Friday, December 31, 2010

Daikon Radish

This vegetable causes many people to ask, "What IS that?" It looks like a white carrot, but it is not a carrot at all. It's a daikon radish, great for salads, stir fries, and roasting with other veges. And a 3 oz portion has less than 20 calories! You can even cook and eat the greens! Fiberlicious! If you are into organic gardening then plant some daikon radishes alongside your cucumbers and squash to repel beetles from attacking these vegetables, alongside tomatoes to repel mites.

Scalloped Daikon and Ham (from December 2010 issue of Experience Life, page 32)

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder (optional)
1 1/2 cups of cream
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 large daikon, sliced
12 oz. ham
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 and butter a baking dish.

In a saucepan melt butter over medium-high heat. Stir in arrowroot as a thickener (optional). Cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and whisk in cream. Return to heat and simmer while stirring. When thickened (if using arrowroot) remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Spread a third of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and top with half of the sliced daikon. Layer with half of the onion, half of the ham, and half of the cheese. Add another third of your sauce and repeat layers. Top with the last of the cream sauce.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 25-30 more minutes, or until daikon is tender. Serve with a salad to complete meal.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year's Day

The traditional meal for New Year's Day is black-eye peas, greens, and ham. Supposedly the peas bring good luck, the greens bring wealth and prosperity, and the ham represents moving forward (because hogs root forward). Other fun sayings about New Year's Day:
"Don't do laundry on New Year's Day because that will bring bad luck."
"Don't sweep the floors because you will be sweeping someone out of your life."
"Place a penny on your kitchen windowsill for good luck."
"If you eat beef on New Year's Day you will have a tough year."

Superstitious? If so, here's my Mama's recipe for collard greens to wish you and yours a prosperous 2011!

First, cook a cured hamhock and fat back until tender. While meat is cooking, wash collards thoroughly. Remove meat from the pot. Add collards to the broth. Cook until tender (about 30-40 min). Remove collards from pot and drain. Sprinkle a little salt and sugar, and chop collards. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cozy Fires

If you haven't stocked up on firewood, now's the time to visit the Market and load up the truck. Nothing beats a warm, cozy fire on a cold winter night. Hope you are able to enjoy such comfort during the Christmas season!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Recipe for Turnips and Greens





Pictured here are turnip roots and curly mustard greens, a staple to any Southern meal. How to cook 'em? Let me tell 'ya how. You will need -

2 lbs fresh turnip greens
6 slices bacon, chopped
4 cups water
3 medium turnips, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash greens thoroughly; drain. Tear into bite-size pieces. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven until browned. Drain bacon, and set aside; reserve drippings in Dutch oven. Add greens and water. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. While the greens are simmering peel and dice turnip roots. Then stir roots, sugar, and salt into Dutch oven. Cover and cook an additional 20 minutes until roots are tender yet still firm. Spoon into serving dish. Chop bacon and sprinkle over top.



Thursday, December 2, 2010

Winter Berries

Strawberries in December? Can it be true? Are they really grown in NC? The answer is yes, yes, and YES! Berries from Lewis Farms in Rocky Point. Pictures courtesy of Jason Cox.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving

Hope all my readers had a wonderful Thanksgiving feasting and visiting with family. Our tables were prepared with all kinds of yummies - collards, peas, green beans, sweet potato casserole, cheeesy mashed potatoes, chicken pastry, all alongside the turkey and dressing. After lunch I took pictures at the farm for the website http://www.wisechoiceproduce.com/untitled1.html

While out on the farm I saw the old pecan tree, forlorn and barren, still standing on what we call the family homeplace. It brought back memories of an old family Thanksgiving tradition. When I was a child we would eat lunch at my Grandmother's house, along with all my cousins, aunts, and uncles from my father's side of the family. Afterwards, we would trek out to the family homeplace to gather pecans. My dad's youngest brother, Eggbert, was about 20 years old or so, and he would climb the tree to shake the limbs. I remember my grandmother yelling constantly, "Eggbert! You be careful now! Don't you fall out of that tree!" We'd all work together, filling the baskets, and later divide our harvest between all the families. Pecans for the winter!

What are your fond or favorite Thanksgiving memories or traditions? Please share by posting a comment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pretty Colors

This dish was prepared with red pepper, sweet potato, butternut squash, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion. Tossed about in a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and rosemary and roasted for about an hour. Prepared by Dina with yummy veges from Wise Farms. Perfect for any Thanksgiving table.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

How Well do you know your Roots?

They can be red, white, or orange. They can be round, oval, or oblong.  They can be sweet, bitter, or mild. Even the tops are edible. They are fall's favorites - root vegetables.

1st picture (l-r) - beets, turnips, daikon radish.
2nd picture (l-r) - turnips, rutabaga. Notice the difference in the color.

They can be roasted, boiled, stir fried, baked, juiced, or grated into salads. When eaten with greens or orange roots such as sweet potatoes and carrots, the food combinations work together to provide the highest nutritional value because the lighter colored roots release chemicals in digestion that aid the absorption of the beta-carotene, or cancer-fighting agents, found in the the darker colored veges.

Beets and Spinach Salad

First, wash 3-4 small-to-medium-sized beets really good. Boil in water for 50 minutes, or brush with olive oil and wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 for 1 hour. Allow to cool slightly. Then, dice the cooked beets.

In a heavy-bottom saucepan (I prefer my fam-favorite iron skillet) heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add 1/3 cup orange juice, 1 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp fennel seeds. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Add diced beets; stir gently to coat. Remove from heat.

Wash, pat dry, and arrange spinach leaves in a salad bowl. Spoon warm beets on top and drizzle the remaining orange juice syrup mixture over salad. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

What to do With the Seeds

Pumpkins and fall squash have lots of seeds. Seems a shame to throw them out. They are packed with zinc, iron, omega-3 fats, vitamin E, folate, and magnesium. In other words, very good for the immune system, helping to protect against hormone-based cancers, such as prostate cancer.

The seeds are most edible when roasted. Wash and dry the seeds and toss in a little olive oil. Spread on a baking sheet and roast on low heat for 50-60 minutes. Great for snacking and adding to salads, breakfast cereal, and yogurt.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

An Even Better Butternut

I'm still living up to my challenge of testing new and different ways to cook fresh vegetables so I can break out of my "same old, same old". This week I cooked butternut squash, and how I wish I could step out of this monitor and offer you a sample to taste. The squash was absolutely delicious! Here's what I did.

First, I washed the squash really good, and halved it down the middle. I scooped out the seeds and pulp, and began to slice and dice. At first, I started peeling the squash, but that was taking too much time. After all, I am a working mom, and I didn't want to spend all night in the kitchen. So, I left the skin on some of the pieces. Decided I would test and see how they turned out.

Then, I got out my roasting pan; the more shallow the pan, the better. I placed the squash in a single layer on the pan, and poured a couple tablespoons olive oil over the squash. Then, I tossed the squash around a bit to cover them with oil, added a few tablespoons water, added a few shakes of cinnamon, and added a few shakes of nutmeg.

I roasted the squash at 375 for a good 45-50 minutes. As I said before, they were absolutely delicious, even the pieces with the skins. From now on, no need to peel. Leave the skins on. They soften as they cook, and did I mention they were absolutely delicious. Tomorrow, what to do with the seeds.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

More Cool Pics

Raspberries grown here. Photos by Jason Cox, courtesy of Sylvia Fisher.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Really Cool Pictures

Really cool pictures of raspberries growing under the hoops at Lewis Farms in Rocky Point, NC. Available now at the market and hopefully they will continue producing into early December. Yes...they taste as good as they look. Pictures courtesy of Sylvia Fisher.


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Root Vegetables

'Tis the season for root vegetables. As their name implies, root veges are the edible root of a plant. Pictured here is a rutabaga. Other popular root veges are turnip roots, beets, red radishes, daikon radishes, and the more popular carrots and potatoes. They keep well after harvest when stored in a cool, dry place.

Try mixing and pan roasting a variety of roots. Simply peel and dice, add salt and pepper, and toss in olive oil. Add to roasting pan and cook at 400 degrees for about 45-50 minutes, or until tender. Great side dish with greens and main course.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Move Over Jif

Move over Jif. Mom has a new peanut butter. Fresh ground peanuts. Just like a soft-serve ice cream machine, it's as easy as flippng a switch and filling the cup. These machines are new to the Dining Hall at NCSU and are also at Whole Foods. I simply could not believe the taste. Really, you should try it.

Fall is the season for peanuts. Whether roasted, boiled, or ground into peanut butter, peanuts are loaded with antioxidants and monounsaturated fats (the good fats), which protect against heart disease. According to my source, "100 Best Health Foods", peanuts also have amino acids to boost mood and brain function. No wonder peanut butter is one of my "feel good" foods.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bok Choy Recipe

First time ever cooking bok choy and here it is! Very easy to prepare and goes great with stir fried beef and cheesy rice. Mmm! How do I do all that I do? Well, first I washed the bok choy and diced it like you see here. Then, I took out my fam-favorite iron skillet, and added 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp ginger, and 1/4 minced garlic (since I didn't have fresh). Then, I heated the oil, added the bok choy, along with another tbsp olive oil, and stir fried for a little over a minute. Then, I added 1/4 cup chicken broth, covered and simmered for another couple of minutes. Just look at that color...delicious and nutritious!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Bok Choy

If you like cabbage you should try its Chinese cousin, bok choy. It can be eaten raw in salads, or in soups and stir fries. Simply remove the leaves from the stalks and cut the stalks into pieces before cooking. It has a mild flavor and only 10 calories for a half cup when served raw. 10 calories? That's right, 10 calories! Good and good for you because it's also loaded with Vitamins A and C, calcium, and beta carotene, those powerful cancer-fighting agents.

Pictured here is bok choy fresh from the fields. Notice the white stalks, and the leaves are firm and green. Bok choy will stay fresh when stored in plastic bag in refrigerator for 3 days.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Developing Healthy Eating Habits

I was making my list for my weekly trek to the grocery store when I asked my 8-yr-old if there was anything in particular that she wanted. Much to my surprise she asked for nectarines. "When did you start eating nectarines?" I asked. "At school," she answered, and she proceeded to tell me what they looked like and how they tasted. Hmmm....that healthy snack program at her school is working.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Now that fall is here bringing chilly fall nights, it's time for comfort foods like soups, chilis, and marinara-covered pasta bakes. Here's a recipe from my sister-in-law for Everyday Marinara Sauce. It yields 6 cups and can be prepared in a little over an hour, refrigerated for 5 days, and frozen for up to 2 months, making it quick and easy to throw together a meal when you're in a hurry. Simply pour over cooked noodles and grilled chicken breast, add a salad and voila! Simple and delicious, and the sauce is only 70 calories per 1 cup serving.

Ingredients -
12 medium tomatoes (Roma tomatoes recommended, but any variety would do), or 5 cups jarred diced or strained plum tomatoes (no salt or sugar added)
1 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium white onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 sprigs fresh oregano without stems (about 2 tbsp leaves), or 1 tsp dried oregano
8 basil leaves, or 1 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp red chile flakes, optional
1 tbsp raw honey
salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions-
Bring a pot of water to a boil over hight heat. In a large bowl, prepare an ice bath. Immerse tomatoes into boiling water for 1-2 minutes or until skins begin to come off. Remove tomatoes with a slotted spoon and immerse into ice bath for about 1 minute or until cooled.

Once cooled, remove tomatoes from ice bath and remove skin, which will peel off easily. Slice tomatoes in half, scoop away core and seeds. Coarsely chop tomatoes and place into a bowl.

In a medium saucepot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion, carrots, and celery and saute until onion becomes translucent and vegetabkes are softened. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and chile flakes, if desired, and cook, stirring frequently, until sauce comes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 45 min - 1 hr, stirring occasionally.

Remove saucepot from heat and carefully puree mixture with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth. Add honey and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Ladle mixture into resealable containers, let cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate. Use within 5 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Website Now Up and Running

It's here, and it's official. I've not been blogging as much lately because I've been (along with help from hubby) creating a website for Wise Farms and working on a new venture with my brother. We have partnered to create The Wise Choice, a service that delivers fresh produce straight from the farm to you. We are looking for people interested in joining us as Coordinators to oversee distribution. Comment for more info...in the meantime check out the website and online store at  http://www.wise-farms.com/

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quince Fruit

My knowledge of fruits has been challenged. Recently I was asked by my faithful follower, Chris, if I knew what quince was....ahhhh, never heard of it. So, I had to research.

According to http://www.foodreference.com/ quince belongs to the pome fruit family and claims apples and pears as its cousins. For over 4,000 years quince trees have been producing this tart, golden yellow fruit. The harvest season for quince is September-January. It's great for baking and is a good substitute when a recipe calls for apples or pears. Quince has a very high pectin content, which makes it the perfect fruit for jams and jellies, as shown here straight from Chris' kitchen. Orange in color, it tastes a lot like tart pears, very good. The texture is a lot like honey. Thanks, Chris, for sharing!

Any other fruit or vegetable challenges? One is never too old to learn!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Apple Butternut Casserole

Easy as ABC.

A is for Apple, one granny smith. Core, slice, and dice. No need to peel the apple first (which I did and lost all that bright green color to contrast the orange of the squash, and also peeled away most of the fiber from the apple).

B is for Butternut squash, one medium-sized. Half, scoop out seeds and pulp. Slice, dice, and peel. You will need very sharp knife.

C is for Casserole. Mix apple and butternut chunks together in a casserole dish.

Sprinkle with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes. Delicious and different!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Subtle Change 9

This week's challenge - try something new! It's so easy to fall into a rut, especially with our meal planning. We eat the same foods over and over, day in and day out. While I think it's a great idea to have a designated night for certain meals (like Friday night can be pizza night each week) it's also a great idea to spice things up a bit and surprise the family at least one night a week with a new dish. Put aside your fear and break out the recipe books. What have you got to lose? You'll either not like it and lose the few dollars and time you spent to prepare it, OR you may just discover a delicious new dish to serve your family.

Last week I tried butternut squash for the first time. I know...it's a little hard to believe that a farmer's daughter never had eaten butternut squash in all her 27 years (ha!). Not only that, but I don't remember having ever seen the inside of a butternut squash. So, I found this recipe online that I doctored a bit to make it my own and it was really good! I will definitely cook it again, and will post the recipe tomorrow.

In the meatime take a look here at the pic of the butternut after I cut it. Be warned! It's not easy to cut. I had to get out the big knife! If only this blog was "scratch and sniff". I can't even find the words to describe the great smell and color. Who knew?

If you accept my challenge for Subtle Change 9, comment and let me know how it turned out!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How to Love Vegetables

Just read this on CNN's eatocracy food blog. The lady was answering the question, "Why do so many people hate vegetables?"

“I’d hate vegetables too if I ate frozen vegetables! I’d hate vegetables if I ate vegetables that are out of season! I think to fall in love with vegetables you need to eat seasonal vegetables and you need to eat them prepared very simply and they need to be homemade.” Jennifer Rubell

Gotta love it! Think of all the many different types of vegetables there are to choose from. Vary your intake from season to season lest you burn out. And if you don't know how to cook them, just slice and dice and throw them all together into one big salad. Enjoy!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Rain!

Thanking God for the much-needed rain to water the crop of greens Gary planted last week. We're no fools. We know that without God we can grow nothing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

To My Readers

A special shout out to all my readers! To date there have been 838 visits to this site. I know some of these are repeat visits from followers, and I thank you all. From time to time you guys tell me about having tried a recipe, or having learned something from the blog. When I hear your stories I am encouraged to keep blogging. Thanks, again, for your interest. Now, go tell 2 friends, so they can tell 2 friends, and they can tell 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Raspberries Are In Town

Raspberries are available now at the market. Just like other berries they are loaded with vitamin C and potassium and are low in calories. Add them to vanilla yogurt, or breakfast cereal; or puree and use them as dessert topping; or just eat them like popcorn straight from the bowl.

Store fresh raspberries in the refrigerator and eat them as soon as possible. Raspberries can also be frozen. Simply lay them in a single layer on a tray and place in freezer for a few hours or just until fruit is firm. Then, package in freezer bags and use them within 6-8 months.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Peas Are Like Sisters

Ever been a bit overwhelmed when shopping for peas, wondering the difference between the many varieties and which one tastes best?

Think about it this way. Peas are like sisters. They come from the same family. Even though they may look somewhat alike, they are different. Each one has her own personality, her own style, her own sense of humor. Likewise, each variety of pea has its own special flavor. Just like you would need to spend time with each sister to determine which one you liked more, you would need to try each variety of pea to decide which one you preferred.

Dixie Lee peas are a lot like the peas and snaps Grandma used to cook, and they are my personal favorite. Pink eyes are similar to black eyes, only smaller. Crowders are those yummy peas that cook up a red gravy. Six weeks tend to stay more green as they cook, but are equally tasty.

Peas can be cooked in chicken or vegetable broth, or water. Flavor them with a little salt. Bring them to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Let them simmer for about 30-40 minutes. The longer they slow cook the better, but be careful to not let them run out of water. Try a taste test. Leave comments. Which pea is your favorite?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Schools Going Local

Congratulations to Aversboro Elementary and Knightdale Elementary for going local!

These two schools have applied for and received a federal grant to fund a program that allows the school to purchase snacks for all the students, every day from September through May. Now get this, the snacks are fruits and vegetables purchased from local businesses approved by Child Nutrition Services for the Wake County schools. How cool is that! Maybe this will set a precedent for other schools and for our school lunch programs as well.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sweet Potato Casserole


Here's the sweet potato casserole I made last night. It was, by far, the best sweet potato casserole I've ever made. I don't know if it was because this year's sweet potatoes are really delicious, or if it was the recipe, or if I've been cooking so long that it can't go wrong (ha). Whatever, it was really sweet, melt-in-your-mouth goodness. I dare you to try it!

You will need: 3-4 medium-sized sweet potatoes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 stick melted butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Wash sweet potatoes and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake in oven at 350 for 60-75 minutes until done. Cool, peel, mash, and measure 4 cups in mixing bowl. Add sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, butter, and cinnamon. Stir until smooth. Pour into casserole dish.

For Topping you will need: 1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 stick melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Mix sugar, flour, and butter. Then, add pecans.
Cover casserole with topping and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people over age 35. I'll get to the under-35 set in just a minute. First, if you're over 35 you either like to shell peas and butterbeans, or you hate it. Me? I'm in the "like it" group. Yes, it was hard on the thumb, tiring, and seemingly endless. But the alternative for me was to be in the field picking the peas. Now, if you know me at all, you will know that I am an indoor cat. So, shelling was my ONLY option. It really wasn't all that bad. I was able to sit outside under the great big pecan tree with the others left behind to shell. We would race to see who could finish shelling their panful of peas first. The winner was justly rewarded with yet another pan of peas and another race ahead. All in all, though, it was kind of therapeutic. Working with your hands, making progress, and having those yummy Dixie Lee peas for supper was the ultimate reward!

Now, back to the under-35 age group. For you, there are two kinds of people - those who have shelled peas and butterbeans, and those who have not!

Somewhere along the course of time someone came up with the bright idea to create and build a pea-shelling machine. It's like magic! Simply dump the baskets of peas in the tray on one side, turn on the switch, and voila! Out rolls freshly shelled peas on the screened tray on the other side! Amazing!

If you go to the market don't forget to visit Wise Farms and get your peas. Ours are already shelled...by that fancy machine, of course.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Subtle Change 8

Simplify! There's truth to the saying, "Less is more." This week's challenge is to simplify your surroundings. Remove clutter. Don't be afraid to throw things out. Your trash may be someone else's treasure.
Donate old magazines to the library. Somewhere there is a child who needs that magazine for pictures for a school project.
Donate those "already read, enjoyed, but don't know-what-to-do-with" inspirational books to the Hospice center at your local hospital. Someone there is grieving and needs an encouraging word.
Donate outgrown children's clothes to the school. Children have accidents and might need a change of clothes.
Just a few thoughts...anyone out there want to share other ways to simplify? Leave comments.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Winter Squash

As the summer ends, the fall harvest begins bringing a variety of winter squash to the market. Here's a picture taken in the early summer of a butternut squash growing at Wise Farms. No doubt this squash has since matured, harvested, and been served with someone's dinner.

Butternut squash, along with other winter squash, are tasty when baked in the oven and seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, or brown sugar and a little butter. After cutting the squash in half lengthwise, scoop away the inner seeds (much like scooping away the innermost part of a cantaloupe). Then place in shallow roasting pan, and rub a little olive oil over top of squash. Add enough water to cover bottom of pan, and bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes until tender and lightly browned.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Vege Mix

Three good reasons to try this recipe:

1. Tomatoes, corn, and okra are still plentiful at the market;
2. Their flavors complement one another; and
3. This recipe is from my Southern Living cookbook (can't go wrong with Southern Living).

3 cups sliced okra
2 cups fresh cut corn
4-5 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

Thoroughtly rinse and drain okra. Combine first six ingredients in a large skillet; cover and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with bacon and serve. It just doesn't get any easier than this!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crunchalicious

Crunchalicious. That's the best way to describe this summer's pickling cucumbers, cukes as we like to call them. Although they are mostly used for pickling, they also add crunch to a salad or vege tray. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil vinaigrette or a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar over a sliced cuke for a delicious, low calorie side. Dill is a great herb to compliment the flavor of cukes.

When shopping for cukes look for firmness and a good green color. Don't be scared off by whitish or light green spots - that's normal. You don't want cukes that are withered or shriveled, dull or yellowed, or soft. That's a sign that they've been picked a while, or left on the vine too long. Cukes will stay fresh for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. So, head on out to the market and stock up for the week.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Red Pepper Follow Up

Well, I haven't had my stir fry, but I did dice some of the red pepper and added it to a salad. It IS sweet and has less of that "peppery-pepper" taste of green pepper. Delicious!

I've also taken-a-liking-to fried okra. (A true southerner will love anything fried.) Seriously, though, while I like the smell of okra, the texture has always been a bit too slimy for my taste. But I decided to give it another try and, lo and behold, after sitting in corn meal batter for about 15 minutes, and being fried to a golden brown, those little bits have become a new favorite.

I challenge you to try a new vegetable this week. I've heard it said (don't know how true it is, but I believe it) that your taste buds change about every 7 years. So, something that you might not have liked as a child you may enjoy now. Take a trip to the market and pick out something fresh and new, dig around on the internet (or my blog) for an easy recipe, and give it a try. Leave comments about your experience.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Bell Pepper

It might surprise you to know that a green bell pepper is packed with more Vitamin C than an orange, and as it matures into a red pepper the Vitamin C increases by15%. Bell peppers are also loaded with antioxidants, and who doesn't want those powerful cancer-fighting agents swimming in his body!

North Carolina is one of the top five bell pepper producing states, and the farmer's market has a large supply now that it's prime pepper-picking season. Yesterday as I watched people shop I noticed that the red peppers are most popular, followed by the yellow, then the green. So, I did a little research (i.e. asking the customers) to determine why this was so (because personally I prefer the green). No one said anything about the health benefits of the peppers. No! Instead, it was all about taste. The red peppers won out for being the sweetest. So, I decided to give the red peppers a try. I'm planning a stir fry, and I'll blog to let you know if the red peppers win 1st place in my heart.

Ever wonder about why the peppers are different colors? All the peppers start out green. If left on the vine to mature, they will begin to turn yellow, then orange, and eventually red. Even after picking they will continue to ripen, but not as much as if left on the vine. Which is your favorite, and why? Any great pepper-stuffing recipes you'd like to share? Leave comments. I'm taking a poll.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mama's Fried Chicken

One of my best friends swears no one can fry chicken as good as my mom and me and has asked me to post our secrets for frying chicken. Here's what my mama taught me.

1. Always use fresh, never-been-frozen, chicken for frying.
2. Cut the fryer into two legs, two thighs, two breasts, two wings, and the back. Do not remove the skin, and fry all the pieces together. The juices from the skin and dark meat add to the flavor of the white meat.
3. Salt and pepper chicken; batter with self-rising flour.
4. Use an electric skillet. Pour cooking oil up to 3/4" depth. I prefer canola oil; mama uses vegetable.
5. Keep lid on skillet while frying. Start at a higher temperature (400) for about 7-10 minutes; then, lower the temperature to 350. It takes at least 30-40 minutes for chicken to cook completely.

Eat and enjoy southern fried chicken the way it's supposed to taste!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Subtle Change 7

I'm back from vacation, and I must admit eating healthy at restaurants can be rather tricky. While most places offer a main course of meat with baked potato, white rice or fries, and bread, I'm more than tempted to flavor the baked potato with butter, sour cream, cheese, and bacon bits; and white rice is...well...white because it has been stripped of all its nutritional value.

I have discovered that sweet potatoes yield a delicious flavor without adding calorie-laden toppings. Loaded with vitamins A and C and potassium, sweet potatoes are also high in fiber and beta-carotene, which has been linked to preventing heart disease and cancers. Brown rice is more flavorful than white and is an excellent source of fiber and certain minerals that reduce the risk of colon cancer.

So, my most recent subtle change, and challenge to you, is to eat more sweet potatoes and brown rice. Your body will thank you!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Proper Storage of Food

I just lost a perfectly good pint of peas simply because I didn't store them properly. Peas purchased at Wise Farms are presented to you in a plastic ziploc bag. When you get home immediately rinse beans and store in a bowl covered with water in the refrigerator until you cook them. They will stay fresh like this for a day or two. I neglected to take my peas out of the bag that I bought on Saturday, and tonight they had soured. What a waste!

If you have any questions or suggestions about proper storage of fresh vegetables leave a comment.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Easy Zucchini Bread

The hotter the weather the faster the zucchini grows. I remember picking the vines clean in the morning only to find the vines covered with zucchini ready for picking the next morning. What's a girl to do with all that fresh zucchini? Why bake easy zucchini bread, of course. This recipe yields 2 loaves.

1 package spice cake mix
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup canola oil
3 large eggs
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup chopped pecans

Beat cake mix, milk, oil, and eggs at low speed with electric mixer for 30 seconds. Then, increase to medium speed and beat 1 minute, scraping bottom and sides of bowl.

Stir in zucchini and 2/3 cup pecans. Pour batter into 2 (9"x5") lightly greased loaf pans. Sprinkle remaining pecans evenly over batter.

Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until wooden pick comes out clean.

Cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pans to wire rack and let cool another 15 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No-Till Farming

If you look closely at this picture you can spot rows of soybeans sprouting in the remnants of last year's wheat crop. When I saw this I joked with Gary saying, "What's this? Lazy farming?" Then he introduced me to the age-old technique called no-till farming.


"No-till farming, as its name indicates, does away with the mechanical churning of the soil between crops. Rather than being plowed under, agricultural wastes are left on top of the soil, where they decompose more slowly. The intact soil suffers far less erosion, retaining more nutrients. In addition, it holds water more effectively and, with minimal compaction by heavy equipment, is well-aerated. Less tillage of soil reduces labor, fuel, and machinery costs for farmers." (Source: http://earthtrends.wri.org/updates/node/286)


Interesting. Natural. Makes sense.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Roasted Tomato Salsa

With tomato season in full gear why not try making homemade salsa. You will need -

4 large, ripe but still firm tomatoes
3 jalapeno peppers
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 medium red onion, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Put vegetables on a sheet pan and cook in oven at 500, or on a charcoal or gas gill over medium heat, until nicely charred and blistered, about 30 minutes in oven, less time on grill.

Core, but don't peel the tomatoes. Peel, stem and seed the peppers. Peel the garlic, and remove the skin from the onion.

Puree garlic in food processor; add the onion and pulse a few times. Add tomatoes and peppers and pulse until you achieve the texture you desire.

Pour into a bowl and add cilantro, salt, and pepper. Let sit an hour for flavors to meld and temperature to cool. Serve with chips. Enjoy!

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Pictures from the Farm

These pictures were taken June 20. Peas, peas, and more peas.
Different varieties available now - Pink Eye, Dixie Lee, Six Week, Crowder.  
Coming soon - butternut squash.



Saturday, July 17, 2010

Butterbeans

Bean season for North Carolina is a short 6-8 weeks and is drawing to a close. So if you haven't had fresh butterbeans this summer, better hurry to your local market. Here's a few tips on cooking summertime beans and peas.

When Mama cooks butterbeans she flavors them with fatback. Chicken broth diluted with water works great, too. But if you're concerned about the sodium and fat content of flavoring the beans with meat products, you can use a vegetable broth. I recommend homemade stock because canned vegetable broth is really high in sodium. Still, another way to flavor butterbeans is to cook them in water, add a little salt and pepper, and a tablespoon of sugar per pint of beans. The sugar adds to the natural sweetness of the bean. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium for about 20-30 minutes. Add a little more water if the broth gets too low so beans don't burn.

C'ya at the market!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Subtle Change 6

Determine to eat more fruits and vegetables, and set yourself up to succeed by stocking up each week with all your favorites. You can never have too much. Leftover veges can be mixed in with soups or casseroles, or frozen; and ripe fruit can be used to make muffins, breads, or cobblers.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Grandma's Banana Pudding

If you think Grandma made everything from scratch, think again. To some homemade simply means "made at home". Here is our family's banana pudding recipe, and not only is it mmmm-mmmmm good, but it is easy and fast as well.

Cover the bottom and sides of a casserole dish with vanilla wafers. We like the Nilla brand. Yes, there is a difference! Then slice a couple of bananas and layer on top of wafers. Mix a box of instant Jello vanilla or banana pudding mix according to package directions. Pour mixture into casserole dish. This can be topped with a meringue; 2-3 eggs should suffice. Broil in oven until meringue is lightly browned. Or, cover with cool whip and crushed wafers.

Pudding as good as Grandma used to make!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Did You Say Blanch?

The next best thing to fresh vegetables is frozen. If you plan to freeze vegetables you will need to know about blanching. Blanching is a process in which vegetables are cooked briefly in boiling water, then chilled in ice cold water before freezing. This stops the growth of enzymes which maintains the fresh flavor for freezer preservation. Blanched vegetables will remain fresh for a very long time, even years; but if you plan to eat the vegetables within a few months, you can get away without blanching.

Monday, July 5, 2010

It Tastes Like Summer

I hope you had an opportunity to grill and enjoy some vegetables this 4th of July. Here's a few tips for making it taste like summer.

First, potato salad isn't the same without crowder peas.
Second, must have sliced tomatoes on the side.
Third, a hot dog isn't complete unless it's covered with creamy coleslaw.

To fix the slaw, mix 4 cups chopped fresh, round-head cabbage, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing. Add salt to taste.

Do you have any tips for making it taste like summer? Leave your comments.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Picnic Potato Salad

This is the recipe for my picnic potato salad. It's as easy to prepare as 1, 2, 3, and 4 ingredients plus salt and pepper to taste. I recommend red potatoes because they tend to remain firm as they cook.

4 cups diced red potatoes
3 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing
2 tablespoons sweet relish
salt and pepper to taste

Boil 3 eggs until done. Peel and chop real fine. This way there's no large chunks of egg whites in the salad. Set aside.

Cover potatoes with water and boil for 18-20 minutes. Potatoes should be done, yet still firm. Drain water from potatoes. Add eggs, salad dressing, relish, salt, and pepper and mix together.

Mama likes to add 2-3 tablespoons chopped onions. Again, chop it real fine so there's no large chunks of onions in the salad.

Yields 4-6 servings and can be served hot or cold.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Creamy Corn Pudding

We love, love, love creamy corn pudding, and it is so easy to make.

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2-2 1/4 cups fresh cut corn - If you don't have fresh corn, substitute canned corn.
2 eggs

Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Add flour, sugar, and salt. Stir until smooth. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly so mixture doesn't stick. Gradually add milk. Continue stirring and cooking until thick and bubbly. Remove from heat, and stir in corn.

In separate bowl beat eggs well. Gradually stir about 1/4 of hot mixture into beaten eggs. Then add to remaining hot mixture, stirring constantly.

Pour into a greased casserole. Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

If you are an okra fan, you can add pods of whole okra that have been steamed about 5-7 minutes until tender but still firm. Then, cut into 1/2-inch slices, and season with a little salt and pepper. The okra is added to the mixture just before pouring into the casserole dish.

Serve and enjoy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Let's Talk Okra

This picture was taken on June 20 just when the okra pods were beginning to bud. The okra is now being cut three days a week with daily deliveries to the market. The growing season will last into August.

Okra is a family favorite and easy to cook. Breaded in corn meal, okra can either be baked or fried southern style. Okra is a great companion to tomatoes, corn, onions, and peppers, making it a yummy addition to soups and ratatouille. The broth from boiled okra can be strained and used as a cooking broth for beans. Okra is fairly easy to pickle and is tasty with pork or beef barbecue.

When shopping for okra look for a good green color. The lighter the green, the fresher the okra. Small pods (2-3 inches) are more tender. Okra will have a scratchy texture, but should not look shriveled. When stored in the refrigerator okra will stay fresh for several days. Tomorrow I'll post a recipe for corn pudding with okra.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to Pick the Perfect Watermelon

At the end of a long summer day, I remember my Dad would say, "Come on. Let's go pick out a watermelon," and off we'd trek to the watermelon patch. I'd follow along, taking two steps to his one, on our search for the perfect watermelon. "Here's one," I'd say, pointing to a bright green melon, and he would walk over, squat to the ground, and thump it. "No, that one's not quite ready," he'd say, and we'd keep on looking.

Then, he'd spot one hiding underneath a vine, and again he'd squat down, sweep away the vine, and thump it. "No, not that one either." Again and again, melon after melon, he'd thump, thump, thump, only to get up and walk away.

"Why do you thump them?" I'd ask.

"That's how you can tell if it's ready," he'd reply.

I didn't fully understand, but I knew if I trusted him, and if he thumped enough melons, he would find the perfect one. Finally, at long last, I'd hear him say, "Here it is! This is the one!" He'd gently pull it from the vine, and we'd walk back to the house where he would slice it into wedges. Perfectly ripe, juicy, and filled with little black seeds, we'd enjoy the treat. Nothing quite compares.

He did pass on his secret about the thump...hmmm...should I tell?

Sugar Babies


This is one of my favorite pictures of Emily and Audrey (ages 3 and 5) sitting in the bin of watermelons at the market. This is the prime time to buy watermelons. Make sure you have one for your 4th of July cookout!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Keeping It in the Family

This is 8-year-old Jennifer taking a seat on Grandpa's tractor. She represents the next generation, and I can't help but wonder about the future of small family farms. It's common knowledge that the number of small family-owned farms has been shrinking over the past few decades. Is there a way to reverse this trend?

I made a decision years ago to support local businesses. Our family doctor, dentist, eye doctor, grocery store, pharmacy, and school are all in our community, many within walking distance of our home. By supporting local businesses I contribute to their profitability; their profitability leads to success; their success leads to staying power; and staying power provides jobs. As a result the economy of our community thrives, which keeps much-needed goods and services conveniently located to our home.

The same holds true for our local farmers. When the farms are profitable, they remain productive and provide jobs. As a result our marketplaces are filled with fresh bounties of yummy-licious fruits and vegetables. And we all know that home-grown beats the rest. Why not support a local farmer at the NC Farmer's Market this weekend...and the next time you're at your local grocer, ask if they'll support our local farmers, too. Many small-time farmers provide wholesale services as well.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Watermelons







Seedless watermelons at Wise Farms growing in the summertime heat.











Scarecrows keeping the birds away.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Plastic-Covered Beds

These are the beds where the first corn crop for this summer has come and gone. A fall crop of cucumbers or squash will be planted here as soon as the days cool off a bit.

The benefits of growing produce on plastic-covered beds are many, including moisture retention, weed control, and no need to plow. The crops are irrigated and fertilized with water lines that run under the plastic. The beds are used for 2 years through 3-4 seasons of crops. Then, the plastic is removed to rotate the land by planting grain, soybeans, or corn. This method of farming can be costly, but it yields an increase in productivity and a better quality of produce.

Grandpa's Tractor

A proud day for my grandfather was back in 1972 when he purchased this tractor brand new. It is still being used on the farm today. June is his birthday month and we miss him terribly, but I'm excited that his passion for living off the land was gifted to my brother. I remember seeing him as a small boy riding on the tractor with Grandpa, and I'd bet anything that Grandpa was teaching him all his farming secrets. Time well spent, I must say.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Berries, and Veges, and Corn - Oh My!

The summer harvest has just begun and with it comes sensory overload! Do I get peaches or plums? Yellow squash or zucchini? Watermelon or cantaloupe? Butterbeans or string beans? Green tomatoes or red? Blueberries or raspberries? Red potatoes or sweet potatoes? Cabbage or collards? Oh My! Why not let your trip to the market yield a little bit of everything. It's good and good for you, fat-free, fiberlicious, and picked to ripe perfection...I hope you're hungry. I am...must go and eat blueberry cobbler.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Homemade Pepper Relish

The second most requested recipe from customers at Wise Farms is for homemade pepper relish. My mom uses this recipe and serves it with greens and on hot dogs.

12 red bell peppers
12 green bell peppers
6 onions
2 small hot peppers
3 cups sugar
2 cups vinegar
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons celery salt

Run peppers and onions in food chopper. Cover with boiling water and let stand 5 minutes. Drain off all water. Mix with all other ingredients and boil for 30 minutes. Place in sterile glass jars and seal. Yields approximately 10 pints.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Food Preservation

Now is the season for canning, preserving, pickling, and freezing the bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are available to us now in NC. This week I'm dedicating my blog to food preservation tips.

First, you need the right equipment.  For fruits and tomatoes you'll need a water-bath canner with a rack. A pressure canner and rack should work well with other vegetables. Other necessities include a jar lifter, funnel, narrow rubber spatula, and timer.

Remember to use only standard canning jars and lids. Even though it's cool to recycle, it's not safe to use leftover glass jars from store-bought items like mayonnaise, nacho cheese, etc. Jar lids cannot be reused either because they only seal once. You can, however, reuse metal bands as long as they aren't rusted or dented. Inspect jars carefully and discard those with scratches, cracks, or chips.

Tomorrow, my mom's recipe for pickle relish, a favorite with her customers.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Memory Lane

This is my dad, William Wise, enjoying another day at the market. As far back as I can remember he has been an outdoorsy man. His main job for 33 years was that of welder and crew supervisor for a natural gas company. He worked 40 hours in four days, which allowed him a three-day weekend. He spent this time gardening and farming with his father growing corn, soybeans, wheat, and tobacoo. They also grew squash and cucumbers, and every day from late May to early July we harvested and loaded their trucks with baskets of freshly-picked produce. The afternoons were spent at the market in Faison, which at one time was a hub of activity, where the buyers would place their bids, and the baskets were literally unloaded from our trucks straight into the refrigerated transfer trailers and driven cross country.

Through the years my father and brother have continued to increase the acreage of the farm that my grandfather started. Each day they bring fresh produce to the NC Farmer's Market just for you. Why not pay them a visit and enjoy the fruit of their labor.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Subtle Change 5 - Meal Planning

Instead of planning meals around the main course, which is usually a meat, try planning your meals around whatever vegetables and fruits are in season. 

Monday, May 31, 2010

Blueberries for Breakfast

This morning for breakfast I served blueberry pancakes with fresh berries from Wise Farms. Yum-yum! What a way to start the day!

The berries sold at Wise Farms are grown at Lewis Farms in Rocky Point, NC, where Mr. Lewis has over 500 acres of blueberry bushes. Buying local yields the most flavor since they are picked ripe and shipped to market the same day. When shopping for blueberries look for plump, dry, firm, well-shaped berries that are true in color. Once home, remove any berries from container that appear too soft or over-ripe and eat them first. Store the rest of the berries in a shallow pan in the refrigerator. Do not wash the berries until you're ready to eat them since the water may make them mushy and moldy. Blueberries will keep up to 10 days when refrigerated.

To freeze blueberries, rinse gently and pat dry with paper towels. Then, place them in a single layer on a sheet pan in the freezer if you don't want them to stick together. Or, you can place them in freezer bags, seal, and freeze. I like to separate the berries into 1/2 cup measurements before putting them in freezer bags. Berries will keep up to 10-12 months when frozen.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Mama's Blueberry Cobbler

I can't eat blueberries without remembering my Grandmother and how much she loved blueberries. She called them huckleberries and enjoyed "huckleberrying" every summer. The day trip would yield many berries; some were put up in the freezer, and some were made into a yummy, fresh blueberry cobbler. Here is my mother's recipe, which she calls "Quick Fruit Cobbler". Hope you try it and enjoy!

2 1/2 to 3 cups blueberries, strawberries, or peaches
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup splenda or 1 cup sugar

Spray pan with cooking spray. She uses a square 9 x 9 pan. If you use a larger pan, you'll need more fruit. Add fruit to pan. Whisk together other ingredients to make a paste and pour over blueberries. Cook at 325 for 40 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream. Yields 6 servings.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Going Green

Going green is more than saving the green earth. It's about saving greenbacks as well. It seems that thrifty households recycle; and households that recycle save money. The two are inseparable. For example (and this is not original) I fix my morning coffee at home and drink it from a reusable travel coffee mug.What ways do you recycle AND save money at the same time? Please share your comments.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Baby Reds are Back

As a child digging potatoes was one of my favorite chores. What child doesn't like to play in the dirt. I remember my grandfather would plant a family garden for his 4 children and their families. There were about 20-24 looooooong rows of potatoes, and at harvest time all of us would gather to dig in the dirt. My dad would uproot the plants as we all raced to see who could fill their baskets first. With all of us working together it didn't take long to finish the harvest. Then, my grandfather would load the potatoes on the truck and divide the bounty with each family. Each family's share was anywhere from 16-20 bushel baskets, enough to last all summer and fall and into the early winter...just in time to plant for the next year.

Subtle Change 4

My new best friend in the kitchen is olive oil. She has been a tasty addition to pastas, stir fry, and vinaigrettes. Although I must admit I'm still trying to acquire a taste for vinaigrettes. Hey, at least I'm trying!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Country Club Squash Casserole

This recipe is easy to prepare and so delicious that it warrants country club status.

2 lbs yellow squash, sliced
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup water
8 oz sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried whole basil
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon paprika
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled (I prefer turkey bacon)

Cook squash and onion in 1/2 cup boiling water until tender; drain and mash. Combine squash, sour cream, salt, pepper, and basil; pour into a greased 2-quart casserole.

In separate bowl combine breadcrumbs, cheese, butter, and paprika; sprinkle over squash mixture. Top with bacon. Bake at 300 for 20 minutes.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Wise Farms Offers Coupons

If you love to save money (and these days who doesn't?) then you might like to know that Wise Farms is offering coupons for purchases made at the NC Farmers Market. You can pick up these coupons this weekend (May 21-23) at the Got To Be NC Festival at the NC State Fairgrounds in Raleigh. Just look in the vendor section where Wise Farms will be selling fresh strawberries and blueberries. Hope you can come out and shop and enjoy all the many attractions. Admission is free. For more info about the festival visit http://www.ncagfest.com/.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

How to Cook Collards

One of the most frequently asked questions by the customers of Wise Farms is, "How do you cook collards?" First, cook a cured hamhock and fat back until tender. While meat is cooking, wash collards thoroughly. Remove meat from the pot. Add collards to the broth. Cook until tender (about 30-40 min). Remove collards from pot and drain. Sprinkle a little salt and sugar, and chop collards. If you don't eat pork, use chicken broth instead of the hamhock.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Collards

I remember cropping collards in the fall with the best ones coming after the first frost. Today collards are available year round at Wise Farms. According to my brother collards are very resilient to extreme hot and cold and therefore grow well in all four seasons. He plants a crop in early to mid-March for harvesting throughout spring and summer, and the fall/winter crop is planted in early to mid-September. So come on out to the market and get yours while the gettin' is good! Tomorrow I'll post how Mama cooks 'em.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Subtle Change 3

If you love to drench your salad with high fat dressings, try this subtle change. Use a vinaigrette instead. In a jar mix 1 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 minced shallots or scallions. Cover tightly and shake vigorously. Lightly coat your salad, toss, and serve.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Roasted Summer Squash

Summer squash come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. Choose any combination including zucchini, crookneck, yellow, pattypan, mediterranean, and sunburst squash for this easy recipe, which yields 8 servings. If you like onions you can add either 16 small spring onions left whole, or 4 large sweet onions peeled and quartered.

Spray a roasting pan with olive oil cooking spray. The larger and more shallow the pan, the faster the squash will cook. Add 3 pounds of diced squash and the onion. Add salt and pepper and spray vegetables with olive oil spray. Cook 8-10 minutes at 450. Toss and cook an additional 8-10 minutes.

For additional flavor add 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 2 tablespoons fresh basil, and 2 tablespoons chopped chives, and cook 5 minutes more. After removing from roasting pan toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and serve.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Squash Season

The peak season for yellow squash has arrived and will last until early summer. When shopping for squash look for bright, smooth skin and avoid any with soft spots. Choose the smallest squash you can find as they are apt to be more tender. Whether diced, sliced or shredded stir frying is the best method for cooking. But I have some great squash recipes and will be posting them later.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Short, but Sweet

Sugar snaps are crunchy, sweet additions to salads and stir fries, but their season is short, lasting about 3 weeks in May. So head on out to your local market before they disappear.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Muffin Fun

Here's my favorite recipe for muffins. It yields about 10-12 sweet muffins.
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil

Combine dry ingredients. In separate bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans.

For fresh fruit muffins add 3/4 cup blueberries, or strawberries, or cranberries to muffin mix.
For date-nut muffins add 1/2 cup chopped dates and 1/2 cup chopped pecans.
For apple muffins add 3/4 cup peeled, chopped apple, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
For oat muffins reduce flour by 1/2 cup and stir 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats in with flour.

Bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

And God said...

"Eat your fruits and vegetables and whole grains." Oh, no He didn't! Oh, yes He did!

The Message version of Genesis 1:29 reads,  Then God said, "I've given you every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth and every kind of fruit-bearing tree, given them to you for food. To all animals and all birds, everything that moves and breathes, I give whatever grows out of the ground for food." And there it was.

It's awesome how God created a way for mankind to survive by giving us an infinite supply of food. As long as there are farmers to plant the seeds, grow the crop, and bring in the harvest we will have food.  So this weekend why not take a trip out to your local farmer's market and show your support for our farmers!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Subtle Change 2

If you are a white-bread only family, try introducing wheat bread at meal times. Offer a variety of wheat and whole grain breads including hamburger buns, dinner rolls, and crackers. The wheat bread tastes better and is more filling. Over time it just may become the preferred choice.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Asparagus Recipes

A reader has asked about casserole recipes for asparagus. I suggest adding asparagus to your favorite stir fry. Any ideas from my readers? Do you have any asparagus recipes you'd like to share? btw - Asparagus is still in supply at the Market, very tender, fresh and tasty, but the season will end soon.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Growing Strawberries

The strawberries sold at Wise Farms are grown in Rocky Point, NC. The farm has about 100 acres of strawberries and utilizes around 10 acres for winter production. Planted in the fall around the end of September to the middle of October, the strawberries are grown on raised beds of black plastic, which provide warmth and weed control. Plastic hoops are erected over the rows, similar in appearance to greenhouses, but the strawberries have no heat source other than the sun. It is in effect a modern day cold frame, like people used to raise tobacco plants. The strawberries are protected from the extreme cold and hence winter berries.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Picking & Preserving - Part II

If you love the taste of homemade jams and have the right kitchen equipment, you could whip up a batch of tasty strawberry jam. Frankly, just reading recipes and thinking about crushing, soaking, stirring, preparing boiling water bath, and sterilizing jars only to make 4 half pints makes me tired! I did, however, find a really good recipe that looks easy enough and doesn't take that much time.

Combine 3 cups crushed strawberries and 5 cups sugar. Let stand 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Combine 3/4 cup water and 1 package pectin in a saucepan. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Then, stir into fruit mixture. Quickly spoon into freezer containers or hot sterilized jars. Cover and let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Then, freeze. This recipe yields 7 half pints and can be stored in refrigerator up to 3 weeks.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Picking and Preserving - Part I

How do you pick strawberries? Well, you can head out to the strawberry patch with your bucket in hand, or you can visit your local farmer's market. Look for berries that are deep red in color (no green tips) and firm to the touch with fresh green stems. Refrigerate and eat within 3-4 days. To have fresh strawberries after the season has passed why not freeze a few quarts. Frozen is the next best thing to fresh. Simply rinse berries once (do not soak), remove stems, and pat dry. Then spread fruit in a single layer on a tray and place in freezer for a few hours or just until fruit is firm. Then, package in freezer bags and use them within 6-8 months.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Strawberry Season

Spring is in full swing and with it comes fresh strawberries. Packed with vitamin C and potassium strawberries are a healthy choice for snacking. Try mixing sliced berries with vanilla yogurt, or adding crushed berries to your favorite muffin mix. I remember Grandma used to add sugar for extra sweetening, and the syrupy mix made a delicious topping for her poundcake. Unfortunately, the added sugar brought added calories. Personally, I think strawberries are sweet enough just as they are, picked from the vine. Some say strawberries dipped in chocolate are an aphrodisiac...hmmm...I always thought it was the chocolate!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pictures of Wise Farms

Check out this website featuring pictures from Wise Farms. Test your vegetable knowledge. What is my brother holding in the first picture? http://campusfarmersmkt.wordpress.com/profiles/wisefarms/

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Buying Fresh

One can find fresh at its best at the place where it is harvested, the farm; but if you can't go to the farm, then let the farmers come to you. Each day farmers from all over the state of North Carolina sell their produce at The North Carolina State Farmer's Market in Raleigh. There you can meet my family who still farm the land my grandfather farmed, Wise Farms. They bring fresh at its best to thousands of people each year. If you go to the market give them a visit, and tell them you read about them on my blog!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Subtle Change 1

Want to start eating healthier but don't know where to start? Begin with what you drink. Replace sugar-laden sodas, juices, and iced tea with water - fresh, clean, and pure. Add a lemon or lime for just a little flavor, and don't forget to recycle the plastic water bottles.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Asparagus



My new favorite vegetable is asparagus. Not only is it yummy but it is very easy to prepare, making it the perfect side dish when you need to cook a meal in a hurry. Even better is that a serving of five asparagus spears has only 25 calories, and is loaded with potassium, folic acid, and glutathione (an antioxidant that helps prevent the progression of cataracts,and has strong cancer-fighting properties, and good news for men, helps to maintain healthy sperm). The harvest season for asparagus is mid-winter to mid-spring. Grab a bunch from your local farmer's market, rinse under water, and cut off tips of stems. Then, place in a microwave dish, sprinkle with lemon pepper, cover bottom of dish with water (about 1/4 cup or less), add a few small slivers of butter, and microwave covered for 3-4 minutes. Delicious, fast, and easy!

Monday, April 19, 2010

LivingWise-Intro

Going green. Eating fresh. Buying local. Organic gardening. These are buzzwords for today's generation, but sometimes the more things change, the more they stay the same. For example, I was using my own canvas shopping bags long before it was cool. I know what it's like to harvest tonight's dinner salad from the garden in the early morning hours. So, I'm starting this blog, and I'm calling it "LivingWise". Here I'll be sharing tips for living green and how to make do with what you've got. Here you can meet local farmers and learn where, when and how to get fresh fruits and vegetables in their peak season. Here you can gather recipes from grandma's kitchen and learn ways to revise them without losing flavor for healthy eating at its best. So, mark this page and come back soon.