Tag Archives: farmer’s market

Peaches

Here in Southern Illinois we are well into peach season.  Some farmers are running out while others are just getting going.  Either which way, there are lots of peaches at the market.

We were in luck this past weekend, one of the farmers agreed to sell us a big box of ‘seconds.’  For those who don’t know, ‘seconds’ consist of product that is not as nice or pretty as the vender wants to sell (bumps & bruises, bug & animal damage, too small, split pits, etc).   Often, you can get ‘seconds’ for a reduced rate.  With peaches (and most fruit) , if you are willing to spend some extra time picking around bad spots, you can still get some pretty great stuff!  The peaches we got from the market this week have already been made into sorbet, eaten raw, grilled, and frozen in the form of stewed peaches (good for a peach sauce or for sorbet at a later date).

However, first to look at what a peach is.  As usual, from wikipedia, some information about this great fruit!

  • Pphoto (10)eaches are native to North-West China
  • Peaches and nectarines are the same species
  • Peaches generally have a whitish or yellow inner flesh
  • Peaches have a fuzzy exterior (except when they are nectarines, then they are smooth)

When I think of peaches & how to eat them I think of them as dessert items or stand-alone snacks.  With this in mind… here are some good peach recipe ideas:

Peaches on the grill!
Yes, you can grill peaches!  Wash them & cut them in half and put the cut side down.  After it starts smelling amazing… you are good to go!  Take the peach off the grill & enjoy (don’t burn yourself, they’ll be quite hot).

Peaches with ice cream
We did this just the other night.  Washed the peach, cut it into small chunks, and put them in a bowl with vanilla ice cream – sprinkled some cardamom powder on top.  A fantastic twist on a simple dessert!

Stewed peaches
photo (9)This is what we did with the bulk of the peaches we purchased at the market.  Wash them, take the pits out and cut them into chunks or slices, then put them in a big pot (no water added) with the top on in the oven at 300 for a while.  A long while.  I think this pot was in the oven for two or three hours.

We did a variant of this recipe by adding some cardamom pods before sticking the pot in the oven.  Really added a great flavor!  Be sure to remove the cardamom pods before eating…

Peach sorbet
Make a simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar) – add ingredients, bring it to a boil.  Chill the simple syrup (for several hours).  Stew some peaches – you can do this in the oven as mentioned above or on the stove in a pot.  Then cool the peaches (for several hours).  Mix the syrup and peaches – use an immersion blender (or regular blender) to puree the mixture.  Then follow the directions of your ice cream maker.

Peach Salsa
4 large, ripe peaches, diced.  ~1/2 cup finely chopped red onion OR green onion, 2-3 garlic cloves, minced 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped 1 small jalapeño, seeded, and finely chopped.  Add juice of 1 lime, drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste… Increase any of in the ingredients to balance flavors as you like. Salsas have great flexibility for that! You could add chopped cherry tomatoes to this too.  Best if made day before you plan to eat to let the flavors marinate together.

I asked on Facebook for some peach ideas…  Here are some of what I got (I also got the photo you see below…):

  • Peach Jam with maple syrup & ginger 1077760_10100694196012694_1779761661_o
  • Several peach drink recipes
  • Gorgonzola stuffed, prosciutto wrapped, peached (baked) with a balsamic reduction glaze
  • Peach cobbler
  • Peach cake
  • Fruit salad. Peaches, cherries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries (or whatever else you want to throw in there). Mix together sugar, fresh basil and just a little bit of ground pepper until sugar is moist. Stir in with fruit and let sit at room temp for 15-30 minutes until juicy. Stir in lime juice.

Finally, some peach tips:

  • A peach is ripe when you squeeze it gently the flesh should give slightly.  Also, it should smell amazing (like a ripe peach).
  • To get the skin off of a peach, boil water in a big pot.  Put the peach in the pot (I use a big spoon to eliminate splash).  Let the peach ‘cook’ for 1-2 min.  Then pull the peach out.  It will be HOT!  Let cool & the skin should slide off with a gentle squeeze of your fingers.
  • Both cardamom (as mentioned above) and cinnamon go very well with peaches.

Oh, and let us not forget the Cobden Peach Festival in southern Illinois this weekend!

So, how do you enjoy peaches? Do you have amazing peach ideas to share? 

Basil

It is basil season!  Woah!  It was all over the market last weekend & will continue for the next few weeks I’d imagine.  I love basil season.

photo (9)This was the fresh herb basket at the market the other day.

What I’m currently learning more about are the different varieties of basil.  I knew there was a lemon basil, Thai basil, a purple basil, and sweet basil – photo 1but I didn’t know about the holy basil variety. Holy cow that smells different!  At times, it might be a bit overwhelming.  Our local farmer introduced me to this variety.  It is VERY different.  We have tried it a few different ways this week.

As usual, some background from wikipedia

  • basil is from the mint family (Lamiacae)
  • basil was originally discovered in India & other tropical areas of Asia
  • basil has been cultivated for more than 5000 years
  • most varieties of basil are annuals
  • Sweet Basil is typically found in Italian food
  • Thai, holy, and others are typically found in Asian food

In my head, basil was mostly linked directly to a nice caprese salad.  I also thought of it a lot in red pasta/pizza sauce.  I also knew sweet basil was a primary ingredient in most pesto sauces.  As I have cooked more, I started to use Thai basil more in my cooking.  I actually assumed Thai basil and Sweet basil were totally unrelated.  Go figure!

Basil Pesto:
I’m sure there are a million versions of pesto recipe’s.  A basic one includes a big bunch of cleaned basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and parmesan (optional) – all blended together in a food processor.  Change the ratio around to taste.  Variants include blanching the basil leaves first, toasting the pine nuts, using pecans or other nuts, or adding other herbs (cilantro!).  Please feel free to post your favorite pesto recipe in the comments.
It is also super easy to freeze pesto.  Make your pesto then put it ice cube trays in the freezer.  After a few hours, it should be solid.  Then transfer the pesto to a large plastic bag.  Label the bag and store it in your freezer.  Whenever you need pesto, just grab one of the chunks!

Basil Pizza:
We make pizza somewhat frequently.  Fresh basil on a pizza can be wonderful.  A very simple pizza can include a light dusting of red sauce, some whole basil leaves, fresh sliced tomatoes, and slices of fresh mozzarella.  Another option is to put the basil pesto on the pizza as your sauce instead of a red sauce.  We LOVE this.  It creates quite an amazing base to your pizza.  Try pesto, caramelized onions, and anchovies – if you want to try a family favorite.

Caprese Salad:
A favorite of mine!  Slice some tomatoes, some fresh mozzarella, and some basil on top.  Be sure to sprinkle some balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and some salt & pepper to taste.  This is a lovely salad is quick and easy.  Try to find some heirloom tomatoes at your local market and experiment with the different tastes.  That can really enhance the flavor profile of your salad!

Basil Lemon sorbet:
Our farmer friend was really trying to encourage us to try something creative with the Holy basil.  There was a sale on lemons at the store.  We used google.  We found this great recipe on the Oh My Veges blog.  Unfortunately we do not have Meyer lemons around- but, normal lemons worked well.  The Holy basil added a HUGE flavor punch to the sorbet.

Basil in your Omelet/eggs:
We regularly make scrambled eggs with herbs.  Cutting up some fresh basil and mixing it into your eggs (while you scramble them) along with some salt & pepper can add some great flavor to your breakfast.

Basil with various other dishes:
Adding basil to sautéed seasonal vegetables can be great.  We were cooking summer squash the other day  with some left over garlic scapes we found buried in a friend’s fridge the other day – added some chopped basil and it was great!
You could also add some fresh chopped basil to baked fish.
Basil as a primary ingredient in a soup stock would be lovely too.  You could freeze that easily for use in the colder months.

photo 2

With all of these great ideas for basil you might want to have basil around throughout more of the year.  Basil is easy to store.  You can wash the leaves, dry them, then put them flat in a large freezer bag in the freezer.  We do this with basil and cilantro.

Lots of great ideas for basil here.  Wondering what are some of your favorite uses? Please leave a comment!

Cabbage

Our local farmers have been bringing cabbage to market for a few weeks now.  I generally think of cabbage as a filler or as something in sauerkraut.  However, this week I found a recipe in Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian that made me do a double take!

photo (8)First off, a bit about cabbage!  According to wikipedia, cabbage is related to broccoli, cauliflower, and brussel sprouts.  Cabbage heads range from 1-8 pounds.  Typically the ones we’ve been seeing at our local market are in the smaller 1-3 pound size.  As you can see in the photo, they come in a variety of colors and have different appearances.

Recipes:

As usual, I asked around on facebook and twitter for recipe ideas.  Most of the suggestions this week came in via facebook.

Pat MacPherson:  sauteed cabbage with dill and caraway. and butter!

Lindsay Iversen Martha knows:http://www.marthastewart.com/939039/braised-red-cabbage

Martha Ware Peaceful Meadow Retreat’s Probiotic Cultured Veggies:http://www.peacefulmeadow.com/resources/recipes/making-cultured-vegetables/

All look interesting!

1002758_10101410101277558_1277705907_nWe made a really interesting dish earlier this week that we recommend for sure!  As I mentioned earlier from the Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian cookbook, she has a Cabbage with Rice and Currants – Tembel Dolma – from Turkey.  This dish was really interesting.  I found another blogger posted the recipe here.  The dish was really interesting!  The spice base was dill and cinnamon, which is a combination I had never heard of (or even thought about).  The house smelled amazing and the dish was great!  It also stayed fresh very well in the fridge for leftovers & was even more delicious paired with a split bean dal.  Strongly recommended.

Anyhow, those are some notes about cabbage.  Sorry, no family secret sauerkraut recipe, although I’d love one! I’ve actually never made it – even though I am a huge fan.

How do you enjoy cabbage? 

Summer Squash

This week we are talking about summer squash!  I figure mid-July is late enough in the year to examine this fruit – that is often treated as a vegetable!

First off, there are many many different items that are loosely classified as ‘summer squash.’  There are zucchini, yellow squash, pattypan squash, tromboncino….  The list goes on & on!  For the most part, all of them can be used the same way & are part of the Cucurbita pepo family.  (Thank you Wikipedia!)

IMG_4723IMG_4721IMG_4719

Photos of some small summer squash we found while in Montreal last week visiting the Jean-Talon Marche.

photo 1Our local farmers are all selling various summer squash now.  We got some amazing zucchini and yellow squash from River to River Farm this week at the Canon Park Market.  They were also selling patty squash.

Interestingly enough, (thanks Wikipedia again) summer squash are really just under-ripe winter squash varieties.  These particular varieties typically have softer outer ‘skins’ which can typically be eaten raw or cooked.

Cooking ideas:
As usual, I reached out on Facebook and Twitter for ideas about how to cook this week’s item.  I received a great idea from @TinaTormey this week:

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 6.47.36 PM   CDT    Thursday, July 11, 2013AD

 

 

 

Sautéed:
This is a favorite method of ours.  Wash your squash, cut off the ends (typically a stem is on one end), then slice the squash into bite sized pieces.  We often slice them into ‘half moons’ (usually with zucchini or yellow squash) – to do this, take the squash, cut it lengthwise to end up with two long pieces, then slice the squash up the length of the fruit.  You end up with little pieces looking like half moons.

From there, put some olive oil in a warm skillet, let the oil warm up, and toss the squash in!  Let them heat up some – you will notice them starting to sweat a bit and change size/color a bit.

To spice this up, add some garlic (before you cook them) or really any spices you like.

Grilled:
1044203_10101401048878638_836205514_nI feel like we grill a lot of vegetables!  But, summer squash grills really well too!  On Tuesday, at our weekly grill-out, we grilled up some zucchini.  We had cut them long wise, marinated them in olive oil and salt/pepper.  As a reminder, grilled zucchini (especially cut thicker like I sometimes do) takes a lot longer to grill than you might expect, and if they’re in strips they can slip between the bars on the grill.

In this photo you see the zucchini, some red peppers, and some local beef sausages from Josh at Lick Creek Beef.

Steamed:
Prepare the same way you did the sautéed squash & steam instead!

We also put squash in a wide variety of dishes.  Today, we put some zucchini in a recipe of Dal that we had for lunch.  It was dal-icious!

How do you like your summer squash? What recipes do you put it in?

The flowering top of a cabbage: aka Broccoli!

Yes, in Italian, the word broccolo refers to the flowering top of a cabbage… or so wikipedia tells me.

A few weeks ago we were delighted to hear from our farmer friends at River to River photo (7)Farm that they would have broccoli!  I love broccoli.  There was a time in my life where I ate rice and broccoli doused in soy sauce for most meals.

In this post, I’m going to talk about broccoli and then share three simple ways to prepare broccoli.

But first, some information about this wonderful vegetable.  Yes, it is a vegetable.  Broccoli is high in vitamin C and dietary fiber.  Broccoli has some amazing anti-cancer compound in it.  However, if you boil the broccoli, the power of the anti-cancer compound is reduced (thank you wikipedia…).

You can eat the whole thing.  The stem, the leaves, and the large flower-like head. I typically find the stalk to be pretty tough, but when sliced, it can be quite delicious, too (you can also peel the stalk if you prefer).

Generally I like my broccoli lightly steamed.  I take a fork and fork the broccoli before I start cooking it to see how tough it is – then steam it for a few minutes.  I’ll fork it again and when my fork easily goes in – then I know it is ready (or just past ready usually…).

Three more recipe ideas:

Roasted Broccoli
Rinse the broccoli, cut it into bigger than bite sized pieces, place the broccoli on a roasting pan with olive oil, garlic, and herbs (I like rosemary) – then roast it in the oven for 20-30 min.  You should have a pretty well done broccoli head by then.  I would typically roast it with many other vegetables – but, just broccoli works too!

Raw Broccoli
Wash, cut up into bite sized pieces and eat.  Many folks like to dip their broccoli in various dipping sauces.  I personally love having fresh hummus with mine.  You can also cut the stalk into matchstick sized slivers & make a broccoli coleslaw.

Sautéed Broccoli
Wash, cut to bite sized pieces and add to any stir-fry you are doing.  Broccoli will want to cook less than a carrot but longer than a bell pepper.  Typically for a nice big stir-fry, I would start with oil in a pan, add garlic and onion.  Let that go till the onion is translucent.  Then I’d add any root vegetables (carrots, turnips, parsnips…).  Let that go for a bit.  Now is time for ginger if you are fan – chopped.  If you plan on adding a protein now is the time (tofu, turkey chunks, chicken chunks…).  Add the ‘medium’ vegetables like broccoli.  Add any lighter vegetables like snow peas, peppers, green beans….  From there – I might also add some greens like spinach, kale, or swiss chard.  Finally, I’d add some sort of sauce.  Usually a simple soy/tamari works –  you can spice it up with hot sauce or asian hot sauces.  Serve over a bed of rice.

So, that’s some on the broccoli!  Who knew it was part of the cabbage family! (other than my smarter half… o well.  It is also related to other brassicas such as brussel sprouts.).

How do you like your broccoli? 

Kohlrabi… what?

This week we are talking about Kohlrabi.  By the end of this post my hope is that you are familiar with the vegetable enough to buy one and eat it!

To start with this is what a kohlrabi looks like.photo 1

Kohlrabi is part of the cabbage family.  There are three basic parts to this vegetable.  The leaves, outer skin, and inner parts.  The leaves and inner parts are eatable.  Treat the leaves as you would any cooking greens.  The inner parts are similar in texture to a radish or broccoli stems.  The taste is similar to broccoli stems, jicama, or maybe even a faint apple or potato.

According to the folks at the Natural Agricultural Library… kohlrabi is full of some good vitamins and minerals.

Our farmer friends from River to River Farm asked us to take a closer look at this vegetable this week and present some cooking options.  So, here goes!

Grilled
photo 2After some googling & asking around someone mentioned grilling the kohlrabi.  We have a weekly grilling night with some co-workers so we figured we’d give it a try!  We cut the kohlrabi into ~1/4 inch slices, brushed with olive oil, stuck them on skewers, and grilled for 10-15 min.  They were amazing!  We are definitely doing this again.

Raw
We often try foods raw first.  We sliced the kohlrabi up and put some salt, pepper, and olive oil on them,  They were good.  I see us putting small pieces in salad in the future.

Roasted
We love roasted veges.  Toss an assortment of vegetables in a baking pan with olive oil and let your 350 degree oven do its magic for about an hour.  With the kohlrabi, I’d cut them into 1/2 inch chunks.

Kohlrabi Curry
We have been on a big Indian food kick lately.  Preparing for some upcoming blogs posts…
I googled and found these two posts: Kohlrabi Curry & Kohlrabi Greens Curry – I knew we needed to try them both.  We followed the recipe’s (minus the pressure cooker – as we don’t have one yet) and found both to be a bit bland – but good.

Kohlrabi and feta quiche
Plan on trying this recipe next weekend.  Looks good to me!

So, those are some ways to use this great vegetable!  Who would have thought something that looks vaguely like an alien could taste so good!

What have your experiences been with the kohlrabi? How do you prepare it?

Garlic scapes!

If you follow the blog you probably read the post about green garlic.  We also really like garlic scapes, and the great thing about garlic scapes is that they are seasonal and they only come once a year!

Right now we are in garlic scape heaven.  We made garlic scape pesto last weekend & have been putting it on everything this week (eggs, salmon, rice, greens, bread, pizza).

To start with, what is a ‘garlic scape?’  Great question.  The scape is part of the photo (6)plant.  In the photo to the right, the scape is the white part with the little bump in it.  The friendly wikipedia page says that the scape “generally refers to a long internode forming the basal part or the whole of a peduncle. Typically it takes the form of a long, leafless flowering stem rising directly from a bulbrhizome, or similar subterranean or underwater structure.”  In my own words, the scape shoots out from the top of the plant (right around now).  The scape actually contains the seeds of the garlic plant & the flower!  If you do not cut the scape off, the plant would bloom and eventually little baby garlic plants would spread all over the place.  However, if you do cut the scapes off, you get an extra boost of energy going into your garlic bulbs (instead of into the flower)!  Just in case you didn’t know, the garlic bulb grows under the ground at the base of the plant.

photo (5)Enough of that! So, what to do with the scapes? As I mentioned already, we have been cooking them in everything.  The good news is that the scapes keep for a while in the fridge after they have been harvested.

Most of the ways you can use a scape are the same as how you can use the green garlic I wrote about a few weeks ago.  Easiest thing to do: make the scapes into a pesto.  Then put the pesto on everything

There are many pesto recipes out there.  A basic one: use a food processor to blitz some garlic scapes (rinsed), olive oil, & add salt & pepper to taste.  That’s it.  Super simple. We made a nice sized batch (1/2 pint) with about 10 scapes in it.  Then put it in a glass jar and it is now in our fridge.  Have we mentioned we’ve been putting it on everything?

Some great uses of the pesto include sautéing with greens and eggs; pan frying salmon with pesto; or using the pesto on pasta or pizza.  We have cooked with all of these methods in the past few days.

Other ideas for using the scapes.  When I asked on Facebook, I was told that scapes are good in soup stock, grilled, or chopped up mixed with olive oil and used as a dip for bread.

How do you use your garlic scapes?  

Beets and Chard!

The vegetable of the week is… beets & chard.  One thing that is interesting about beets & chard is that they are the same species!  They’ve been cultivated for different purposes though.  We grow chard for the leaves of the plant, whereas we grow beets for the roots (& the leaves if we’re eating them in season).

Chard is great sautéed with onions & garlic (or garlic scapes!).  It is versatile & may be added to soups or stews (it’s especially great sautéed in a little olive oil & added to a day-old soup or stew to revitalize the stew), fresh pasta dishes, small fresh leaves can be added to salads.  When we make lasagna we add a layer (sautéed) of whatever cooking greens we have in the house.  Of course you could look back at the blog post about braising greens

Beets are also quite versatile.  They can cut into chunks and roasted in the oven with olive oil, rosemary and whole garlic cloves (try adding a little balsamic at the end as well!), for a less beet-y experience you can roast them with other root & winter vegetables (carrots, parsnips, onion, winter squash, fennel, etc).  We have a friend who mentioned roasting beets with some mint – then serving it cold.  She said it was wonderful!

Beets can be boiled, drained, and eaten warm or cold.  The roots add a bright red color to anything — a small beet (or a quarter of a beet) can be added when juicing other vegetables or fruits for a splash of intense red color.

We even went to a restaurant in Nashville a few weeks back and enjoyed Honey Beet ice cream.  It was lovely!

This photo was taken this past weekend at our local Farmer’s Market.  River to River Farm was selling beets (next to their green garlic).

photo

Since I (Brian) don’t really like beets, my partner Magdalen wrote most of this post.  She has better grammar than I do & is very excited about beets as you can tell.

How do you enjoy your beets?

Green Garlic??

This week’s summer market related post is about Green Garlic.

Yes, Green Garlic!
This is not something I have ever seen in a grocery store- but I’m sure it is sold somewhere…

At the farmer’s market this week – look for green garlic!

spring-veg-green-garlic-lg

Ok, so what is this? It looks a bit like scallions or green onions.  Actually it is 100% not that!
Green Garlic – is actually the garlic plant harvested early.

You can actually eat almost all of the plant.  We cut the roots off and then chop the bottom white part up through the beginning of the green leaves and treat it almost like garlic or scallions.  So, we’ll toss it in a stir-fry but we’ll also eat it raw on a salad.  The green leafy parts can be used to add flavor to a stock or soup.

This week we’ve been eating our green garlic in a variety of dishes.  I’ve had it in salad (lettuce, green garlic, cilantro & oil/vinegar) and also in burgers.  When we make burgers we add minced garlic – so, instead of mincing garlic – I just chop up some green garlic & throw it into the burger mix!

The flavor of green garlic, for me, is a very light garlic-y taste.  I find it to be very refreshing – vs a raw garlic taste which can be overpowering!

So, go ask your local farmer for some green garlic!