Happy 4th of July!
I love meat but really don’t love commercially raised feedlot animals. As I became pickier and pickier in selecting the meats I choose for my family and friends, I found the quality harder to find in easy to shop food locations.
Butcher Block is a company that specializes in grass-fed beef, organic chicken and heirloom pork. And the home deliver is sustainable packaging, not Styrofoam.
I ordered a box of mixed meats from them and got: 2 – 6 ounce Filet Mignon, 2 – NY Strips, 2 # ground beef, 2 sirloin steaks, 1 pork tenderloin and 1 bag of chicken tenderloin. Each box has 8-11 pounds of meat per box which is enough to make 20-28 meals.
If you don’t eat bacon, then I’m absolutely positive there is someone you know who does who you could gift it to. But I have to tell you , it makes the most amazing BLT you will ever eat. Just saying.
Now the biggest decision you need to make is to choose from one of the options:
There are 5 boxes to choose from: 1) all beef, 2) beef and chicken, 3) beef and pork, 4) chicken and pork, 5) Classic mixed box: beef, chicken, and pork.
I got the Classic Mixed Box and was more than satisfied with it. 8-11 pounds of meat per box which is enough to make 20-28 meals.
If you are interested, follow the link below. Tag someone you know who is interested too!
Please follow the link for the link to Refreshing Beverages, An Online Course
Use the best quality ingredients you can for amazing cookies.
Add the butter and sugars, stir to combine. Add eggs and vanilla, mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl combine:
Add to sugar and butter mixture; stir to combine. Do not over mix.
Use a small scoop to make even size cookies. Space 2 inches apart. Sprinkle the tops of each cookie with Maldon Flaked Salt, if desired.
Bake 350°F for 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Let cookies sit on the pan for a few minutes to “set up” before moving the cookies to cooling rack.
Make sure you hide some for yourself because they go fast!
There is nothing quite like the aroma of freshly baked bread, unless it’s eating freshly baked bread.
This loaf can be made in just under 2 hours and is easy and really delicious. The only problem I have with this loaf is that it does not last very long.
It gets gobbled up super fast.
Dry Ingredients: Combine in the bowl of a stand mixer
Wet Ingredients: Combine in a glass measuring cup
Using a dough hook, mix the dry ingredients on low speed. Slowly add the wet ingredients, mix until it is all combined.
Set the timer and knead on medium speed for 10 full minutes.
The dough will look wet and sticky. It is and that is the way it is supposed to be. A wet dough will give you the bigger holes Ciabatta is known for. Resist the temptation to add more flour! At 10 minutes kneading time, the dough will be perfect.
Remove the dough hook; cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel. Allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm area. (Your oven on bread proofing setting is perfect)
In the meantime, prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper (or Silpat sheet), lightly dust with cornmeal and set aside until needed.
Generously flour a surface to put the dough on after 15 minutes. Plop the entire dough mass onto the flour and dust the entire surface with flour so your hands don’t stick to the dough.
Press the dough into a rectangle, fold into thirds, and then repeat. Do not knead the dough, just lightly pat it into place. Pat, pat, pat, just lightly.
Shape the dough into a rectangle and place onto the baking sheet. Loosely cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
While the bread is rising outside the oven, preheat the inside of the oven to 425° F.
After the bread has risen for 45 minutes, spritz with water and place it into the oven. The water will help give the bread a crisp crust.
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool completely before slicing.
Shelf life: 3-5 days or until gone, typically the same day it’s made.
Here is a 20 minute video of how to make a crown roast for the upcoming holiday meal. Enjoy!
#crownroast #crownroastofpork #crownroastoflamb #holidaymeal #delicious
Fall colors are in full swing, we are anticipating the first frost and freeze.
Today, the first day of November is rainy, cold and there are flurries in the forecast.
It’s a great day to pull out the crock out and put on a warming soup or maybe Chai tea.
Apples: We’ve had some amazing local apples! The flavors this year are so delicious. Eat them raw, slather with almond butter and toasted almonds, make pies, turnovers or apple dumplings. Grab extra to make apple butter for Christmas.
Beets: What a powerhouse of nutrition. Red, gold, big or baby beets, roast them, peel them , eat them. Make salads, pickles, noodles, you will feel your blood getting healthier with every tasty mouthful. Don’t toss those green tops! Chop the stems and saute, cook the greens like you would spinach, wash and saute until tender. I love the greens with a splash of Ume Plum Vinegar.
Bok Choy: This season is closing very soon due to frosts and cold weather. Grab some for stir fry, use instead of plain green cabbage in making bok choy slaw.
Brussels Sprouts: OK, try shredding them, saute with shiitake mushrooms, onions and pecans.
Use them in making slaw to. Get them before the freezes set in!
Cabbages: Fresh available through mid December. Time to make some sauerkraut! A good New England Boiled Diner with potatoes, celery, onions, carrots, cabbage and brisket would be nice on a chilly evening. Sweet and Sour Cabbage is great with roasted pork or pork chops, sautéed onions and apples. (See, staying seasonal!)
Collard Greens: My favorite choice for Meatless Mondays! Boiled collards, pinto beans and organic blue cornbread.
Yummy! Don’t salt the water you cook the collards in so you save it to use as a base for vegetable soup. Being November, chilly days are surely ahead. Nothing smells better or warms you better than homemade soup. Except chopping and burning wood.
Although not local, these fresh berries only appear for a short while. Buy several bags and freeze them now for later. Make a batch of Cranberry Liquor or use left over cranberry sauce to make these oatmeal cranberry bars.
Cucumbers: Going quickly!
Greens: All kinds from whatever was planted in late summer for fall harvest. Make soup or saute yourself up a big bowl.
Fresh Herbs: Grow some of your own. Fresh herbs are expensive and why waste an entire bunch if you only need a leaf or a pinch? Besides having herbs growing in your kitchen is pretty darn cool. You’d be surprised how easy it is.
Kale: One of my favorite greens cooked or raw. If you’re prone to kidney stones, be careful as too much kale may encourage stone formation. Add dried cranberries to your kale salads.
Saute it with bacon and onions or use Kale in soups, it’s quite delicious! Crispy kale chips are another way to use this amazing leafy green.
Lettuce: Tender lettuce will be gone once freeze happens. While you can buy lettuces year round, you may notice a slight price increase for it not being local.
Mushrooms: Only until the end of the month.
Mustard Greens: Spicy and greatly nutritious! If you don’t like how spicy they are, tame them by combining with kale, collards or other greens.
Napa Cabbage: Another good green about to retire for the season. I like this lightly blanched, stuffed and steamed.
Peanuts: Year Round, good source of protein. Have you ever made your own peanut butter?
Pecans: Pecan pie is just around the corner with the holidays fast approaching. Store your fresh pecans in a tightly sealed bag in the freezer for longer storage.Make Spiced Pecans for holiday gifts or make Pecan crusted okra for a new way to serve okra.
Radishes: One of my favorite salad vegetables, but try slicing them on a ham sandwich. Top a piece of lightly buttered bread with thinly sliced radishes, you’ll thank me later.
Romaine: Lettuces planted in the fall for the second planting, are coming to an end. Leaves should be strong and dark green.
Snow Peas: A crispy tasty treat. I love these as a nibbling snack or quickly saute. Be sure to “string” them before eating or cooking.
Snow Pea Tips: A trendy garnish for your plates
Spinach: Before the freezes set in for the winter, you’ll still find fresh spinach. Saute it, make omelets, spanikopita or spinach salads
Sweet Potatoes: Available all year. Make Oven Baked Sweet Potato Fries; save on fat and full on flavor
Turnips: Roast turnips to bring out their sweetness. Mash carrots, turnips and potatoes together for a fun change to mashed potatoes
The foods are changing from light fresh foods to hearty, sometimes long cooked foods. The aroma of a simmering soup, a slow roasting chicken or pork roast is comforting and warming as the seasons change.
Thanksgiving is this month; time to reflect and express appreciation and gratitude for all you have in your life. With delicious produce still in the markets, plan your Thanksgiving menu around what you discover fresh.
The farmers will appreciate it.
#freshfood #whatsinseason #eatinglocal #eatrealfood #wholefood #realfood #seasonalfood #apples #cranberries #winteriscoming #staywarm #makesoup
A nip in the morning, time to grab a light jacket.
Here is a quick listing of what’s in season now.
Click on the links for recipes and other great information while you read the list!
Apples – Quite abundant for apple dumplings and apple sauce now through February. Find an orchard and go apple picking!
Beets – get some baby ones and roast them. So delicious! Pickle some for later. Ummm
Bok Choy – debuts mid month! Make a refreshing salad of crisp stir-fry
Cabbage – plenty on hand until mid December. Try your hand at making Sauerkraut or Kimchee
Cherry Tomatoes – these juicy gems will be gone by November. I’ve witnessed my plants slowing way down in production. Enjoy them now!
Collards – A year round favorite green. Make some cornbread, cook up some pinto beans, add simmered collards and YUM! You’ve got quite a meal.
Cucumbers – are saying good bye. As in days of yore, if you haven’t put up your pickles yet, you’re almost out of time!
Greens – Like cooler weather so there should be a good selection through mid December. Time to fortify.
Herbs – There are many you will find in the markets. They are quite easy to grow so you should consider a small container of herbs for your kitchen.
Indian Corn – for decoration
Kale – Hearty and healthy; abundantly available. Make salads, stews, soup, smoothies, chips, saute it, wraps. . .
Lettuce – makes another quick season before it gets too cold.
Muscadine Grapes – nearly gone. Freeze some for holiday punch bowls and drinks. Crush, simmer and extract the juice. Make sorbet to die for. Definitely worth doing
Mushrooms – you should be seeing a nice supply through the end of November
Napa Cabbage – shows us a quick cool season until mid December when the deep cold sets in with shorter sunlight hours
Peanuts – Seems these are always available
Pears – Nice juicy pears are around until the end of October. Poach a few, can a few more for winter treats.
Persimmons – The perennial Fall Favorite to those who like them. Honestly, I don’t get it.
Pumpkins – Yay! I get them for carving, roasting, eating, I plant succulents on them, decorate with them. After Thanksgiving, I paint them Christmas colors.
Radishes – There should be a bunch of radishes this month. I love the French Breakfast Radish. Yeah.
Raspberries – Fresh and short lasting. Enjoy them, freeze them but that’s just not the same as fresh. Gotta love those little seeds!
Romaine – Another lettuce for the Fall season. Practice your Caesar Salad skills.
Snow Peas – Toss some into your Stir-fry, I like to snack on them like chips. So crisp and delicious!
Spinach – Add just a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg to your spinach for an awesome flavor compliment. Just a small pinch is all you need.
Sweet Potatoes – Available all year.
Tomatoes – If you grow them, watch for the first freeze and pick whats left. Make Green Tomato Chow-chow or Green Tomato Pie (tastes just like apple!)
Turnips – add some to soup, mash some with your mashed potatoes. Toss some into your greens as they cook. My favorite, Pickled Turnips!
#localfood #eatfresh #healthyeating #freshfood #seasonalfood #localfarmers #farmersmarkets #freshfruit #freshvegetables #whatsinseasonnow
Is everything you buy from the farmers market from a local farm? If you think so, I hate to tell you, but in some cases, you would be wrong.
As with every industry, business and activity, there are those who will jump on an opportunity for a quick buck.
There are ethical markets that vet their vendors to prove the products they are selling are indeed from the local area. Locally, the Matthews Farmers Market, Atherton Mills Market and Yorkmont Markets are truly farmers markets. Then there are others.
It really irks me when I see opportunists take advantage of trusting customers. Our local Farmers Markets sell produce, hoop cheese and country ham; primary season is from April through October 31; adding pumpkins and squashes as the season comes to a close. The markets are extremely busy.
People buy there thinking they are in some manner, doing better for their families, communities and supporting farmers.
I remember when Robert used to tell me of the farmers market on the corner near his house. I lived in the mountains of North Carolina at the time and walking to a weekly farmers market painted romantic dreams of urban living.
There is a corner market nearby that I have been observing for years. It is a family run business, they own a nice block or two of land in what would be considered “prime commercial real estate” for mid-town Charlotte.
On market days, there are often traffic jams which require hiring off-duty police to direct traffic. People pile in and load up their baskets with whatever produce they find; feeling good about feeding their families on fresh “farmers market” foods.
Early in the morning, restaurants show up at the market to buy the produce at wholesale prices. In turn, the restaurants go back and advertise on their menu’s that they offer “local vegetables bought from the farmers market.”
The biggest buzzwords in food lately are “local, sustainable and organic.” Claim that and you gain an easy audience in your marketing; your marketing image leans towards a caring business who supports the local community.
On my visits to the market, I noticed they would have the same bagged greens that we could buy in the grocery store.
I noticed they always had corn. Always have corn, from April through the end of November. And the corn has a sign on it, written with highlighter, “Non-GMO.” Somehow I don’t believe it. I’d like to ask for proof.
What really caught my attention and lit my fire was the last time I was there. Each check out station was surrounded by pulp baskets of strawberries with signs on them declaring “Sweet Strawberries $3.99 qt.”
Being July and knowing it is well past strawberry season here, I asked:
“Where the berries were from?”
“California. . .”
“Are they organic?”
“No, they are Driscoll’s.”
This makes them no different from what you buy in the grocery store! Driscoll’s just happens to be a huge mono-culture farmer of commercial berries.
Commercially grown strawberries are sprayed and hold residue of many different chemicals. Here is an in-depth article you can read here:
The article will tell you about the research and how dangerous chemicals are being used on commercially grown strawberries and other produce and best of all, what you can do about it!
So when people buy the berries from this market, they are not getting an organic berry but commercially grown berries instead. The berries are packaged to look like farm fresh; the hand written signs are casual and fit the marketing image.
I looked around and saw shoppers scarfing up the berries and other produce thinking they are in some way or another doing good because they are buying their food from the farmers market.
The problem is, they are buying the same as they would get from the grocery without it being disclosed! They are buying the same stuff commercial restaurants buy from commercial broadband vendors and smaller vendors like Restaurant Depot.
This is the kind of food we try to avoid for better health.
I think all markets should be required have signage on every product that says where it was grown and by whom. All items should be labeled how it was grown and be able to provide the paperwork to prove it, if asked.
Let us have the right to make a choice and they should be prepared to provide the proof. I’ve lost my trust in our corner farmers market. They may have a few farmers but I don’t believe their corn in Non-GMO, I don’t believe their claims. Broccoli is not coming out of any local garden at this time of year, yet they have a table full of it.
The public needs to be aware of this practice so they can actually support the real farmers; go to a real market.
At this time of year, you won’t see any strawberries because they aren’t in season.
California has passed a bill to crack down on Farmers Market Fraud. See the article below for information.
In the meantime, when you go to a market, ask questions. If they can’t or won’t tell you, don’t buy it! They are probably a commercial enterprise posing as a farmers market for easy money.
The Farmers Market industry currently has few regulations. Some require you to apply and be approved before you can sell there. They actually verify you are truly a local food producer.
However, if you own a few acres of vacant land, you can throw up some awnings, spread tables with produce you bought at the broad distributor food service uses, invite a few folks to sell grass-fed beef, home-made cakes, pies, flowers, and you too can be in the Farmers Market business as long as you have a business license.
I think this is scandalous and it really makes me quite angry.
We’ve all got brains in our heads, it’s time to put them to use. This is something everyone who goes to a farmers market should be aware of.
Do some research, find out what kind of farmers market you patronize.
#eatfresh #farmersmarkets #ethicalfarmersmarkets #Knowyourfood #wheredoesyourfoodcomefrom #eatwell #freshfood #fruit
#vegetables #freshproduce #healthyfood