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.