16 Top Tips For Shopping a Farmers Market

by Anne Maxfield on September 12, 2016

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-apples-and-pears Are you sad because there may only be a few more weeks left for your local farmers market?

The Accidental Locavore wants to give you her top tips for making the most of them.

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-haul16 Top Tips For Shopping Your Farmers Market:

  1. If you want something special or the best selection, shop early
  2. When you find a farmer or stand you like, ask for a card. That way you’ll always know who has the perfect tomatoes.
  3. Bring bags, both big and small. A plastic box is always handy for carrying precious berries
  4. Bring cash, small bills and change
  5. Leave kids and dogs at home if at all possible
  6. Park bikes
  7. Give yourself time to cruise the market and then go back to make purchases
  8. Ask the farmers for advice and don’t forget to admire all their hard work!
  9. Even if you’re in a hurry, hand money directly to the person behind the counter. Don’t leave it on the counter or wave it in their face.
  10. Don’t shuck corn. Corn in the husk stays fresher, gives you more cooking options and is actually easier to shuck once it’s cooked.
  11. As tempting as it is to squeeze the tomatoes, if you don’t buy it, it will end up like a water balloon by the end of the day.
  12. Ask to taste something, but take the box you tasted it from if you’re going to buy it.
  13. Try something different. If you’re not sure what to do with it, ask the farmer.
  14. Be clean. Don’t leave trash or coffee cups on the counters.
  15. Wash everything when you get home. Store in clear containers or bags so you’ll see it and use it.
  16. Enjoy! There’s nothing better than food straight from the farm.

accidental-locavore-farmers-market-lettuceAny tips you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments below.

If you’d like a sheet to print out, click here. accidental-locavore-farmers-market-apples

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Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on September 8, 2016

accidental-locavore-thai-sweet-chile-sauceThai sweet chili sauce may not be one of the condiments you reach for, but that could change quickly.

It’s really versatile and goes well with everything from fish to French fries.

Trust me.

The Accidental Locavore’s husband, Frank, first fell in love with it at the Oakhurst Diner in Millerton and promptly ordered a couple of bottles. One evening we were desperately scraping the last bits out of the bottle.

There had to be a recipe online.

There was, and now Thai sweet chili sauce is always in our fridge.

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe:

Quick and easy, this makes about a cup.

  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 red Jalapeño or Serrano chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • ¼ cup white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tablespoon salt
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

accidental-locavore-thai-sweet-chili-sauce-prepIn a blender, purée the garlic, chiles, vinegar, sugar, salt and water.

Transfer the mixture to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and simmer until the mixture thickens up a bit and the garlic-pepper bits begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

In a small bowl or cup, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue to simmer until the sauce starts to thicken slightly (and causes a nice suspension of the garlic-pepper bits). Let cool completely before storing in a glass jar. Serve and enjoy!

accidental-locavore-bag-o-chilesMy verdict: Another thing we’ll never buy again!

It’s probably better made with a blender, but if all you have is a food processor, that will work too.

This version was a little hotter than the bottled one (we did save a bit for comparison), but it really mellows after a couple of days in the fridge.

If you’re worried about the heat, finely chop all the chiles, throw a little bit in the blender and add more until it gets to your desired heat level. A lot will depend on the chiles you have (and if all you have are green ones, that’s fine, it might just look a little weird).

Store the chili sauce in the refrigerator and let us know in the comments what your favorite use for it is.

 

 

 

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Ottolenghi’s Salad With Tomatoes

by Anne Maxfield on September 5, 2016

Accidental Locavore Ottlenghi Tomatoes in SaladIt’s Labor Day and I’m not laboring.

Take advantage of some great tomatoes and try this summery salad from an earlier post.

Sometimes, looking at the availability of good ingredients, you wonder about the timing of cookbooks. The Accidental Locavore tried to get a reviewer’s copy of the upcoming Plenty More (due out in October) and was turned down.

Luckily, Bon Appetit ran a few recipes from the book and this tomato salad caught my eye. I roasted the lemons ahead of time (on a cool evening), so they were ready to go and this came together quickly:

  • 1 lemon, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced, seeds removed
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1½ pound mixed cherry tomatoes, or small heirlooms quartered
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh mint leaves, torn if large

Preheat oven to 325°. Cook lemon slices in a medium saucepan of boiling water 2 minutes to remove bitterness. Drain and pat dry.

Accidental Locavore Sliced Lemons for TomatoesToss lemon slices with sage, sugar, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until lemons are dry and starting to brown about 15–20 minutes. Let cool.

Whisk pomegranate molasses, allspice, and remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Add lemons, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and mint. Toss gently; season with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: A great change from tomatoes and mozzarella, it’s light and refreshing, with a nice tang from the lemons and pomegranate molasses and it might be the easiest salad dressing on the planet! My pomegranate molasses will be getting a lot more use from now on – it was great with the tomatoes and mint. I also really liked the roasted lemon slices and saved some to toss in with my usual lunch salad. Next time, I’ll roast a couple of lemons at the same time and keep them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge for future use – they’d be good with a chicken too. Mint would also go well if you didn’t have any sage. My husband thought the lemon slices would be better cut in half, but I liked them as is.

And I’d still love to see a reviewer’s copy of the book…

 

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Grilled Cabbage Wedges

by Anne Maxfield on September 1, 2016

Accidental Locavore Cabbages Wedge IngredientsCabbage might not be the first thing you’d think of to pop on the grill.
Think again.

Cabbage on the grill is great! The Accidental Locavore first heard of it last year at a CSA pick-up.

Grilling makes the cabbage sweet and tender.

And it makes it summery, rather than a sad reminder of St. Patrick’s Day.

This recipe from Serious Eats sends it to Asia with the addition of a Thai-style dressing.

Serves 4-6:

Accidental Locavore Cabbage WedgesGrilled Cabbage Wedges

  • 3 tablespoons fresh juice from 4 to 6 limes, divided
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems
  • 1 medium head of green cabbage, cut into 6 wedges with the core left intact
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Combine 2 tablespoons lime juice, all of the fish sauce, sugar, and garlic in a small microwaveable bowl. Microwave on high heat until steaming hot, about 20 seconds. Add chili flakes. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool, then stir in remaining lime juice and herbs. Taste and add pepper flakes and fish sauce as needed. Set aside.

Preheat a gas grill to high with the cover closed for 10 minutes

Place cabbage wedges directly over hot side of grill. Cook, covered, until well charred on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip cabbage, cover, and cook until charred on second side, another 3 minutes. Flip wedges to third side, cover, and cook until well charred, another 3 minutes. Transfer cabbage to cooler side of grill, cover, and continue cooking until mostly tender but still crunchy in center, about 5 minutes longer.

Transfer cabbage to a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with sauce, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled Cabbage WedgesMy verdict:  Grilled cabbage is really a great thing! This recipe should inspire you to try grilling wedges and dressing them with the classic wedge salad dressings like blue cheese and bacon, or turning it into grilled coleslaw (note to self…).

As with anything containing fish sauce, go easy at first, you can always add more later.

If you’re apartment bound, a grill pan on high heat will work fine, just turn it down to medium heat once the cabbage is charred. And if you’re like my brother and a charcoal purist, that works as well as gas (probably better).

 

 

 

 

 

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