grated

*canned pumpkin is not the same as canned pumpkin pie filling, which should not be substituted.

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. When water boils, cook lasagna noodles according to package directions, or until al dente.

Scoop the seeds and strings out of the pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin flesh into large chunks. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and place on a baking sheet, cut size down. Scatter the garlic cloves over the pumpkin pieces. Roast 60-90 minutes, or until the pumpkin begins to brown and is tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Using a fork, smash the garlic cloves together in a medium sized bowl. Add the pumpkin puree, green onions, cardamom and nutmeg to the bowl. Stir together with the fork.

When the pumpkin has cooled, remove its skin and cut into smaller cubes.

Line a 13 x 11 inch baking dish with a layer of lasagna noodles. Top 1/4 of the ricotta garlic mixture and another layer of noodles.

Top the 2nd layer of noodles with about 1/4 of the ricotta garlic mixture, then 1/3 of the cranberries, 1/3 of the diced apricot and 1/3 of the roasted pumpkin cubes. Season with 1/3 of the oregano and sage. Finish the layer with 1/3 of the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Repeat this layering process 2 more times, or until you are out of noodles, pumpkin, dried fruit, spices and cheeses.

Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the lasagna’s edges are browned and bubbling.

Want more recipes like this? Subscribe to the Meatless Monday newsletter and visit our Meatless Mondays with Bedford 2020 Archive page!