Happy Sunday evening everyone. What a weekend, eh? If you joined the 3 million people who participated in women’s marches across the nation on Saturday, then rock on!! Saturday morning after yoga and the farmers’ market I found myself quite anxious and on the fence about the idea of attending our local march here in Raleigh, NC. I wained back and forth on whether to attend or not and final came to the conclusion that what I really needed was some alone time in the woods. I don’t know about you, but trail running through the trees not only helps clear my head, but also makes me feel like an outdoorsy badass! Five miles later, and one hell of a sore knee (I’ve had IT band problems for years), the fog began to lift and I felt much better.
Ever try to pass up beautifully arranged flowers AND adorable lady farmers? Impossible, right?! I decided to support local pink this weekend by picking up a couple pounds of tiny radishes from Bluebird Meadows. A Durham based farm, Bluebird Meadows’ is known for their specialty cut flowers, fruits, and vegetables. Wanting to preserve the color and crisp of these tiny root veggies, I threw together a quick pickled radish with some thai basil that I found at the new Hmart, plenty of lime, fresh garlic, and some black onion seeds. Weird combo? Yup!
When I started this blog post the plan was to give a very brief history of muscadine grapes, their health benefits, and their history. One wiki search later and I quickly realized, “oh man, there is a lot to learn, and love, about these medium-sized, funny textured grapes!” So, where to start?
“Of the bounteous store of natural gifts… upon the soil of North Carolina few have been more celebrated than the muscadine grape…” Discovered (not really as it was already growing in nature) in 1755, the muscadine grape (commonly referred to as a scuppernong) was first cultivated in North Carolina. Much less common than your typical market grapes, muscadine grapes offer a wealth of nutrition from bowel regulating (think fiber), to weight management (think fiber again), and rich in antioxidants. “One study… found that muscadines are a particularly good source of ellagic acid…. appears to inhibit cancer cell reproduction… Muscadine grapes also contain twice as much vitamin C as seedless grapes.”
Stone fruit for dayzzz! Ever feel up to your ears in fruit? The feeling where you have so much goodness to preserve with so little time and space? Add the lack of canning supplies to that feeling and you get my peach stress situation. The day after I moved to NC I received my second shipment of stone fruit from the Washington State Fruit Commission and Sweet Preservation as part of their Canbassador program. Awesome, right? Well, kinda yes, and kinda no… As my canning supplies were stuck in moving limbo with the rest of my furniture in MA, meanwhile these poor peaches sat patiently waiting in my fridge. Luckily, my stuff arrived safe and sound (mostly) and I was able to put up these beauties in jars.
With little time to get creative I borrowed this recipe from Kaela over at the Local Kitchen blog. Yum! The taste, the color, and the aroma of this jam is amazing. Perusing the Durham Farmer’s Market last Wednesday I picked up a couple canning ingredients including red onions from Four Leaf Farm from Rougemont, NC. The basil came right from my front yard garden. A sweet and savory jam that I suggest pairing with cheese & crackers.
Unless you’ve hung out with me for quite some time, you probably don’t know the extent of my secret second love: the game of cribbage (or should I say that game your grandp(m)a, old man on the corner, or old man in the elderly home used to play). When asked the random question of “if you could be anywhere, doing anything, what would it entail?”, my answer typically has something to do with 1) pickles, 2) the outdoors, 3) beer, and 4) cribbage. Come to think of it, some part of that answer probably can be attributed to the fact that when I originally learned how to play, all 4 of those items were involved.
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!
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