Farmers Markets

How many of you take advantage of these gems in the summer? Did you know that some have already started up again in NJ?

I love farmers markets. There is nothing better than buying food directly from its source. Summer and fall are ideal times to shop for produce, naturally, but there are some really great buys that show up during the off season. They shouldn’t be overlooked.

In Denville, NJ, their farmers market brings quite a few artisan food makers. There’s a guy who makes gluten free and organic trail mix. Another who makes all different types of hummus. There’s the empanada lady. There’s Boboli- they make artisans cheeses (free samples!) and breads made from heirloom wheats and grains. There’s the pickle people, a truck that stretches FRESH MOZZARELLA! right in front of you and then there’s the pork farmer and the Mini Mac farm that does all meats and dairy.

So it’s pretty awesome- if you’re into all that. And yes, these things can get pricey.

But how many of you live near a local market that they call a ‘farmers market?’

I do. And I always forget to go in there. It’s what I think is an asian produce and seafood market. And for as much as forget to go there as often as I’d like, every time I do get to go I get so inspired!!!

First off, their seafood counter is fresh every other day, everything’s wild caught and about half the price of the supermarket. So good! Their produce is off the chain! I bought a guava today. Why? Just because I’ve never had one before… This is the kind of produce market that houses many of the crazy ingredients in the Chopped baskets!!!!

So after a trip there this evening, we are having sesame crusted seared tuna with julienned  carrots and jicama, avocado with wasabi mayo. Made that up as I browsed… I guess that’s what cooking is all about. Seeing what’s good and taking advantage of it.

So moral of the story: keep it fresh. Keep it local. And support your local farmers market if one’s nearby.

Easter’s Hangover…

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…Egg Salad.

My mom always made it with just regular mayo. And I loved it. All she did was finely chop it. I could it eat it on Saltine crackers for months if I had the chance.

I made it this year with my new meat grinder. It was the first time I used the grinder, so this year we’re having something more like ‘egg mousse.’ It tastes the same, but the texture is all wrong. Oh well!

How does everyone else make egg salad? Do people still make egg salad? I’m looking for an egg salad with a twist…

Condiments are the Enemy No More

The first two days of my new diet haven’t been that bad. A co-worker (thanks Brian!) told me about  a website called paleomg.com. It’s a pretty awesome site and the author is pretty funny. She posts several recipes, and they all follow the paleo diet. For those of you that don’t know what that is, check out this very abbreviated list of what you can and cannot eat here. Basically, you are eating the same way our paleolithic friends ate thousands of years ago. I was attracted to this diet because they don’t eat ANY grains, because grains have to be processed and cave men did not know how to do that yet. I agree with the bulk of this diet, however I don’t want to give up legumes- me likes the beans!!! And with most carbs off my plate, beans fill that void.

The hardest part of this diet I’m finding, isn’t WHAT to eat, but the ingredients used to make them-especially the ingredients that are pre made. They most likely contain wheat, gluten, soy or corn based products. My first snag came when I wanted to make a dip for some family coming to visit. I pulled out the vegetable soup mix I always use, thinking it was okay-but there was wheat and soy in that mix, so that was out. ‘Think Liz, think. I know!!!! Dill dip!’ That’s mayo, sour cream, dill and onion salt. I thought I was good. And then I read the ingredients of the mayo- Olive Oil mayo: made with soybean oil. OUT. I made the dip anyway, and was confined to grapes and cheese for the afternoon, secretly feeling duped that a label wouldn’t be deceiving (what was I thinking?!?!?). However, I will save my label rant for a another blog I’m working on.

I walked away from that situation with a realization that I didn’t think was part of this new diet- I WILL HAVE TO MAKE ALL MY CONDIMENTS FROM SCRATCH. And that may seem like a pain in the ass, but it really wasn’t that bad. I made my own mayo and hot sauce yesterday. The only annoying part was doing the dishes. And the piece of mind that I can make good tasting food that doesn’t have chemicals and preservatives I don’t even know how to pronounce is priceless.

Basic Mayo

1 egg yolk

1 tbsp. lemon juice or white wine vinegar

1 cup light olive oil

1. Get your ingredients ready first, cuz once you start the emulsion, you can’t really stop until it’s done. And an electric mixer will be your best friend- unless you’re trying to bulk up your arms!

2. Whisk the egg yolk for about 30 seconds and add the vinegar/lemon juice.

3. Whisk for a bit and then SLOWLY add oil, whisking heavily. If you start to see oil pooling on the sides, stop pouring oil until you whisk it away (ha!).

4. Keep whisking after you add all the oil until it well, looks like mayo!

5. You can add garlic if you want. I added onion powder and some salt to give it a little more flavor. And because I’m an art teacher and don’t throw things away, I had an old mayo jar and stored my mayo in it!!! It will keep for 5 days. And you can double your recipe!!!

Can you guess which one is mine?

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Grigio’s Hot Sauce- YEOWWWWWW!

10 green hot peppers

10 dried red hot chili peppers

1/2 cup white vinegar

1/2 cup acai pomegranate vinegar

1 onion loosely chopped

salt to taste

1. Slice the green peppers and place them in a sauce pan- seeds and all.

2. Add dried peppers too

3. Add both vinegars. I’ll admit that I really didn’t measure how much vinegar I put in. I just used half of each until it covered all the peppers. 😛

4. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10-15 minutes. About 2-3 minutes before it’s done, add the onion. I did it this way because I wanted that raw onion strong flavor. If you add the onion too early, the onion flavor will weaken.

5. Let cool for a few minutes and then run in a blender for a couple minutes.

6. Pour mixture through a sieve, getting rid of skin and some seeds that didn’t break up in the blender.

I’m not sure how long this keeps, but I’m sure the vinegar allows it to last a few weeks.

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PS- The mayo on the left is mine! 😛