The Box Meal Plan
Every market day, we're going to post what we do with the box. We know it can be tough to use all the items, so we hope this recipes make it easier to take full advantage of the box.
-For Tuesday, I’m starting with my box by cooking up a nice Radish & Greens Saute as a side dish. Side dish for what you ask? Not sure yet. But the radish greens don't last too long, so it’s best to use them right away.
-For Wednesday, I'm going with Sweet Potato Burritos. I like this more as a lunch meal, so I halve the recipe and cook all the ingredients the night before. I'll make the burrito in the morning and wrap it up in foil and then toss it in the toaster oven at work for a nice filling, hot lunch.
-An oldie, but goodie. Thursday for dinner I'll be making Stuffed Bell Peppers with the brown jasmine rice and some grass fed beef from the market. You may need to pick up another bell pepper or halve the recipe depending on how many peppers you get in the box.
Have some good recipes or ideas you want to share with us? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will post it next week.
Enjoy delicious fresh and local foods while learning simple skills to create and maintainng a healthy lifestyle &/or enhance sports performance. Current research in nutrition, exercise science and sustainable urban agriculture will be translated into simple tip and skills that anyone can integrate into their lifestyle and fitness routines. Learn to PerformWell while enjoying a delicious dinner.
Time: Wednesday, August 31st, 7pm to 9pm
Location: Hollygrove Market & Farm
Space is limited and reservations are required. To register for this tasty class, please visit PerformWell at http://performwell.net/index.php?section=12
By Leslie Gilman
Sitting around the dinner table as a child, my brother always kicked off the meal with the same blessing: “Dear Lord, Thank you for Grandma and Grandpa and The Refrigerator.” In his little four-year-old mind, The Refrigerator, the place where he frequented for a quick gulp of milk or a stick of cheese was actually The Source from which the bounty of our table sprang forth. Not the soil, not the sun, nor the rain, not even the Good Lord to whom he was praying was responsible for the feast set before us. It was to that apparatus plugged into the wall that all gratitude was bestowed, and he was immensely thankful for it. Apparently, my grandparents were thrown in there for good measure.
That prayer has always stuck with me. As I have gotten older and watched America’s food culture evolve from one largely based on reheating what has been prepackaged, to one that is carb-crazy, then carb-loathing, with phases of veganism and gluten-free-ism sprinkled throughout, and that is now, finally, slowly returning towards its more agrarian roots of growing one’s own, I think about the kids. What is their perception of food and its origins? Does it matter if they think that our food comes from the soil or the refrigerator or the grocery aisle?
Of course it matters. If the food is exciting to watch grow, beautiful to behold at harvest, entertaining to prepare and delicious to eat, then they will begin to develop a set of norms that will eventually turn into a food culture they will grow up to sustain, if, when they reach the age of discretion, they look at what we have done and judge it to be good. We, on the other hand – or at least I should say I – have looked at the food culture of the 1980’s and 90’s and have gone in the other direction. I realized at the wise old age of 23 that I actually had no idea how to truly grow or cook anything and set about learning. Our children will do the same – so it’s up to us to teach them about land stewardship and mindful food cultivation and preparation so that they learn to value and protect those ideals.
It seems that things in our food culture started to go awry in the 1950’s when the weird and wonky world of “food technology” was born. Suddenly, the housewife whose own mother’s back ached from a lifetime of making biscuits from scratch each morning now had Bisquick. Dinner could be as easy as opening up some Cream of Whatever Soup, dumping it on top of some ground beef, and voila! And those two dual wonders, Miracle Whip and Cool Whip, could be mixed with infinite ingredients from canned fruit salad to frozen peas for a myriad of “salads.” I realize that I may be stepping on toes here, as those foods may have been the sweet nectar of your childhood, and in fact they were of mine. But I don’t blame my mom or any of the moms for those foods of yore that included enough sodium to pickle our organs. This stuff was wonder food – exciting, delicious and best of all, easy as pie to put together. (Pie with a premade crust and canned fruit filling, that is.) These convenience foods unfettered women from the stove and allowed them to enjoy successful careers and interests that they may not have been able to have otherwise. And, that is not anything we should regret.
But, there needs to be a guardian of responsible food cultivation and its wholesome preparation out there. Whether that comes in the form of a mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, community gardener, or farmer matters not. It only matters that the lessons of how land is cared for and how food is cultivated and prepared is taught so that this unbelievable miracle of life – that food comes from soil, is at once as wondrous and yet as second-nature as the fact that rain comes from the sky. One of the greatest offerings of the urban garden and farm is that they are highly visible to an entire neighborhood of growing children and become, perhaps even subconsciously, the place in their minds where good food grows. As they bike past in the summer, they mark the height of corn, reaching higher towards the sky each day. They notice the smell of tomatoes. They know instinctively that squash grows on a vine – something I didn’t learn for a few decades. They watch the rhythm of life and the seasons pass from the periphery of their basketball games and strolls with friends, and I’m sure that when the first little pea seedlings emerge from the cold hard soil in spring, their hearts skip a beat just like mine. To have the urban farm as a landmark on their mental map of the universe makes it as significant a place as their neighborhood school, church, or playground. This isn’t just a lesson for kids to learn, this is the essence of life itself to share with them: food comes from soil.
By Leslie Gilman
You couldn’t get me near an oven with a hot poker these days. And that decision is partly due to the fact that my candles recently bent over backwards in exhausted resignation, too tired, too hot to keep themselves together any longer. I saw them and I understood: if it is too hot to stand up straight, then it is certainly too hot to cook. It’s just counter-intuitive. Why in the world would I spend all day sucking down ice cubes, my ceiling fan rattling overhead as if it’s preparing to take off for the moon – if I’m just going to turn around at 7 o’clock and start a blooming fire in my kitchen? So, I’m thinking of becoming a raw foodie this summer, even though the thought of the blender engine whipping up some nice cashew cream frightens me with its potential to raise the air temperature by even a degree or two. So, until we feel that first breeze of a promised autumn in months to come, I am hanging my apron up next to my Mardi Gras beads and taking a kitchen sabbatical.
Our bodies are so darned smart. If you look at the growing calendar, it corresponds specifically to what our bodies need at different times during the year. When the sun turns its back to us in the winter months and our vitamin D levels plummet, there is a physiological response in our bodies. We produce less serotonin, the happy/relaxed hormone, which triggers feelings of sadness known as the “winter blues” and has been known to manifest itself in multiple trips to the cookie jar. But good old Mother Nature has just the right prescription – complex carbohydrates found in sweet potatoes, turnips and grains. And when spring first arrives in a golden cloud of pollen, eating spring greens such as dandelion leaves and root, burdock, nettles, asparagus, artichoke, peas and lettuce all help assist the body in its natural cleansing cycle after months of a more sedentary lifestyle and heavier eating. These foods also help cleanse the body of mucus and decrease inflammation, which are major contributors to seasonal allergies.
Then, in the hot months when we are sweating Bikram-style, bucketfuls of berries and juicy melon arrive, keeping us well hydrated and providing an abundance of simple sugars for our bodies to utilize when we are running, biking, swimming, and playing, and sweating till our skin is pruned. Summer fruits and vegetables are especially high in vitamins C and E, which miraculously help to protect against sun damage. When the weather turns again in autumn and cold and flu bugs begin to settle in, a host of citrus fruits arrive to vamp up our immune systems and keep illness at bay. Other fall produce, like onions, grapes and apples are rich in quercetin, which has been shown to reduce susceptibility to the flu virus and onions, chives and garlic boast allicin, another potent antiviral.
It’s almost as if our own personal lifestyle guru has been sent to us from the heavens to help guide us in keeping our bodies healthy by seeing what is on offer in the garden. If we attempt to get somewhat in sync with the natural rhythms of the seasons and our bodies, I have to think that will result in some sort of mutual harmony – both in the fact that we are buying (or producing) that which our bodies need, thus perpetuating the cycle that feeds us, and in the fact that we will be saving ourselves the discomfort of sweating into butternut squash risotto in July. So, I hereby declare that this summer, I will no longer be making ridiculous, cozy meals in the categories of: anything hot. Instead, here is a quick recipe for a great summer meal:
A pail of strawberries, sun ripened
One (1) mouth
By Megan Nuismer
I took the opportunity, sometime last April, to weed out a small plot of land in my very un-fancy backyard in Mid-City. It was a long rectangle, maybe two feet by eight, and it was a nice day, so I didn’t mind that it took almost three hours to get every last unwanted plant out of it. I had a big plan for this plot. In an attempt to make another stronghold in my new Southern ways, in addition to my fleur de lis necklace, my vintage cruiser and using y’all and baby whenever necessary, I was going to grow watermelon.
I’ve lived in New Orleans the past three years but until that point I was a die hard Michigander. We ate our blueberries in the summer right off the bushes at the all-you-can-picks and apples in the fall right off the tree when we would go to the cider mill but I can’t say I ever saw a single watermelon that wasn’t already in a giant cardboard box, perfectly shaped and “SEEDLESS!” on sale at Meijers.
I meticulously placed my watermelon seeds, paying attention to the white packet that said the plants needed at least two feet of room. I watered and waited…but nothing was happening. Lucky for me, I work at Hollygrove Market & Farm where a slew of farmers, community gardeners and people that just know their produce hang out. I asked our Farm Manager for some troubleshooting advice and his only reply was “you planted too soon”.
What?! How could that be? I thought all you needed was some warm weather and Southern hospitality. I weeded everyday! I gave them nutrients! Was it because of my northern heritage? Confused and defeated, I gazed out over my barren 16 square feet of land and decided I would pick up some rosemary starts. That stuff will grow anywhere.
But low and behold, those little guys shot up along with the thermometer. Pretty soon there were dozens of little seedlings and my mouth began to water in anticipation of summer days with a slice of my success.
What happened next was my own fault. I should have prepared better, thought ahead. But instead I made all the other arrangements like getting charcoal and plenty of ice, instead of putting up a little chicken wire. Five hours and one backyard bbq left a trampled field of what was supposed to be my summer crop. The emotional rollercoaster this endeavor was taking me on was almost too much.
Then one day, my faith in the South skyrocketed when one little seedling managed to survive the friendly stampede and took up the entire makeshift garden in a matter of days. Its tendrils reached out into the yard and bees happily buzzed in and out. And slowly, one little yellow flower turned into a green bulge and that green bulge began to turn into a tiny watermelon. My roommate, also from my hometown up north, and I watched with childlike wonder at the speed it gained girth. And then a second watermelon! It was a miracle.
We let them grow. We shielded them with bricks, turned them with loving care and hypothesized when was the best time to pick them. Then, one big rain answered that for us. After a torrential downpour one of the watermelons swelled too fast and split open in a brilliant display of pink flesh. The other was cut off the vine immediately.
Of course, it was the best watermelon I have ever tasted. The kitchen smelled like bubble gum for hours and the counters are still sticky from all the juice that poured out of it. What took months to grow was devoured in a matter of hours. And although our success was small in numbers, it was another step in truly appreciating what it means to live and grow in the South.
In case you haven’t heard, we at Hollygrove Market & Farm have decided to extend our 10% discount on all local foods sold at our market until the end of August to all of you who signed up for the 30 day challenge. We hope you are now more aware of the foods you are eating and where they come from and encourage you to continue to support those in your community by eating locally. Consider that eating what was in season was the only choice many of our grandparents had which was why many of them learned how to preserve their own food. Start preparing now for next year’s challenge by fermenting, dehydrating, canning and preserving any way you know how. Here are some of my favorite recipes using fresh herbs from the garden.
The first one was a recipe I found in a Martha Stewart magazine many years ago. The original recipe may have called for Prosciutto but that’s not local.
The herbs in the box this week came from my garden so I’d like to share some tips for using them. Blueberry basil is available from Jim Mizell at the Crescent City farmer’s market.
Purple Basil – scrambled eggs, pasto or pesto, infuse vodka or vinegar
Pineapple Sage – simple syrup for cocktail, infuse in vodka or vinegar
Spearmint – brew for tea with honey, tabouli salad or cold melon soup
Tarragon – season chicken, infuse vinegar or olive oil, Bernaise sauce
Rosemary – roasted potatoes with garlic and sea salt
Lemon Basil – brew for tea, add honey and chill, add to pasta, fish, shrimp
Sweet Basil – pesto, pasta, on fresh tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic
Petite Globe Basil with Flower Tops – flavor salads, pasta and vinegar, garnish drinks with edible flowers
Curly Parsley – tabouli or quinoa salad, freshen your breath, cleanse your palate
Garden Sage – fry in oil until crisp, serve as garnish
Peppermint – ice cream, hot tea with honey
Lemon Balm – hot or iced tea or lemonade
Variegated Artemisia – in salads or make your own bitters; combines well with orange
Lemon Verbena – lemonade or in sauces for fish and seafood
Anise Hyssop – hot tea or make syrup for sore throats
Chives – scrambled eggs, pasta, onion substitute
Blueberry Basil – infuse in vinegar or vodka, ice cream
Hello local foodies,
As we come to the end of the month of this challenge, I thought it seemed appropriate that I share with you a few of my methods of preservation so you can continue to enjoy some of these foods beyond their season. Last night I made pesto, pickled pepperoncini and okra and dehydrated some blueberries. But first I made sangria to sip on while I did my preserving.
By Leslie Gilman
After college, I decided to join the Peace Corps and was whisked away with twenty-some-odd other young idealists to a magical land called Georgia. (No, not the state.) This is the famed land of Jason and the Argonauts, a place known to locals as “God’s land” that is as abundant in fruits and vegetables as it is to towering mountains, sunflowered fields and roaring rivers. It’s part Hawaii and part Montana, and its lovely beyond words.
As I settled into my new home there and began to make friends, curious townspeople would invariably ask me questions about my hobbies and interests, and I always proudly announced that I liked to cook. So, of course they wanted me to cook them up something “American”. But I had a problem. First of all, what was “American” food? I couldn’t make Italian dishes because canned tomato sauce – or even tomato paste - wasn’t available. I couldn’t make Mexican dishes because they didn’t have that little yellow spice packet for which to make taco meat. They didn’t have cream of mushroom soup for my mom’s famous chicken dish, and they didn’t have the cans of pinto and black beans I needed for my favorite tortilla soup. They didn’t even have hamburger buns – or ketchup – for a good old fashioned barbeque. All they had was a market, in the center of town, open every day of the year, that sold seasonal, local, organic produce at ridiculously low prices. And I had no idea how to use it.
Apparently, the American food that I knew how to “cook” required someone else (in a factory, far away) to do all the heavy lifting for me. They put the Alfredo sauce in the jar, and my job as the “cook” was to open that jar, heat it up, and dump it on some noodles – also premade. So, I wasn’t so much a cook as a jar opener. But now, being faced with the raw ingredients alone, I had to learn an ancient art that the people of most non-western societies had learned from childhood: how to cook good, healthful, simple food using time tested techniques. Hands were used for measuring, pinching, pulling, testing, knocking and kneading, and they held a vast amount of wisdom in them. There were no cookbooks – just a visceral knowledge of how to cook good – really, really good – food with what was available at the market on that particular day. The two years I spent there were a lesson not only in culture and fortitude, but also in fruits and vegetables, nuts and cheeses, flours and herbs. I had to learn how to use them by making daily use of the beloved market that was the heartbeat of our town, and I had to use what was available during each passing season.
And so slowly, my friends and colleagues began to teach me, as though I were a child, the very basics. “Bread dough feels like this – but dumpling dough feels like that.” I stuck my hand in and tried to come up with words to describe the difference, but I couldn’t. It wasn’t a cerebral exercise. When I got out my tattered notebook to write out the steps to their recipes, they would give me instructions like this: “Add enough water to the beans.” But how much was “enough?” I finally got out my ruler and determined that two inches above the beans was “enough,” which has been my rule of thumb since. To try to learn what they just felt and knew intrinsically – was a challenge that I’m still trying to overcome by figuring out how to cook with my eyes, ears, nose, mouth and hands instead of tuning out and dutifully following package instructions. Try it sometime. Listen to how a mushroom sounds when it’s sautéed over high heat, compared to an onion. They are vastly different.
In America, we have become so accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it. Which, at first glance, sounds amazing. But there is a great loss in not having to wait for something – like strawberries, for instance. Strawberries, all over the world, are a huge reason to celebrate. They are the first fruit of the summer season (no, rhubarb, you don’t count), the harbingers of all of the bounty that is to come. When they first show their cheery faces on a spring day, amidst all of the potatoes and onions and cabbage, its enough to make a girl cry. Eating seasonal produce grown at a local market brings an unexpected joy – the joy of anticipating the turn of each season and the food that comes with it. Each season is ushered in with a specific fruit or vegetable at its side, appearing in every recipe in one great big flurry, and then vanishing again until the following year. Strawberries are eaten in juicy handfuls for dinner after a long, meat-laden winter. Figs, sitting with a friend behind a fence, juice dripping from your chin in the heat of August. A shiny gold persimmon is for the first day of school. And mandarins, sitting around a fire and throwing the peels in as you read a book. To eat watermelon in February, just because you can, is missing the point.
Each daily or weekly visit to your local farmers market is showing up to witness this miracle.
Last night I was invited to my friend Sarah’s for a locavore dinner. She lent me a cookbook of seasonal dishes called Kitchen Express by Mark Bittman. Mark writes his recipes for all seasons, in a style that cooks can relate to; a simple uncomplicated free form that leaves lots of room for self expression. As a cook who never measures a thing, this style intrigued me and I decided to try it for myself. Below is the beet salad that I contributed to the dinner.
Hollygrove Market & Farm
Yogurt with Fresh Fruit and Local Honey
Ryals Dairy goat yogurt (or homemade if you make your own) combined with Jay Martin’s raw honey, blueberries and nectarine slices. Top with local pecans if desired.
Sloppy Janes with Tomatoes, Herbs and Patty Pan Squash.
Saute onion, garlic, cubed patty pan squash and ground beef until brown. Add heirloom tomatoes, fresh herbs of choice (basil, thyme, sage, oregano, chives, garlic chives, purple basil, rosemary) and Avery Island salt to taste. Simmer until tomatoes cook down a bit and flavors marry.
Roasted Beet Salad with Spring Onions, Pecans and Pepperland Peach Habanero Pepper Jelly Vinaigrette.
Roast beets in a 400 degree oven until you can get a fork through them fairly easily. Cool and peel beets then thinly slice them and arrange on a small plate. Top with thinly sliced spring onions, and whole pecans. Make a vinaigrette with pecan oil, Steen’s cane vinegar, a large spoonful of peach or pineapple pepper jelly, a dab of local honey and a few thinly sliced spearmint leaves. Whisk together and drizzle on top of salad.
(Here is my adapted version of one of Mark Bittman’s recipes)
Summertime Shrimp Salad
Toss shelled Louisiana shrimp in pecan or Texas Olive Ranch olive oil, and Avery Island salt, and grill or broil until cooked through. Zest a lemon (optional) and combine with pecan or olive oil, chopped sweet or lemon basil, and salt. Add diced spring onion, chopped cucumber and chunks of ripe peaches, plums, nectarines or melon. Serve the shrimp on top or chop it up and mix it right in the salad.
A little bit more than a month a Elizabeth Shephard, Chief Sustainability Officer at LifeCity, stopped over at Hollygrove Market & Farm to do a in-person "green audit" for lack of a better word. For those of you who don't know about LifeCity, here's a little bit about them:
LifeCity is a membership-based organization that supports the development of green businesses, while educating consumers about green products and services. It’s a win-win situation: consumers receive discounts to green products and services through our membership card, and certified LifeCity businesses receive greater visibility and support of LifeCity members. Together, we help keep Louisiana beautiful – now and later.
As an urban farm, local produce market, and a community garden space, we're all about green & sustainable and keeping our environmental impact to a minimum. Problem is, since everyone on staff is on-board with the green philosophy from the get go its very easy to overlook some of simple things you can do to reduce your environmental impact. That's were LifeCity came in. While they acknowledged we were doing many things right, they had plenty of reccomendtions of how we could improve our operations. We only received 2 out of a possible 5 stars, so we look forward to working on implementing LifeCity's suggestions in the coming months, with the hope that we will eventually get all 5.
Best of all, being certified green can save you money at Hollygrove Market & Farm. How's that you ask? All you have to do is purchase a Green Card from LifeCity. It only costs $20 and entitles you to discounts at a number of green certified businesses around New Orleans. It's definitely worth it, as I've already seen one customer save $20 with their Green Card just by shopping at the market.
To check out Hollygrove Market & Farm's Asssessment Summary, click here.