Monthly Archives: August 2015

A Different Kind of Family Heirloom

Colorful Organic Heirloom Tomatoes
My great grandmother used to can food. Lots of food. Great food. Shortly after she passed, we went up to their house again for a family reunion. In the basement, we found mason jars full of apple butter, beans, tomatoes, potatoes, and all manner of things. So we ate. As we did, three generations shared stories of my great grandmother. It was like sharing one more meal with her, prepared with love for her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Thinking back on that time, I realized how wonderful it would be if people could pass down food like they pass down more traditional heirlooms. Food is such a big part of our lives and cultures that it would be amazing to hand that down. People can hand down recipes, but there are some families that hand down something a bit more tangible: seeds.

Heirloom tomatoes fall into four categories based on various requirements, and one of these is the family heirloom category. The seeds of these tomatoes are actually passed down from generation to generation. Personally, I find the idea of being able to pass down something that’s both nutritional and delicious is insanely cool. Not all heirloom tomatoes fall into this particular category, but they all have benefits that make you want to eat them.

When mentioning benefits of foods, I feel obligated to talk about health benefits, and heirloom tomatoes possess many. But right now, I’d like to focus less on why you should eat them, and more on why you want to eat them. Nutrition is an important part of food, but it’s not the only part. Nutrition is good, but flavor is fun.

And heirloom tomatoes are packed with it. Lots of people say heirloom tomatoes taste better, and I agree. But I’d argue that heirlooms also have more taste. This is a good thing. Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had tomatoes that taste like, well, not much. When you cut a tomato and pop a chunk in your mouth without salt and still have a taste experience, that’s an experience I can get behind.

Anyone who likes to dip corn dogs in ketchup and mustard mixed together knows that how something looks isn’t the most important aspect in enjoying food, but aesthetics can add a nice touch to the experience. If this was untrue, more than half the pictures on Instagram would be of something besides food. The richness and variety of color in heirloom tomatoes adds a nice element to food with fresh tomatoes, and cooking with tomatoes of more than one color adds a depth to the color and flavor. I generally love all tomatoes and wouldn’t want to make a derisive comment about any of them, but one may wonder if produce looks a little too uniform like it was made in a factory by some kind of robot.

Another wonderful aspect of heirloom tomatoes is that many of them are less acidic than other varieties. Fellow sufferers of heartburn can rejoice with me about this. Heirloom tomatoes might not be a part of your family history, but there might be a tomato heavy recipe that is. I’m not a doctor, so I can’t make any guarantees, but it definitely seems worth a shot.

Another great thing about heirloom tomatoes is that by eating them, you may be doing a small part to prevent famine and disaster. You probably think I’m joking. The genetic diversity of heirloom tomatoes includes resistances to disease and infestation, and with decreased genetic diversity in produce, our food sources become susceptible to these on an increasingly larger scale. By supporting farmers that grow genetically diverse produce, you help fight genetic erosion among our food sources that increase the risk of large scale food shortages, all the while getting the benefit of a unique and enjoyable taste experience.

Heirloom tomatoes are a cool way to bring together history, tradition, and diversity in a flavorful way. This may sound goofy, but it reminds me of a time in first grade when I failed a primary color assignment because I used cerulean, burgundy, and goldenrod instead of the crayons labeled blue, red, and yellow. Maybe I’m thinking like a first grader, but does a crayon company get to dictate which shade of blue is the ‘real’ blue? Who gets to say which shade of tomato is the right one?

Fresh Caprese Salad

While cooking with heirloom tomatoes is a great idea, one should definitely experience heirloom tomatoes fresh, so I’ll leave you with a simple, yet delicious, recipe for Caprese salad:
You’ll need:
Heirloom tomatoes
Fresh mozzarella cheese
Fresh Basil
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Slice the tomato (depending on the size, you may need to halve or quarter the slices). Top each piece with a slice of mozzarella cheese, followed by oil and vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste. Finish it off with chopped basil. For a fun twist you can pick up, split and lightly toast some whole grain rolls or buns. Rub these with a clove of garlic and place one of your Caprese salad slices in the middle. Viola. You’ve just turned your Caprese salad to Caprese sliders.

Labor Day Kitchen Challenge: Gourmet Hot Dogs!

Gourmet Grilled All Beef Hots Dogs

With Labor Day weekend just a week away, it’s time to start planning your cookout feasts! Labor Day weekend is a great time to get outdoors, fire up the grill, and have some friends and family over for a cookout. While it’s hard to go wrong with steaks and burgers, if you are looking for something new to spice up your cookout this year, why not put together a gourmet hot dog bar! Hot dog bars are very easy to put together, and provide something fun and different that adults and kids alike can enjoy. All you need are some good quality hot dogs and buns, we suggest Weeping Radish Quarter Pound All-Beef Dogs and Club Rolls from The Bread Shop, these large dogs and buns allow plenty of room for creative toppings. As well as a variety of toppings for your guests to choose from. Most toppings require little to no prep, and can be set out in a buffet style line, so everyone is free to dress their dogs in any way they like! Print out regional hot dog guides for your guests to learn about popular hot dog styles around the country, which they can replicate or modify any way they would like (we’ve provided some examples to copy below).

This is a fun activity that is easy to put together and sure to add some excitement to your holiday festivities. Send us a photo of your hot dog creations, we will pick one at random and award that person a free delivery!

Regional American Hot Dog Styles:

Chicago-style (Chicago):
Originating in Chicago, Illinois, the iconic Chicago-style hot dog is topped with yellow mustard, chopped white onions, pickle relish, a dill pickle spear, tomato slices, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt.

Sonoran (Arizona):
The Sonoran hot dog is popular in Arizona and neighboring Sonora, Mexico. It originates from the Sonoran capital of Hermosillo. It is a bacon wrapped dog, grilled, then topped in a bready bun with pinto beans, grilled onions, chopped fresh onions, chopped tomatoes, jalapeno sauce, mayonnaise, and mustard.

Coney Dog (Detroit):
The Coney Dog was created in Southeastern Michigan in the early 20th century by European immigrants. It has a number of variations, but it is essentially a classic combination of a ground beef sauce similar to chili (traditionally made from the beef heart), chopped onions, and mustard. Today it is commonly topped with a generous portion of shredded cheese too.

Danger Dog (Los Angeles):
First sold by street vendors in Tijuana and now commonly found among hot dog vendors in Los Angeles, the danger dog is a Mexican style bacon wrapped hot dog topped with grilled onions, jalapenos, bell peppers, mustard, ketchup, and salsa.

Seattle (Seattle):
In the late 1980’s to 1990’s Seattle hot dog vendors began offering hot dogs and sausages with cream cheese as a topping. The cream cheese is now the iconic ingredient that makes a Seattle dog, other popular toppings are grilled onions, jalapenos, and sriracha.

Slaw Dog (The South):
Popular throughout the south, and featuring regional variations on the type of slaw used. These hot dogs are typically with chili, coleslaw, chopped onions, and mustard.

Kansas City Reuben Hot Dog (Kansas City):
Popular at the Kansas City Royals’ ballpark, Kauffman Stadium, these hot dogs are inspired by the famous Reuben sandwich. They are topped with sauerkraut, melted cheese, caraway seeds, and thousand island dressing.

Suggested Hot Dog Toppings (pick as many as you like):

Sauces:
Guacamole
Ketchup
Mayonnaise
Mustard
Relish
Salsa
Thousand Island Dressing

Vegetables (loosely defined):
Arugula
Coleslaw
Cucumbers, chopped
Jalapenos
Onions, raw, chopped
Onions, sautéed
Peppers, pickled
Peppers, sautéed
Pickles
Potato chips, crushed
Radishes, chopped
Sauerkraut
Scallions
Tomato, chopped or sliced

Cheese:
Cheese, shredded
Cheese, cream (used in Seattle-Style Dog)

Meats:
Bacon
Chili
Ham

Spices:
Caraway Seeds (used in Kansas City Dog)
Celery Salt (used in Chicago-Style Dog)

Click here to order Hot Dogs, Buns, and Toppings for your Labor Day Feast!

5 Tips for the Perfect Grilled Veggies

Grilled vegetables

As you fire up your grills this Labor Day weekend, we hope you will take the opportunity to put some veggies on the grill in addition to meat! Grilled veggies get a delicious smoky flavor, and if done properly will come off the grill tender and delicious. The following tips will help to make grilling veggies a breeze, and keep you from ending up with a charred, unevenly cooked mess.

1) Slice ‘em up! The first step is to slice your veggies evenly. You want them relatively uniform in size, so that they will cook at the same rate. You want them large enough that they will not fall through the grates on the grill, but thin enough that they will cook quickly. Aim for 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices for zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, and onions. Tomatoes can be quartered or sliced (1/2 inch slices, they will cook down). Bell peppers should be cut into thick strips. Trim the stems off of mushrooms. Green onions and scallions can be grilled whole.

2) Pre-cook if needed. If grilling potatoes or carrots, pre-cook them in boiling water prior to putting them on the grill. Carrots should be cooked for about 5 minutes and potatoes for about 10. Slice them after pre-cooking, and toss them in oil and seasoning before grilling.

3) Add oil and seasoning. Toss veggie slices in olive oil and season with salt and pepper prior to putting them on the grill. This adds flavor, and the oil protects the veggies from drying out and sticking to the grill. You can also marinate veggies for an hour or so, to add additional flavor, a little teriyaki with the oil and spices makes a nice marinade for grilling.

4) Grilling time!
Grill vegetables over medium heat, and try to flip them just once to develop nice grill marks. Softer vegetables like tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, and mushrooms, will only take a few minutes per side. Sturdier vegetables like onions, bell peppers, and carrots will take a little longer (4-6 minutes per side). Remove them from the grill when they are tender and nicely marked by the grill, but not charred or mushy.

5) Add flavor to taste. Give your veggies a quick taste before serving. If desired, you can add additional flavor with extra seasoning, a splash of balsamic vinegar or a nice vinaigrette, or sprinkle over some fresh herbs for a nice contrast. Serve and enjoy!

How ‘Bout Them Apples?

Although the first day of Autumn is not until September 23, it’s hard to not anticipate its crisp arrival. I’ve recently found myself caught in the humid fall afternoons dreaming of the crunch of fallen leaves, chilly, foggy mornings, and brisk air that pierces your lungs with a delightful sharpness. Pumpkin beers are already making their way into bars and evenings have been cooling off much more quickly. Worry not, everyone, we are getting closer and closer to the most glorious of all the seasons that is slowly ushered in by the ripening apple trees every year. So with your first bite of a seasonal apple you can allow yourself to get excited for the yellows, oranges, and reds that will begin to decorate our neighborhoods and beautiful North Carolina landscape.

Coston Farm in Hendersonville, NC is a fourth generation family farm that specializes in apples. They grow 20 different kinds of apples and the season spans from August 10 until the last week of October. If you find yourself up in the High Country to see the leaves change and to celebrate fall’s arrival, you can stop by Coston Farm to pick apples and continue the festivities. Otherwise, they can arrive at your front door in your Papa Spud’s box! The first apples of the year are Golden Crisp and Gala Apples, and by the end of this week Honey Crisps (my personal favorite) will be available. Then come Fuji, Red Delicious, and Golden Delicious in September. Finally in October come Shizuko, King Luscious, and the season ends with the beautiful Pink Ladies. This is, of course, an abbreviated list of the amazing flavor profile that is headed our way. To see the Coston’s Apple Ripening Calendar, or any pictures, recipes, or apple information, just check out their website.

Apple background

I spoke with Lola Coston on the phone who imparted a little bit of knowledge for us—if you’re making a pie the best apples to use would be Honey Crisp, Shizuko, Mutsu, or Granny Smith; a cobbler calls for Golden Delicious apples. Lola’s favorite kind of apple is the Shizuko apple, it’s a yellow apple that is both sweet and tart and will be ready in October. It’s a crispy eating apple as well as great for baking. So bring on the apple pies, turnovers, crisps, sauce, muffins, breads, and, of course, cider! Don’t forget how easy it is to store apples in different forms for the rest of the year. To freeze apples simply peel, slice, and core the apple–if you don’t want it to brown you can brush the apple slices with diluted lemon juice. Lay the apples out on a baking sheet making sure that none of them are touching and freeze. Once the apples are frozen, consolidate in a plastic bag or Tupperware and keep in the freezer!

Along with being delicious and grown locally, apples are pretty amazing fruits. Here are a few apple facts that I found interesting:
-Apples are part of the rose family, similar to pears and plums
-If you have produce that is unripe, just throw it in a bag with an apple and it will ripen more quickly because of the amount of ethylene that apples give off
-Apple trees can live for over 100 years
-The crabapple is the only type of apple native to the US.
-Apples are full of soluble fiber, which is good for digestion, as well as Vitamin C for your immune system
-The antioxidants found in apples help to prevent coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease
-Eating an apple before you work out may increase your endurance.

As you’re enjoying your apples this season and bettering your health by doing so, you can save your apple scraps to make apple cider vinegar (which is also incredibly good for digestion). This super simple recipe explains just how to make homemade apple cider vinegar so you no longer have to buy it from the store!

Ingredients

  • Cores and peels from 6-8 apples (ideally organic)
  • 2 tbs. honey
  • Water to cover

Instructions

  1. After you use the apples to make a wonderful apple treat (such asapple pie bread), place the cores and peels in a large, wide-mouthed jar. I use a 4-cup jar, but you can adjust the size of the jar to the amount of apple scraps you’re using.
  2. Cover the scraps with water and stir in the honey.
  3. Place a paper towel on top of the jar, and secure it with a band.
  4. Let the mixture soak for 2 weeks, and then strain out the liquid. Discard the solids.
  5. Return the liquid to the jar and cover it again with a paper towel and band. Leave it for 4 more weeks, stirring daily.
  6. Taste it and see if it has the acidity you would like. If it does, transfer it to a covered bottle for storage. If not, leave it in the wide-mouthed jar for a little while longer, checking every few days.

Now that you’re armed with all of these apple facts and apple ideas, I wish you a very apple-filled autumn.

Generations of Turkish Cooking come to the Triangle

EGGPLANT SALAD 444
Brand new on the order page this week we have Patlican Salatasi, an authentic roasted eggplant salad from Nur’s Kitchen Delights! Patlican Salatasi (Eggplant Salad in Turkish) is a zesty, colorful mix of the best local summer produce available right now– roasted eggplants, colorful bell peppers, red onions, and ripe tomatoes blended with lemon juice and olive oil.

Ilknur Abushakra is the face behind Nur’s Kitchen Delights. Born and raised in Izmir, Turkey, Ilknur grew up watching her mother and both grandmothers in the kitchen. She especially enjoyed watching her grandmother make stuffed grape leaves or open phyllo dough layers with a long, thin rolling pin. Ilknur would always ask to make one or two items so that her grandmother could tell her if she was doing it right. Later, she would sneak back into the kitchen to experiment with what she had learned by trying recipes from cookbooks and magazines! Although Ilknur grew up cooking dishes from her native Turkey, her husband is from Palestine, so she has expanded her cooking to include dishes from Palestine and the rest of the Mediterranean/Middle Eastern region. Ilknur is very detail-oriented and this is reflected in her cooking. She uses only the best, freshest, and all-natural ingredients when possible. Everything she makes is authentic, healthy, and guaranteed to put a smile on your face!

Click here to order the Patlican Salatasi for delivery this week!

San Marzano Tomatoes, Best in the World!

ROMA SALAD 333
San Marzano tomatoes are considered by many to be the premier plum tomato in the world. They originate in the small town of San Marzano sul Sarno, outside of Naples, Italy. Here, in the rich volcanic soil surrounding Mount Vesuvius, Italian farmers have grown this variety of tomato for centuries. Today, the tomatoes are world-renowned, and farmers ship them around the globe to chefs and gourmet consumers. San Marzanos are considered to be sweeter and less acidic than other plum tomato varieties. They also have fewer seeds, their skins are easy to remove, and the flesh is meatier than other varieties, making them an ideal tomato for both sauce making and canning.

While they aren’t grown in Italy, Brittany Kordick of Contrarian farm is putting her hand to the famed San Marzano tomato this season. We will be featuring her San Marzano tomatoes along with another famous Italian ingredient, the Tropea Onion, in a simple but delicious Calabrian-style Italian summer salad next week. This salad recipe kit offers a unique opportunity to experience two world-renowned Italian ingredients, grown here in NC by our own local farming community. We hope you enjoy the salad, and also take the time to appreciate the history behind the ingredients, and the people who brought them to us hundreds of years ago, as well as today!

San Marzano & Tropea Onion Salad:
A favorite from the Calabrian region of southern Italy! This easy, summer salad combines firm ripe roma (San Marzano) tomatoes, sweet red Tropea onions, chopped basil, chopped garlic, and a touch of oregano with fresh lemon juice and olive oil in a delightful summer salad that has all the taste of southern Italy!

Ingredients:
• 2 San Marzano red tomatoes
• 2 yellow roma tomatoes
• 1 Tropea red onion
• 1/4 tsp. salt, more to taste
• 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice, more to taste
• 2 Tbsp. olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 12 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into strips)
• 1/8 tsp. fresh ground pepper
• 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1. Slice San Marzano and yellow roma tomatoes into circles (1/4 inch thick). Place in a bowl.

2. Peel and cut red onion in half. Slice one half into 1/8 inch thick slices. Add onion slices to tomatoes. Reserve other half of onion for another use.

3. Sprinkle salt over tomato and onions. Toss gently and let sit for about 10 minutes or while you prepare dressing.

4. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic in a bowl. Mix well.

5. Place tomatoes and onions in a serving bowl. Pour the lemon juice and olive oil dressing over the vegetables. Add chopped basil, oregano, pepper, and toss gently. Add additional salt and/or lemon juice to taste. Serve!

Click here to order the San Marzano & Tropea Onion Salad for delivery this week!

Muscadine Grapes: A Mystery Unraveling

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In 2002 the New York Times published a food article detailing a rediscovery of native Eastern grape varieties among chefs throughout the city (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/02/dining/american-grapevines-set-cooks-buzzing.html). Chefs in the article espoused the grapes’ unique flavors, and superior cooking characteristics to California and European grapes. The Eastern United States is the native home to a number of grape varieties including Concord grapes in the Northeast and Muscadine grapes in the South. Most of us have long been indifferent to these native varieties that have been here longer than we have, as we are unfamiliar with them and unsure how to use them. “Do we eat them raw, but the seeds are so annoying!” “Do we cook them, but how?” Thirteen years later, in 2015, it would be stretch to say that these grapes have taken off and are now popular in food culture. But, as local food and farmers’ markets continue to gain in popularity, these native grapes do seem to be gaining ground.

Muscadine grapes are native to the southern United States, as they take very well to our humid and hot summers. They have tough skins and are more acidic and less sweet than the table grape varieties that we are accustomed to eating from California. They also have seeds, which turns many people off to fresh eating. However, there is something classically southern and romantic about these grapes. The vines themselves are perfectly beautiful. They drape over trellises, occupy terrace walls, and line garden walkways throughout the south. Scuppernong grapes (a variety of Muscadine) are even the North Carolina state fruit! So, how do we best enjoy this fruit that we have chosen to represent our own state? Like a lot of things in Southern cooking, the best results are often achieved by taking it slow and enjoying the process.

Sauces, jams, jellies, and even wine are where the southern Muscadine truly shines. Sweet Muscadine sauces are the base in many southern desserts, like Muscadine Grape Hull Pie. They can be cooked into jams or jellies and stored throughout the winter. Many native southerners have been making Muscadine wine for generations. However, as documented in the 2002 New York Times article, their applications can extend beyond sweets, even into savory entrees. Whether you are interested in charting new territory with our state fruit, or just enjoying some classic southern sweets, the Muscadine is a fruit worth getting to know.

Muscadine Jam:
grilledcheese
This recipe for muscadine jam is very easy to make, and is a nice introduction to the grape. Muscadines have enough natural pectin that additional pectin is not required to thicken the jam, however it will not fully congeal, and is best described as a thin jam. We used this jam in our Apple, Walnut, and Muscadine Jam recipe kit this week, which we highly recommend, it is awesome! This is a fun recipe to try with kids, they will enjoy the process, and you can whip up some homemade PB & J’s as a reward!

Total time: 45 minutes
Makes about 1 cup of jam

• 1 lb. Muscadine Grapes
• 1/3 cup sugar

1. Boil muscadine grapes for about 4-5 minutes to soften them up, until some of the grapes just start to split.

2. Drain grapes and toss them in an ice bath to cool them down enough for handling.

3. With a paring knife, score one side of each grape and squeeze out the flesh. The scoring may be unnecessary if the grape has already begun to split. Reserve grape hulls (skins) in a separate bowl.

4. Transfer grape flesh to a saucepan, and put over medium heat. The flesh will start to soften. Mash them down with a fork to expose the seeds. Once flesh has been mashed and the seeds exposed, remove from heat and set aside to cool.

5. While you wait for the grape flesh to cool, bring a few cups of water to boil in a separate saucepan, and boil grape hulls to soften. Remove from heat and drain after about 10 minutes.

6. Once the grape flesh is cool enough, pick out the large seeds. Once the seeds have been removed, transfer grape flesh and grape hulls to a food process. Run the food processor until grapes have been pureed.

7. Heat pureed grapes in a saucepan over medium heat, add 1/3 cup sugar (more to taste), stirring frequently. Heat for 5-6 minutes until thickened into a thin jam, the color will darken as it cooks.

8. Transfer the jam to a glass jar or container and refrigerate. Keep for up to two weeks.

Click here to order Muscadine Grapes for delivery this week!

7 New Dishes for Summer Squash

We’ve had summer squashes (zucchini, yellow squash, etc.) available locally for 13 weeks this year. Believe it or not, we are only halfway done! Typically, the summer squash season runs for a full 26 weeks in North Carolina. In 2014, we had them from 5/27 to 11/11 – 26 weeks. In 2013, they were available from 5/21 to 11/5 – 26 weeks. And, in 2012, thanks to a late frost in the fall, we had them from 5/22 to 11/27 – a total of 28 weeks (more than half the year)! This year, barring an unexpected weather event, we expect to see summer squashes coming out of NC fields until the first or second week of November!

This is the time of year when summer squash fatigue starts to set in, while we love them, we’ve been cooking the same dishes for the past 13 weeks, and if you are like me, you are ready for something new! Fortunately, summer squashes are an extremely versatile vegetable, and with a little creativity, we can transform them into all new exciting flavors and dishes for the remaining 13 weeks of the season!

Summer squashes are great at soaking up any flavors that you add to them, both from other ingredients, as well as from the cooking process itself (think grilling). They should really be seen as a blank canvas, from which you can mold a dish to your heart’s desire. They can be used raw or cooked, which also adds versatility. And, their texture makes them a satisfying meat substitute, which opens up a whole new category of options.

These 7 awesome dishes offer some ideas on how we can spice up our summer squash lives over the final half of the season!

Squash Ribbon Salad (The Kitchn)
SquashRibbonSalad
We often forget that summer squashes do not need to be cooked. Served raw they provide a crunchier texture that is very satisfying, and with cut thin they offer an awesome substitute to pasta without all of the carbs. Plus, with no cooking, it is simple and easy to prepare.
Grilled Summer Squash with Feta & Mint (Chow)
grilledsummersquash
Grilled Summer Squash with Feta and Mint (Chow) A perfect summer or Labor Day cookout dish. Summer squashes are the perfect vegetable for grilling, they soak up the smoky flavor of the grill, and are super easy to prepare. Brighten them up with some fresh herbs, and a salty cheese, and pair them with a nice steak or even burgers on the grill, a perfect summer meal.
Zucchini Mint & Yogurt Spread (The Kitchn)
zucchinimintpuree
Middle Eastern cuisine matches so perfectly with fresh North Carolina produce. The ingredients speak for themselves with such bright flavors and combinations! This dish creates a Tadziki style puree, but using zucchini instead of cucumber. It’s a great way to use those larger sized zucchini, that don’t work as well in other dishes. The lemon and mint are a fresh, delicious touch!
Zucchini Crisp (Saveur)
zucchini_crisp
Summer squashes aren’t just for sides or entrees, they can also be used in a delicious dessert! These zucchini are baked like apples, tossed with sugar, cinnamon, and sweet syrup, and combine with a crumble topping for an awesome late summer or fall dessert.

Herbed Squash Confit (Saveur)
squashconfit
Another clever way to prepare summer squash is by grating it and using it in a confit. You can drain and press out much of the moisture content through grating, then use the natural sponge-like nature of the squash to infuse a blend of flavors. This is also a great way to use up a mix of summer squashes you have leftover in the refrigerator.
Pickled Summer Squash (Feasting at Home)
pickledsquash
Summer squashes, just like cucumbers, are great for pickling. You don’t need to go to the trouble of jarring if you don’t want to, they will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Once pickled, you can use them as a quick and easy side on their own, as a delicious addition to salads, or as a topping on burgers or sandwiches.
Grilled Summer Squash Tacos (Mountain Mama Cooks)
summersquashtacos
Grilled squashes can be enjoyed on their own as noted above, but also make a perfect meat substitute. The squash soaks up the smoky flavor from the grill, they take well to bold seasoning, and their texture makes them a perfect replacement for meat in dishes like tacos, stir fry’s, over pasta, or in sandwiches or wraps.

Click here to order Summer Squash for delivery this week!

The Road to a Healthy Life Through Fields of Spicy Peppers

Hot peppers are both wildly abundant this time of year and ferociously good for you in myriad ways. You’ve heard the old saying when you have a cold that you just need to “sweat it out”, or maybe when your sinuses are feeling congested you’ve gone for a spicy meal. It turns out there is truth behind that idea. The heat that can be both incredibly painful if you’re not used to it as well as somewhat addicting as you build tolerance is called capsaicin. Capsaicin is commonly used today to flavor foods and in dietary cleanses but Native Americans have been using it for 9,000 years for many different health reasons including relieving joint and muscle pain, lowering blood sugar, improving circulation, boosting metabolism, fighting colds and sinus infections, and aiding digestion. It is high in beta-carotene, which is converted to Vitamin A by the body for immune function as well as Vitamin C, an antioxidant. There are many home remedies you can make using hot peppers for illnesses. If you have a sore throat, simply mix a dash of cayenne into a glass of lemon water to break up mucous and relieve pain.  Of course it’s always important to be careful when handling hot peppers, wearing gloves if the pepper is very hot, never touching your eyes or your face before washing your hands several times. Now is the perfect time to try all those different pepper varieties you’ve never had before, just be sure to slowly work up your tolerance before even looking at a ghost pepper.

The most difficult part of buying hot peppers for me is finding interesting ways to use them. The Pioneer Woman is a blogger who posts about simple living. She wrote an article about roasting green chilies to showcase the amazing flavor that can be drawn from a hot pepper. Roasting a pepper creates a smoky flavor that highlights the spice in a pepper without being overwhelming. In this method you simply line a baking sheet with foil, put the peppers on it, and broil them in the oven. When one side becomes black and charred, flip the peppers over and allow the other side to char as well. This whole process should only take about 15 minutes. Then remove them from the oven and place in a plastic ziploc bag for 20 minutes so they steam further. Finally, pull them out and peel the charred skin off the top. There will still be dark spots on the pepper after this, which is where all the flavor is. Once peeled, you can cut the peppers open and remove the seeds.

roasted chilies 2

roasted chilies 1

 

 

 

 

 

I used anaheim peppers, which I did not realize are as spicy as they are, but they roasted beautifully. I decided to make nachos with guacamole, tomatoes, and cheese, which turned out to be the perfect balance for the smoky pepper flavor, and the cheese cut the spice perfectly (I’m a little bit of a spicy food wimp). If you are sensitive to heat I would recommend poblanos, which are slightly spicy, or even just bell peppers or cheese peppers. If you’re feeling adventurous, wander into the wide world of spicy peppers and reap their health benefits and palate pleasing tendencies. Bring on the poppers, hot pepper jams, pickled chilies, meat marinades, salsas, and jalapeño margaritas!roasted chilies 3

Kitchen Challenge: Bake a Pie with us!

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There is nothing more impressive than pulling out a freshly baked pie on a holiday or special occasion, that you made from scratch yourself. The problem is, while anyone can learn, making a beautiful pie from scratch takes a little practice. Too many of us feel uncomfortable or intimidated when it comes to that special pie occasion, and we choose to avoid the pie!

Well, we want you to embrace the pie! August is the perfect time of year to get some no pressure pie making under your belt. For most of us it’s a slower time, and there is plenty of fresh, inexpensive fruit available. A great time to get some pie practice in, which you can then use later in the Fall to make that special pie for holidays, school events, or even football games!

Next week we’ll have fresh, local apples that we will portion out to be used to make a full size, American apple pie! We will also include a recipe card, links to online tutorials, and tips from our own experience, so that we can all learn to make a pie from scratch! Send us the photo of your completed pie, or share it with us on Facebook. We’ll pick a pie photo at random, and send that person a free delivery. And everyone can practice a new kitchen skill!

Help us bring back the scratch-made pie!

Below is the recipe we will be following. We will provide the fresh local apples, recipe card, link to a picture tutorial, and a list of additional tips. The rest of the ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or can pick up over the weekend.

Click here to purchase a Pie Making Kit for next week (listed under recipe kits)

Pie Crust Recipe

2 & 1/4 cups flour
3/4 t salt
1/2 c shortening (Crisco)
2 T unsalted butter
7-8 T very cold water

Equipment:
• Pastry cutter
• Pie pan (9 inch diameter)
• Rolling pin

Directions:
• Mix flour and salt together in a large bowl.
• Use a pastry cutter to cut shortening and butter into flour mixture.
• Work dough with pastry cutter for 2-3 minutes. Flour mixture should have coarse, pea-size lumps when finished.
• Stir in ice water 1 T at a time with a fork. Toss the mixture with your fork until it comes together in a lump. You might need a little more or a little less water to form your dough.
• Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least 30 minutes.
• Unwrap dough and cut in half. Put one half back into fridge while you roll out the other.
• Transfer bottom crust to pie dish with rolling pin.
• Fill bottom crust with your favorite filling.
• Dot filling with 2 T of butter.
• Roll out top crust. Use rolling pin to transfer to pie dish.
• For a nice brown glaze on your pie crust, brush the top crust with an egg wash (1 beaten egg & 1 T milk)
• Place your pie in the oven and bake for recommended time.

Apple Pie Filling

6 medium apples
1 c brown sugar
2 T flour
1 t cinnamon
1/8 t nutmeg
1/8 t salt

Directions:
• Peel apples and slice thinly.
• Place apple slices in large bowl.
• In another small bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
• Add sugar mixture to apples.
• Stir gently.
• Turn apple mixture into pie crust dish that has been lined with a bottom pastry crust.
• Dot top of fruit mixture with 2 T butter.
• Add top crust.
• Brush crust with egg wash (1 egg + 1 T milk) if desired.
• Bake at 400 degrees for 50 minutes.