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This Week's Food

Grazing with Fran.

Grazing with Fran.

I spent Monday of this week with Fran Busa at his beautiful farm in Lexington, MA. We wandered through the fields, grazing as we went. Eating the freshest cucumbers, beans, peppers and corn you can find. The corn came right off the stalk and we ate it raw; it was perfectly crisp and sweet. Of course, nothing beats an ear of corn that's been coated in a metric ton of melted butter, but this was amazing. The taste and the experience sang of summer. This photo of him was taken right before he said "Damn. That's good.

Fran and his family have been farming in Lexington since the 1920's. They grow just about everything New England has to offer an you have been seeing the beautiful bounty of their efforts in your shares this summer. They care for the land and for the products because as Fran says:
"We eat what we grow and we live where we grow it".  It was such a joy to be seeing the products we offer you at their source and the passion Fran and his family put into growing them. Thanks for the love, Fran. 

If you love Fran and his veggies, come enjoy them on some pizza and drink some local beers at the In Season Pizza and Beer night!
Join us for all you can eat pizza, beer, and ice cream on Thursday, August 16th! Doors open at 6:30 pm but food will be served throughout the night until 9 pm.

The pizza is made from scratch with fresh ingredients sourced from Family Dinner.

Tickets include:

  • All you can eat pizza
  • All you can eat salad
  • 2 Beers from Idle Hands
  • Ice Cream Bar

More info and tickets available here!

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Schwag Bag

Schwag Bag


Check out these beauties!!
At Family Dinner we are very conscious of the amount of packaging we use to prep the shares and try to keep it at a minimum. We have been wanting to invest in insulated bags and they finally arrived - we're really excited to deliver in them this weekend!

This is just a trial for now, testing it out to see if it works. We would love your feedback (as always!)

Please try to return these to us every week so that we can clean them and re-use. 

In between deliveries, feel free to carry them around town and spread the word!
Makes for a pretty fancy purse, if you ask us.

Have a great week and enjoy the weather!

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Yelp us out!

Yelp us out!

American author Marjorie Liu said:
"Word of mouth is the saving grace of us all. If you love something and you think your friend will love it, just talk about it."

And this is 100% true. Word of Mouth referrals are a powerful, intangible resource for small businesses. So many of you have been kind enough to share your Family Dinner experiences with your friends and co-workers and invite them onto the local food bandwagon. We are incredibly grateful.

We have another favor to ask. If you have been enjoying Family Dinner - would you jot down a quick review for us on Yelp and/or Facebook?

Yelp is a great way to connect people with small businesses like ours and Food is the second most popular topic on the site. Many of our customers also find us on Facebook or Instagram, often through your posts. We would love to be able to share Family Dinner with folks who are exploring better ways to access local food and local farms. So if you had a moment to write us a review, it would mean a lot.

You can find and review us on Yelp here.
You can find and review us on Facebook here.

Now, onto more important news:


Enjoy. :)
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Tad Talk.

Tad Talk.

Yesterday we got to take a pilgrimage to see Tad Largey at Feather Brook Farms in Raynham, MA. Feather Brook is the source of the beautiful poultry, beef and pork that make their way into your shares. Tad, pictured here with his main man Ollie, started Feather Brook Farms in 2013 after a long career in high-end cabinetry.  Before roaming the farm to check in on his new additions we sat at the kitchen table to talk about chicken, overalls and the meaning of life. Here are a few words from him on this mission of his work:

Whats the mission of the farm?: "The mission of Feather Brook Farms is to bring delicious, healthy products to market.”
Why does the local food movement matter to you?: "Local agriculture is an insurance policy for the longevity of our community. Instead of being reliant on proteins from 1,000 miles away we are able to grow and eat our own food.”

What do you want people to know about your products?: “I want them to be exceptionally delicious and good for you. The operative word on my farm, what makes everything tic and what makes everything taste good is respect. For everything. For the animal, the environment, for the consumer and community.”

We love Tad and can't get enough of his drive, passion and full-bellied laugh. And, of course, the incredible products he makes.  If you can't get enough either, you can hunt them down some of the Boston area's best restaurants:  The Farmer's Daughter (Easton), Township (Easton), Brassica (JP), Sorellina, MOO, Mistral (Boston) and Alden & Harlow, Parsnip and Waypoint (Cambridge). And of course, in your weekly Family Dinner share (Somerville, baby).
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The Basics.

The Basics.

This week's haul of bodacious pork chops from Tad at Feather Brook Farms and  bok choy from Fran at Busa Farms had us pouring over our Asian cookbooks at the dining room table, hunting for ideas.  Cookbooks like Myers and Chang at Home, and David Chang's Momofuku offer delightful recipes that are big on flavor and approachable enough -if you have the right pantry items. Having them on hand broadens the horizon of possibilities for every day cooking and provides flavorful answers to the question: "What the hell do I do with these greens?"

A few things to have on hand:

Fish Sauce
Origin- fish coated in salt and left to ferment
Flavor- Umami all day
Oyster Sauce
Slow simmering oysters until the sauce caramelizes and becomes dark brown and thick. Modern sauces are made with cornstarch and sugar to enhance flavors. More umami. 
A staple of Japanese cuisine, Mirin is like sake with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content. Common in fish dishes and other sauces.
Soy Sauce
Created over 2,000 years ago is sauce is made of fermented soy beans and adds a rich saltiness to any dish.
Though the word "hoisin" is Chinese for seafood, there is no fish in this sauce. Instead, it is made of soy beans, fennel, garlic and chilis. Perfect for pork.
A mash up of red chilis, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt- this makes its way to so many dishes in our house. As a topping for eggs, compliment to mayo or base of broths we go through about a bottle a month.

Stock up, and lets get cooking.
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Nerd Alert!

Nerd Alert!

In thinking about what to do with these beautiful steaks from Tad, we asked our friend Christine from America's Test Kitchen about the fine art of marinading. She shared a few of Cook's Illustrated facts/hints/myths about this fine art. Get ready to nerd out over marinade.

"Over the years, we've encountered numerous marinade myths. Here are some of them—and why they're untrue.

MYTH: Marinades Penetrate Meat Deeply
FACT: Most Impact is Superficial
Contrary to popular belief, marinades do most of their work on the surface of meat or just below. Some ingredients in a marinade do penetrate the meat—but only by a few millimeters (and oil-soluble herbs and spices in the mix merely add flavor to the exterior). To prove the point, we soaked beef short ribs in red wine for intervals from one hour to 18, then measured the band of purple created by the wine. Our finding? Even after 18 hours of soaking, the wine penetrated less than 1 millimeter. Additional testing with marinated boneless chicken breasts confirmed that the flavors of other kinds of soaking liquids do not penetrate to the center of the meat.
MYTH: Acids Tenderize Meat
FACT: Acids Turn Meat Mushy
To tenderize meat, you have to break down muscle fiber and collagen, the connective tissue that makes meat tough, thus increasing the meat's ability to retain moisture. While acidic ingredients like citrus juice, vinegar, yogurt, buttermilk, and wine do weaken collagen, their impact is confined to the meat's surface. We find that if left too long, acids turn the outermost layer of meat mushy, not tender. To minimize mushiness, we use acidic components sparingly (or cut them out entirely) and only for short marinating times.
MYTH: The Longer the Soak, the Better
FACT: A Long Soak is Pointless—Even Detrimental
Because marinades don't penetrate deeply, a lengthy soak is pointless. Furthermore, too long a soak in an acidic (or enzymatic) marinade can weaken the protein bonds near the surface so that they turn mushy—or worse, can no longer hold moisture and dry out."

This is a great starter. For the full read, check out this article.
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Alien Mushrooms

Alien Mushrooms

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ...sustainably-raised, weird-looking but incredibly delicious mushrooms!

We love getting the Lion's Manes from Mycoterra Farms. We have brought you shiitakes before but the Lion's Manes are just a tad harder to come by. We also love this farm and supporting another woman owned business. In their words:

"Mycoterra Farm was founded by Julia Coffey in the woodlands of Westhampton, MA bringing mushrooms to the table of Pioneer Valley’s robust local agricultural economy.  

Buying Mycoterra mushrooms keeps your dollar local and supports local farming and sustainability. Mycoterra mushrooms are handcrafted in small batches and picked fresh for delivery.  We strive to leave the planet better than we found it.  Using agricultural and forestry byproducts as our primary growing mediums, our natural methods of production accelerate decomposition, building soil and cycling nutrients – critical processes for healthy ecosystems.  We use our exhausted substrates as soil amendments on our farm to help restore an old gravel bank, prevent erosion and to build organic matter in our annual and perennial garden beds."

Did you catch all that? Science! Saving the planet one shroom at a time. Nerds with a mission! 
Eat up, friends!

Also, in this week's edition of "Don't Throw that Away I'll Eat it"- Salmon Collars. It's the first time we have brought these to you in the share and we are so excited for you to try them. Bon Appetit Magazine calls them the Spare Ribs of the ocean and they are glorious.

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Say Cheeeeese!

Say Cheeeeese!

“You have to be a romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.”

-Anthony Bourdain

On a sunny afternoon at the Kendall Square Farmer's market, I stumbled upon two such romantics. The cheese from Grace Hill Farm is a true delight. Like a glutton (the French would call this being a gourmande, which sounds far better), I tasted everything on the table- some of it twice- and settled on the beautiful Wild Alpine you find your shares. Its a buttery gruyere style cheese that is ready for center stage on your cheese board. 

The story of Max and Amy who run the farm is full of everything we love to elevate: passion for products, respect for the land and an admiration for the animals:

"Grace Hill Farm is run by Max and Amy Breiteneicher. The vision for our farm grew naturally out of our shared interests and values – a love of good food and a desire to produce food that is delicious and made with integrity; a love of nature and of living and working closely with animals and the land; and of course, Max’s great passion for cheese. Max is blessed to have been taught cheesemaking and animal husbandry over the years by a series of true professionals at Jasper Hill Farm, Chase Hill Farm, and Sidehill Farm.

After many years of searching for just the right spot, we were so lucky to finally find it here in Cummington. Our land belonged to the Dawes/Thayer family since the 1700’s, passed down through the generations until they were so kind as to sell it to us in 2012. It has been a sheep farm and a dairy farm within living memory, and the old stone walls running through our woods attest to the pasture that used to be everywhere. We are honored to be stewards of this beautiful land, and are grateful for the opportunity to revitalize and restore this old New England farm."

It just might be time to pour a glass of wine and eat a whole chunk of cheese by yourself. That's my favorite time.
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Loss of a Giant

Loss of a Giant

Anthony Bourdain

As devout followers of almost anything Anthony Bourdain wrote, cooked or produced we are saddened by the loss of this culinary giant. 
His vision and insatiable love for food; the people who made it and the places it came from is a deep source of inspiration for us. We are drawn to his words about finding truth in good food and good people:

"Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me."

Rest in Peace, Chef.

In Family Dinner we are in awe of all the people we meet who are truly passionate about their products and are doing the quiet, slow work of perfecting their craft to making real, good food. Food with purpose. Tad's Chicken, Luke's Yogurt, Fran's veggies, Sarah's baked goods.  This week's treat is brought to you by one of these fierce devotees of perfection.

From the McCrea Candies Website:

"Jason McCrea, Chief Caramel Scientist, has created something truly special.
Call it a dream. Call it a living. Call it a lifestyle. Call it a project or a passion, a product, or an art. Call it all those things, and you’d be partly right. 
A scientist with a background in chemistry and an abiding appreciation for natural ingredients, Jason is a man possessed by the single, simple idea to make the best caramel in the world—nothing less. 

Jason is a bit quirky, downright odd sometimes. But you’ll love him because woven into his eccentricities are integrity, honesty and a firm commitment to quality. In the ways that matter, McCrea’s caramels are his best work."

This pursuit of perfection is something we admire, and we think Chef did too.
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Asparagus has an Alias

Asparagus has an Alias

There is a lot of energy around asparagus in the spring. It’s one of the first crops out of the ground and a sign that the seasons are turning for good. Asparagus was really only established in Massachusetts in the 1920’s and the little town of Hadley started producing some of the highest quality asparagus in the world, and at one point was crowned the Asparagus Capital of the World.

For this asparagus, fondly known as Hadley grass, the secret is credited to the soil. The area is blessed with deep, sandy loam, the sediment of a glacial lake that once covered the valley, and this, combined with the cool New England weather provides a sweetness that’s incomparable.  From the 1920’s to the 1970’s, Hadley grass was the mainstay of the local Hadley economy, and an important source of community spirit. Townsfolk, young and old would gather to pick, sort, trim, and bunch around 50 tons of the vegetable each day--that’s a couple million spears a day! Kids were even pardoned from school during asparagus harvest. The asparagus would then be trucked to Boston for distribution.  It was also sent to restaurants throughout the North East, and on to London, Paris, and Germany, and was even on the menu for Queen Elizabeth II’s annual spring breakfast.

This delicious grass that comes in your share hails from a little closer to home, from the wonderful Busa Farm in Lexington, but is still fit for a Queen. Fran, the owner and farmer has been sharing this delight with us for a few weeks. He warns it won't last. Though we may be fond of the warm weather that is rolling in, the asparagus is not. 

Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not talk about one of asparagus's more disputed qualities:
Asparagus Pee: Is it Real? Or just Fake News?

Here at Family Dinner we like to tackle the topics that matter to you most. Like Asparagus Pee. Some people can smell it, some people can't. Some people claim that only a certain percentage of the population produces it while others don't.

After careful reading and research we are here to tell that: Asparagus pee is real. Everyone produces it but about only half of us can smell it. The cause of the odor is likely starts with asparagusic acid, a sulfur compound found only in asparagus. The different nose camps on who can smell is and who can't likely has to do with over 800 possible genetic mutations that effect smell receptors. Science! Read the whole article here.
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Funky Chicken

Funky Chicken

Our Funky Chicken has less to do with that awkward dance your creepy Uncle Bob does at a wedding and more to do with a flavor bomb of spices from Curio Spice Co.

Curio has once again stepped onto the Main Stage at Family Dinner with their Edo Spice Blend. From their site: 

"Our all new signature blend combines chilies, citrus and the rare and invigorating sansho pepper from Japan. Edo (rhymes with 'meadow') refers to the historic name of Tokyo, as well as the 'Edo period' between 1615 and 1860 when there was great economic growth in Japan. This blend, with its bright, hot flavors and nutty, umami notes is inspired by the traditional Japanese 7 spice (shichimi togarashi) which is believed to have first been assembled in kitchens during the Edo period."

This spice will be beautiful in Barbecue. And that's perfect because Memorial Day is upon us. Erin's Dad would have loved to point out that Memorial Day has it origins in the post Civil War-era, when it was called Decoration Day. It is a time during which we are meant to reflect. If we are lucky enough to have Monday off its an extra day to take time with family, friends and Frank the Dog. In our house it is a time of slowness, a chance to un-busy ourselves. We don't do a whole lot. And maybe that's the point. We hope that this weekend you get the chance to enjoy some good food, good memories and good company.
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In Season Dinner event with Forge Baking Company!

In Season Dinner event with Forge Baking Company!

We are thrilled to announce that we have been working with Jen Park and Courtney Verhaalen from Forge Baking Company on a fun project called In Season.

In Season is a set 4-course vegetarian ticket dinner that we will host at Forge Baking Company Thursday, June 7th. For our first In Season, we will be pairing each course with a different cider from Artifact Cider Project. Family Dinner will source the ingredients from our wonderful network of local farms and purveyors and lend a hand in the kitchen.

Each ticket will cost $65, which includes a four-course meal, cider pairings, and gratuity. Once you buy the ticket, all you need to do is show up, give someone a high five and enjoy.

Doors will open at 6:30 pm with dinner being served at 7:00 pm. Along with the cider pairings, we will be offering local beer for sale.  Tickets can be found here, we would love to see you!
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Word to your Mom.

Word to your Mom.

Ok, so I may not be a Mom to a living, breathing, sniffling human- but I am the Mom to Frank the Dog, pictured. Frank is a 12 year old toothless lady dog who eats like a Queen, loves Talenti ice cream and rules with an Iron Paw. We wish a Happy Mother's Day to all the Family Dinner Moms of humans and dogs alike. (Ok, cats too. Reluctantly.) In particular a big shout out to our own moms, Sally and Lois, who taught us how to love food, revere Julia Child and never give up. Ever. We love you guys.

Scout us Out!!
This photo is from a shoot with did with Chris McIntosh for the Scout Somerville. (Photo courtesy of the Scout). He's amazing and we had an incredible time. We talked food, drank beers and whipped up a hearty serving of Carbonara which we wolfed down immediately.

The Scout Somerville is an awesome hyperlocal, bimonthly magazine that’s distributed for free throughout the city of Somerville that is owned by Holli Banks, a human tour de force.  On their site they say their "aim is to is to highlight the people who make this such a vibrant community. In print and online, we scour the diverse neighborhoods that make up the ‘Ville for human-driven stories."  

We love that and were honored to be included. We also love shameless boasting so we went ahead and put a copy in everyone's share. Autographs available upon request.

On June 24th we will be teaming up with the Scout and the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts for " Local Flavor: cooking demos and tastings".  There will be food trucks, lots of beer and wine and a cooking competition hosted by your friends at Family Dinner. Tickets for sale hereall proceeds go to Food for Free and Community Servings!
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