Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 12 January 4, 2019

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

With a new year comes excitement, resolution, a clean slate, and often, clean eating habits.  Now is the perfect time to resolve to eat more locally and organically.  Do it for the environment, for your neighboring farmers, and for yourself.  Eating organically can improve the health of the land, the health of the plants and animals that live on the land, as well as significantly improve the health of your family.  We at NOFA/Mass believe this wholeheartedly, and commend you for taking any small steps you can to choosing organic.

If you are new to living the locavore lifestyle, you may find it difficult to source local organic ingredients in the middle of winter.  In some cases you may still be able to purchase root vegetable crops or greenhouse grown crops from local farms.  Search The Organic Food Guide’s database for the vegetables that you’re looking for to see what farms near you may offer during the winter months.

Another great commitment that you can make in the beginning of a new year is to sign up for a CSA.  Now is the time to research the farm shares offered in your area and compare pricing, variety, and pick up options.  If you’re the DIY type, you could also resolve to attend one of the upcoming NOFA/Mass educational events and increase your food growing knowledge to produce your own food and take control of your diet.

Yellow onions can be dried and stored throughout the winter.

If you’ve been at this locavore thing for a while now, and you happen to have a freezer and a root cellar, you likely already have all the Massachusetts grown ingredients featured in this week’s recipe at hand.  Brighten up these dark days by making this fantastically colorful Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry.

Choose organic carrots grown by farmers that are committed to regenerative agriculture.

Winter Cast Iron Stir Fry


  • 2 large organic beets
  • 1 large organic onion
  • 2 organic carrots
  • 2 cups organic kale
  • 1 lb organic ground pork
  • 1/2 tsp organic dried turmeric powder
  • 1 Tbs organic leaf lard
  • 1 tsp organic garlic powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt

 Use any variety of beets that you like best.


  1. Slice beets and carrots diagonally, leaving large chunks for texture.  Slice onions and chop kale.
  2. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.  Add leaf lard.  Once melted, add ground pork.  Cook until the outside is browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Push to one side of the pan.  Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Add onion, beets and carrots.  Cover and allow to steam for 10 minutes, or until beets and carrots are tender.
  4. Add kale.  Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  (If kale is previously frozen, defrost before adding to pan, or increase steaming time to 8-10 minutes.)
  5. Uncover.  Add garlic powder and turmeric.  Stir to combine and cook for another 3-5 minutes to allow extra moisture to evaporate.

Serve this colorful winter stir fry straight out of the cast iron skillet for a true farm house feel.

Turkey & Sunchoke Pot Pie with Crunchy Sweet Potato Crust

Turkey & Sunchoke Pot Pie with Crunchy Sweet Potato Crust

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 6  11/23/18

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

I was first introduced to sunchokes by accident.  Well, actually, it was more a matter of them being thrust on me than a gentle discovery.  In the early days of my local food crush, I saw an ad for someone selling horseradish root from their backyard garden.  Being new to gardening and having a few empty beds to fill, I made the hour drive to pick some up.

When I arrived at the suburban neighborhood, I was surprised to see a man standing in his driveway, digging along his white picket fence, dividing tubers in the two-foot section of soil between pavement and plastic.  He waved me in, greeted me with a gritty grip, and handed me a box of horseradish.  As I stood there making small talk with him, I was in awe of how much food he was growing in his tiny lot and how much joy he seemed to take in gardening.  His neighbors clearly did not share the same interest; their landscaped lawns trimmed short and lined with annuals blooms.

But the plot was not only productive, it was truly beautiful.  Tall yellow flowers shaded the place we were standing and created an extra layer of privacy between his house and the next.  I asked about these plants, guessing they were a type of sunflower meant for decoration only.  It was then that the man pointed to the basket of tubers he had been collecting from the ground beneath these towering blossoms.

photo courtesy Laura Davis of Long Life Farm, Hopkinton, MA

“Every had a Jerusalem artichoke?” he asked.  I hadn’t.  And these didn’t look anything like the artichokes I had seen in the store.  “Here, take some!  I have more than I know what to do with and nobody else in my family eats them.”

“Should I plant them or eat them?” I wondered.

“Both- plenty there to have a taste and save some too.”  He handed me the basket and turned away to continue his work.

Sunchokes are a thin-skinned tuber with a nutty taste and crisp texture.

And with that, I was the bewildered new owner of 5 lbs. of Jerusalem artichokes (also known as sunchokes) that I had no clue how to handle.  The planting story is one to tell for another day, but after a bit of research, I discovered that preparing them for eating can be a bit tricky too.  You see, sunchokes have another charming nickname that the man neglected to tell me.  Fartichokes.

As it turns out, sunchokes have a high amount of a polysaccharide called “inulin” in them.  Inulin has actually gained some popularity as a prebiotic supplement to improve gut health.  Read more about the health benefits of inulin here.  But the problem with it is that the human body cannot digest inulin, and when eaten in large amounts, the bacteria in the lower intestine breaks it down, producing methane in the process.  Resulting in an uncomfortable and embarrassing side effect.

Not to worry, dear friends, there is a solution.  Just boil your sunchokes in an acid solution (like lemon juice or vinegar) to break down the inulin into digestible fructose and glucose.  No more school yard name calling for these underappreciated roots.  And then you can use them as a replacement for starchy potatoes in this tasty comfort food favorite.

This grain free sweet potato crust provides just the right amount of crunch to compliment the savory filling.


For the pot pie:
4 cups cooked, shredded, pasture raised organic turkey
2 cups chopped organic carrots
2 cups chopped organic sunchokes
1 cup organic lemon juice
1 cup water
1 small organic leek
4 cups organic turkey stock
2 Tbs arrowroot powder dissolved in ½ cup water
2 tsp organic garlic powder
2 tsp sea salt

For the crust:
3 medium organic sweet potatoes, peeled and grated
1 pasture raised organic egg
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
½ tsp rep pepper flakes
Organic parmesan cheese for dusting, if desired

Eat fresh out of the oven to enjoy this crispy texture and moist gravy.


For the filling

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Combine 2 cups lemon juice with 1 cup water in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil and add chopped sunchokes.  Cover with a lid and simmer for 2-3 minutes.  Add chopped carrots (it’s okay if they are not completely submerged in lemon juice solution), replace the lid and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.  Strain sunchokes and carrots through a wire mesh colander and allow to cool.  Discard lemon juice.  (This makes a tasty treat for your chickens if you soak their feed in it overnight!)
  • While sunchokes and carrots are cooking, heat turkey stock in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Bring to a boil, then add arrowroot powder/water solution and bring to a boil again to thicken.  Simmer until it reaches a gravy-like consistency and season with garlic powder and sea salt.
  • Add cooked turkey, sunchokes, carrots and leeks to a large bowl.  Stir to combine, then lay in a 9×13” baking dish in an even layer.
  • Pour gravy over the meat and vegetables evenly.

For the crust

  • Place shredded sweet potato in a clean lint-free towel and squeeze out as much moisture as you can.  Add the dried sweet potato shreds to a large bowl.
  • Whisk the egg with sea salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes.  Add to bowl with sweet potato and mix well.
  • Spread the sweet potato and egg mixture over the filling in an even layer.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Turn up the temperature to 450 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes, until top is browned and crunchy.


Maple Cardamom Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Grain Free Maple Cardamom Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 5  11/16/18

By Christy Bassett for The Organic Food Guide and NOFA/Mass

Pulling carrots from the ground is one of my all time favorite gardening activities.  The bright green tops waving in the wind like a flag declare that there is more than meets the eye beneath the surface.  I grasp each banner individually, visualizing the hefty root that will be uncovered when I finally tug it free from the soil.

I know you’re in there, carrots…

More often than not, my ideas of carrot bounty are not quite actualized, since I never tend to thin them properly or pay close enough attention to the garden as they are growing.  The slender threadlike root stares back at me as I decide whether it is worth bringing into the kitchen or handing straight to the goats.  But, sometimes, the size of the prize exceeds my expectations.  It is a psychological rush to be rewarded with the occasional jackpot when you are bracing yourself for disappointment.


This year, our organic rainbow carrots were the stars of show.  Likely due to Mother Nature keeping the ground continually moist and NOFA/Mass enlightening us on soil amendments, we seem to have struck it rich in root vegetables.  I’m not complaining.  When life gives you carrots, make carrot cake.  Especially if it is this grain-free, organic, Scandinavian spiced, version of carrot cake.

Rinsing the dirt from these beauties was so gratifying.


Dry ingredients:
1 cup almond flour
1 cup coconut flour
¾ cup tapioca starch
1 ½ Tbs cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp cardamom
1 Tbs baking soda
4 cups shredded organic carrots

Wet ingredients:
1 cup maple syrup
1 cup organic applesauce (unsweetened)
8 large (or 12 small) organic, pasture-raised eggs, beaten
½ cup virgin organic coconut oil, melted
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp organic apple cider vinegar
1 cup chopped organic walnuts
1 cup organic raisins

For the frosting:
16 oz organic cream cheese (best if you make it yourself!), at room temperature
1/4 cup virgin organic coconut oil, melted, but not hot
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom

This moist, double layer cake will serve 16-20 guests.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  • Grease two 9” round cake pans
  • Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, adding shredded carrots last, tossing to coat.
  • In another bowl, mix wet ingredients together with a whisk. Then add to dry ingredients and stir well.
  • Add walnuts and raisins, dispersing into batter without overmixing.
  • Divide the batter evenly into the two greased cake pans. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until the top is firm and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool until you are able to handle the pans without burning yourself. Turn the pans upside down to release the cakes and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • To make the frosting mix the room temperature cream cheese in a stand-up mixer until smooth. Add the melted, but not hot, coconut oil and maple syrup.  Mix at low speed until incorporated, then whip until fluffy.
  • Spread an even layer of frosting on one cake, then place the second cake on top. Frost the cake as a whole.