Eat Fresh: What’s in Season Now December 2014

December is a month of long nights, cold weather and not much growing.mailboxes in winter

Here is what you can find in the markets this month:

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Apples: are a lasting favorite and are wonderful now through February. Choose crisp, firm apples and make applesauce, pie or tart or Warm Apple Dumplings. Know what’s really good? Saute apples, onions and parsnips and slather that over roasted pork or chicken. YUMMY!

Serve warm  Apple Dumplings with whipped cream and caramel sauce. A few fresh berries add color to the plate.

Serve warm Apple Dumplings with whipped cream and caramel sauce. A few fresh berries add color to the plate.

Beets: Golden, red, or baby beets roasted, peeled and served with orange zest are simple sweet and delicious. Make some pickled beets because at the end of this month, you won’t find fresh harvests until May.

Bok Choy: Is about to disappear and will be well gone by the end of the year. Grab some for stir fries and a really good bok choy salad with red peppers, onions is delicious.

Cabbages: It’s getting cold out there and these are nearing the end of the season. Slice it fine for coleslaw, saute or make stuffed cabbage rolls.

Multi-colored Carrots

Multi-colored Carrots

Carrots: Delicious sweet carrots, roasted, steamed and served with a dab of butter are a classic favorite.

Collards: There is a reason these are available all year, sturdy, and a powerhouse of nutrition. A nice pot of beans, collards and cornbread is a comforting and satisfying meal.

Cranberries: If you haven’t yet, pick up a few bags for the freezer. Cranberries are about to disappear until next fall. The season is short for fresh berries and they are so easy to freeze, just plop the bag into the freezer. Done. Make cranberry liquor, Bottled Cranberry Liqueurcranberry sauces for roasts, or drop a bag of those frozen cranberries into a food processor with a bit of something sweet, like an orange, swirl it up into a lovely frozen sorbet like treat. A really nice treat in the spring or summer!

Herbs: You should try growing the herbs you use the most. It’s very economical and you’ll always have what you need on hand.

Kale, Mustard Greens, Spinach: Pack some punch into your salads, saute up a big bunch

Massaged Kale Salad

Massaged Kale Salad

and see how much these lovely greens shrink!

Peanuts and Pecans:

Candied Spiced Pecans

Candied Spiced Pecans

I’m lucky to know someone who has a pecan orchard and when they have a harvest, I load up with fresh pecans. There’s nothing like them! Find a place where you can buy them like this, you’ll be amazed. Make Spiced Pecans!

Sweet Potatoes: are a great way to satisfy a sweet craving. If you can find them, choose the garnet sweet potatoes that have that deep garnet flesh inside, not just on the outside skin.

Inside a baked garnet sweet potato; isn't that a great color?!

Inside a baked garnet sweet potato; isn’t that a great color?!

Turnips: Mix them with your vegetables, add to soup, pickle some for a real different treat.

Pickled Turnips

Pickled Turnips

We are entering the time of year where fresh foods are hard to find. Of course due to modern technologies, you can find just about anything you want at any time of the year.

Eating local and seasonally reduces the carbon foot print and let’s us realign with the natural cycle of life. For some odd reason, eating strawberries in December just don’t have the same flavor or effect as eating fresh strawberries in the spring.

In times past, people put food up to get by in these cold months. From canning, drying, curing, freezing or just a cold cellar would protect many late harvested foods.

For me, eating in season allows me to truly appreciate the foods as they come available throughout the year.

What about you? Do you eat seasonally or locally?

 

 

Warm Apple Dumplings

These warm apple dumplings are juicy, filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins all wrapped in tender flaky crust.

Apple DumplingWe made these in bakeshop this week and students discovered how tasty and delicious they are.

For each apple you will need:

  • Granny Smith apple (green)
  • A mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and butter, combine these ingredients to use to fill the hole where the core used to be
  • lemon juice
  • 1 sheet of puff pastry (1 sheet can cover up to 4 apples)
  • Egg wash (egg beaten with water)
  • Peeled Apples

    Peeled Apples

Method:

Peel and core the apple, drizzle it with lemon juice.

Core the apples, drizzle with lemon juice.

Core the apples, drizzle with lemon juice.

Fill the center with the brown sugar/raisin mixture

Fill the center with the brown sugar/raisin mixture

Cut the puff pastry to fit the apples; egg wash.

Cut the puff pastry to fit the apples; egg wash.

Wrap each apple in the pastry and egg wash again. Bake at 375 F Degrees for 35-40 minutes. Pierce the pastry with a knife or toothpick the see if the apple is tender, if it is, it is done. Remove from oven. If not allow to cook until the apple is tender. If necessary cover the pastry loosely with foil to prevent it browning too much.

Wrap each apple in the pastry and egg wash again. Bake at 375 F Degrees for 35-40 minutes. Pierce the pastry with a knife or toothpick the see if the apple is tender, if it is, it is done. Remove from oven. If not allow to cook until the apple is tender. If necessary cover the pastry loosely with foil to prevent it browning too much.

Serve warm with whipped cream and caramel sauce. A few fresh berries add color to the plate.

Serve warm with whipped cream and caramel sauce. A few fresh berries add color to the plate.

Stuff the cinnamon sugar into the center of the apple.

Wrap the apple in puff pastry, seal seams tightly.

Bake at 375°F for 35-40 minutes.

The Apple Dumplings are done when the apple is tender inside.

Serve warm with vanilla and caramel sauce and a few berries for garnish.