buy fresh, buy local, cook deliciously

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Sundays invariably become a cooking day for me. I often get things lined up for the week ahead. Today I made another batch of fresh Gazpacho and put a small beef roast and chicken breasts into marinades for cooking over the next couple of days.

I toss the meat and chicken into their own (as in individual) ziplock bags with either a homemade or semi-homemade marinade which includes fresh herbs out of my garden, garlic cloves peeled and sliced.

Marinades are easy. There are tons of recipes out there, or you can use a prepared one and tweak it. I like Stubb’s marinades and Pete’s Produce has their own line of marinades too which are very good, and KC Masterpiece has a couple which aren’t bad. I seem unable to use these marinades on their own, I tweak them to what I want. I never add more salt, but I might add herbs, spices, lemon juice, lime juice, fresh ginger, and so on.

We buy our meat and poultry from a local Chester County butcher who in turn buys from a lot of local farms. We use Worrell’s Butcher Shop on King Street in Malvern (Borough). You can’t beat the quality, and truthfully their prices are competitive with supermarket chains. If you have never tried them, you should. They will prepare custom freezer orders for customers too.

Since I have moved to Chester County I have made an effort to source our food locally. I love the East Goshen Farmers Market and West Chester Growers Market, but am becoming increasingly fond of Pete’s Produce on 926 because they pull in from a bunch of local farms, including for dairy products. Also on my list is Sugartown Strawberries and Strattons’ Wynnorr Farm. Also to be included in the rave category is the Phoenixville Farmers Market.

The locavore movement is continuing to grow in this country and there is more than a little truth in local food is better on so many levels. In Chester County we are lucky to have so many farms and farmers markets, so why not support the local farm economy?

Buy fresh, buy local, cook deliciously.

Thanks for stopping by!

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it’s pesto season!

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I love planting herbs in my flower beds, and now I get to start to reap the rewards: it’s pesto season!

The basil needed a bit of a haircut, so that’s what’s for dinner, pesto. Olive oil from A Taste of Olive in West Chester, and fresh garlic from the farmers market. It doesn’t any get easier than that!

I must admit, my kitchen smells marvelous right now with the scent of the basil!

Fresh pesto and homemade salsa is yet another reason why people should garden more!

simple summer suppers

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When the wether gets warm I like things like simple and fresh pasta salads for supper. So that’s what I’m having this evening and it couldn’t have been easier to make.

I got some beautiful vegetables at the Thornbury Farm CSA Saturday including what I like to call lollipop, or large spring onions and fresh snap peas. I already had some beautiful bright sweet bell peppers in the refrigerator at home and a lot of herbs in my garden and some celery.

All I did was cook a bag of regular frozen cheese tortellini, boil up a couple boneless skinless chicken breasts, steamed my snap peas, chopped up the other vegetables, and tossed together with a honey-herb-mustard vinaigrette that I made. The main herb in the vinaigrette (which also had garlic and a shallot in it ) was fresh dill, but I also to the salad added chopped fresh fennel tops, fresh flat leaf Italian parsley, and basil.

Summer dinners are meant to be easy!

strawberry rhubarb pie

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My mother is coming for lunch tomorrow. Normally that wouldn’t be a big deal, but this is her first outing of this kind with a longer car ride since she had heart surgery earlier this spring. So I thought I would make a festive late spring lunch inspired by the herbs growing in the garden and the early produce from the farmers markets locally.

When I went to the East Goshen Farmers’ Market yesterday, Brogue Hydroponics had the most beautiful strawberries and young rhubarb. So I planned the dessert first: strawberry rhubarb pie. I have been making variations of this pie for years, and I decided today I would write things down to the best of my abilities so I could share the recipe with you.

Hopefully everything works for you the way it did for me. Anyway, here is the recipe:

preheat oven to 425°

2 cups of fresh sliced strawberries
2 bunches of as thin as possible rhubarb from your farmers market – you will end up with 2 cups or so by the time you trim and clean it.

1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
Scant 1/4 cup of instant tapioca
Zest of one lemon
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
Dash of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of butter cubed small
1 tablespoon softened butter
Grated fresh ginger to taste

Pie crust: you need two pre-made rolled up refrigerated pie crusts as this is a double crust. Or you can make your own pie crust and roll out enough for two crusts.

I think the brand I bought yesterday was Pillsbury. I didn’t have time to roll out pie crusts so I bought them this time. These rolled up pie crusts can be found in the refrigerated section next to the dairy in your supermarket. (Look for where your supermarket stocks pre-made cookie dough and biscuit dough you will find the pie crusts.)

Line a deep dish 9 inch pie plate with one crust and use 1 tablespoon softened butter to coat bottom of crust- this will keep your piecrust from getting soggy. Put pie plate and crust into refrigerator to stay chilled.

Chop up the rhubarb into little quarter inch slices and slice up your strawberries and add the sugars, tapioca, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice and lemon zest. Mix together gently but well and set aside for 15 minutes.

Once your oven is preheated, remove the chilling piecrust in the pie plate from the refrigerator and put on a baking tray that is lined with parchment paper. This is a pie that can bubble over so you definitely don’t want this sticky goo all over your oven.

Fill your chilled pie crust with the fruit mixture and next take one egg white and 2 tablespoons of water and whisk it together in a small bowl. Using a pastry brush, paint the edges of your bottom piecrust in preparation for adding the top crust.

Add the second piecrust or top crust to your pie. Then use a fork or your fingers and crimp the edges together. Using your pastry brush wipe the top of the pie with the egg white and water mixture. Don’t soak it, just enough to make a couple tablespoons of granulated sugar tossed over the top stick.

Next use a paring knife and cut that holes in the top of your pie. I cut them in a circle so they almost look like flower petals.

Now your pie is ready for the oven. I cover the edges of my crust with tinfoil gently on top of that so they don’t overly brown. You can also buy one of those piecrust rings out of either metal or silicone rubber stuff that goes in the oven. Keep meaning to get one of those and I just keep forgetting.

Bake the pie at 425° for 15 minutes. Then reduce the heat for 350° and bake another 45 minutes to an hour depending on your oven. The crust should be slightly toasty in color and the filling mixture bubbling out of the vents you cut ever so slightly.

You can serve the pie warm or cold. Some people like serving the pie with fresh whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. I like it by itself without anything.

Again, this is the first time I really written this recipe down so I hope everything works! Enjoy!

first strawberry!

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When I was little I planted strawberries in the garden beds. As a child I delighted in picking the fresh berries that the birds didn’t get.

This year I decided to plant strawberries again. This morning I picked my first ripe berry. I have to admit it was just as much fun picking that berry this morning as it was when I did the same thing when I was about 10 years old!

Strawberries make an attractive plant, and they are an easy groundcover in flower beds. They like to grow among perennials and roses in particular.

I grow them mostly as a decorative ground cover. I don’t know how many berries I will get in the end every year because I have a lot of birds, but it’s fun to grow them.

When I want delicious fresh strawberries (as in more than one or two) I can either stop and visit Sugartown Strawberries on Sugartown Road, or pick them up at the East Goshen Farmers Market or West Chester Growers Market!

now that’s italian

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So I got my weekly email from the East Goshen Farmers Market and they said they had this chef/author coming. So I checked her out at the market, and maybe it is just an Italian thing, but so fun!!!

The book is called Gravy Wars and it is by Lorraine Ranalli. Part cookbook, part memoir, and all fun! If you know anyone who is Italian, especially Philadelphia Italian, they will love it! Even if you are not Italian….you will love it!

If you belong to a book or cooking club, I would ask her to come- she is that fun! And besides, a few recipes better than mama makes ? Nothing wrong with that either!

http://www.gravywars.com

Ciao!