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Friday Eats: Canning and Eating

May 28th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Pickled Asparagus, image courtesy of Food in Jars

Today’s post is about meat. And vegetables. And dairy.  And eating… but before you can eat, you must make.

I found Food in Jars last week and it was one of those experiences where I wish I hadn’t in a way, because now I know better about the process of canning (i.e. more responsibility to the food and myself.. and no excuses!).  But on the other hand, I was ecstatic because now I know better about the process of canning.  Catch 22?

Marisa, the writer/ photographer/ canner extraordinaire behind Food in Jars, has been breaking down the canning process on her blog and even teaching classes in the Philly area (if you’re up there, check her out).  When I found her recipe/ instructions on how to pickle Asparagus, I couldn’t resist but share it with you.  It’s not rocket science, I assure you.  And I encourage you to give it a shot because if you do, you can make this: ham, cream cheese, and asparagus wraps.

Ham and asparagus wraps, image courtesy of Betty Crocker

Making these is kind of like taking that canned spray cheese and putting it on a cracker—easy.  Once you have your asparagus, follow these very difficult instructions:

1. Take a slice of ham.  It can be deli ham, but it’s better if you have something like a 1/4″ slice of spiral ham.

2. Take cream cheese (and a knife) and spread it on the ham.  How much?  Whatever you prefer.

3. Take a pickled asparagus spear (or two or three) and place at one end of the ham slice.

4. Roll the ham slice from one end to the other, with the cream cheese and asparagus inside.

5. EAT.  Then repeat process a minimum of three times.  Seriously.

I’ve known this recipe for years, and there are many different takes on it.  You can find people using prosciutto instead of ham here, or even substituting cream cheese for dill sauce here.  Either way, it’s easy and delicious.

Enjoy your weekend!

Spotlight on Neighborhood Living

May 26th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Neighborhood, image courtesy of Scorpions and Centaurs' flickr stream

Do you know who your neighbors are?  When I moved into my first house, I knew the old couple across the street because the woman gardened and her husband always looked a little cantankerous.  And I knew the single mother next door to us because, as our accounts manager David would say, she was an “unfortunate looking woman.”  But I never interacted with anyone on our street because their doors were always closed and none of them hung out on the front porch in groups like we did.

Regardless, as more people flock to the internet for Facebook farming and Skype sessions, maybe we should all make a little more effort to get to know each other.  I’m not saying you have to entertain thirty minute conversations with your neighbor about why his daughter is student of the week at the local middle school.  I’m just saying that maybe it’s time to say hi, or join the local tennis team like our CEO Linda Bryan did.  The warm weather is a perfect excuse to have neighborhood cookouts and softball games and pool parties.  Heck, you could even chat over the successes (and/ or failures) of your lawns and gardens for three minutes, and that would count!

You may end up finding out that your neighbors are caring, funny, or maybe even a little weird (you might like weird).  You may realize they enjoy the same TV shows you do, share your hobbies, or are even capable of babysitting your hyperactive eight year old on a Friday night so you can go somewhere for grownups.

Kyla Fullenwider actually did a great and simple list of ten things you could do to build some community in your, well… community.  And if some of her ideas do not seem apartment complex friendly (like, say, hide and seek), then just start knocking on doors anyway (may be less awkward if you bring baked goods with you).  Click here for the full list.

(For more from Scorpions and Centaurs’ flickr stream, click here.)

From Farm to Table

May 24th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Produce Travels Transparency, image courtesy of Good and Always With Honor

Did you know that broccoli travels for about 7 to 10 days before reaching your local grocery store?  That means that half of your broccoli’s life is already gone when you take it home.  If it sits in your refrigerator for a few more days, there’s a good possibility that by the time you want to make stir fry, you may need a new head of broccoli.

And if you live in Iowa, for example, chances are the tomatoes you’re buying in December are not coming from the surrounding area.  What does that mean?  Extra travel time, of course.

Beyond the mere problem of wasting food, buying produce takes on a whole new meaning when you really look at where your produce is grown.  This affects things like supporting local farmers, reducing energy spent in food transportation, and enjoying fresher foods.

What does this mean for you?  It means that maybe you should buy corn from the farm down the road this summer, guaranteeing that you are getting absolute freshness and supporting a local farmer.  My father would drive 45 minutes for corn from “the farm.”  I’m serious, I don’t even know the name of the place… we just call it the farm.  It always trumped store bought corn and thanks to local patrons, the farm continues today.

And it means that you may have to become more choosy about what you’re eating throughout the year in an attempt to eat the best produce available.  So if you live in Georgia you can enjoy lush, local blueberries in the summer, adding them to your favorite cereal, breads, and smoothies.  But know that enjoying them in November means they’ve done some traveling.

The folks at Good partnered with Always With Honor and created a neat infographic showing us “A season-by-season list of when 10 common fruits and vegetables are locally available around the United States.”  Check it out here and find another equally interesting infographic about food travel distances here.

Friday Eats: Graduation Fare

May 21st, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Well, I’m not surprised to say that Martha Stewart and gang have outdone themselves again!  There will be tons of recipes in this post to cover a broad range of palettes, from fancier get-togethers to backyard simplicity still bursting with flavor.  These recipes are from blogs and sites that I adore, and trust with all my culinary endeavors.  Good luck!

These recipes are the perfect complement to warm summer days and good friends and family gathering around for special occasions.

Prosciutto and Basil Crostini, image courtesy of Martha Stewart

Prosciutto-Basil Crostinis.  I’ve made my fair share of crostinis, and they’ve all been more difficult than this recipe appears to be.  The prosciutto and basil combination alone should make your mouth water.  Crostinis are also great with combinations like roma tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella, brie and apple, goat cheese and olive tapenade, and the combinations go on for days.

Shrimp Cocktails.  These are not rocket science.  Really, I promise.  But they are easy, a great cold appetizer, and of course, perfect as a finger food.  You can pair the shrimp with a traditional cocktail sauce, or infuse it with other ingredients, like mango or jalapenos, to make it standout.  Or for a savory, grilled version of shrimp, try Emeril’s Lemon-Herb Grilled Shrimp.

Try your hand at an Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Pecans from Ezra Pound Cake.  She (yes, “she” not “he”… her name is Rebecca, actually) has a really neat story behind her blog and her recipes have never steered me wrong.

Rosemary Fried Chicken, image courtesy of Martha Stewart

And to round it up, this Rosemary Fried Chicken from Martha Stewart is a slight twist on a classic favorite for any summer get-together.

I hope for those of you who are celebrating big with graduations (or maybe just little, personal picnics and fun), have a wonderful weekend!

DIY: Graduation Party and Favors

May 19th, 2010 by admin | Permalink

Cupcake flags, image courtesy of Marthastewart.com

There are so many things to make ready for a graduation party.  From food to favors to decorations, all the while dealing with the fact that your graduate may be leaving home for the first in a few short months, or may be moving onto a full-time career in just a few days.

So because this is kind of a big deal, we’ve gathered a few different resources for you to celebrate in style!

First off, DIY pinwheels in your graduate’s school colors.  To decorate the lawn, show some school spirit, and ensure that no guest fails to recognize the right house for the party, these are a great and simple way to add some flair.  This DIY is actually featured on Style Me Pretty, Abby Larson’s wedding styling brain child.

Next, we have two great DIY’s from Martha Stewart, including cupcake flags and a graduation banner.  Some people still opt for cakes, but for parties that are on the go and include a younger audience, cupcakes are the perfect sweet to add to your celebration.  These cupcake flags can be made at home, just using your printer, some glue, and toothpicks.  And the graduation banner is a must!  Making your own allows you to experiment with different fonts, colors, and sizes to fit your venue.

Cake Pop Caps by Bakerella, image courtesy of Bakerella

And finally, the DIY that takes the cake… a really cute and fun-to-make idea from Bakerella.  It was months ago that I first stumbled upon Bakerella’s site and was totally confounded by the projects she undertakes and shares with the world.  These candy cup caps are a great project to involve family and friends in, and will be a standout item at your grad’s party.  And, if you are looking for a more challenging project, you can try her cake pop caps (same link).

So start making!  And check back with us to get a special Friday Eats on some wonderful food for your graduation party.

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