Happy Labor Day… happy September! Did you know that peaches and nectarines are the same species?!? Late night science here: while peaches are characterized by a fuzzy skin, nectarines are characterized as a fuzz-less fruit. “Genetic studies suggest nectarines are produced due to a recessive allele, whereas peaches are produced from a dominant allele for fuzzy skin.”
Smack dab in the middle of peach season here in New Hampshire and I’ve had a pretty hard time resisting stopping at every farm stand labeled PYO peaches that I come across. There is nothing worse (OK, maybe there’s a few worse things) than splurging on a ripe’ish peach to find an un-sweet and mealy fruit. But a great peach… a great peach is stopping by a roadside stand, buying the biggest and juiciest fruit possible, and then slicing off peach pieces in just the right way. As a matter of fact, just last night I led a previous peach naysayer towards peach enlightenment with just one bite of a locally picked peach. When it came time to put up this peach and corn combo., I was having a hard time deciding, if not deciphering the difference, between a corn salsa and a corn relish. I ended up going the salsa route as I didn’t think adding sugar was necessary with the sweet peach flavors.
Except for the bell peppers, the rest of the produce used in this salsa came from a cornucopia (can you tell I’m ready for fall?) of local sources: peaches (Applecrest Farm Orchards), corn (Barker’s Farm), jalapeños (Wake Robin Farm), tomatoes (le beau’s garden), and white onions (Black Kettle Farm). Stay tuned for more peach’tastic recipes.
Starting next Monday (whoa.. how the heck is it September already?), I am starting a 3 week cleanse comprised of different weekly steps. The first step involves consumption of massive amounts of veggies and fruits. While looking at the cleanse “guidelines” last night, I was a little surprised to see that eggplants were advised against and that my plan to live solely off of baked eggplant chips had been foiled… Why!?! Together with tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes, eggplants are akin in that they are all nightshades. Nightshades are a family of flowering plants that are often rich in alkaloids and can be not only mildly toxic to a fair number of people, but when eaten in excess are thought to have suppressing effects on digestion. Eggplant elimination from the diet during a cleanses makes a bit more sense seeing that detox regiments are typically not about sluggish foods and slowing down ones metabolism.
While perusing the local Saturday market, I came across loads of eggplant (I can’t remember the name of the farm for the life of me…) including but not limited to some purple, Asian, Fairytale, and Green Apple varieties. I picked up a mixed variety (mostly Green Apple) with plans of re-creating Marissa’s (Food in Jars) pickled eggplant recipe. The only thing I changed from the original recipe was apple cider vinegar instead of red wine vinegar. Oddly enough, and I’m not sure why, these pickled eggplant rings exhibited an oily flavor. The texture is a bit mushy for straight out of the jar pickle eatin’, but I imagine these basil pickled eggplant rings would go great atop pizza, pasta, and salads. “I really like putting up things that are pretty.” and let me tell ya, these eggplant pickles turned out über pretty. Enjoy, and have a great Labor Day weekend!
Mustard frustration? You know those times when your only objective in life is to enjoy a corn-dog with a little bit of yellow mustard? Those times when you forget to shake the bottle, proceed to apply said mustard, only to get mustard separated water all over everything, leaving you with nothing more than a soggy pungent smelling hot dog…? Luckily making your own whole grain mustard not only helps avoid this awful situation, but also provides you with a damn good homemade condiment and saves money to boot. Another awesome thing about whole grain mustard is it’s antimicrobial properties. The hyper antimicrobial properties of mustard seeds are so strong that apparently when added to meats they can prevent growth of things like E. coli bacteria (woah!?!). The compound responsible for this is called allyl isothiocyanate. Unfortunately, and most likely due to pasteurization, the store bought prepared mustard typically found in the United States does not contain allyl isothiocyanate.
Last week while deciding what to make for the August food swap, I was thinking,”what can I make that is not only easy and good, but that I can make a ton of at once?” I came across this pomegranate vinegar at Trader Joes and figured I’d give pomegranate mustard a go. Until this point, I had only made beer/cider based mustards. Fortunately the result was a sweet, amazing, light purple whole grain mustard.
“No really, I’m just going to stop for a second…”. 45 minutes past and 5 pounds of fresh blueberries later… “Having a pick your own (PYO) blueberry farm on my commute home from work may be becoming a problem…”. Over the past month I’ve probably picked around 15 pounds of blueberries from Emery Farm in Durham, NH. $2.50 per pound of berries sure beats $5.99 store bought sub-par berries especially when you factor in the additional pound of “I just need to see if it’s ready” berries that you sampled along the way (I swear I only tried a couple…). Three (cough… six) trips to the farm has made me realize how calming picking berries can be. I have a tendency to get distracted pretty easily… look… shiny… so zoning out while hunting for the perfect berry is probably good for me from time to time. Although the blueberry season here in New Hampshire is unfortunately coming to an end, the wild raspberries and blackberries are just starting to pop off! Late last month I put up several jars of blueberry sage jam, and as I was running out of pumpkin butter from last fall, I decided to fill the void with this crockpot mint blueberry butter. This recipe is super easy to modify in that you could simply swap out or omit the mint for any other herb/spice. I opted for a low sugar option (4 cups of sugar vs. 7 cups) as I wasn’t trying to mask the amazing flavor of all my tediously (OCD a little?) picked berries. The consistency of the final product is thick, smooth, and nicely spreadable. My plan is to use it my overnight oats. Yum!
I’m actually off to Emery Farm in just a few minutes NO not for more blueberries, but for this month’s Seacoast Food Swap!
Has anyone else ever wondered why the US relish market is dominated by sweet cucumber relish?! Ever googled relish recipes only to find that every search result comes back with the word sweet in the title!? For the love of pickles, why must we insist on adulterating the perfect flavor of fresh cucumbers with sugar? I understand that the sweet and tangy flavor of the classic relish tastes great atop a hot dog or hamburger patty, but seriously… move over Heinz, Vlasic, and Claussen, make way for dill pickle relish! OK, enough of my sweet pickle ranting. If my disdain for sweet pickles isn’t obvious by now, you clearly don’t know me at all and we apparently need to work on our communication skills…
If you haven’t yet noticed, it’s cucumber season: that lovely time of year when farmers and gardeners alike harvest cucumbers of all shapes and sizes (often the size of small babies). Still in need of something to swap at the August Seacoast Food Swap, I figured that I’d switch up my pickle game and try making a dill pickle relish. Modified from Solid Gold Eats‘ dill cucumber relish recipe, I’m quite pleased with the outcome (12 half pints… oh man) of this relish.
If you read my bean post earlier this week you know that I attempt to never put up the same exact pickled thing twice. Several weeks ago, I was asked by a local journalist if I would be willing to do a pickling photo shoot/interview supplying my favorite canning recipe. Fresh out of the last jar of my pickled beets and wanting to showcase a recipe that I was confident with, I considered playing it safe and just reusing my Kickin’ Pickled Beet recipe. Oh! Their flavor, their crunch, and their pickle goodness… I went back and forth on whether to breakdown and remake one of my own recipes, but I’m glad to say that I remained strong and resisted that urge… My name is Erin and I am a pickle addict… As an alternative, I decided on this beet, carrot, and apple slaw recipe, which I’m actually very excited about (though my want for a spicy pickled beet is currently 10). In addition to the 2 pounds of beets that I already had from Wake Robin Farm, I acquired several more pounds of this ruby root veggie from Jeff of Orange Circle Farm at last months’ Seacoast Food Swap. I ended up going with organic pink lady apples for this slaw recipe as I was interested in a sweeter end product.
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