June 29, 2011

Onions and a Rant about Nectarines

Every time that I feel like maybe I'm being a little over-zealous about the whole "local foods" thing, I end up doing something careless--such as buying a bag of nectarines at the grocery store because Jason was in the hospital, so I neglected to go to the farmers market--and my convictions are re-affirmed.

Listen, I don't want you to feel bad if you're buying your nectarines at the grocery store, but c'mon, taste the difference.  The farmers market nectarines, even the conventionally grown (non-organic) ones, have a certain nuance to their flavor, that this big bag of rocks lacks.  I'm just sayin'...


On a happier note, the weather cooled down yesterday and I'd just harvested most of our onions, so we had some delicious French Onion Soup for dinner.

June 27, 2011


Hospital food really bugs me. And okay, I've only had the hospital food in a handful of hospitals, but so much of it is so heavily processed...  Jason spent five days at Enloe recently because of terrible abdominal pain as a result of a very sick gallbladder.  They removed it last Wednesday, but he's still on a "very low-fat, soft food diet," which means he's eating pudding, sherbet, yogurt (not the good plain stuff, the highly-sweetened, heavily marketed stuff), canned soup, Cream of Wheat and Jello.

While he was there, of course, I made many trips to the hospital.  Grandma "cooked" for the kids, meaning they ate Spaghetti-Os, ham sandwiches and pizza while completely ignoring the brussel sprouts, beets and salad greens we'd purchased at the farmers market a week ago.

Finally we are all back home.  Tonight, while Jason "enjoyed" a bowl of canned soup, the girls and I made use of the salad greens:  Chicken and Beet Salad (with avocado for me) and a mustard vinagrette.

And while I may not be impressed with the food, I must give Enloe Hospital major props for their wonderful free valet service.  It was so great to not worry at all about finding a parking space.

June 18, 2011

Blackberry Soda

A blackberry-mint soda (blackberry-mint purée with club soda over ice) accompanied by a caramelly Salted Oatmeal White Chocolate Chip cookie to make everything right after a long day.


Kale and beet greens from the farmers market with chard from the garden, sautéed until tender with garlic, green onion and lots of bacon.  With a little salt, pepper, apple cider vinegar and sugar to season it.

June 14, 2011

Blackberry Mojitos

I figured out that I can celebrate local foods more effectively by not posting so many recipes, just simply mentioning how we use local produce in our meals, kinda like this gal does.  Often enjoying local produce is as simple as picking lettuce and herbs from the garden and dressing them with with a simple vinagrette.

But today, well, here is a recipe:

Blackberry Mojitos
adapted loosely from Annie's Eats' Blackberry Thyme Margaritas

To make the blackberry purée: 
In a food processor, purée one heaping cup of blackberries with 4 mint leaves.  Then press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve to extract the juice.  Discard the solids.  Stir in 2 heaping tablespoons sugar.  This is truly a pain, so do it this way once. If you like this recipe, next time quadruple the purée ingredients and bust out your food mill.  Extra blackberry purée can be stored in the fridge for at least one week or frozen in ice cube trays and stored in the freezer for a couple months.

To make the mojito:
In a tall glass mix 1 tablespoon sugar with 1.5 ounces of rum.  Add 3 tablespoons blackberry purée and the juice of half of a lime. Stir to combine and top with 4 ounces of club soda.  Stir gently and finish with plenty of ice.

June 13, 2011

Oven-Fried Potatoes

My favorite thing at the market the last few weeks are those little organic yellow potatoes.

I know what you're thinking, "Um, Maria, did you not notice the 'super sweet organic cherries'?  And what about the blackberries?  Nectarines?"

Yeah, I know.  Yes, I am enjoying those things too, but the potatoes!  I think I appreciate them because the potatoes we've eaten most recently were some organic russets from the grocery store.  I might add that half the bag was left forgotten in the pantry long enough to sprout.  When I discovered this, I anticipated planting them in the space in our vegetable garden vacated by some cilantro that bolted early, but after tasting the little beauties from Rob's Organic Produce, I deemed those supermarket potatoes not fit to reproduce and composted them. 

These yellow potatoes are sweet and flavorful.  If you can't imagine a potato worthy of the term "flavorful," I suggest you ditch your supermarket potatoes immediately and get to the farmers market pronto.  

My favorite way to eat the potatoes is to slice them thinly, no more than 1/8 of an inch thick, toss them with plenty of olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper, and bake them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet at 375 until golden brown and crisp. Watch them carefully, and turn them when the bottoms are slightly browned.  This make take 10-15 minutes for thinner slices toward the edges of the pan and up to 30 minutes for thicker slices.  (Sometimes we add a couple thinly slices golden beets or carrots to the potatoes.)

Grace likes to eat Oven-Fried Potatoes with ketchup. I like to top them with a poached egg and minced chives.

And we both like a side of fresh blackberries.


For those of you with more time on your hands than I have lately, I'm sure this Potato and Blue Cheese Pizza would highlight those little yellow beauties well.

June 7, 2011

June Pickins

I think May might be the most frustrating time of the year for me as a farmer's market shopper.  The highlights of May are strawberries, peas and spring onions.  Oh, cherries and asparagus, too, but I seem to forget those.  Sure, I like all of those things.  And yes, there are still beautiful winter greens and lettuces available.  But the apples of fall have petered out and whatever citrus is left isn't as exciting as it was a couple months before. Summer is just around the corner, but the summer fruits are still on the trees.

But in June things start to look up. This Saturday we found blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries.  And the first little nectarines (okay, actually Mr. Vogel had some hard little nectarines a week or two ago).  Apricots and peaches are available.  The flavor isn't what it will be in a couple weeks, but it's exciting to see them, because it means it's true: even with all this rain and cool weather, summer is right around the corner!

There were also a couple varieties of potatoes, which I didn't notice last week.  (Maybe because it was absolutely freezing and raining last weekend, so all I bought were three heads of organic lettuce to make a salad for a potluck.)  But this week, there were those potatoes and little baby yellow zucchini. There is still one vendor selling asparagus and there are still plenty of peas, lettuces, greens.

And as much as I want all the farmers to make good money selling their produce, I enjoyed that the crowds were smaller because of the rain.  It gave Grace and I more time to look at stuff and visit with friends.

This week we came home with one bunch of asparagus, some yellow potatoes, one bunch of golden beets and one bunch of carrots, blackberries from three separate vendors, strawberries, blueberries and eggs.

To accompany the berries, Grace and I baked a pound cake.  We used the recipe in Joy of Cooking.  I liked the texture, but next time I would leave out the mace.  It's a very eggy cake and the flavor of the mace reminds me just a bit too much of Grandma's Chess Pie, which is one of those food memories I'd rather not have. But berries with whipped cream and pound cake?  Summer is here!