Eat Fresh! What’s in Season NOW: October 2014

Fall is in the air!

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

Fresh Crisp Fall Apples

A nip in the morning, time to grab a light jacket.

Here is a quick listing of what’s in season now.

These are the things you should be seeing in the markets, things that are growing locally.

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

Pickled beets

Pickled beets

Apples on display

Apples on display

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!Chow Chow Pic

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

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

Stuffed Mini Pumpkins

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

Muscadine grapes

Muscadine grapes

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.

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

Painted Pumpkins Lined up to dry

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.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad

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!)

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

A delicious Green Tomato Pie

Turnips – add some to soup, mash some with your mashed potatoes. Toss some into your greens as they cook. My favorite, Pickled Turnips!

Pickled Turnips

Pickled Turnips

This, is the list for the Piedmont area of North Carolina.

What’s growing where you live?

#localfood #eatfresh #healthyeating #freshfood #seasonalfood #localfarmers #farmersmarkets #freshfruit #freshvegetables #whatsinseasonnow

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Fresh Vegetables

I was out and about yesterday and when I came home, I found this on my doorstep!

Garden Fresh Vegetables on the doorstep!

Amazing garden fresh vegetables just picked from the garden a couple of hours earlier.

These vegetables were grown from the seed, mulched and grown totally organically by Robert’s sister, Shelton, who lives in Boone, NC, up in the mountains.

This explains why she still had broccoli! I was overjoyed at the bounty:

Russet potatoes, garlic onions, red onions, broccoli, green and purple peppers, tomatoes and what looks like a purple tomato, green beans, red cabbage and green cabbage; it is an amazing gift.

Bountiful Garden Goodness

Bountiful Garden Goodness

We had just bought corn, kale, collards, arugula and spinach at the farmers market so we will be eating quite good this week.

Thank you Shelton!

These were just in time for  a cold day in July, needless to say, I made some amazing vegetable soup.

Garden Bounty Vegetable Soup

  • Servings: about 1 gallon
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

TIP: Cut all the vegetables about the same size. Use different shapes for visual interest. Remember everything needs to fit on the spoon, not hang over.

Soup Ingredients

Soup Ingredients

  • 1/4 green cabbage, chopped fine
  • 1 large onion, cut into small dice
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 3 red potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 10 green beans, sliced
  • 2 broccoli crowns, separated into florets
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1 can organic diced tomatoes
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 cup lima beans
  • 1 ear of corn, cut it off
  • Enough water to cover the vegetables
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1-2 Tablespoons salt, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 splash Texas Pete Hot Sauce

Chop it all up, sweat (cook without browning) the onions, carrots and cabbage, once these vegetables are tender, add the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a boil and then turn down the heat and simmer until the vegetables are done. Adjust the seasonings and serve.

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

Garden Fresh Vegetable Soup for a chilly day in July

My Cooking Culture

george-chochran-shoot-086.jpgMy Cooking Culture

We lived all over the world, moving about every 3 years to another place on the planet. From Morocco to Spain, Canada to Japan with a few of the United States in between.

My father is an avid gardener; we used to joke about having a corn field in our back yard no matter where we lived. Fresh snow peas were the gardeners treat. They got eaten in the garden and never quite made it to the table. I used to eat snow peas instead of potato chips. After school, I would head to the garden and sneak a few off the vines then help my dad after work with weeding and tying vines to eat more.october-15-2011-farmers-market-015.jpg

To this day, I love garden grown green beans and home-grown tomatoes seem to be better than anything you can buy at a store.

My mom is Canadian; grew up in Nova Scotia where they grew a lot of their food. She fed us with garden grown fresh foods, or frozen. She tried cans on us once and we rejected them as repulsive so she didn’t try that again.

In the foreign countries, mom always managed to hire a native cook to prepare meals for us a few days a week. My parents made sure no matter what country we lived in, we learned about the culture, food and language. When we lived in Japan, the family that lived behind us was the same size. The mom there and my mom made great friends with each other. On Wednesday night, they would each prepare a full meal for the family, put it on trays; walk out the back door and swap meals. They got a traditional American/Canadian meal and we got a traditional Japanese meal. I loved it! My dad, not so much.

Imagine, from my Dad’s point of view, the aroma of pan-fried pork chops, green beans and mashed potatoes with gravy wafting through the air. Ah, the smell of the roasting garlic whetting the appetite. The coming to the table and finding plates of various sushi, rice, miso soup and tofu with cucumber seaweed salads. Surprise!

We have always eaten a ton of fresh vegetables, local meats and foods. What is horribly frustrating is seeing the decline in the quality of our food supply. In addition to the decline in quality, there is also the fact that so many people really don’t know what they’re eating, or how to eat well or make good food choices.

This is where I want to make a difference!

My dad, who is 87, still grows a garden and has the best tomatoes in the world. He also makes a terrific gyoza, thanks to “Mamasan’s” recipe.

Final Harvest!

Final Harvest!

I am one of the lucky ones. My parents didn’t take us to McDonald’s. Even though as kids we begged for it. I remember looking at the McDonald’s signs and noticing how the numbers of how many hamburgers they sold kept increasing. (Yes, they kept count in the early days!) I wondered if I would ever be lucky enough to be part of that statistic. Then came the day when the signs changed to “millions served” now it might be “billions served”. Yes, I finally got one. They must have, among other things in this category, the worst bread on the planet.

My son used to say my meals were always the same: 1 starch, 1 or two vegetables (1 always green), and a protein with a sauce of some kind. I have to admit it is a type of formula.

Today my Typical Dinner Consists of:

1 Green vegetable (1 cup)

Leafy greens, broccoli, cabbages, peas, any variety of beans, snow peas, there are so many! If you’re not familiar, pick something you don’t know, ask about it, look up recipes on the internet and play with cooking it.

Fresh picked kale

Fresh picked kale

1 Vegetable of another color (1/2 cup)

Any veg that is not green, peppers, onions, cauliflower, squashes, this is to make the plate visually interesting and it also adds a punch of nutrition!

Corn Crusted Grouper

Corn Crusted Grouper

Grain or starch of some kind (1/2 to 1 cup)

Whole grains like brown rice, exotic rice, lentils, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, barley, millet, mung beans, quinoa, farro, cous cous. I love how much the level of choice in this category has grown. There is so much more than just rice and potatoes.

1 High quality protein – not always animal based (4-6 ounces)

Guidelines for animal proteins:
  • No beef
  • No pork (but I love bacon! ) 😉
  • No farm raised fish except catfish or trout
    • No Tuna, Sea Bass or Redfish

Note: we no longer eat any fish from the Pacific ocean.

  • Organic poultry
  • Organic eggs
  • Organic Dairy

    Multi colored Carrots (I bought these!)

    Multi colored Carrots (I bought these!)

1 Sauce (1-2 ounces)

Can be made from de-glazing the pan or reserved cooking liquids or stock or vinaigrette. This provides a bit of moisture and can add another dimension of flavor. I avoid using fat and flour thickeners and cornstarch. Instead I thicken by reduction (enhances flavor), adding mustard or miso which also contribute to flavor.

1 Side dish of raw vegetable salad (1/4 -1/2 cup)

This can be a green salad, carrot salad, cucumber, onion, Caesar, or lightly blanched vegetable and may contain a fermented/ pickled vegetable like pickled beets, cauliflower or onions. A homemade vinaigrette dressing, sometimes lemon juice and olive oil and cracked black pepper.

Anaida's Beans

Anaida’s Beans

This side does not need to be a big portion. 1/4 to 1/2 cup is a typical serving.  It can be used as a palate cleanser between tastes on the main plate.

Lunches:

Sandwiches with a chip and pickle of some kind. I’m working on improving the chip option but I really am fond of a handful of chips with a sandwich. I’m trying nori chips and kale chips. . . I may still go back to potato once in a while.

Light bits of left over dinner

Soup with good bread (I’ve made the bread we eat in the house for the past 10+ years)

Noodle stir fry

Grill pan dinner“Ploughman’s lunches” using what we have on hand

Vegetable Sushi

Breakfast:

On our own for breakfast. Most of the time I’ll grab something with protein.

This meal is usually quick , easy and light. Unless it’s oatmeal.

What we always have on hand:

Buy Organic whenever possible

Chicken stock, 1/2 & 1/2 for morning beverages and sometimes chai, fat-free milk, fresh greens, eggs, fruit, tetra-pac tomatoes, variety of beans, canned and dried, various rice and grains, legumes and potatoes. We will keep a stock of chicken and sometimes fish in the freezer for meals during the week.

I shop whenever we need fresh vegetables; I try to use fresh vegetables over frozen.

I leave processed foods on the shelf and process my own condiments, pickles and breads.

That’s it! My cooking culture, in a nutshell. A bit of many cultures rolled into a multitude of meals.

I believe everyone should be able to make healthy food choices and healthy food should be affordable and available to all.

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Hemp Seed Crisp

Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Hemp Seed Crisp