Blog Category: Editorial (Page 3)

March’s Harvest of the Month: The Incredible Edible Egg

Some of you might remember “The Incredible, Edible Egg,” a marketing slogan created for the American Egg Board back in the 70s to help consumers discover the value of eggs. Now more than ever the jingle still holds true, especially as protein rich diets continue to dominate nutrition chatter and we look to more sustainable methods of food production. This March our friends at Island Grown Schools (IGS) are highlighting eggs as their Harvest of the Month and we couldn’t be happier to help them celebrate this incredible, edible superfood.

I’ve always loved eggs but my affinity has grown even deeper over time. About fifteen years ago our family was inspired to keep chickens so we could be guaranteed the freshest eggs available. Surprisingly, chickens are relatively easy to care for, as long as you have the space and equipment–and aren’t too afraid to get up close and personal with those fine, feathered friends. We assure you, it’s worth it for the eggs.

Keeping chickens has helped us eliminate scraps and they produce a natural fertilizer which is a plus for our compost. Additionally, we get to enjoy the peacefulness of the animals on our property and above all the eggs, you really can’t beat a fresh egg with that vibrant, orange yolk. Our neighbors love it too, whenever we’re out of town they’re quick to “chicken sit” so they can yield the eggs themselves, it’s a win-win for the neighborhood.

 

We all know eggs pack a lot of protein, but they’re also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and B-12, riboflavin, phosphorus, and selenium. In addition to being nutritious, they’re tasty too, and oh so versatile. I start most days with a soft boiled egg over greens with a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of flax or olive oil. If it doesn’t make it into my breakfast it makes it into my salad for lunch, sometimes both. A hard boiled egg is a great snack on the go and sometimes I’ll even add an egg to my soup for added richness and texture. My teenage son Miles loves eggs too, he’ll add them on top of his burgers for extra protein and flavor.

It seems everyone has their own strategy when it comes to enjoying eggs, and we don’t discriminate. Our friends at IGS suggest a six-minute boiled egg for the perfect salad topping, and veggie loaded frittatas for a quick breakfast or dinner. They also praise salt cured egg yolks (see recipe below), an easy preparation that can add an incredible umami flavor and a bright dash of color to virtually any dish. By simply covering yolks in a salt mixture to draw out the moisture you can transform its flavor and texture, similar to curing meat and fish. Once the yolk is cured and hardened it can be grated or shaved on to onto pasta, salad, crostini, or anything else you might top with parmesan cheese.

Luckily for those on Martha’s Vineyard (even those of you without your own chickens) there’s access to local, farm fresh eggs throughout the year. The Farm Institute in Katama produces a total of about 80,000 eggs a year!

 

You can also find fresh eggs (depending on seasonality and availability) at Ghost Island Farm, Grey Barn Farm, Morning Glory Farm, Mermaid Farm, and North Tabor Farm, and at Cronig’s Market and Tisbury Farm Market. Here’s a tip from IGS: if fresh eggs are unwashed, they retain a special protective coating on the shell, and you can store on the counter for up to two weeks. Be sure to wash eggs before you use them. Washed eggs must be kept in the fridge. Locally-grown farm eggs can cost about $6/dozen, but at 50 cents per egg, they are one of the most affordable sources of Island-grown protein.

 

Cured Egg Yolks (Next time your recipe calls for just egg whites – save the yolks!)

Ingredients:

4 large local egg yolks

1 ¾ cup Kosher salt

1 ½ cup sugar

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Combine the salt and sugar in a medium bowl and mix well. Spread ½ of the mixture in a small glass baking dish.

Using the back of a spoon, make 4 evenly spaced indentations into the salt mixture. Sprinkle some pepper into each indentation. Carefully place the egg yolks in each of the indentations making sure no egg is sitting directly on the glass. Gently cover yolks completely with the remaining salt mixture. Seal lid on glass baking dish or tightly cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for 4 days.  

Preheat oven to 150/170 degrees F (whatever the lowest setting is on your oven). Remove egg yolks from the salt mixture. The yolks should now have a gummy-like texture. Gently brush the salt mixture off each yolk and carefully rinse in cold water to remove excess salt. Discard remaining salt mixture.  

Place yolks on a cooling rack (sprayed with non-stick spray) on top of a cookie sheet and bake for 1.5 – 2 hours until yolks are firm through. Turn off oven and let yolks remain in the oven until completely cooled. Store yolks in the fridge in an airtight container.

Randi Baird is a founding member and president of Island Grown Initiative’s Board of Directors and has long been committed to promoting local, sustainable food choices on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

 

February’s Harvest of the Month: What’s all the buzz about honey?

Our friends at Island Grown Schools (IGS) highlight a locally available crop on Martha’s Vineyard as part of their Harvest of the Month program and this month it’s honey, honey. As a beekeeper for over eight years honeybees have a special place in my heart, and in my diet. I first became inspired to keep bees after reading The Secret Life of Bees and understanding just how marvelous (and truly democratic!) they are.

Honey is a superfood with super powers, and its creation is an amazing process that requires intense efficiency and perfectly orchestrated teamwork on behalf of the hive. These incredible creatures buzz about, foraging sugary nectar and pollen from the plants and flowers they visit, while staying within only a few miles of their hive. They store their findings in a special part of their stomach where it’s not digested (unless they’re hungry and require some for energy) and they’re capable of carrying almost as much as their own weight–a pretty impressive feat among the animal kingdom.


Then, once a bee’s nectar sac is full they return to their hive to pass off the substance, where it’s transported mouth-to-mouth from bee to bee. Enzymes in the bees’ stomachs turn the nectar into a simple syrup, then other bees vigorously fan it with their wings until it becomes the thick, golden honey we’re used to seeing. Bees store the honey in a honeycomb and seal the top with wax that they also produce. Meanwhile, the coveted queen bee concentrates on laying eggs, ensuring the legacy of the hive by producing new bees. Just listening to the whole process sounds exhausting, hence the expression “busy as a bee.”

Bees truly are one of our greatest natural assets–and they don’t just produce honey. They’re critical to the entire world’s food production and ecosystem health. They pollinate a majority of the crops that provide most of the world’s food. Without bees we’d be without apples, potatoes, broccoli, avocado, celery, cauliflower, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, lemon… the list goes on.

More than ever we must respect the bee population and appreciate the goodness of honey. It’s been linked to some pretty impressive health benefits including healthy weight management, helping to prevent cancer and heart disease, providing energy and allergy relief, promoting antioxidants and restful sleep, wound healing, reducing diabetes, strengthening the immune system and acting as a cough suppressant, among others. It’s pretty sweet that we have access to such benefits both naturally and deliciously.


On Martha’s Vineyard we get to enjoy the delicious yields of Island Bee Company, a local business that collects between 1500 and 3000 thousands pounds of honey annually, from towns all across the Island. As a beekeeper myself it’s a process I value wholeheartedly. In my house we’ll use raw honey in place of white sugar, and we’ll put it in our tea, in our smoothies, on our ice cream, and even in our salad dressing. My husband suffers from seasonal allergies and he starts each day with one of our farm fresh eggs, toast, and a spoonful of local honey to help keep his symptoms at bay. The theory is that by ingesting the local pollen in your local honey you can become less sensitive to the pollen in the air, therefore experiencing fewer effects of seasonal allergies.

Whether you have allergies or are looking for an easy route to improved general health (and who isn’t?) make sure to get your hands on some raw local honey and incorporate it into your daily diet, we promise your insides will thank you.

If you need some inspiration to get started check out IGI’s mouthwatering recipe for Honey Golden Milk below. And if you’re looking for additional insight into the mind of the honeybee and what more we can learn from their decision-making pick up a copy of Honeybee Democracy–in our political climate it’s more significant than ever.

 

Honey Golden Milk

Ingredients:

2 cups milk of choice (dairy, almond, coconut, soy)

1.5 tbl raw, local honey

1 tsp powdered turmeric

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1/2 tbl coconut oil (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients, except honey, in a small pot over medium heat.

Whisk together and bring to a boil and then let simmer on low for 3-5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in honey.

Strain into cups and enjoy! It is delicious cold as well, just let cool and store in refrigerator.

 

Randi Baird is a founding member and president of Island Grown Initiative’s Board of Directors and has long been committed to promoting local, sustainable food choices on Martha’s Vineyard. 

January’s Harvest of the Month: Get on board the whole grain train

The New Year is upon us and for many that means resolutions of healthy, clean eating. On Martha’s Vineyard we are fortunate to have access to dozens of local farms and purveyors that can provide us with the resources to help us stay true to our commitments of good health, while supporting the local food community.

Our friends at Island Grown Initiative (IGI) actively support a resilient and equitable food system on Martha’s Vineyard by providing food and agriculture education, and developing infrastructure to make a year-round local food system viable. As part of their mission they strive to educate Island children and families on the benefit of eating healthy, locally grown food, through Island Grown Schools (IGS), a community food education program.

Each month IGS designates a Harvest of the Month, highlighting a locally available crop in school cafeterias, restaurants and grocery stores across Martha’s Vineyard.

According to islandgrownschools.org Martha’s Vineyard was the first school system in Massachusetts to pioneer Harvest of the Month in 2012-3, and is now working with the Massachusetts Farm to School Project to spread their model across the state. Pretty incredible, huh? In efforts to help support this important cause we’ll be regularly promoting each month’s Harvest of the Month on our blog.

For January that means focusing on whole grains, a critical component to a healthy diet, that are packed with nutrients and fiber that have been proven to help reduce the risk of diabetes, cancer, and heart disease–just to name a few.  In Simple Green Suppers, the vegetarian cookbook I launched earlier this year with the incredibly talented Susie Middleton, an entire chapter was devoted to Susie’s appreciation for grains.

Foods like corn, wheat, rice, and oats are abundant in their versatility and can be easily incorporated into just about any meal! They can be prepared wholesomely and deliciously, to complement a hearty protein or antioxidant rich vegetarian meal, or used as a standalone snack. They’re a healthier alternative to pasta and other starch heavy foods and won’t leave you feeling bloated after you clear your plate.

Start off the New Year with theses healthy substitutions and you’ll quickly feel the difference, and see it too. Some of our favorites include farro, wheat berry, barley, and quinoa. Need some more inspiration? Try Island Grown Schools recipe for Overnight Oats and see just how sweet whole grains can be.

Whole Grains

Overnight Oats

Ingredients:

½ cup whole rolled oats

½ cup milk of choice (dairy, almond, coconut, soy)

1 tsp maple syrup (or you can mash ½ banana to replace sweetener)

1/8 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a coffee mug or 8oz mason jar and mix with a spoon until everything is combined. Cover with a lid and place in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to eat, give it one last stir and top with your favorite fixings!

*Add-ins/toppings: cinnamon, fresh fruit, nuts, shredded coconut, dried goji berries, dollop of nut butter or yogurt, lemon zest, plain cooked quinoa for some extra protein and fiber!

*Tip: Use the last of your favorite nut butter jar as the container to make sure to use up all that hard-to-get peanut/almond butter!

 

Randi Baird is a founding member and president of Island Grown Initiative’s Board of Directors and has long been committed to promoting local, sustainable food choices on Martha’s Vineyard.

 

Randi Baird Photography | 508.505.5909 | info@randibaird.com

The making of ‘Simple Green Suppers’: My first cookbook

Tis the season for giving (and eating!). If you’re looking for a great gift for the veggie-loving foodie in your life pick up a copy of Simple Green Suppers: A Fresh Strategy For One-Dish Vegetarian Meals, my first cookbook with three time cookbook author and farmer Susie Middleton. Released earlier this year, Simple Green Suppers is chock full of helpful tips and recipes for preparing seasonal vegetables and plant-based meals, not to mention it was a blast to work with Susie. Once the holidays are behind us we’ll all be eager to jumpstart the New Year with good, clean, eating and Simple Green Suppers has you covered.

Even non-vegetarians will be impressed with the flavorful veggie-centric recipes that Susie compiled – I know I was. What I genuinely love about this book is that it educates people on how they can easily feature vegetables as the star of their meal, and pairing them with staple ingredients like noodles, grains, beans, greens, toast, tortillas, eggs, and broth. The book even offers tips on stocking your pantry, and streamlining your food preparation to save time. Ultimately, it’s a manual for enjoying vegetables in easy, delicious ways and her recipes are so, so tasty. The flavor these dishes deliver is truly remarkable; we ate all the food on the shoot so I know first hand!

I spent four seasons working on the book, regularly shooting at Susie’s farm and capturing many of the ingredients at peak season, ripe for the picking. I also had the opportunity to take many still life shots of the vegetables, highlighting the vibrant colors, interesting textures and unique variations of the main ingredients. The final eighty dishes featured in the book were prepared in the studio, shot with pottery by Leslie Freeman Designs and against beautiful, rustic, wooden backdrops by ReFabulous Decor, a local, upcycled home decor company. It was truly a labor of love.



I have long been committed to promoting local, sustainable food choices on Martha’s Vineyard, and using my work as a photographer to help educate and encourage social change and healthy habits. The book allowed me to showcase my food photography skills and celebrate the bounty of our Island’s local produce. Contributing to Simple Green Suppers was the perfect project; it married my love of photography and devotion to food activism, and enabled me to have a lot of fun working with an author I really admire.

Hungry yet? You can pick up a copy of Simple Green Suppers locally on Martha’s Vineyard at Bunch of Grapes bookstore or online from Shambhala Publications/Roost Books, Independent Booksellers, Barnes and Noble, or Amazon.

                         R A N D I  B A I R D  PHOTOGRAPHY  |  508.505.5909  |  info@randibaird.com
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Corporate and Professional Head Shots & Portraits on Martha’s Vineyard and in America

Our goal at Randi Baird Photography is to create clean, sharp and creative images that capture you and highlight your professionalism.  We do that by getting to know you and creating a comfortable atmosphere, which starts from our first conversation and lasts beyond completion of the assignment.  These can be taken either in the studio or on-location, in your office or outside on location for a more casual look. We scout site locations, offer make-up, hair styling and of course have drinks, cocktails and snacks during your session.

Tea Lane Associates: West Tisbury, MA.

 

Moses Ziegelman & Kornfeld, Law, NYC

 

Wampanoag Tribe ~ Elder Project, Aquinnah, MA

 

Enhance MV, Edgartown, MA

 

Scout Hotels, Teaticket, MA

 

Brush, Flanders & Moriarty, Law, West Tisbury, MA