Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Taking Advantage of Your Local Farmers Market

I'm loving this article!

Times changed, and we moved off the farm and away from big gardens.

Now times are changing back — sort of.

We’re no longer on the farm, but the farm seems quite willing to come to us.

The United States Department of Agriculture shows that the number of farmers markets nationwide has increased from 1,755 in 1994 to 6,132 in 2010 — a more than threefold increase.

So what to do with all that bounty? Try creating a meal prepared almost entirely with meat, produce, pasta and other items found at local markets.

It helps to have a plan, but the key to success is staying flexible. Go with the flow of what is available. Be willing to throw out some recipes in favor of others when the right ingredients suddenly become available.

And then there are those things that defy a recipe. They are just thrown together based on what the cook has on hand. Potatoes, green beans, onions, sweet corn and curry powder were combined in a slow cooker with some margarine and a little honey for sweetness.

Fresh Okra With Peanuts/Pecans
Adapted from “Betty Crocker’s Indian Home Cooking”
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 pound fresh okra, stem ends removed
¼ cup peanuts or pecans, ground or coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ cup fresh cilantro

Heat oil in wok or large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seed and allow it to sizzle for 10 to 15 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until okra is tender.

Chicken/Turkey Basil

Adapted from Thaitable.com
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 tablespoon minced garlic
4 to 7 Thai chile peppers (or substitute serrano peppers)
1 to 2 bunches of Thai basil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ pound ground chicken (or substitute ground turkey, whichever is available at the farmers market)
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce

Mince garlic and peppers together. Clean and pick Thai basil leaves from the stem. It may look like a lot of leaves, but they will cook down.

Fry the garlic and peppers in oil over high heat. When garlic starts to turn brown, add the ground turkey. Stir constantly. Keep stirring until all the juice is gone. Add sugar and fish sauce. Then add Thai basil. Turn over a few times to mix the leaves with the meat and then remove from heat.

Serve with or without rice.

Blackberry Cobbler

Adapted from allrecipes.com
Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups white sugar, divided
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold margarine
¼ cup boiling water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ cup cold water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 cups fresh blackberries
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, ½ cup sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in margarine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in ¼ cup of boiling water until the mixture is evenly moist.

In a separate bowl, dissolve cornstarch in ¼ cup cold water. Mix in remaining 1 cup of sugar, lemon juice and blackberries. Transfer to skillet and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

The recipe calls for completion in the skillet. However, I transferred the berry mixture to a greased baking dish and dropped spoonfuls of dough onto the mixture.

Bake 25 minutes until dough is golden brown.

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