Archive for July, 2009

Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets (Photo Contest & Giveaway)

Friday, July 31st, 2009

All right folks, National Farmers Market Week begins this Sunday, August 2. Here’s your chance to support your local farmers and vendors and get more than just yummy, fresh food in return. foodietots love farmersmarkets

Submit a photo of your tot(s) at the market to the Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets Flickr pool during the week (August 2-9) and you’ll have a chance to win a kid-sized reusable market tote filled with foodie goodies. For an extra entry into the drawing, blog about your local farmers market with a link back to this post &/or retweet a link to the “Foodie Tots <3 Farmers Markets” Flickr pool.

Remember it’s hot out there, so head out early and pack your reusable water bottles! (Need more encouragement on why you should explore your local farmers markets with your kids? Read my article on “Healthy Habits Take Root at the Market.”)

(Sharing this at Fight Back Fridays hosted by the Food Renegade; check out this week’s round-up for more resources to find fresh, real food for your family.)

At Market: Squash Blossom Succotash (and get ready for Farmers Market Week!)

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

July at the Markets: Summer harvest is in full stride now at the Alexandria/DC markets, with sweet corn, summer squash, and the first heirloom tomatoes making their debut. Blueberries and raspberries will soon be gone, and early varieties of apples are already turning up.

I intended to make Oyamel’s squash blossom soup with my recent market bounty, but instead decided to make a succotash to fill some buckwheat crepes. Sort of a repeat of last summer’s Chesapeake Crepes, with the addition of okra and the blossoms. I picked up okra and multicolored jalapeños at Sunday’s West End Alexandria Market, and the squash blossoms I scored two-for-one from Westmoreland Berry Farm as it was getting close to closing time. The bicolor sweet corn came from Long Meadow Farm at last Wednesday’s King Street Market.

Cooking with squash blossoms: Sure squash blossoms look pretty and have a heady sweet fragrance that screams summer, but are you wondering what to actually do with them? They have a mild flavor that benefits from a simple preparation – stuffed with goat cheese or ricotta and quickly fried is a classic Italian dish, but you can also use them in soups or other dishes more like an herb. The blossoms are very delicate and are best used the day of purchase. If you don’t get to them that day, be sure to put them in the fridge. When you’re ready to cook them, pull the flower open gently to avoid ripping and be on the lookout for little, uh, critters (the downside of buying organic) while you pinch and gently remove the stamen. Then carefully fill and fry or bake for stuffed blossoms, or slice them up for this recipe.

Recipe: Squash Blossom Succotash

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1 pint okra, thinly sliced
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 4 squash blossoms, thinly sliced
  • 4 leaves basil, torn
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and pepper

Instructions: Heat oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic until translucent. Add corn and jalapeño and cook several minutes. Increase heat to medium high and add okra. Cook 3-4 minutes until corn is beginning to brown and okra is just tender. Stir in tomato, squash blossoms and basil and cook 1 additional minute, then remove from heat. Sprinkle with lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 servings.

To make crepes: prepare buckwheat crepe batter and cook crepes on one side. Flip and sprinkle cooked side with grated cheddar cheese and a large spoonful of succotash. Cook about a minute and fold, then remove from heat. I folded the toddler’s in half like a quesadilla. He doesn’t usually eat tomatoes and had never eaten okra, but he devoured this and asked for more. I have to give credit to Mr. Tom’s cheese, it makes everything go down easier. Enjoy!

More squash blossom recipes:

Farmers Market Week is coming! National Farmers Market Week begins Sunday, August 2. Visit a farmers market near you and let me know what’s new! See something unusual? Ask here and I’ll tell you what to do with it.

One Local Nacho Night (and CSA Mid-Season Report)

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

one local summer 2009We’re already more than a third of the way through our CSA season, and we’ve finally left the abundant leafy greens behind and moved on to the baby vegetable phase. Well, there were some full size sweet onions this week, but everything else seemed perfectly sized for the toddler — baby beets, baby yellow squash, baby potatoes (white and blue), and even a few small tomatoes. One of the things that surprised me our first year with our CSA farm was the lag in the bags behind what’s at the market. Something about quality over quantity, yada yada yada. (Seriously, the farm’s vine-ripened tomatoes are worth the wait, but some weeks can be a little frustrating.) Faced with a shortage of fridge supplies after a week away, the hodge podge of veggies, cheddar from our “emergency” stop at the Wednesday King Street Market for some of Mr. Tom’s cheese, and some random pieces of meat unearthed from the freezer, I came up with this summer veggie nacho supper.

Recipe: Mid-Summer Nachos with Squash and Tomatoes

squash tomato nachos

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 bag tortilla chips*
  • 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa*
  • assorted chicken pieces, diced
  • 1 sausage, preferably chorizo but I had Italian
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow squash, halved length-wise and sliced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions: Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and crumbled sausage, cover with salsa and cook until meat is cooked through. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, spread tortilla chips on rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with half of the shredded cheese and arrange squash, tomato and onion over top. Spread meat over and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Place under broiler and cook 4-5 minutes, until cheese is melted and bubbly. Cool slightly and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.

*Chips and salsa from Las Glorias at the Crystal City/Crystal Farms Market.

One Local Summer is an annual challenge in which people around the world join together for 13 weeks of seasonal eating, supporting local farmers and exploring their local foodsheds. Visit FarmtoPhilly on Tuesdays for the weekly round-up; here’s what my neighbors in the Southern region cooked up this week.

Eat, Play, Love the Columbia Gorge

Monday, July 27th, 2009

Part 3 of 3 in the Oregon 2009 travelogue, and the first in an occasional “Eat, Play, Love” series* of quick notes and reviews from our family’s favorite places.

The past several years our trips to Oregon have included jaunts to the Coast, but limited time this year sent us east of Portland, instead, for a day-trip up the Columbia Gorge. It’s too gorgeous (haha) to do it justice in a short post, but here are a couple highlights. The most well-known of the Gorge’s incredible waterfalls is Multnomah, but there are about a dozen in total along the Historic Columbia River Highway scenic route, several visible from the road and others you’ll have to hike in to see.

columbia gorge waterfalls oregon

EAT: Pack a picnic to eat at the base of Multnomah Falls, where you can watch salmon smolts swimming and get up close and personal with passing freight trains. (Keep an eye out for roadside stands on the scenic route by Crown Point offering fresh berries or other seasonal produce.) There is a restaurant if you don’t want to pack your own food, and you can reward hungry little hikers with soft-serve ice cream and/or fudge at the base of the falls. If you time your day to end, as we did, in Hood River, mom and dad will enjoy the libations at independently-owned Full Sail full sail at hood riverBrewing Co., where they do have a verbal children’s menu if you ask, and kids and parents alike will enjoy the view of tug boats, barges and kitesurfers in the river below.

PLAY: Swimming is no longer allowed in the pool beneath Multnomah Falls after a large chunk of rock broke off several years ago. But you can continue a little further down the road to Horsetail Falls and splash or swim at will in the refreshingly cool pool. Water shoes recommended as the bottom is rocky. Kids who can hike at greater than a .25 mile per hour pace will enjoy the loop behind upper Horsetail, where you can actually walk behind the fall. Out at Hood River, beaches provide ample playing space for smaller kids, and the adventurous can sign up for windsurfing or kitesurfing lessons.

LOVE: It’s been 14 years since I lived in Oregon, so I rely on NW Kids and several Oregonians I follow on Twitter for new ideas or reminders of old favorites when we head back: some faves, @magazinemama (of NW Kids), @LizEBoz, @designmama, @pdxmama, @lelonopo, @sarahgilbert, and @thiskat.

* I thought I was being clever with my “Eat, Play, Love” theme riff on the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, but it turns out someone else beat me to it. Check out her fun blog, too – especially this awesome kitchen sink salad on a waffle.

At the Beaverton Ore. Farmers Market, SuperBlueberry, Hot Crepes and Cold Berry Sodas

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Part 2 of 3 in our Oregon travelogue. Read about our farmers market visit, or skip to the end for some Maryland local food events this weekend!

beaverton farmers marketAs I mentioned previously, it is berry season in Oregon and the food theme of our trip can be summed up in three words: berries, berries, and berries. We found more than a few at our market destination of choice this trip. The Beaverton Farmers Market, one of Oregon’s largest markets, is located in a western suburb of Portland and has a distinctly family-friendly vibe. From the balloon man to the kettle corn to the live music, kids have plenty to tempt their eyes and taste buds, not to mention the fountain to cool off in and adjacent playground.

Have you ever met a Superfood in person? We did, the charming Super Blueberry who handed out recipe pamphlets courtesy of the Oregon Blueberry Commission. (Really, blueberries need marketing? How do I sign my kid up for that gig? They could pay him in berries.) My son was thrilled to receive a bookmark “with smiling blueberries because blueberries make me happy!”

super blueberry

I could go on all day about the wonderful produce – artichokes, sweet sugar snap peas, Walla Walla onions, Rainier cherries, apricots, dried cherries – meats and seafood, bread and baked goods, wine (yes, wine tasting at market), flavored vinegars and of course some of my favorite cheeses, not to mention the coffee truck (Pony Espresso) and cold drinks served in compostible cups — or the fact that I didn’t even make a complete pass through the market and still left green with envy — but I’ll just point you towards two favorites to wrap up your shopping trip with a satisfying brunch: Zest crepes and Hot Lips local berry sodas.

brunch at beaverton farmers mkt

You might be surprised to hear such a ringing endorsement from me for a soda, but Hot Lips Soda is truly a special treat that kids will love and you foodie tot\'s first sodacan feel good about. Hot Lips is a Portland pizza chain I had more than a few pies from during my high school years, but since I’ve left town they’ve branched out to create their own line of all-natural, locally-sourced fruit and berry sodas. The ingredients are simply carbonated water, fruit, cane sugar and organic lemon juice. In that order. While sweet, they taste of pure, ripe fruit, without that chemically-sweet aftertaste of conventional sodas. Strawberry is so fruit-laden it is almost as thick as a smoothie, and the strawberry flavor is so intense you may have a hard time settling for a plain old berry after drinking this. My favorite is the boysenberry, the heady, fragrant berry just tastes of summer. Pear is crisp and clean, and you can get a few limited-edition flavors, like currant or loganberry, on tap at their stores. And not only are the ingredients local, but the bottles are manufactured from recycled glass in Portland.

sweet basil crepe Zest crepes are made to order from market-fresh ingredients, fun for the kids to watch and of course they have their own menu options to choose from. The boy enjoyed the “Cheese Louise,” naturally, and I had the “Sweet Basil” with basil, tomato, feta and mozzarella. Delicious. If only I had had room to try a sweet version as well, with flavor combinations including berries and mascarpone, berries and Nutella, and lemon curd and ricotta. Zest debuted at the market this year and plans to open a stand-alone shop in the near future, but for now you can find them at the market on Saturdays, 8am-1:30pm, May through October. (The market is also open Wednesday afternoons, June through August.) See more pictures of our market finds here.

Note for DC-area local food lovers: Maryland’s Buy Local Week is wrapping up this weekend, and you can celebrate the best of the Old Line State close to town with the Montgomery County Farm Tour or venture further afield to St. Michaels for the 2nd annual Chesapeake Folk Festival on Saturday — my favorite local foods event of the year. And if these crepes have you drooling, visit Farm Fresh Chef up at the Clarksburg Md. farmers market on Sunday (or make your own).

And, save the dates for National Farmers Market Week, August 2-9, which will be observed in Virginia with a Virginia Grown recipe competition.