Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Produce Lover's Paradise and Some Basic Recipe Ideas

I know I just posted Thursday, but I couldn't help myself and had to post again.  I just spent last night and a good part of today in the mountains.  My husband and I went up there to get more apples (we eat a lot of apples this time of year), and we stopped by a tailgate market this morning.  Now, if you have been reading this blog, you are aware of the fact that I spend a lot of time on the weekends at the farmers' market, but I am not usually as spoiled as I was today at the Henderson County Tailgate Market.  This relatively small market was packed to the brim full of some of the most beautiful fruits and vegetables you could want.  Since the seasons are changing, there was an extensive mix of produce to choose from, everything from kale to peaches.  As I walked around, I wanted to buy everything.  I tried to spread my money out so that I spent a little at each tent. Let me show you the bounty I brought home!  The good thing is that a lot of produce this time of year keeps well, so it is okay that I overdid it a bit.

As you can see, I went a little crazy.  This is much of what I bought.  The only things not included here are six ears of yellow and white corn, a big bunch of dinosaur kale, and apples, apples, and more apples.  I definitely have my cooking cut out for me this week with this produce, but it should yield some very tasty results.  Here is what I plan to do with some of the items I bought.  
I bought enough corn to have some cooked on the cob and some cut off.  I plan to make skillet fried corn with the corn kernels I cut off the cob.  Put a couple tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium heat and add the kernels from about 4 ears of corn.  Cook 10 minutes or so until the corn is softened a bit and beginning to brown slightly.  Season with salt and pepper (and chopped fresh basil, if desired).

I plan to chop the red cabbage up and add some spiced apples I made the other day from this recipe from Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen.  She added the apples to the cabbage, and I thought it looked great.  I may brown some bacon before adding the cabbage.  Bacon makes everything better!

I do not love boiled turnips as many southern cooks do, but I do love roasted turnips.  Chop the turnips (peel if necessary first) into cubes.  Toss with enough olive oil to lightly coat.  Season with salt, pepper and chopped fresh or dried thyme.  Roast on a baking sheet on 400 degrees until tender.  Rutabaga is also delicious cooked this way.  The turnips become almost candy sweet.

Radishes are one of my favorites, and I like to keep it simple.  I make a dressing of 1 cup cider vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar.  Add in 1/2 teaspoon or so of salt and a good grinding of black pepper.  Slice the radishes into the dressing and add cucumber if it is still available at the market.  It is also excellent over salad greens, but if you are going to eat the dressing with lettuce, add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil to help it cling to the leaves.

The beet is a very underappreciated vegetable.  I like them pickled or simply roasted.  I can't decide which I am going to do with these, but I am thinking that a salad with goat cheese, pecans, and cider vinaigrette sounds pretty darn tasty right about now.

A variety of winter squash.  I had some the other day cut in wedges and roasted with butter, salt and pepper.  Once they were finished, I brushed them with a little warm apple pie jam that I had in pantry from last fall.  Sweet, salty, and delicious.  Some of these may end up the same way.

Some of this kale will probably end up in this sweet potato and sausage soup from Smitten Kitchen, but I know I will not be able to get away without making my husband's favorite pasta with kale and bacon (I will post this at some point when I get around to making it). 

A variety of apples.  Some I plan to cook with, roasting them with some of the winter squash from above.  Some will make their way into canned apple pie filling (I will post it when I make it), and many will just be eaten as-is or with caramel dip (as a treat).

Last, but not least, more apples and a half gallon of apple cider from the orchard we visited.  Both came from Grandad's Orchard in Hendersonville, NC.  I plan to use the apple cider in vinaigrettes throughout the year, so I am going to freeze it in ice cube trays to have on hand.  

I purchased all of this fantastic produce from farmers that I actually got to meet.  It is all as fresh as it gets.  And all of this cost me less than a typical trip to the grocery store.  It just goes to show that supporting local agriculture is the way to go!  Now I have to get into the kitchen and figure out where to put it all until I get around to using it. 


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