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.

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Bisque

F.O.O.D. Focus on the Organic Difference
vol. 9 December 14, 2018

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

During the darkest weeks of the year, when the memories of tender greens and fresh harvests begin to fade, I always crave a heartier vegetable to take their place.  This is good, because much of what we have to sustain us throughout the season is winter squash.  Each year I seem to discover another variety of this versatile storage crop that I fall in love with.  But I always come back to butternut.  It is naturally sweet and aromatic, but solid and strong.  It is the perfect stand-in veggie for almost any recipe.

This bisque includes an entire roasted hot pepper (I used a fully ripe ghost pepper), which makes for quite a spicy and savory flavor profile.  But feel free omit the pepper all together or substitute a few red pepper flakes for a milder, sweeter dish that the whole family can enjoy.

Locally grown butternut has a bright orange hue and strikingly aromatic center.

Sweet and Spicy Butternut Bisque


3 cups organic butternut squash (about 2 small-medium)

4 cups organic chicken stock

½ cup raw organic cream

1 head organic garlic

3 small organic yellow onions

1 organic hot pepper

Dash of cinnamon

Dash of nutmeg

3 Tbs organic butter

1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

Roasted vegetables create a deeper flavor profile when used in recipes.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut butternut squash in half, length-wise. Remove seeds and membrane.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet, pierce skin to allow steam to escape and bake in preheated oven until tender, about 1 hour.
  • While squash is cooking, you can also roast the garlic, onion and hot pepper. Cut the top 1/4 inch off the head of garlic as well as the onion.  Place these as well as the hot pepper on a square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle each with olive oil and wrap with surrounding foil. Place in a small baking dish and cook in preheated oven for 45 minutes.  After removing from the oven and cooling, gently separate garlic cloves from peel, onion from the skin and the hot pepper from the stem.
  • Once squash is roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. Scoop pulp out of shell and place in a blender or food processor.  Add chicken stock, garlic cloves, onion, hot pepper, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and sea salt.  Blend until smooth and fully combined.  Add cream and blend again.
  • Heat on the stovetop until desired temperature is reached. Top with a drizzle of organic raw cream and swirl with a skewer for visual interest.  Enjoy!