Tag Archives: local

Eating through the freezer!

That is our mantra right now.

We have done a great job preserving food, finding amazing deals on local meat, and cooking amazing things… and then freezing all of it!  The problem is that we forgot to eat it!

Contents of our freezer currently include:

  • Ham steak from a local pig farmer
  • Two sets of pork chops from two different local pig farmers
  • Beef soup bones from a local beef farmer
  • Ground beef galore from two different beef guys
  • A package of bacon
  • A package of local Italian beef sausages
  • packages of soy sausage
  • at least 5 pieces of amazing salmon (including two full fillets)
  • a gallon of cilantrophoto (13)
  • a quart of basil
  • about 30 egg whites in quart bags (don’t ask)
  • 3 gallons of frozen blueberries
  • 2.5 gallons of frozen bananas
  • a few quarts of frozen strawberries
  • two quarts of frozen raspberries
  • a few quarts of frozen mango slices
  • an assortment of homemade sorbet
  • at least 4 quarts of various vegetable and meat stock

So, while it is awesome to have all of this (and more) — it is frustrating as some of it is from last season (or the season before…) !  We forgot to eat some of this stuff!  The thing that must go the soonest is actually the various sorbets.  I’ve discovered that some of those are actually two years old…

What makes things hilarious is that we just bought some lamb a few weeks ago – ate that within two days.  Then we got some more lamb from a friend – ate that over the past weekend.  Notice a trend there?

Welcome to operation ‘eat through the freezer.’  I’m currently melting a few tubs of the homemade sorbets to include in smoothies – or eat like one might eat applesauce.  I did this last week with some strawberry rhubarb sorbet and it was amazing.  Next up is some peach cardamom I think.

How do you ensure you don’t have food spending eternity in your freezer?

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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? 

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? 

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? 

Sugar Snap Peas

As spring slowly rolls into summer we start to see more than greens at the market!  This week I am excited to get some more sugar snap peas.  We have been enjoying these delicious pods all week.  Our peas, grown by Kris and Adriane of River to River Farm, are crisp and beautiful!

photo (5)This is what they looked like this week at the market.  Absolutely beautiful!

So, what to do with these?
One of the reasons I love sugar snap peas is that one can eat them raw or cooked.  We have been eating them raw more than cooked so far this season.  Most of the time, we just eat these by the handful – much as you might enjoy popcorn!  I should confess, we were watching a BBC show last night and snacked on raw sugar snap peas (we had a large bowl with the washed peas, and a bowl for the discarded tops & strings).

Peas & Mulberry Photo shoot-8696

Wether you are eating them raw or cooking them, it is important that you first wash your peas.  A quick run under cold water should do the trick.  Then you need to peel off the strings.  Typically we pinch the top (leafy) part of the pea, snap & peel the thin strings off.  To the left is a picture of a whole pea, a pea with the top snapped & partially peeled, and the pea to the right has had the strings removed & both ends snapped.  If the peas are less mature (smoother, flatter pods) they might not need their strings removed.  Some people also eat the strings, just figure out what works for you & do that!

Another way to eat snap peas is to saute them.  This can be done in a cast iron skillet with a little olive oil, wash & dry, take the strings off, and put them in the skillet for a few minutes, turning once.

Peas & Mulberry Photo shoot-8701Magdalen made some for herself to have with lunch the other day, they were super quick & easy (took less than 5 minutes) & delicious.  The pea pods were warm and they had a smoother, softer texture, with wonderful juicy pops when eating the warmed pea seeds.

Other folks steam their peas.  One word of warning, don’t overcook them!  They aren’t as yummy if you do!

Peas & Mulberry Photo shoot-8699

Here is a picture of three peas opened up so one can see the seeds:  As you can see, the one on the left is the most mature of the three, and the one all the way to the right is the least mature.  We like them when they’re right in the middle!  Happy picking!