• Quail Hill Farm: CSA? Heaven? Both?

    Flower at Quail Hill CSA.

    The rules.

    While we miss our own farm, it is hard to be sad here on the east end of Long Island. We are on some of the best farmland in the world, next to some of the best beaches in the world. And where you don’t have vacation homes, you still see many productive farms. And farm stands selling fresh produce are just about everywhere. The corn, potatoes, zucchini, squash, berries and stone fruit are all great this year. Yum.

    Today’s lineup.

    Your map.

    But there is one very special farm, Quail Hill, that is more than just some tasty produce. It shows the true potential of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) to benefit an entire community. Quail Hill is a CSA on 30 acres of donated land and is supported by over 200 member families. The member families pay for a share of the produce and harvest a few times a week (anyone can visit, you just can’t harvest). The staff run the farm and have an apprentice program to educate future farmers. Farmland is preserved, new farmers are trained, families get access to a “real” farm. Oh, and the produce is awesome. Good land, great weather and hard work get you a good crop.

    Garlic for the taking.

    Fennel. We caramelized this and served with the steamed clams. Good match.

    Lots of squash and zucchini.

    While we aren’t members, our friends Chad and Monica are, and we got to visit for a Tuesday harvest. The farm is beautiful and bucolic, but also a place of work. Everything at the farm is there for a reason. While many people (including us) wax poetic about growing food, somebody has to spend some time in the dirt. But it is certainly good dirt. Good dirt makes a good farm. We will let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

    Huge herb garden- take what you need.

    The herbs for the steamed clams.

    Orchard- mostly stone fruit.

    Peaches.

    Rows of tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and eggplant.

    A little of the weekly haul. Continue reading

  • The Farm At The Beach

    Breathe. Relax. Read a book.

    Well, we are back. Or at least settled. We are now at our “home-away-from-home” on the east end of Long Island. One of our favorite places in the world. I guess you can call it a “home” because we have plenty of friends and family here, and we pretty much know where everything is. That may seem simplistic, but part of being comfortable is familiarity. We cooked in three different kitchens in the last thee days but pretty much knew where everything was. Other people’s kitchens are a tough place to cook, but we know our way around. We can get back to business. But before we cooked, the first business was meeting the two newest members of our extended family. Beautiful babies and happy, if somewhat tired, parents. We can almost field a football team with all the cousins- which is very, very cool. We are so blessed and lucky, and the babies give us a reminder of just how good life is. And they are cute, too.

    Radishes are in season here, and very tasty.

    And we did get back to cooking. In many of our posts, we mention that certain dishes and drinks are good for a crowd. Well, we put a few to the test already. Most meals over the weekend fed groups of 15-20. So far, so good- but we do have a few notes and revisions. And, happily, mostly to the good. As for the actual food, we tend to have simply prepared fish and shellfish as our main courses. Seared ahi tuna, roasted striped bass, sea scallops and steamed clams made it to the table over the weekend, and will be part of almost every dinner this week. Most were caught within the last day or so. The fish is so fresh you don’t need to do much (just don’t screw them up), so we focused on sides that highlight the seafood or feature the local produce.

    The coconut rice goes well with the local fish. A big hit- we will make this throughout the trip.

    Firstly, we had fresh local radishes and served them with butter and salt. Always easy, always good. (My Dad also makes kick-ass guacamole every day, but that is another post). The biggest hit so far is the coconut rice. The rice went very well with the seared, rare ahi tuna (steaks almost 2 inches thick and sooo good). Served with a dash of soy and some cilantro chutney (working on that recipe), it was a perfect fit. A table of 16 were all very happy. One note here, we made the coconut rice with “Light” coconut milk, as the store was out of regular coconut milk. If anything, the light coconut milk gave the dish plenty of flavor, but perhaps a slightly lighter texture. Good to know that we can make a lower-calorie version of the original.

    We added fresh corn kernels to the Red Cat zucchini- it was great.

    Another surprise was how well the coconut rice went with the Red Cat zucchini. The dish comes from here, so everyone enjoyed it (the zucchini was right from the CSA), but as the dish is more Mediterranean, we are surprised how well the flavors meshed. Another note here- we added some fresh corn kernels to the zucchini and they added lovely texture and sweetness. If you have corn, give this a try. The next day we took the leftover coconut rice and combined it with the zucchini and corn. It made a delightful cold summer salad.

    As for the cocktails, we made fresh Tommy’s-style margaritas every day (2 oz. blanco tequila, 1 oz. gave nectar, 1 oz. lime juice). But the big hit was the Lani Honi. As predicted, everyone thought of it as a lemony summer punch with a little extra depth. We served a pitcher alongside the margaritas and the Lani Honi held its own. We had requests for more the next day. Very good.

    As expected, a perfect drink to make for a crowd.

    Lastly we made a punch-sized batch of the Nouvelle Fleur. The drink was a success, but did need some tweaking. In the original recipe we used ruby-red grapefruit and the flavors meshed very well. Out here, we used white grapefruit and the drink was way too sour. Happily, a little extra St. Germain and some agave nectar did the trick and the Nouvelle Fleur was a success, particularly with grapefruit fans. But a quick reminder that it pays to taste your drinks and adjust as necessary.

    A great punch, but we needed to adjust for more sour white greapefruit.

    Today we are off to the CSA garden and then looking for corn and stone fruits. And just wait until we start talking about the pies…oh my. We have new photos and recipes coming all week! It’s good to be back.