Sunday, May 1, 2016

Getting Ready Now for a Year of Real Food/Recipes


Fiddlehead Ferns

Local Asparagus

Morel Mushrooms
Now that Spring is really here, the weather is beautiful, great fresh foods are starting to appear and all of the area Farmers Markets will soon be open for the season.

It’s that time of year when we growers are amending soil and planting and worrying every seed and seedling - and enjoying every minute of it, of course.

But you don’t have to “grow your own” to enjoy the taste and health benefits of Real Food.  Many folks whom I have advised have no outside space at all and yet they maintain a Real Food philosophy, do a lot of cooking for themselves, and preserve seasonal foods for enjoyment later on in the year.

NOW is the time to start!  If you know that it would be a wonderful thing to have some local, delicious asparagus in mid winter, buy it now and freeze it or pickle it or can it.  Pickling keeps asparagus “snappy”.  If you do it right, freezing asparagus will provide you with a vegetable that you can use in the same way as fresh.  Canned asparagus makes a wonderful soup or sauce and can be used in stews and with pasta as well.  The point is - the season is short.  If you want to eat a Real Food diet, you won’t be able to buy factory asparagus in the off season.  

Remember: Real Food folks eat Seasonally and Locally.

Also on the “get ‘em now” list:  Ramps, Morel Mushrooms, Strawberries and Fiddlehead Ferns. Also, if you love fresh water fish, now is the time to eat and freeze or preserve the ever wonderful Shad.

Ramps can be frozen and are great pickled.  Morels can be frozen or dried.  And start making room in your freezer now for seasonal berries.  This past winter we used up lots of locally grown strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and sour cherries.  There is nothing better in the dead of winter - we made pies, used berries as a granola topping and topped our favorite ice cream with berries, of course.

Recipe:  Berry Buttermik Cake (adapted from The Animal Farm Buttermilk Cookbook)

If you find yourself with a lot of preserved blueberries, strawberries, cherries - or all of those -  this delicious cake is something worth making.  It has an almost pudding like consistency and wonderful flavor. The last time I made this I used a lot of blueberries and about 1/2 cup of raspberries.


1 cup of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
3/4 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of sugar
1 tablespoon of Cointreau
1 egg
1/2 cup of real buttermilk (do not buy supermarket buttermilk.  Buy it at a Farmer’s Market or if you make your own butter you know that buttermilk is a by product of the butter making process).  
2 cups of defrosted and drained berries - whatever you have in your freezer.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees/375 degrees convection
Butter and flour a round 9 inch cake pan

In a bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt
In a separate bowl cream together the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar; beat it until it’s nice and fluffy - 2-3 minutes
Mix the Cointreau and egg into the sugar and butter mixture
Beat in the Buttermilk
Stir the flour mixture into the wet mixture - stir just to combine

Turn the batter into the cake pan and sprinkle the berries and the 2 tablespoons of sugar all over the top
Bake for 25 minutes/conventional oven or 20 minutes in a convection oven

NOTE:  depending on the moisture in your berries, the cake may take a bit longer to cook all of the way through

The cake is done when a toothpick comes out of the center clean.  Let the cake cool for a few minutes before slicing. Sprinkle confectionary sugar over the top if you wish.

Additional Toppings:  whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Berry Buttermilk Cake

Recipe:  Things to do with fresh asparagus

Fry them!  Just dip spears into beaten eggs, some seasoned flour, back into the beaten eggs and roll in bread crumbs.  Fry in your favorite frying medium and serve with aioli.

Shave them!  Using a vegetable peeler, shave each stalk into thin ribbons.  Dress with your favorite vinegar and oil dressing and add some shaved parmesan cheese and sea salt and pepper.

Wrap them!  Blanch spears in salted water - just to get a nice green color, not too long.  Drain the spears, wrap thin slices of prosciutto around each spear. Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  Serve with fresh mozzarella slices and good crusty bread.

Cherish Real Food!

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