Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"What in the world do I do with garlic scapes?"

I heard that question about 700 times in the last two market weekends. It totally makes me cringe sitting here right now. lol... But it is a good question. Garlic scapes are one of those things that are at the market for about three weeks. In marketland, that is gone in a flash, and within those three weeks people naturally want to take advantage of the most local, most seasonal, freshest food available. For the last two weeks, garlic scapes have been it.

So what are they and what do you do with them?

Well, garlic scapes are the young flowers on the garlic stalk. If you leave them on the stalk, they will have seed garlic in them... which if you are wondering, takes two years to grow into a decent head of garlic. So most people don't plant garlic from the seed. They plant it from 1 year old cloves for a 9 month (instead of 2 year) harvest. So each season they will have the garlic flowers for harvest!

Enter scapes. Garlic scapes taste... well, they taste like green garlic. lol... They have that same spicy garlic flavor, but somehow they taste fresher... greener. If that makes any sense.

What do you do with them? Anything that you would do with garlic! Saute them with stir fry, saute them with butter and olive oil and eat them crunchy, chop them up tiny and put them on top of salad, bake them slathered with cheese, add them to roasted root veggies.... or puree them for a wonderful pesto like I did last night.

A little bit about this recipe: It took two tries to get it right. I underestimated how spicy these suckers were! They are not just mild little garlic flavored flowers... they are just as hot as the garlic that you use in cooking... about 4 flowers makes for 1 clove of garlic. The first time I made this recipe I have 18 or so scapes in the processor... that was not good. Burnt every ones mouth and the kids couldn't even eat it at all. Best to tone down the garlic if you are worried about heat.

Garlic Scape Pesto

5 - 10 garlic scapes
1 oz (small handful) basil
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup slivered almonds
sea salt

Cut up the scapes really well and add them to a food processor or blender with some of the olive oil. Process for about 2 minutes (I know... it's loud, you can stop if you like more chunky pesto. I like mine super smooth.). Add in the basil, cheese (get the good stuff if you can, but the freeze dried stuff works too), and almonds and process for another 2 minutes. Stop and taste. Add salt if you need and toss a generous spoonful with a plate of pasta. I topped with tomatoes. :)

I also found that it has a wonderfully sweet garlic flavor that makes AMAZING guacamole!

Here is the recipe I used today:

Guacamole with Garlic Scapes

4 large avocados
6 garlic scapes
2 small tomatoes
handful cilantro leaves
2 Tbs lime juice
3 slices large sweet onion

Add all but avocados in food processor or blender and process for about 1 minute. Mash avocados in a bowl and pour in the puree. Mix well and salt to taste. It was amazingly delicious. I may make some scape puree to save for other guacamole days.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Local Living Days

Since my big market days are Sundays, I have an overabundance of good food come Monday morning. I came home with two bunches of carrots, a bag of summer squash and baby turnips, two heads of beautiful lettuce, a bunch of spinach, cilantro, parsley, 1 lb of garlic scapes (see pic at bottom), and 1 pound each Rainer and Bing cherries. And of course this:

I got STRAWBERRIES! After a long market day yesterday, my husband and I sat in front of a movie and topped, washed, and bagged 3 full flats of tiny, sweet, organic strawberries. I sigh with happiness just thinking about it. So good! There are a smaller variety that they grow at the farm I work for... they are more flavorful than any other strawberry I have ever tasted. They are sweet too... not like those ones you buy from the store (You know... the ones that taste like strawberry flavored cardboard). Those cold winter days where all I need is a taste of summer... they will be so much sweeter with these babies packed away.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A good first market day

A few people have asked me lately why I work on Sundays at the market. I figured it may be a relevant question to answer on the blog. :)

First off: I love it. Working with a great friend for a place that I trust, love, and believe in... I don't know that there can be a better reason to have a job (when you don't need to have one, that is).

Second: I love the connection and the 'me' time. I get to be without the kids. I am a homeschooler with a husband who has a crazy (and heavy) schedule, who doesn't really have hobbies outside of the home. Even when I am working out at the gym I usually have one of the kids with me. So this is a great opportunity for me to get out and talk to adults like adults. lol... and that is very rare in my world.

Third: A connection to local food and seeing people that have similar life beliefs that I do. This is a big deal for me. It has been hard moving so much and not knowing where my niches were in the community I am in. I am not sure how to describe this one. But I just don't know where my place is in this community yet. I am not talking about friends.... but finding stores I share values with, seeing farms that I trust and love... well I am just not there yet where we are. And that has been harder than I care to admit. We are a bit outside the norm in our beliefs. (As I believe really everyone is.) Even in my house, I have to stand hard for the things I believe are right to get them into action. (My dh is less than crunchy.) A melding is required and sometimes that take inspiration and a bit of a reminder that I am not crazy.

Fourth: Well, the haul is nice. lol! Yesterday I came home with what is in the picture above:

From the organic farm I work for: Dill, cilantro, 2# shelling peas, 1# sugar snap peas, 2 bunches Tatsoi (an Asian green similar to spinach mixed with bok choy),1 bunch spinach, 2 bunches Asian broccoli, 4 heads various lettuces, and a pint of the best strawberries EVER.

From other vendors (which I traded leftover veggies from the farm): 1 dozen free range organic eggs (and really free range, not store bought free range... think; happy chickens.), a huge loaf of Turkish Lavash bread (think huge croissant), a pint of raspberries, a bunch of carrots.

And I spent actual money on 4 succulent plants that we had already put outside in this picture.

Just think of an opportunity to get all of the above for $10 out of a paycheck you make doing what you love? Yes... that is why I do this job.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fast Food For Foodies

So lately, I have been talking a lot about the move. Of course. lol... it is my world. And the house is turning out to be more wonderful than I could possibly imagine. But along with doing all of these things to the house, I have had to make food. Lots of food, as fast as possible, because you will not believe how you loose track of time when I am painting, or putting up pictures, or planning shelves. Hours can be lost in what feels like minutes when one is so absorbed in something like this.

Enter Fast Food For Foodies. I love food. Well, I love good food. Real fast food (the 'real' being completely subjective) makes me sick. And most of the time I am glad, but sometimes I wish I could survive on Whoppers... No I don't. Never mind. YUCK! But you know what I mean. The drive through convinces can't be beat when you are harried for time. Luckily for me, it is summer. And that makes finding decent good and fresh food relatively easy.

My main staples for quick and easy meals are as follows:

Fruit salad. Fruit salad is easy to make (esp if you have a melon baller) and I keep some in the fridge right now at all times. We don't have local melons yet, but a watermelon added to some local strawberries and some frozen blueberries from last year make a great salad and keeps for about two days in the fridge.

Crackers and cheese. Oh how I love thee... but I usually have a spin on it. Like the dish above. Brie, crackers, and cherry tomatoes from the store, and basil from my garden (*glee*). A wonderful spin on the old stand by for a quick meal that will please just about anybody (except my toddler, who spits it out and makes horrid faces that make it seem like eating brie is torture).

For toddler fast food (which means every one including the toddler love it) around here we have;

~ Frozen blueberries - right out of the bag. We used to have frozen strawberries too, but Logan is allergic.

~ Frozen grapes. Organic grapes are EXPENSIVE! I paid up to $9 for a bag of them before I stopped buying them altogether. So when these babies go on sale, I want them to last a while. Enter my freezer. Who knew? Frozen grapes are delicious. I actually like green grapes this way and I am a die hard red grape fan. ;)

~ Frozen organic yogurt squeezes and organic apple sauces squeezes. Ever wanted an healthy alternative to Otter Pops? Here they are! Find them on sale and buy a bunch! Frozen they keep for months and months.

~ Baked potatoes - Any potatoes... yams esp. Our local farm right here in town always has yams and small red potatoes. And all locally grown. Butter and salt is all he eats on yams. Regular potatoes and he will have a whole meal with cheese, sometimes sauteed onions, sometimes bacon, and usually chives from my garden (MY garden!!!).

~ Cold rice - I make up a big pot of fried rice or comfort rice and usually don't even have to heat it up... just add spoon.

There has never been a better time to get into a good food habit than now. I'll be frank... avoiding fast food takes more work. It just does. There is no if, and, or but about it. Packing food, remembering to bring food, keeping it cold and stored well... it adds up to a bit more work. And if you want to go organic, it takes a bit more money too. But you can find coupons for these things pretty easily, and as the market starts to expand, it will get even easier. The benefits far outweigh the pitfalls. Consider it health insurance for your children. It is more than worth it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

How to make the perfect iced tea

When I found myself wishing that they made Kool-aid without food dye I realised that it was Summer. Our Winter was long, and our Spring short, but Summer is here, and along with it 90* days and the desire to sip on a nice cool drink all day long. My kids were asking for juice... but I can't drink it... So I thought I would make up a big batch of iced tea. (Cheaper anyhow.)

Contrary to the picture, only the cup came from Starbucks. It is my new favorite thing. I didn't buy those water bottles... I bought a reusable cup from Starbucks. It has a straw. Oh goodness, I wish I could tell you how much I love my reusable straw! I have drank more water than I have in years because of this beautiful over sized straw. It makes drinking for me a joy. I don't know why... maybe I am crazy, but I figure as long as I keep good stuff in my cup, like water or tea, then I am doing my body good.... and I can continue to use my straw in contentment. Unfortunately for Starbucks, that means that once again, they have lost me as a customer. I guess they can consider the $14 I spent on the cup my final farewell gift. :)

So to start; basically, you are making tea concentrate. First bring out two heat resistant measuring cups (everybody has these, right?). Put 4 tea bags in the larger of the two and then 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup honey or sugar in the other. Add at least two cups of boiling water to the ones with the tea bags, and then add enough to get to 1 cup of liquid in the one with the sweetener. Let them sit for 10 minutes.

While that is steeping, fill your pitcher half full with cold water. As cold as you can get it.

Remove the tea bags (this is important) and add the sweetener into the tea mixture. Mix well. Add the whole thing to the pitcher of cold water, mixing again to make sure there are no bland spots.

Pour over ice to serve. Can keep without getting bitter in the fridge for 4 days.