Farmer’s Market Produce

May 16, 2009

2nd_farmers_market

Items in the picture.  Clockwise starting with the flowers: edible chive flowers, radishes, young dill, chives, swiss chard.  In the bowl, asparagus.

Today the weather was colder than last week at the Village Point Market, due to the wind.  But the sun was shining and more farmers and more customers were out.  The cool weather keeps the produce fresh I guess.  Soon we’ll be complaining about the heat.

Well I did it again, I failed to get the name of one of the farmers I purchased from.  Last week I saw some nice looking chard just as we started making the rounds.  By the time we came back I heard, “That’s the last of the chard.”  So this week I started with his stand and bought two nice bunches of swiss chard.  Next up I stopped by Wolff Farms.  I talked to Duane Wolff for a bit about his farm.  He’s from Norfolk and has been farming since 1979.  He grows produce and grass fed beef.  I bought some nice radishes from him.  Xiong’s Gardens had the first dill of the year.  I got a couple of their young bunches.  They grow their produce in North Omaha and Missouri Valley.  The asparagus I got from Grandview Farms of Fremont.  Asparagus was all he was selling, so I asked him, “You must grow a lot of asparagus.”  He replied, “Four acres.”  That’s a lot of asparagus!  The chives I bought from Black Sheep Farms.   They had a terrible tragedy last week.  They lost several chickens to a varmint of some kind .  You can read about it on their blog.  The chive flowers I got from Bryan Family Farm.  I also picked up another 1/2 pound of moral mushrooms from him.

Last week I forgot to mention meeting Christy from Real Foods.    She’s put together a nice group.  We joined after we got back from the market last week.  Also my apologies to Brian Davies from Harvest Nursery for not stopping by to say hello.  I just totally spaced.

By Kenton


First Farmer’s Market

May 13, 2009

first_farmers_market

Items in the picture. Clockwise starting with the mushrooms: moral mushrooms, jerusalem artichoke, baby romaine, rhubarb, asparagus, daylily, pac choi. In the center, musclun.

Last Saturday was the second farmer’s market of the season and the first visit by us. We have several farmer’s markets in Omaha, but we decided to start off with the Village Point Farmer’s Market. There weren’t many vendors present, it’s still early for this part of the country. In fact there weren’t many people period. I suspect the 45 degree weather had something to do about that. Never-the-less we we’re excited to see what we could find and we weren’t disappointed. I love trying new foods and we found three we had never eaten: moral mushrooms, jerusalem artichokes and day lily stems. The moral mushrooms were sold by Bryan Family Farm and we also purchased mesclun, baby romaine, pac choi and rhubarb from them. The other two farmers we purchased produce from, I didn’t catch their names. I should have asked. Hopefully they’ll be there next time we visit and I’ll add their names later to this post. At any rate a young woman who will have to remain a mystery for now, had a small but interesting group of produce. We purchased jerusalem artichokes and daylilies from her. They were the first two things we tried upon arriving home. We tasted the jerusalem artichokes raw and they reminded me of jicama, sweet and starchy. We added some of the daylilies raw to a salad. They really didn’t have much flavor and we’re a little fibrous. We’ll try them cooked a bit next. We also purchased asparagus from another woman. The last food we purchased was two different goat cheeses, Chevre Frais and Natalie in Gray, from Shadow Brook Farm.

All-in-all we had a very nice morning at the market and were happy with our haul. Most of the produce has already found it’s way to our stomachs! Hopefully I’ll find the time to post some of the meals I’ve cooked with the ingredients.

By Kenton


Challenged! Make Your Own Yeast

May 12, 2009

raised doughBe careful what you joke about.  After watching a food challenge cooking show, I joked that Kent and I should come up with challenges for each other.  He immediately challenged me to make my own yeast for bread making.  Well, I couldn’t back out of it so I started researching.

There are actually several options for making your own yeast.  Most sources talk about using potato water but they called for hops.  I didn’t want to mess with trying to track down hops so I kept hunting.  Finally, I came across a site with a recipe for yeast water that seemed like something I could easily do with what I already had at home.  It uses raisins.

http://originalyeast.blogspot.com/2008/02/how-to-make-yeast-water.html

I put the raisins in a jar with tap water.  In about a week, the raisins were floating and there was a layer of foam across the top.  I used a peasant-style pot bread recipe from Nancy Baggett’s Kneadlessly Simple cookbook. It is a kneadless bread that relies on a slow rise of over 18 hours.  For the second rise, you fold in the outer edges of the dough.

preparing for the 2nd riseThe recipe is available at

http://bakingbites.com/2009/04/no-knead-pot-bread/

Instead of mixing instant yeast into the 2 cups ice water, I simply used two cups of the yeast water.  And guess what?  It rose!  Woo Hoo!From the photo, it looks like it didn’t rise on the one side.  That is more the result of my clumsiness in moving it from the bowl to the hot stew pot.  In transferring the dough, I accidentally collapsed the one side.  I really liked this bread despite it being a white bread.  That’s mostly because of the crust.  Placing it in the hot pot really created a wonderful chewy yet flaky crust.  This is a crust that you do not want to cut off.

I’m not sure if I can just add water to the jar and continue to generate yeasty enough water, but I’ll give it another try with another bread.peasant pot bread


Disaster Averted

May 3, 2009
Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Cherry Banana Oatmeal Cookies

Baking is chemistry.  You read that again and again.  You need certain ratios and must measuring accurately or things fall apart.  My failed rhubarb bread with the missing from a few posts ago is proof of this.  But sometimes you get to baking you don’t have what you thought you had in the cupboard.  Or frig.  I know, I know.  A person should set everything out before beginning to bake so you know you have all the ingredients.  To be honest, I rarely do that.  And I realize that the rhubarb mess wouldn’t have happened if I had done that.  But still, I never learn.

Yesterday I decided to try this recipe I found in Midwest Living.  From the beginning, it seemed doomed.  First, I substituted oil for butter.  The recipe called for 1 c. butter, but I had recently read that you can substitute oil for butter but that you need to watch the moisture level.  So I reduced it to 3/4 c. canola oil.  Next I discovered I didn’t have any eggs.  But a month or so ago, Kent had emailed me a site that gave a list of substitutes for eggs.  One of them was banana.  So in went a banana.  Then I remembered that I had three egg yolks in the refrigerator so they were thrown in.  This should have been a disaster.  But lo and behold, it worked!  These are actually pretty good cookies.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Mix together:
1 c. brown sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon

With a hand mixer, mix the dry ingredients with

3/4 c. canola

Then continue mixing and add

1 ripe banana
3 egg yolks

If you can, continue to blend with the hand mixer and add

2 c. flour

Then stir in

2 c. oatmeal
1 c. dried cherries

Drop tablespoon-sized rounds onto ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 18-20 minutes


The Glory of Crisps: The Fruit Dessert for Everyone

April 29, 2009

crispsFinding a good dessert for just the two of us can be a challenge.  Most make just too much for two people.  And what about single people.  When I was single, I had no business baking a whole cake and eating it by myself.  Which is one of the reasons I love crisps.

Crisps are wonderful. You can make a small amount or a big amount.  I usually use a muffin pan.  And you can make it around whatever fruit is in season.  This week I made up several different crisps with whatever fruit looked good at the grocery store – blackberry, apple, pear, cherry and peach.  If you just want to make single servings, you can use a oven-safe custard cup or even a muffin pan.

I used a muffin pan and did a different fruit in each cup.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place fruit into cups.  For pears, apples and peaches, that’s about a half a fruit sliced.

Squeeze lemon juice over fruit.  Top each cup with –

1 t. brown sugar
1 T. oatmeal
1/2 T. chopped nuts (I like walnuts or pecans)
1 thin slice of butter
Pinch of cinnamon

Bake for about 20 minutes  crisps-in-muffin-tin


Irish Soda Bread

April 27, 2009

irish-soda-breadIt’s raining today.  A lot.  And it brings back memories of a wonderful, but rainy, week spent in Ireland.  During this trip, I learned how important a fulfilling breakfast is to combating cold and damp.  Since I was planning on an afternoon of digging and planting in between the showers, I decided to bake one of my favorite discoveries from that trip in Ireland.

Irish soda bread is one of those earthy, dense breads with a crunchy crust that I enjoy with butter and jam.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a big white bread fan (sourdough being the exception).  Just one slice will get you through your work and it goes great with a hot drink to relax with when you’re done.  This is a low fat version I tried this morning.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix together:
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t baking powder
2 2/12 T brown sugar

Cut into the dry mixture:
2 T. butter

In a separate bowl, combine:
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. raisins or currants

Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix.  Turn onto a floured board and knead about 10 times.  Shape into a 9″ round and place on a greased baking.  Make a cross in the top of the dough with a sharp knife.

Bake 45 minutes.


7 Grain Pancakes

April 26, 2009

7-grain-pancakes

A few years ago I began having problems with eating things like pasta, pancakes, pizza and sweets.  After eating these items I would feel like I had drunk too much caffeine.  I’d be hungry shortly after eating, even if I’d partaken in a large portion.  I visited the doctor and he said my symptoms didn’t quite sound like hypoglycemia or a food allergy.  To remedy the situation I avoided the foods that made me feel bad.  I also found that by ingesting protein throughout the day, usually milk, I felt better.  After avoiding these foods for several years I was able to begin eating them in small quantities.  I could eat spaghetti as a side but not as a main course.  Fast forward to today.  I’m able to eat pizza or pasta as an entree but I can’t do it every day.  Pancakes have been an exception though.  It must be the combination of sugar and the refined wheat.  A few months ago we were visiting Matt and Alicia (Melissa’s sister and brother in law) and Alicia served pancakes using a mix from Paul’s Grains.  I felt fine after eating the pancakes, so upon returning home, I looked up Paul’s Grains and discovered their products could be purchased online.  I finally ordered some flour last week and made my first batch of pancakes today.  They were delicious and I felt fine after eating them!  The recipe I used was out of Michael Ruhlman’s new book, Ratio.  The recipe called for all purpose flour, I used Paul’s 7 Grain flour, so I ended up using more liquid to compensate.  Ruhlman’s book mostly uses weight to measure ingredients, which I’m liking more and more.  The base ratio is: 2 part liquid, 1 part egg, 1/2 part butter and 2 parts flour.  This is my adaptation.

Wet Ingredients:

  • 4.5 oz buttermilk
  • 8.5 oz skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 oz butter (1/2 stick), melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Dry Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Paul’s 7 grain flour or all purpose flour (1-1/3 to 1-1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar (turbinado)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Combine dry and wet ingredients in separate mixing bowls.  Then combine the wet and dry mixes together, stirring until smooth.  Cook the pancakes over medium heat on a greased skillet.

By Kenton