The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry

Distributing more than just canned food

Made up of 13 different congregations in our community including 2 synagogues and 11 churches, The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry distributes to their clients 14 free meals worth of food for each family member, each week. In 2017 the Pantry served nearly 40,000 clients. The Pantry’s food distributions have increasingly included more and more fresh, local food.

In addition to supplying clients with traditional food pantry items like canned and packaged goods, dairy products and meats, the Pantry is also able to offer fresh local produce due to donations from area organizations.  Feeding Westchester (formerly the Food Bank for Westchester) provides free local produce twice a month; and every week in season, Hilltop Hanover provides fresh food from their farm to add to the Pantry’s food distribution to clients. Hilltop Hanover has already donated 3,534 pounds of food in 2018.

In the past the Pantry has also received produce donations from the Grafflin Elementary School garden in Chappaqua, the Mt. Kisco Elementary School garden, InterGenerate community garden in Mt. Kisco, and Steinhardt’s garden. They also receive donations from Panera Bread, Mt. Kisco bagels, and the Bagel Emporium in Armonk. 

According to Roberta Horowitz, the Director of the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, “Clients love the program- they are always very excited to get the fresh produce. Healthy eating is very important to us.” That is why the Pantry also offers cooking classes that help promote healthy eating and icons displayed around the Pantry that show foods that are better for people with diabetes or high cholesterol, for example. 

If you are interested in getting involved, you can donate food or join the volunteers Tuesdays 5-7 pm or Wednesdays 9:30-11am.

As Roberta put it, “the Pantry is Community helping community, working together to provide the food to everyone who needs it.”.

Local Veggie Tacos

Truck’s Local Veg Tacos

Thanks to Nancy Roper for this recipe for the delicious Local Veg Tacos at Bedford’s Truck Restaurant!

Gather 4-6 varieties of vegetables–something rooty, something green, leafy, and something colorful. Some good examples are:

  1. purple top turnips or rutabaga
  2. one bunch of curly kale, bok choy, broccoli rabe, or swiss chard
  3. patty pan squash or yellow zucchini
  4. carrots

Peel turnip or rutabaga and cut into 1⁄2 inch cubes. Blanch cubes in salted boiling water, then shock in an ice water bath. Drain, dry, and toss in a tablespoon of oil (you can use olive oil, grapeseed oil, sunflower or safflower). Add salt to taste.

Spread cubes on sheet pan and roast in a 350° oven until edges are brown and cubes are tender.

For leafy greens, blanch in boiling salted water for one minute, then shock in an ice water bath. For swiss chard, separate colorful stems from the leaves and blanch separately. Drain the leaves and stems and dry as much as possible. Toss in a bowl with sea salt to taste, olive oil, and a teaspoon finely chopped garlic.

For squashes, you can cut into half circles. Butternut may be cut into 1⁄2 inch cubes. 

Patty pans are cut horizontally (about 1⁄4 inch thick) so they are pretty rounds.

Toss squash in olive oil and add salt to taste. Spread on a sheet pan, and bake about 7-10 minutes, until the edges are brown and the centers are tender.

To assemble the tacos:

We use organic blue corn, non-GMO tortillas. Briefly dip tortilla into

simmering water for 2 seconds, then place tortilla on an iron pan (medium high). When tortilla no longer is sticking to pan, flip.

Once all vegetables are separately prepared, mix together. This should be done just before assembling tacos. Heat the veg medley in an oven. After heating tortillas, place a scoop of hot veg filling into each tortilla. Top with fresh chevre (or feta), chopped basil, parsley, cilantro, thyme, or chives.

Serve immediately.

Truck Restaurant

Anyone who has driven by Truck in the evenings can attest to the completely full parking lots, something that does not even do justice to the true popularity of this local restaurant. Walking through the doors you are greeted by the tangling vines creating a miniature jungle winding along the steps, before you enter into the boisterous room and catching a glimpse of the many cakes and desserts temptingly on display. 

But while the ambiance and the subtle decor is delightful, it is the food made with fresh ingredients straight from the garden and local farms that has people coming back.  

We had a chance to catch up with Nancy Roper, the owner and founder of Truck to learn some of the secrets that help make the place run and flourish. Truck Restaurant purchases their ingredients from local farms including Sunsprout, Cabbage Hill, Fort Hill Farm, Riverbank, Blue Slope, Happy Acres, Beltane, along with three different places for farm fresh eggs. They also have smaller farms where they purchase more select and seasonable items such as rhubarb, yellow watermelon, or raspberries. Another source of their produce is Hudson Valley Harvest, a network that helps collect and distribute products from local farms to increase access to local food.

They also have a local garden behind the restaurant with different beds of veggies and herbs. Some of the beds are enclosed with bamboo teepees made by Truck’s carpenter from a local bamboo field. 

Everything Nancy grows in her home garden and at the Truck garden is used in the restaurant. From the different beds overflowing with basil and cilantro and a colorful assortment of herbs and vegetables, to the bright orange and blue flowers popping out from the teepees, it is clear that the ingredients used are top notch. The giant squash blossoms and ruby tomatoes are just so temptingly waiting to be picked. And the tip she swears by that makes her two gardens flourish- compost! She put it simply saying, “when the soil is healthy, plants are healthy, the good bugs and birds are healthy.” Their great composting makes for the delicious food that comes out in their kitchen. And if you want to try the local veggie tacos at home, check out the recipe courtesy of Truck Restaurant.

Like Nancy says, composting is key. If you want to start composting join our community compost program and get some tips for composting at home on our Get the Dirt on Compost page.

 

Ramp Drop Biscuts

Ramps (wild leeks) are a great way to ramp up any basic biscuit because they have a wonderful sweet, and mild onion flavor that works well with this simple side dish. Ramps are in season right now but they don’t last long. This delicious recipe is a great way to take advantage of ramps while they are still around for harvest at your local farmers market.

Helpful Tip

Ramps are younger, and skinnier work best in this recipe.  You can thinly slice the bulb and add it right in. If more mature ramps are the only ones available to you use only the leaves.

Recipe

John Jay Farm Market’s Early Season Surprises

John Jay Homestead Farm Market has plenty of early season surprises for all to discover! It may seem unlikely, for most, to find locally grown, organic food this early on in the season. Fortunately enough the John Jay Homestead Farm Market has a large variety of local vendors to supply plenty of new and delicious options for your table early this season. This year the Market was opened on May 12th and operates every Saturday from 10am to 2pm.

The John Jay Homestead Farm Market’s early opening is a great opportunity for customers. In the early season community members are able to speak with participating growers and producers, and learn more about what products to expect to see later on. There is no need to wait though! There are currently plenty of items available at the market to spice up any home cooked meal. A few of these foods include microgreens, apples, mushrooms and root veggies, not to mention fiddleheads, rhubarb and ramps. The last three items are highly sought after and have a small window of harvest, so go grab some while they’re still around.

Ramps (which are sometimes called wild leeks or spring onions) taste stronger than leeks, which generally have a mild onion taste.

 

 

Buying from a farmers market not only gets you better quality food, but also supports our local food system. Supporting local agriculture enables customers to source their own food,  which causes a positive ecological, economical and social impact. In fact, “Shopping with an exclusive network of farms and food artisans rather than large industrial farms customers are helping to fix the environmental damage done by the Big Agricultural companies,” says Vanessa Pahucki, the manager of the John Jay Farmers Market. Another great aspect of  small family farms is that they effectively put money back into the local economy through employment opportunities and spending at local shops for farming needs. Sustainably raised food tastes better too!

There is plenty to be excited about this coming year at the John Jay Homestead Farm Market! Vanessa Pahucki tells us that, “We now have a wine bar sponsored by Pizza Luca available,” and that, “Customers can enjoy picnics while eating lunch with an accompanying glass of wine and live music in the background, making John Jay Homestead a true destination on Saturdays.” There are also two new farms joining the market this year, Woven Hill and Gaia’s Breath. Don’t forget,  the John Jay Homestead Farm Market will be open until October 27th, so there is still plenty of time to make it a weekly habit!

CSA: Sign up for the season ahead!

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) helps local farms and ensures a fresh and diverse supply of local food for your family all growing season long.

How it Works

CSA members pre-purchase a “farm share” and then literally share in the farm’s harvest for the growing season (usually June to October or November).  This financial support, early in the season, enables a farmer to better plan what and how many crops to grow and make other commitments for the season ahead.  

Glynwood has recently facilitated a coalition of more than 60 farms to put together a searchable database of CSAs. Click here to find out what CSAs are near you. Continue reading to learn about Hilltop Hanover’s unique, market-style CSA in Yorktown.

Hilltop Hanover Farm’s CSA

In nearby Yorktown, Hilltop Hanover Farm and Environmental Center offers a summer CSA. One unique element of Hilltop Hanover’s 120 member CSA is the fact it runs market style.

“So a lot of CSAs, you come, you pick up a pre-made bag of food. Ours is set up almost as if you’re walking into a farm stand and you’re just picking and purchasing produce, with it nicely displayed and laid out. So that on the chalkboard it’ll say something like ‘Pick up a bunch of radish, a head of lettuce, two cucumbers, a half pound of eggplants’, and the consumer comes through the farmstand and picks up their vegetables,” explains Marianna Fishman, Hilltop Hanover farmer and coordinator of adult programs, adding that customers enjoy the experience of being able to have this extra element of choice. Hilltop Hanover also uniquely provides half shares for smaller families who don’t need such an immense amount of produce each week.

CSAs are perfect for people willing to experiment with new foods and cooking.

“You need to be somebody willing to be adventurous with your palate and experiment in cooking and trying new things, because we don’t want this produce we’ve worked so hard to grow to go right into the trash” said Marianna. 

Most members enjoy the exposure to new produce and the high quality of food so much that they return as members year after year.

“I think it becomes addicting to get well priced, local organic food. Once you pick up items from a farm that was harvested that day, and you see grocery store produce for what it really is–something that was shipped across the country or maybe from another country. It doesn’t have nearly the nutritional value, it doesn’t taste the same,” says Marianna.  “It’s empowering to be able to drive a couple miles and not just support a local farm, but also get produce that has a much higher nutritional quality than something you’d get in a grocery store.”

To learn more about the Hilltop Hanover CSA click here.

Other Farms offering CSAs

Hilltop Hanover is not the only CSA around! Click here for a searchable directory created by Hudson Valley CSA Coalition and find a CSA that works for you!

Food Rescue and Sharing Organizations

Community Center of Northern Westchester

Accepting donations when open. Website
84 Bedford Road, Katonah
Phone: 914 232 6572
TUESDAY-FRIDAY 10-4:00

 

The Mount Kisco InterFaith Food Pantry

How to Help
The United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, 300 East Main Street (at the corner of Smith Avenue)
Phone: 914-610-5187
Tuesday – 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.; Wednesday – 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.

 

Sharing Works and Harvest Community Project

Distributing fresh produce 1st/2nd Saturday in August thru the last Saturday in October.  at Antioch Baptist Church, Bedford Hills

Contact Wendy Webb-Weber about how to donate produce and for more information. Or contact Antioch Baptist Church, Rev. Merle D. McJunkin, Pastor- Telephone: 914-241-0189 or via Email.

 

Please email Bedford 2020 if you would like to share information about other local food rescue and sharing organizations here.

Sweet Potato Egg Bake

A Sweet Potato Egg Bake will work perfectly with local eggs and leftover sweet potatoes mixed up as a mash with bacon, cheese an herbs (mash recipe below). Put the mash in a ramekin and top with an egg. Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Great way to avoid wasting those delicious leftover sweet potatoes.

Black Green Friday

Pound Ridge Organics has set up an Ask the Chef Thanksgiving Leftover Hotline Friday November 24, 2017, to assist the Bedford 2020 community with creative meal planning with your holiday leftovers! Phone lines will be open from 10:00-4:00 (914) 764-3006 or email off-hours – they will respond to every inquiry in a timely manner.

 Visit Baker Bettie for more Thanksgiving leftover ideas.
Click here for more information about Pound Ridge Organics and their delicious local eggs.

 

Pound Ridge Organics

Photo credit ©Elaine Lloyd for Pound Ridge Organics This is one of Donna’s favorite photos taken at Pound Ridge Organics Co-Op outside the hen house/nursery. “These are a rare breed indeed ‘French Black Copper Marans’. They have feathered feet that look like slippers and the hens lay dark chocolate brown eggs. They are super sweet birds and good layers. This will fascinate you — the chicks in the photo were six weeks old. If they were industrial birds – they would be heading to slaughter. This photo is a perfect example of the problem with the poultry industry. At 4 – 6 weeks (slaughter age on CAFOs) heritage birds are still tiny little babies that can fit in the palm of your hand.”

Pound Ridge Organics Co-Op provides everything from 100% pastured meats, organic local produce, pies and desserts – to bees wax candles and locally produced eco-friendly laundry detergent. However, their “number one product” is eggs, which are 100% heritage, organic, animal welfare approved and certified humane.

Healthy Heritage Chickens

Owner Donna Simons currently runs the only hatchery in the northeast specializing in standard breed chickens. While caring for heritage birds requires much more patience and input from the farmer, many believe it’s worth it since it results in birds that are active, healthy, proportional, spry and live long productive lives – and they produce great eggs!

These heritage birds are drastically different from the chickens most commonly used by commercial farms. Chickens from C.A.F.O.s (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) experience unnaturally rapid growth rate and disproportional size, reaching adult weight in only six weeks, while heritage chickens take four times as long. Furthermore, Simons refuses to use artificial light and heat in the barns to increase winter egg production, like commercial operations do, because it is disruptive to the bird’s natural molting process and reduces the amount of eggs each hen will produce over her lifetime.

“People are fearful about what’s in their food and daunted by the misleading labels on egg cartons, like: ‘cage free’, ‘free range’, ‘natural’ and ‘fed a vegetarian diet’. The latter is the most absurd since chickens are not vegetarians – they are omnivores. During my classes off site and on my farm, I teach how to decipher labels and how to shop. Of all the roles I play, I think that’s the most important one.” – Donna Simons

Good Eggs

Simons’ patient processes, vast outdoor living space for natural foraging, and a nutritious, diverse, organic diet (that includes Simons’s home-made immune boosting probiotic supplements), create eggs that have deep yellow yolks and exceptional taste. “Pound Ridge Organics eggs get incredible reviews,” said Simons. “Folks come up from Manhattan to buy my eggs and say they’re better than anything they’ve tasted at Union Square Market.” I’m not surprised because of what goes into them.”

Pound Ridge Organics eggs were given an ‘A’ rating from the California based consumer group, BuyingPoultry.com and is one of only thirty-two farms in NYS included in the ASPCA ‘Shop with Your Heart’ program.

Chicken Connection

By raising chickens with patience, Simons has cultivated deeply personal relationships with her chickens and has learned much about their social habits. Because the hens are not slaughtered when they stop laying eggs, the older birds are around to teach the younger ones things like where to hide, how to bathe and what to eat.

Simons has also picked up some chicken vocabulary and claims, “I do speak chicken, by the way.” According to Simons, “Adult birds make a high-pitched chirping sound to inform the younger birds that there is something they should eat. Their language is so sophisticated that they actually have different calls to warn others about ground predators as opposed to predators from the sky.” She goes on to explain, “My alpha male even has a five-syllable name for me. It’s fascinating to hear and witness — they have an incredible vocabulary.”

Human Connection

Simons emphasizes that her mission does not end with food and ethical animal husbandry, but human welfare as well. “Everyone along the food chain, especially the farmers, should be treated humanely, have safe working conditions, and be paid fairly for their product so they can support their families,” says Simons. She strongly believes that all of her work on her farm and through the organizations she works with interconnects and the benefits can be experienced in the food she provides the community. “Ethically produced food has immense benefits for humans, animals and the environment and needless to say, contains more nutrients and tastes better.”

Shop Local!

To purchase Simon’s beautiful eggs through her co-op, contact poundridgeorganics@icloud.com and visit her website, www.poundridgeorganics.com

Pound Ridge Organics has set up a complimentary ‘Ask The Chef’ hotline this Friday November 24th to assist the Bedford 2020 community with creative meal planning using all of your Thanksgiving leftovers. Phone lines will be open from 10:00-4:00 (914) 764-3006 or email off-hours to PoundRidgeOrganics@iCloud.com – they will respond to every inquiry in a timely manner.

Donna Simons, Owner, Pound Ridge Organics

More About Pound Ridge Organics and Donna Simons

Simons has been recognized for her work in animal welfare—Pound Ridge Organics is the first and only farm in Westchester to receive Animal Welfare Approval, the highest environmental and ethical standard possible for livestock. She is a frequent presenter at conferences that focus on clean food, animal welfare, and environmental preservation including: NOFA, Northeast Organic Farming Association, Farm Forward, Isabella Freedman Environmental Center, and Slow Food.

Simons also serves as chairman of Slow Food Metro North, the Westchester/Putnam and Fairfield Counties branch of Slow Food USA, which focuses on education and programming related to food practices that are ‘Good, Clean and Fair.’

For more information on ethical farming practices and a healthy local food system, Donna recommends you visit:

Falling For You… Leaves are a Great Resource

Stop!

Why rake or use noisy, air polluting leaf blowers to get rid of leaves when you don’t have to? Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own out of those same leaves?

Chop!

When chopped up by your lawnmower, or by a designated leaf-mulching mower, leaves will fertilize the soil as they break down.

Any lawnmower can do the job. It is recommended that you cut the lawn no shorter than 3 inches, and just mow over your leaf-filled yard a few times during the season.

Soil!

If you just can’t stand the look of mulched leaves, or feel that your leaf-mulch cover is too thick on your lawn, then you can add mulched leaves into garden beds, flower beds, or around trees by raking them – or by using a bag on your mower to collect them.

Want to reclaim an area of your yard with poor soil? Cover it with leaves and let them sit all winter. By the spring the bottom of the leaf pile will be converted into rich soil, and you can use the middle and top layers as mulch, or dig that great material into garden beds as a soil amendment.

Less Leaf Blowing!

While you are leaving your leaves on your lawn, you are also cutting down on the use and gas powered leaf blowers, a huge health hazard and noise polluting nuisance.  Click here to see the new Town of Bedford flyer about leaf blowers.

For more information visit Leave Leaves Alone where you can learn more about leaf mulching and the damaging impact leaf blowers have on our health and our community.