Ever wonder what’s seasonally fresh in your neck of the woods?

Epicurious.com has a nifty interactive map on their site that lets you check out what’s fresh in your area. Just click on your state and up pops the info. You’ll also find ingredient descriptions, shopping  guides, recipes, and tips and other Seasonal Cooking articles. You’ll definitely want to bookmark this.

A seasonal guide to what\’s fresh at your Farmers\’ Market.

Check it out and then head out to your local Farmers’ Market this weekend. Let me know what you bought and I’ll share the same. Have a great weekend.

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Bradon’s Choice – Seascape Strawberries Dipped in Chocolate!

Another weekend, another grandson visits. This time it was with my oldest grandson, Bradon. We had a wonderful weekend filled with a variety of activities, including of course, a trip to the Farmers’ Market. This time we went to the Davis Farmers’ Market, a market he and I have traveled to many times in the almost nine years we have been hanging out together. Not to have his younger brother out do him, Bradon also decided he wanted to buy strawberries. There were plenty to choose from. My theory on strawberries is that if there is no “strawberry” aroma and they aren’t red all the way to the stem they aren’t ripe and will not be flavorful and juicy. Using this theory, we looked for the reddest berries and when we found some that looked particularly good; we’d slowly bend down and breathe deeply hoping the “strawberry aroma” would fill our noses. It came down to either Chandler or Seascape strawberries. Fitting choices since both varieties were developed at the University of California, Davis. Bradon decided the Seascape berries were the best. After tasting them, I think he made the right choice. Of course, I’m also his grandma, so I could be slightly biased.

Bradon decided he wanted to dip his strawberries in chocolate. So hunted through my cupboard and found some chocolate chips that we could melt. We added some butter and put it all into a little cup in a waterbath on top of the stove to melt. When the chips and butter had melted, we stirred it until the mixture was smooth, then Bradon dipped his strawberries. He laid the freshly dipped strawberries on a sheet of waxed paper to dry, and impatiently checked them every few minutes hoping that I would say they were ready to eat. I finally did and Bradon taste tested his creation. Needless to say he was very happy with the results.

As with Landon, there were a handful of strawberries leftover so grandma knew just what she was going to do with them. No, I didn’t have any more Panna Cotta left. But, I did have some stewed rhubarb that I wanted to pair up with some strawberries, so that’s just what I did. I also had just enough vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer to make one strawberry-rhubarb parfait. After a few tastes I added a handful of roasted sliced almonds.  It was the perfect combination; creamy, sweet-tart and crunchy. I’d definitely try this again. Since I have a little of the strawberry-rhubarb mixture left, I think I’ll try it for breakfast substituting Greek yogurt for the ice cream and granola for the nuts.

strawberry-rhubarb parfait with roasted sliced almonds

strawberry-rhubarb parfait

Shopping the Farmers’ Markets in Lihue, Kauai

I recently spent a very breezy, showery, week visiting O’hana (family) on Kauai. The first part of the week I spent catching up on what’s been going on, meeting my great nephew, Mason, driving to Hanalei for a birthday lunch with Mason’s Tutu (grandma), Lani and enjoying an incredibly yummy birthday dinner for Lani at Gaylord’s.  On Friday, after coloring Easter eggs, Lani and I, accompanied by Darcie and Mason, made a quick trip to the Friday Sunshine Market held at the Vidinha Stadium parking lot in Lihue to pick up some papaya, bananas, and fresh greens for dinner. The trip was quick because even though the market started at 3, and we were there about quarter to four, many of the vendors were sold out and packing up. We did find a couple of vendors still selling and with a nice selection of greens and fruits. We bought some beautiful kale, an avocado, tomatoes and several papayas.

At some of the Kauai Sunshine Markets shoppers aren’t allowed into the selling area until starting time. In some you can browse but you can’t buy until starting time. Starting time can be signaled by the lowering of a rope, the ringing of a bell or the honk of a car horn. I’ve never really experienced this anywhere but on Kauai and the first time it happened I couldn’t believe that you couldn’t buy before the signal, which in that case was the ringing of a bell.  So if you’re there early, be patient and wait for the signal and by all means if they allow open browsing before the start of the selling period, take advantage of it. It’s really quite interesting to experience.

Saturday morning Lani and I gathered our shopping bags and headed over to Kauai Community College where the Kauai Community Market, managed by the Hawaii Farm Bureau, is held Saturday mornings, from 10 to 1. When we arrived the market was bustling. There were locals shopping for garden fresh foods, enjoying delicious local foods, and  “talking story.” There were also tourists enjoying the opportunity to see what’s local and to taste and buy.

We bought some more papaya, and avocados,  and for Easter dessert, we bought the most incredible pie from The Right Slice. It was a Mango Passionfruit (lilikoi) pie. It was amazing to look at, about 3″ high, with sliced mangos mixed with lilikoi for a tangy zip, layered between a gorgeous flaky crust.  All of the pies they offered that day looked incredible. But I love mangos and I absolutely love likikoi so making a choice wasn’t a problem.  If you go to Kauai don’t miss trying a piece of their pie. You won’t find anything like it anywhere else.

Give some of the “local” fruits and vegetables a try  when you visit the islands. Ask to taste. Many of the local vendors would love to help you experience their produce. I’ve had some amazing “tastes” and look forward to finding my favorites each time I visit.

There are Farmers’ Markets on all of the Hawaiian Islands. I have been to the one in Hilo and one in Honolulu and at least five different markets on Kauai and they all are terrific. You really get a feeling for the land and the people who bring its bounty to share. Another slow-paced way to enjoy your time in this tropical paradise.

Here’s a list of just some of the markets the islands have to offer:

Farmers Markets in Hawaii

Hilo Farmers Market

Kauai Farmers MarketsHonolulu Saturday Farmers\’ Market

Honolulu Saturday Farmers\’ Market

Hawaii Farmers\’ Markets


Satsumaimo or Japanese Sweet Potatoes

Strawberries weren’t the only things we bought at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday, although in Landon’s mind they were the only things that mattered. We also bought asparagus, snap peas, artichokes, green onions, Fuji apples and Japanese sweet potatoes.

Japanese sweet potatoes, or Satsumaimo, if you’re not familiar with them, have dark pink skin and cream-colored, slightly sweet flesh. I discovered these little gems at my local market a couple of years ago and have become a big fan, buying them whenever I find them. I like buying them when they are fairly small in size. I brought home four. Just enough for one meal of mashed potatoes and leftovers for fried potato cakes.

For dinner Sunday night, I paired the mashed Japanese sweet potatoes up with a nice steamed artichoke and a pork loin steak marinated with fresh sage leaves from my garden and rubbed with a little lemon and black pepper oil, then grilled to perfection.

To cook the sweet potatoes; I peel them and immerse them in water, to prevent them from browning, then cook them in simmering water until fork-tender, then mash them with some butter.  To fry the leftovers; make small 2 or 3” patties about ¼ “ thick and fry in olive oil until browned and crispy. These are so delicious. I love them paired up with grilled lamb chops and have converted quite a few fellow diners who were a little skeptical.

Next time you’re at the market look for Japanese sweet potatoes. You won’t be disappointed.

UPDATE:  12/14/2010

Here’s another way to use these beauties and this time it’s in pancakes for breakfast. Oh my were these good. Check out bitemekitchen.com for the recipe.

Landon’s Pick at the Farmers’ Market – Juicy Strawberries!

Landon, my six-year old grandson, accompanied me this morning on my weekly trip to the Farmers’ Market. While he isn’t as excited about the vegetables as I am, he was absolutely thrilled with all the fragrant strawberries that were being displayed. That’s what he thought we should definitely buy. Since he had also been eying a certain giant sized cinnamon roll I thought the strawberries would be a much better choice.  We bought a basket of beautiful red strawberries which Landon carried  proudly throughout the market, as I finished up my shopping.

Once home, I carefully washed and drained them, then put them in a little bowl with a side bowl of powdered sugar that he could dip them into. He ate them, out on the swing, on the front porch where we have practically have lived this weekend due to the incredible spring weather.

As you can see they were good to the very last bite.

There were three strawberries left. I was amazed that there were any. But, three was just enough for me. So, I put them away to have this evening with a certain little serving of Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta that I had in the refrigerator. I have been thinking of this combination ever since the first time I tasted the Meyer Lemon Panna Cotta. Now, my fantasy was about to come true.

The combination was everything I had hoped for. It was the perfect combination of flavors. Simply scrumptious!

Peruvian Grilled Chicken and Pineapple-Easy and Delicious

Here’s a recipe I originally tried for a South American food themed party. It’s a very easy recipe but it does take 24hrs for the marinade part, so it’s not one of those spur of the moment things. I used 3 ½ pounds of boned, skinless thighs instead of the chicken quarters and it turned out fantastic. The other day whole “free range” chickens were on sale so I decided to try it again using the chicken quarters. Again, the results were perfect. I had worried that the white meat wouldn’t be as juicy, but that was definitely not the case.

You can make the grilled pineapple by cutting a whole fresh pineapple into ½” slices, removing the outside skin (I think it’s easier to do this after slicing the pineapple.), then lightly coating the slices with a light cooking oil, like canola, just before grilling. Grill until browned on each side.

If you don’t want to try the grilled pineapple with the main course, then how about some for dessert. Serve the grilled pineapple slightly warm, topped with pineapple coconut ice cream. It’s the perfect combination.

Lightly steamed baby bok choy, drizzled with a little toasted sesame oil rounded out the meal.

Peruvian Grilled Chicken (Pollo a la brasa)

From epicurious.com

1/3 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

5 garlic cloves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon dired oregano

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 whole chicken (about 3 ½ pounds, quartered

Marinade:

Blend soy sauce, lime juice, garlic cumin, paprika, oregano, ½ teaspoon pepper and oil in a blender.

Put chicken in a large sealable bag and add marinade. Seal bag and mainate, chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

To Grill:

Discard marinade, then pat chicken dry. Grill covered, over low heat about 10 – 15 minutes per side.

Note:

If you aren’t able to grill outdoors, chicken (quartered) can be roasted in middle of a 500°F oven in a 13 by 9 –inch roasting pan with 1 cup water 30 minutes, then tented with foil and roasted until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes more.

Serves 2 – 4

Fresh at the Market in April:

Here’s a list of what you might find at your Northern California Farmers’ Market in April.  Be sure to check out the veggies that are just becoming available and watch for first of the season cherries.

*These vegetables should be available for the first time this month.

Artichokes

Arugula

Asian greens

Asparagus

Avocados

Beans

Bok Choy

Broccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Celery*

Chard

Collards

Dandelion/Chicor

Endive

Fava Beans*

Garlic

Green garlic*

Kale

Kohlrabi*

Leeks

Lettuces

Mushrooms

Onions

Parsnips

Peas*

Potatoes

Purslane*

Radicchio*

Radish

Rhubarb*

Rutabaga

Scallions

Spinach

Turnips

*This fruit should be available for the first time this month.

Cherries*

Dried Fruit

Grapefruit

Guavas

Kumquats

Lemons

Limes

Mandarins

Oranges

Pomelos

Strawberries

Tangerines