Historically, we place a lot of emphasis on a minuscule moment when a clock alerts us to the “end” of one year and the “beginning” of another year. We let go of the old calendar year and welcome what we hope will be a promising new year. It’s an apt time to reflect on our intentions and efforts from the past and resolve (make resolutions) to do more (or maybe less) and improve in the new year. And while we support all well-intentioned resolutions, our tradition for the last decade or so focuses on more revolutions than resolutions.
We continue to be intrigued by the paradox and the possibility of the word, revolution. The word means a complete turn or return, like the earth’s trip around the sun as well as a far-reaching change, like the digital revolution. Composting is a simple example of a revolution, a centuries old practice with regenerative results. Heirloom fruits and vegetables populate our farmers market as we revisit products that have been grown in backyard gardens for years. More and more books are published on fermentation and canning methods as we rediscover the healthy and delicious old ways to stock our pantries with less processed foods. A food revolution returning again and again. Yet, one that continues to evolve from tall plates, to ethnic recipes tweaked to make use of a new country’s produce, to plant centered plates. There is ample room to return and to renew, to reflect and to challenge, to acknowledge and to revamp.
Each year as we reflect, we return to the core of what keeps us resolute; our community, close and more distant. Like the recurring threads of the past, present and the future, our spaces intertwine and we offer warm wishes for a healthy, peaceful New Year filled with nutritious and delicious food shared at the table.
Revolutions At Classic:
In 2023, we composted over 20 tons of organic matter.
We diverted another 80 tons of waste product into recycling.
With every kilowatt of power we used, we invested back into renewable energy sources.
We cooked for, contributed to and supported over 75 non-profit organizations within our community and beyond, supporting children, wellness, the environment and education among other things.
We partnered with multiple organizations to send over 1,200 pounds of unconsumed food throughout our community to mitigate food waste.
The Harbor Splash event scheduled to take place in 2024 is being organized by the Healthy Harbor Initiative. The project indicates progress in turning the Baltimore Harbor into a swimmable, fishable space. Participants, aged 18 and older, will jump into the harbor at Bond Street Wharf in a supervised event. Over the past decade, the Healthy Harbor Initiative’s efforts, aided by investments and stakeholder collaboration, have significantly reduced sanitary sewer overflows, removed litter, and met Maryland standards for swimming at Maryland beaches. The event underscores a commitment to the harbor’s well-being and serves as a statement of positive transformation. This is one example of the Healthy Harbor Initiative’s educational programs and partnerships which encourage a connection to our urban eco-system.
Local and abroad:
The Cities Forward initiative pairs cities for collaborative efforts, and in this context, Baltimore has been paired with Cali, Colombia. This partnership exemplifies the program’s commitment to fostering international collaboration between cities. Through this pairing, Baltimore and Cali will work together to exchange knowledge, implement local solutions, and address common urban challenges, contributing to the overarching goals of promoting sustainability, inclusivity, and resilience in their respective communities. This cross-cultural collaboration aims to strengthen economic foundations, enhance sustainability efforts, and create a healthier environment for residents in both cities.Field Trip
Notes from a conversation with our friend John Shields, chef, television host and culinary ambassador of the Chesapeake Bay:
In our recent conversation you encouraged your chef friends to attend the 20thyear of Maryland’s Best Expo 2024. I remember attending the event, years ago at Oregon Ridge. The event serves as a pivotal platform for Maryland farmers, seafood producers and food makers to engage with local buyers from diverse sectors. It is now large enough to be held at the Navy- Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis. Can you tell us a little about the growth of the event and how it has evolved? Do you remember how it got started?
The idea started in 2003 in a basement with 24 farmers and growers, “speed dating”. Smaller regional expos, like the one in Oregon Ridge continued until it was consolidated into a single event in Annapolis, which continued to get better and bigger every year.
Why is this gathering important?
Everyone is so busy. By coming together on this one day, in the slower month of January, we have an opportunity to continue to build our local food movement and local economy. This has become a crucial space for culinary professionals, farmers, watermen and producers to converge, share stories and challenges and contribute to one another and the broader community.
What advantage is there in including products from local growers/producers in our dishes? What are some notable product discoveries that you have made wandering the show aisles?
By showcasing the region’s agricultural and seafood products in our menus, smaller independent markets and purveyors can flourish, offering increased variety and a positive shift in the health of the bay and our soil.
I appreciated finding hydroponic growers which allows us to offer local salad greens year-round. There is a promising addition of bay scallops being raised in Southern Maryland, lots of new-to-me distilleries, many fine cheesemakers and even artisanal crackers.
What might non-industry people gain from this gathering?
Owners, chefs and food industry professionals are on the frontline of educating the public on the benefits of supporting and helping to rebuild the local food economy. I call this the power of the pocketbook or wallet.
There are also lots of health benefits, both physical and mental from buying local and hence, seasonally. Celebrations and rituals connect us to place and season. When we connect to place, we naturally become stewards. When we eat in season, we connect to the wisdom inherent in nature which for example, provides us spring tonics made from strawberries and rhubarb to clean out the lingering toxins of the stagnant winter.
If you could ask a genie for one wish, what would be your wish for our food community 5 years from now?
It would be for continual improvement, where sustainable practices are integral to both culinary trends and the overall approach to seafood and meat consumption and positive changes in the health of people living near the watershed, reinforcing the interconnectedness of a thriving local food economy and community well-being.
John, this was fun and inspirational. Let’s continue the conversation!
To learn more, please check out Our Common Table, John Shields’ call to action to rebuild our local food economy which consists of promoting healthy, local, bay and body friendly food that brings us all a common table.
|From Our Library, Harriet’s Book Pick: Love Japan, Recipes from our Japanese American Kitchen by Aaron Israel and Sawako Okochi
It was inevitable that Love Japan, Recipes from our Japanese American Kitchen would land on my over-flowing bookshelf. I lived in Japan briefly in my twenties and was introduced to flavors, techniques and a respect for seasonal eating that made a lasting impression on me resulting in my affinity for Japanese things. Sawako Okochi and Aaron Israel, the married owners of the Brooklyn restaurant Shalom Japan, share their love story for each other and the comfort food they make at home for their family. The recipes are mostly Japanese leaning, but blend in Israel’s Ashkenazi Jewish heritage with recipes like Matzoh Ball Ramen and a Lox Bowl in which the downtown deli favorite meets sushi counter. The easy-to-follow recipes include the senses as guides in the kitchen and encourage the home cook to trust their instincts to go beyond the written word. Love Japan includes instructions for traditional homecooked meals, onigiri (rice balls), tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet), Japanese curry and miso soup as well as more interactive projects like Hotpot and Tabletop cooking. I was thrilled to find the recipe for chilled udon noodles with tsuyu dipping sauce. Slurping ice cold noodles with dipping sauce and toppings is the Japanese cooling method for a summer day and my memory of discovering this delicious solution after a blistering hot day of hiking in Japan remains firmly in my top ten aha taste moments.
From our Kitchen: Spicy Beef Stew | Carne Guisada Picante
Chef Jerome Dorsch
I picked this recipe because it is one that always comes to my mind this time of year when it’s cold and flu season. In my past positions as an Executive Chef in DC and Virginia, I enjoyed working with a chef from El Salvador named Santa like Claus. She was my top prep cook and kept me in line on many busy shifts. One cold winter day, I felt a cold coming on, so Santa quickly started prepping this stew for me and the rest of the staff. When I tried it, I was hooked! Not only is it delicious, it’s spicy and made me sweat the toxins out. She taught me how to make it for myself and I began preparing it for my family and for many staff meals during cold winter days. The great thing about it is that like most stews, it is better the next day.
2-3lbs stew beef (large diced)
1 cup onion (diced)
1 tbs garlic (minced)
1 jalapeno (minced)
1 tbs sazon1
2 tbs lite sodium soy sauce
1 cup diced tomatoes (canned)
1 tsp oregano
⅛ tsp cumin
½ tbs red pepper flakes or to taste
3 tbs tomato paste
1-2 tsp light brown sugar *optional
3-4 cups water
1 large sweet potato (diced)
2-3 potatoes (diced)
2 Zucchini (diced)
2 yellow squash (diced)
1 head celery (diced)
Season your beef with salt & pepper, adobo, sazon, soy sauce, tomatoes, oregano, and some olive oil.Mix together and marinate overnight for 1-2 days or at least an hour if you’re in a rush. The longer this dish marinates, the better.
Heat up pot on a medium flame with olive oil.
Then add beef making sure to brown each of the sides
Add onions & garlic then jalapeno. Saute for 2-3 minutes with beef.
Once the beef is browned on each side, add 3-4 cups of water. You want the water to cover the beef completely.
Cover the pot and let that boil for 1-1 ½ hours until the beef is tender. Be sure to check on the beef from time to time. If the water has dried out before the beef is tender, then feel free to add more water.
Once the beef is tender, cut up potatoes and carrots. Make sure to cut the potatoes roughly the same size so that they cook evenly.
Now add the regular potatoes and the carrots. Stir and add water if necessary. You want the water to cover the potatoes and beef.
Let the beef and potatoes simmer for 10 minutes then add sweet potatoes and stir.
We add the sweet potatoes second because they cook faster than regular potatoes. If you over cook sweet potatoes, they’ll dissolve into your stew, which will still make it taste it great.
After about 5-7 minutes, add the hot pepper flakes and stir again.Let that boil for another 5 minutes.
Now add the tomato paste and sugar and stir again.Let the stew boil until it reaches your desired thickness. Note– the longer it boils, the thicker it becomes. The stew will also thicken once the dish cools.
Click here to print the recipe.
January 2, 2024
January 2024: What Goes Around