The holidays were fun but after all of the preparation and the vast quantities of food, I’m definitely embracing a fresh start to the new year.
I’m not one for making resolutions but I did decide to increase my commitment to supporting local food producers and artisans in the New England area. Thankfully, we were able to start 2013 off on the right foot by visiting some of the winter farmer’s markets in our neck of the woods.
In the past, there was essentially no local food available where we live during the winter months. You either canned or froze food enough food for your family during the summer or you were stuck with the dead, lifeless and flavorless food that travelled thousands of miles to reach the nearest chain supermarket. Thank goodness things have changed.
Don’t get me wrong, we still enjoy canning and freezing food at the end of the summer. In fact, just last night we defrosted summer peaches and blueberries and used them to make a homemade crostada. That said, it's much nicer to engage in these activities for pleasure and not because there’s no decent alternative.
Farmers in our area take winter farming very seriously. Greenhouses and hydroponic farms are springing up all over the region. Our farmers are selling root vegetables like never before. This means we now have access to local winter lettuce, greens, vegetables - even tomatoes available on the coldest winter days. Meat, cheese and seafood are also local.
What’s really great is how the winter farmer’s markets also include local artisans and craftspeople. Local cheese, chocolate, honey, desserts, wines and specialty foods are plentiful. Local crafts are making a come back too. In fact, some locals are producing such beautiful yarn, I almost want to take up knitting. What a difference it makes on a dreary winter’s day to walk into a room full of color and delicious goodness.
Speaking of delicious goodness, I made some great double chocolate shortbread cookies. I love these cookies for a few reasons. First, you can whip up a batch in no time at all. Second, you don’t have to bake them right away- the dough can sit in the refrigerator for a few days. They’re also easy to pack and easy to freeze. Finally, they’re not overly heavy. They’re perfect with a good cup of coffee or tea. What a great way to start the new year.
What about you? What are you eating in 2013?
Double Chocolate Shortbread Cookies
2 egg yolks
1 tsp (4 g) vanilla extract
2 tbs (35 g) water
10 tbs.(150 g) unsalted butter
1 c (100 g) powdered sugar
2 1/4 c (300 g) all-purpose flour
1/4 c (35 g) cocoa powder
1/2 tsp (2.5 g) baking powder
1 pinch of salt
1 c (100 g) chocolate chips (the measurement here doesn’t need to be exact- add to suit your taste)
pure cane sugar for sprinkling
Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together and set aside.
In a small bowl mix the eggs, vanilla and water and set aside.
In a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until creamy. Gradually add the egg, vanilla and water mixture until blended.
Add dry ingredients and mix just until blended. Blend in chocolate chips on low speed.
On a silicone baking sheet or piece of parchment or wax paper, use the dough to roll a log with your hands. The length of the log will determine the size of your cookies. Mine was about 15 inches long. Roll the log in cane sugar, cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 325. Cut the cookie log into 1/2 inch slices. Lay flat and bake 18-20 minutes. Cool completely before eating. The cookies will taste best when completely cooled.
Special thanks to the Wayland Winter Farmer's Market for the wonderful food and photo opportunities!