Category Archives: Recipes

Produce of the Month – Peaches

Produce of the Month - Peaches

Life is peachy

Because August is National Peach Month, let’s learn some of the fruit’s sweet history…
The peach originated in China and has been cultivated at least since 1000 B.C.E. In China, the peach tree is regarded as the tree of life and its fruit symbolizes immortality and unity. Chinese brides even carry peach blossoms down the aisle.

To this day China remains the largest world producer of peaches, with Italy in second place. California, Georgia and South Carolina are the prime growing locations in the US.

There are many reasons to love and enjoy peaches. They are a good source of vitamins A, B and C. They’re virtually fat free (less than 1 gram of fat), naturally sodium free, and have no cholesterol! A medium peach contains only 37 calories.

Handle with care

You can buy two main varieties of peaches: clingstone (the flesh clings to the stone) and free stone (the stone is easily separated from the flesh). Freestone peaches are easier to eat and make up the majority of varieties found in grocery stores.

Check for ripeness by lightly squeezing the peach (use your whole hand vs. fingertips to check since the fruit bruises easily) and the flesh should have a slight give. Also check for an even coloring of golden or creamy yellow, and a “peachy-sweet” fragrance.

Spoiler alert

Peaches spoil easily so don’t buy more than you will use (unless you plan on freezing them)! Even under ideal conditions, peaches will only keep for a week in a refrigerator, so for best flavor and texture, use them as soon as possible after purchase.

It will be easier to peel the peaches if you blanch them for a minute in boiling water then plunge them in cold water for a minute to stop the effect of the heat. Peaches discolor quickly when exposed to the air, so they should be sprinkled with lemon or lime juice, or a fruit “keeper” if not eaten or cooked immediately.

TIP: If you bought peaches that are too firm, put them in a loosely closed paper bag at room temperature for a day or two and they should soften. Note that they won’t become sweeter or ripen further.

Diversity of dishes

Peaches can be dried, canned, made into jams, jellies, and preserves, used as filling for desserts, and used as an ingredient in many other dishes, from appetizers to entrees. Don’t be afraid to experiment with peaches and be sure to enjoy them this month while they’re in their prime!

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna

Slow Cooker Mexican Fondue

Slow Cooker Mexican Fondue

Produce of the Month – Sweet Corn

Produce of the Month - Sweet Corn

Corn by any other name would taste as sweet

The Iroquois gave the first recorded sweet corn to European settlers in 1779 and they called it “papoon”. Today corn-on-the-cob is known in various regions as “pole corn”, “cornstick”, “sweet pole”, “butter-pop” or “long maize”.

Whichever name you choose to call it, sweet corn is a gluten-free, healthy source of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and flavonoids (which help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers). And besides its popular use as corn-on-the-cob, sweet corn can also be used in scalloped dishes, succotash, relishes, fritters, soups and chowders.

Selecting and Storing

When buying fresh corn-on-the-cob, look for ears with light green-colored tight husks and clean, nearly dry, golden-brown silks. Gently pull down the husk from the tip-end to check for color as well as the milk-stage of kernels. Look for the harvest date and buy only if they are fresh because the kernels soon turn from sugary to starchy and lose their sweet, juicy flavor. Avoid if the husk is dry as it indicates the stock is old and out of flavor.

Once at home, use them as early as possible. If you have to store, keep them inside the refrigerator, preferably along with their husks, to maintain flavor, taste, and moisture. They stay well for up to two to three days if stored properly.

Preparation Methods

Corn on the cob can be grilled directly in its husk, or it can be husked first and then wrapped in aluminum foil. Soak the whole cobs in a pot of cold water for 15 minutes. Pull the husks back BUT DON’T REMOVE. Discard the silk, brush the kernels with olive oil or butter and spices, then re-wrap the corn in the husks and place on the grill. Rotate as needed and cook slowly for approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place corn in the husk directly on the oven rack and roast for 30 minutes or until corn is soft.

Remove all husks and silk. Fill your pot with water, and add 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of sugar. Drop in your corn and bring everything to a boil, making sure the sugar is dissolved in the water. Boil for no longer than 8 minutes then remove from the water and let it cool enough for handling and eating

Place ear of corn (with husks and silk still intact)  on a dampened paper towel. Cook in the microwave for at least 2 minutes, turning ears over after half the cooking time. Add a minute and a half for each additional ear. Carefully remove husks and silk and enjoy!

Corn-on-the-cob Etiquette

Lillian Eichler Watson, in a 1921 etiquette book, described corn on the cob as “without a doubt one of the most difficult foods to eat gracefully.” She said using a short sharp knife to cut or scrape the kernels from the cob is “by far the most satisfactory method” of eating it.

Some etiquette books recommend salting and buttering the corn a section at a time just before eating that section, which helps to minimize the mess on your face and hands. You can also buy corn-on-the-cob skewers to stick into the ends to hold. But where’s the fun in that?

Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake

Produce of the Month – Strawberries

Produce of the Month - Strawberries

Beneficial Berry

As the most cultivated berry in the country, strawberries are the first fruit to ripen in early summer. Fun fact – they’re also the only fruit with seeds on the outside (over 200 on each berry).

Not only are strawberries tasty, but they are also low in calories, fat-free, and have no cholesterol. They are high in vitamin C (more than citrus fruits, ounce for ounce), which has been shown to be a deterrent to some forms of cancer and also helps prevent oxidation of LDL or bad cholesterol. They are also a good source of fiber. Most importantly, strawberries are one of the few sources, along with grapes and cherries, of ellagic acid, a compound which has been shown to prevent carcinogens from turning healthy cells into cancerous ones.

Picking a Winner

Choose brightly colored, dry, firm, shiny, plump berries that still have fresh-looking green caps attached. Avoid soft, dull looking, or shriveled berries. Since strawberries do not ripen after being picked, avoid berries that are partly white or otherwise unripe. Typically, the smaller the berry, the greater the intensity of flavor. Strawberries should have a strong strawberry aroma…take a whiff before you buy.

Storing, Washing, Freezing

Do not wash or hull strawberries until you’re ready to use them. Store (preferably in a single layer on a paper towel) in a moisture proof container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. To wash strawberries, place berries in a large colander and rinse gently with cool water. Lay strawberries in a single layer on a clean kitchen towel or layer of paper towels and pat dry.

Freezing your own strawberries is easy. Hull them, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet, freeze them until they’re solid (overnight usually does it), transfer them to a re-sealable plastic storage bag, and keep them frozen until you’re ready to use them. Frozen strawberries will keep up to six months (even a year in a stand-alone freezer with reliable temperature control).

Love is in the air

In France, strawberries were thought to be an aphrodisiac. A soup made of strawberries, thinned sour cream, borage, & powered sugar was served to newlyweds. In the folklore of several cultures it is believed that if two people split and share a double strawberry they will fall in love. And in mythology, the strawberry is the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love. Oo la la!

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Slow Cooker Chicken Caesar Sandwiches

Produce of the Month – Kale

Produce of the Month - Kale

Its got power

This relative of broccoli and cabbage is known as a ‘nutritional powerhouse.’
Kale is low in calories and fat (zero grams!) and high in fiber, iron, vitamin A, C, and K, calcium, antioxidants, essential heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef and more calcium than milk. It aids in the body’s natural detoxification process, can reduce stress and inflammation, and helps to lower cholesterol levels. This leafy green does it all AND tastes delicious.

Selecting and storing

Kale can be found in the cooled produce section of your local Community Markets. Look for firm and deeply colored leaves with stems that are moist and strong. Make sure that the leaves are not browning or yellowing, and they are free from small holes. If the raw leaves show signs of wilting, it is an indication that the greens have been sitting on the shelf for too long, or they were not properly stored.

To store, keep kale refrigerated in an airtight bag. It can typically be stored for up to 5 days, but you may notice the flavor increase in bitterness with longer storage. Only wash the kale when you are ready to use it because washing before storage will promote spoilage. Or feel free to freeze it following our easy tips.

Freezing tips

Rinse with water, then trim. The easiest way to trim out the stem is to fold the kale leaf in half lengthwise with the stem facing away from you. Run the tip of a knife along the stem to separate it. Chop the leafy parts. Dump in boiling water, put a lid on and let cook for two minutes. When the time is up, lift the kale out and submerge it in an ice bath. Then dry it (with a salad spinner or roll it up in a towel and squeeze). Lay the kale on a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and stick it in the freezer for about 30 mins. Then take it out and put in an airtight bag or container and pop it back in the freezer. Now it’s perfectly prepped for the next time you’re having a kale craving.

Fitting kale into your diet

Steam kale with your favorite vegetables or sautee with garlic. Prepare a raw kale salad, blend it into your favorite green smoothie, or bake kale chips and season with salt and balsamic vinegar. Mmm…

All hail the kale

A whole culture around kale has developed in north-western Germany. Town’s social clubs host Grunkohlessen or Kohlfahrt (“kale tours”) sometime between October and February where their club will visit a country inn to consume large quantities of kale stew, Pinkel sausage, Kassler, Mettwurst and Schnapps. Most communities in the area even have a yearly kale festival, which includes naming a “kale king” (or queen).

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip

Slow Cooker Pizza Dip

Produce of the Month: Asparagus

Produce of the Month: Asparagus

All About Asparagus

Even though it is still cold and wintery out, we know spring is right around the corner because fresh asparagus is now in season! Although it is available year round, asparagus is best between March & July. These little spears pack a nutritious punch that’s ready to fight age and disease. Asparagus is a great source of fiber, folate, and Vitamins A, C, E, and K. It also helps break down and protect you from carcinogens which are responsible for certain forms of cancer. Asparagus is one of the top producers of antioxidants, which helps slow the aging process and fights cognitive decline.


All Colors

Besides your usual green, asparagus is also available in purple and white! Purple asparagus’ color comes from the high levels of antioxidants and low levels of fiber. This makes it more tender and there is no need to cut off the bottom! White asparagus is considered a delicacy, but is exactly the same variety as green. The difference is that the white asparagus is grown in the dark making there a limited supply and it is then more expensive with a mild taste.


Select & Store

To find the asparagus that will be best for your health AND the tastiest, look for the ones with smooth skin, compact heads, freshly cut ends and those that are bright green in color. Asparagus is usually thin during the beginning of the season, towards the end of the season the spears become fattier and meatier. Thickness does not indicate how tender it will be.

Store your asparagus in a loosely wrapped plastic bag. You can even wrap damp paper towels around the butts and store in the crisper of your refrigerator. Remember, the sooner you eat the asparagus, the better the flavor. Thin asparagus can become tough and flavorless if stored too long, however thick spears can become very sweet and tender!

Oh Snap

You can really cook asparagus any way – raw, roasted, boiled, steamed, grilled, etc. Usually thin spears of asparagus are best roasted, grilled or raw while thick ones are best steamed or blanched. To prepare your asparagus, just simply snap the ends off, everything from the middle up will be tender enough to eat!


Enjoy this 15 min recipe for penne and asparagus!

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