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This Week's Food

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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Spring is Ramp-ing Up!

Spring is Ramp-ing Up!

The only thing I love more than a joke in the email title about a semi-obscure vegetable, is the semi-obscure vegetable itself. 

Ramps are the superhero of Spring. They are wild onions with a punch of garlic flavor.  As one of the first things to pop out of the ground, they stand in defiance to the seemingly interminable winter we just endured. Their season is painfully short and their popularity is growing in leaps and bounds. Food writer Josh Ozersky once said “The Church of the Ramp is one of the fastest-growing denominations in the religion of seasonality.”  We couldn't agree more and we count among the Faithful. Use them quickly, they're a bit delicate. They go well on almost anything; eggs, salads, sandwiches or tacos.

Speaking of.... Happy Cinco de Taco everyone!

In honor of Cinco de Mayo we turned back to our friends at Mi Tierra for some of their incredible tortillas. Made out of just corn, water and lime they are simple and perfect. They're also vegan, gluten-free and paleo friendly.  What more could you want?  You can make a taco out of almost anything but we turned to the experts at America's Test Kitchen to give us some ideas. Crack a cerveza and call some friends over. Its taco time.
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Carbonara Makes the Dog Sneeze

Carbonara Makes the Dog Sneeze

You know you're doing something right in the kitchen when before things even start to bubble on the stove, before the garlic hits the simmering butter, before the whole kitchen smells of wintery stew - the dog is perched on the floor behind you. This is Frank, she's the closest thing we've got to a farm dog. When we cook, she stares intently into our souls and silently begs us to drop something on the floor.

And maybe it isn't our culinary prowess that draws the dog in. Maybe it's the fact that dogs have over 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses, compared to 6 million in humans. So Frank's brain is able to process that bacon is on the counter 40 times faster than ours can.

Tim's childhood dog was a foodie too. Sunshine, a beloved Dachshund, would sneeze uncontrollably when Tim's parents made carbonara, a sign of her excitement.The intoxicating aromatic melody of bacon and cheese was too much for Sunshine to take, and the sneezing would begin.

Carbonara is one of our all time favorite recipes.  Perfectly cured bacon, fresh pasta, and farm eggs. Its rich, its unctuous... A meal worth sneezing about. 

(Let the dog lick the plate. She loves that pasta 40x more than you do.) 
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Salty Treats

Salty Treats

There is something deeply rewarding in hearing feedback from our members. Good, bad or ugly - every opinion you share with us helps us grow this business, polish it and make it a better experience for everyone. Keep it coming!

We hear a lot about the products we include. Things that could be excluded, and things you love. One of our members wrote last week: "This is the 2nd time I've received that garlic from the Family Dinner shipment, and HOLY CRAP that is the best garlic I've ever had. Just so you know, life changing garlic. " Thanks, Danielle. We had no idea Garlic could be such a superhero.

As much as people love kale and yogurt, we also hear A LOT of rave reviews about the treats. The pecan rolls, donuts holes and general magic from Vinal Bakery seem to delight the soul.  This week we are rolling the Treat Dice and offering you ... a Salty Treat.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Brewer's Crackers. These guys are delicious, sustainable crackers made from the Spent Grains of local breweries. (There is NO alcohol content in them!) Kyle Fiasconaro, the owner and baker, describes spent grains: 

"Spent grains are a valuable by-product from the beer making process. They are rich in amino acids, protein, fiber, and most importantly, flavor! To start the brewing process, brewers steep super high-quality grains, like barley, in water. They then strain this mixture, keeping the liquid to make beer and discarding the 'spent' grains. Turns out, these grains are still incredibly flavorful AND the steeping process actually unlocks valuable nutrients."

On how he got started Kyle says:
"As a young cook and forager, I befriended brewers and farmers across the country from Long Island to Colorado. I saw that there was a tremendous opportunity to not only capture the flavors of freshly made craft beer but to also do our part in completing the sustainable food chain... This habit quickly became a mission as I met more like-minded people across the country. Eventually witnessing hundreds of pounds of spent brewers grain from a local brewery heading to compost led me to wrack my mind for what could be done to 'Eat' that beer. What started out as a small project grew into a passion."

We love Kyle's passion and dedication to Zero Waste. We love those little crackers even more.

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Family Dinner heads South!

Family Dinner heads South!

One of the very best parts of this job, beyond the weekly cornucopia of delicious goodies, is the people you meet. The amazing customers, talented farmers and the incredible, mission-driven colleagues in the field.  In the latter category Pan Denholm, of South Shore Organics, is the top of the class.
 
Pam started South Shore Organics in 2010, when Farmers' Markets were starting to take off and CSA's were gaining in popularity. Her aim was to provide the missing link for busy families: connection to local growers and purveyors through a convenient delivery. Pam wanted to develop a service that supported her community, but was scaleable. Farmers markets served immediate neighborhoods, CSA's relied on meeting at drop points, but with Pam anybody on the South Shore could get a delivery. (Sound familiar, Family Dinnerists?) This service was scaled over time, bringing delicious food to thousands of doorsteps. It became a year-round sustainable, reliable support for local growers who could not only plan their seasons, but find way to extend them into the off season.
 
Sadly, as many of you know, South Shore Organics closed its doors at the end of March. Their last delivery was March 23rd, but their impact will be felt much longer. In Pam’s tenure SSO made over 100,000 deliveries, spent over $1.5M at local farms and donated over 50,000 pounds of produce to food pantries. Hers is an extraordinary contribution to the causes of farmers, environmentalists and fervent foodies alike.
 
Pam’s vision and her commitment to supporting local farmers is inspiring. We are humbled and proud to be working with her and her dedicated customers to bring Family Dinner to the South Shore. We hope to continue her mission and make her proud!

To our new South Shore Customers, welcome to Family Dinner. We are so happy to have you!

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Love you can taste.

Love you can taste.

Sarah from Vinal Bakery proposed Maple Pecan cookies for this week (that's her in the photo). The Maple Syrup is harvested from her family home in New Hampshire where her dad has been sugaring as a hobby since the 1970's. Its a labor of love, done the old fashioned way with buckets, not the plastic tubing you see in larger operations. They have a small harvest, yielding 6-8 gallons a year and  the results are heaven. Plus, its fun. Sarah says: "We love doing it as a spring activity - gets us outside after a winter cooped up. We all love sitting around the fire drinking beer with friends while watching the sap boil. A New England tradition."

Pure maple syrup, like Sarah's Dad's, is made from boiling the sap of a Maple tree. Nothing more. Big name syrups like Aunt Jemima have corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and caramel color as their top ingredients, not a drop of real syrup to be found. (also, what the heck is a "caramel color" and where do you find that in nature? Is there a Caramel Color Tree the Quaker Oats guy climbs to pluck off a few and throw it in the basket alongside the fruit from the Sodium Hexametaphosphate Bush?)

Real ingredients matter and they make beautiful products like these cookies.All that tradition and love translates into a well-crafted and delicious product. We hope you love them.
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It's all Greek to me.

It's all Greek to me.

Greek and Mediterranean cuisines seem like the anti-Winter Foods. They are bright, colorful and packed with flavors that recall more summery months. Lots of grilled meats, fresh greens and citrus. You feel light and healthy just looking at it. (This, of course, is excusing dishes like Moussaka which layer ground meat and eggplant and top them with an exquisite bechamel-type sauce. Each plate weighs about as much as a Prius but dang is it good.)

This week we have fresh chickens from Tad at Feather Brook Farms, Greek inspired spices from Claire at Curio Spices, fresh pita, and yogurt from Luke at Brookford Farm. We are also thrilled to have harvested another round of Micro Greens from Clark Farm (pictured above). The Micro Broccoli shoots are just dying to be the finishing touch to your grilled chicken, fish or salads. They don't require a whole lot of attention, just a touch of olive oil and you're on your way.

Just walking into Andrew's greenhouse at Clark filled us with a wave of optimism. Winter isn't eternal. Root Veggies aren't all life has to offer (though we love them). Green things are boldly bursting out of greenhouses, clamoring to soon be in the ground. We can't wait to share them all with you.
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Food Labels and the Meaning of Life

Food Labels and the Meaning of Life

This week's writing is a bit conflicted.  We wanted to share our own thinking about the labels you see in grocery stores. Catchy and attractive adjectives describing food; words like "local" and "fresh" get bantered about pretty willy-nilly. Especially because the definitions of those words, which seek to be so meaningful, are actually quite vague. If you drag out your momma's Webster's, scan over to "local", you'll see its defined as "characterized by or relating to position in space having a definite spatial form or location".

What does that really mean? Local to where? To whom? We're willing to turn the other cheek in Target when we see "organic gummy bears" but what is local about boxed Mac and Cheese? How is this local to Boston?

But we're not about to stand on a sustainably-sourced soap box about it. Nobody buys locally all of the time, including us. Nobody eats locally or organic all of the time, including us. 

What can we do?  If you care deeply about food, all of the hub-bub around food labels can leave in you in an existential crisis. For now, we believe the best thing we can do is highlighting food from local farmers and sharing that food to as many folks in our community as possible. Why do we do this? Because when you know who made your food, you have a much better idea of how it was made and what goes into it. Moreover, we love to talk about local producers and purveyors because we think food tastes better when you know where it comes from. Much better. Leagues and galaxies better. 

Oh, and this week we have blue potatoes. Nerd alert! They're blue due to the levels of natural anthocyanins, water soluble pigments they contain- what's up AP CHEM CLASS! They're beautiful and a little weird.

(We'll post a picture of these little blue pups in the AM, as soon as we get our hands on 'em!)

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So Fresh and So Clean!

So Fresh and So Clean!

Our Family Dinner marketing materials recently got a much needed facelift from Alex and Amanda, two of our customers who are also super talented designers. This fresh, clean design is a are Spring Veggie Cheat Sheets, telling how to prep and store the bounty ahead. We wanted the materials to be a bit like the emails; informative, a little bit quirky and totally gaga over fresh produce. 

These beautiful, fridge-worthy postcards will be part of series from the design duo. Check our their amazing work at sparkyart.com and alexmaeder.com.

Also, its Tim's Birthday this week. To celebrate, we got you big, BEAUTIFUL Rib-Eyes and T-Bones from Tad. Exactly what Tim would want for himself.  These are coming in at between 2-3 lb each, time to call a few friends for dinner. Ideas below. (For steaks, not friends.)
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Making New Friends and Baaaaad Jokes.

Making New Friends and Baaaaad Jokes.

One of our favorite things is traveling to meet with our farmers and making new friends along the way- like this little love who is one of the newest addition at Clark Farm in Carlisle.  We went to pick up the Broccoli micro greens that Andrew planted for us and immediately got distracted by the sheep. What micro greens? It took everything in our power not to throw her in the car, tighten her seatbelt (safety first) and speed off in cloud of dust. But that would have been... baaaaad.

(Like that joke.)

Speaking of making friends, what better way to make 'em and keep 'em than Tacos. Tacos speak the universal language of awesome and we are thrilled to again highlight the Organic Tortillas from Mi Tierra Tortillas in Hadley, MA. They use no additives and no chemicals; just water, corn and lime. As they say "100 % corn, in the way our forefathers intended." (I hope our forefathers also intended us to eat a plate full of tacos and wash them down with a cold beer or three, because that's what we intend to do.)

Finally, this week Fran from Red's Best told us that scallops were not to be missed.  Unable to resist ourselves, we included them on top of the haddock that can be fried to perfection for your Taco Time. Double dose of delicious.

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It's a delicious day in the neighborhood.

It's a delicious day in the neighborhood.

Often in this space we highlight a local farmer or ingredient or pair of overalls we are really excited about. This week we thought we would shine a light on a local organization we are proud to work with who is making a profound impact in our community.

The Somerville Homeless Coalition is a non-profit based in Davis Square in Somerville, taking a comprehensive look at the complex issue of homelessness. They run shelters, clothing and food drives, gift collections at the holidays etc.  They are an extraordinarily dedicated group of people whose motto is that they’re always trying to put "themselves out of business".

We’re in awe of what they do and have been trying to do our little bit to help. The first Sunday of every month Family Dinner brings a big, warm home cooked meal to the adult shelter. We buy as many ingredients from our farmers and purveyors as possible and spend the afternoon peeling, prepping and cooking dinner for 16 adults. Sometimes our farmers, like Tad, get really excited about the idea and donate 30 dozen eggs. Then, in addition to dinner, we find ourselves making giant mounds of scrambled eggs on a chilly morning. We really enjoy bringing Family Dinner to the broader community and finding ways in which food can be an expression of love and community. When you support Family Dinner you support this important mission and we are grateful for it.

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