The Best Peelers Tested II

by Anne Maxfield on August 8, 2016

What is the best peeler?

That depends.

What are you peeling?

Almost a year ago, the Accidental Locavore took a pile of peelers out for a test.

Most failed.

Two survived.

Accidental Locavore Jospeh Joseph PeelerA new one showed up a couple of weeks ago. It’s from Joseph Joseph and came in my latest Mary’s Secret Ingredients Box. It’s round (weird) and has three blade choices.

The gauntlet was thrown.   It was time to see how the Joseph Joseph one did against the previous winners.

Facing a pile of peaches needing to be turned into jam (before they just turned), normally I’d cut an X in the bottom, toss them in some simmering water for 30 seconds and let the skins just zip off (works for tomatoes too).

Accidental Locavore Peaches for PeelersThe Best Peelers Tested

For some reason, I decided to manually peel the peaches. First up, the winner of the first round of best peelers, my Uberchef. With its serrated blades, it made easy work of the (very ripe) peaches. Cool.

Next: The peeler part of “the cheapie,” the multi-talented $4 Chinese peeler.  Nothing but mess.

Third up: The serrated blade of the Joseph Joseph. This was almost as good as the Uberchef at actually peeling the peaches. However, because of the shorter distance between the blades and the base, the peach peels kept getting stuck and needed to be cleaned out.

Accidental Locavore More PeelersMy verdict:

Three pounds of peaches went pretty quickly, which proves the point that good tools make anything easier!

After making skeptical remarks about the Joseph Joseph peeler, it actually performed pretty well. Two design flaws:  when I peeled with it, my thumb was always on the button that changes the blades and it would pop up. Depending on how you hold it, that might not be an issue (and it’s really easy to switch blades). As previously noted, the distance between the base and blades is a little short and peels do tend to get stuck. It’s fairly easy to clean and reputedly dishwasher safe, although I never put anything with a blade in my dishwasher.

The best peeler?

Still the Uberchef. It’s become my go-to peeler. The serrated blade peels everything and having the julienne blade attached is a handy thing especially with carrots and cucumbers.

What do you think is the best peeler?

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Grilled Summer Squash and Fennel Salad Recipe

by Anne Maxfield on August 4, 2016

Accidental Locavore Summer SquashFaced with a pile of summer squash and fennel and requested to bring a salad to a recent party, the Accidental Locavore went trolling through a pile of cookbooks, hoping to find all the squash and/or fennel recipes that might have been saved for warmer months.

In Ottolenghi’s Plenty More there was a recipe for courgette (not to brag, but I have a signed British copy) and fennel with saffron crumbs.

Being lazy, this was more of a riff on the original. Serves 4.

Accidental Locavore Summer Squash and Fennel SaladGrilled Summer Squash and Fennel Salad

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini or summer squash, cut lengthwise into thin strips
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut lengthwise into thin strips
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ cup dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

Preheat your grill (or grill pan, if apartment bound) on high heat.

In a medium pan heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully add the garlic and breadcrumbs. Fry for about a minute until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and let cool on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.

In a large bowl, toss the summer squash and fennel with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper.

Grill until both sides are nicely charred, about 6 minutes a side for the fennel, less for the squash.

Put the summer squash and fennel back in the large bowl. Add the lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss gently. Let marinate for about 15-20 minutes.

Plate the vegetables on a large platter, sprinkle with the dill. Top with the breadcrumbs, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Grilled Summer SquashMy verdict: Not really my verdict this time…even though I doubled the recipe, I should have made more. It disappeared quickly at the party and one of my friends confided that she’d had three helpings!

Because it needed to travel, I grilled the fennel and squash (a mix of summer squash and zucchini) separately and marinated them overnight. Put it together with the dill and breadcrumbs at the party. If you’re off to a pot-luck or picnic, this is a perfect dish to make. It travels well and doesn’t need to be hot or cold – all good in the summer.

I cut all the squash lengthwise and then in half because it seemed to be easier to deal with at a buffet. Slicing and grilling some Japanese eggplant I had crossed my mind, but then I decided to keep it simple.

From what (little) I ate, it could have used a little more dill and breadcrumbs, but still a big hit!

 

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Beef Jerky (and More) From the Carnivore Club

by Anne Maxfield on August 1, 2016

Accidental Locavore Carnivore Club Box of Beef JerkyWhat would you say if the Carnivore Club asked if they could send you one of their monthly boxes to sample and write about?

Yes, of course (as the Accidental Locavore is not a vegetarian)!

The Carnivore Club is pretty secretive about what’s in the boxes.

If you look at their past boxes, there’s a lot of wonderful charcuterie from some impressive places.

That’s what I was expecting.

That’s not what I got.

A very handsome box arrived in the mail the other day. Nothing perishable might have been my first hint.

It was full of…

Beef jerky.

Hmmm….

Maybe it’s a guy thing, or maybe my last (only) batch of homemade jerky wasn’t thrilling.

This was different.

It’s a perfect golf snack. Protein, lightweight, no need for refrigeration—I tossed a random bag in and went off to play a round.

It was amazing (the jerky, not the golf) and it wasn’t beef jerky, it was…

Bacon jerky, who knew? With maple and buffalo flavor. Yum!

The only reason it wasn’t totally consumed between holes 15-17 was the result of enormous willpower (and the possible need to take photos).

Accidental Locavore Carnivore Club Beef JerkyThe Carnivore Club is a pretty smart subscription service. You sign up for three months (minimum) and then you can customize whether you want the boxes monthly, every two or three months and the delivery date. It’s $50 a month, shipping included.

Everything (not just my jerky) is vacuum sealed and has a shelf life of 1-3 months.

There were five flavors from Savage Jerky in the box (in full size bags, ranked in order of my preference):

Maple Buffalo Bacon: I’d never heard of bacon jerky, but will probably make up for it in short order! Tender, a little sweet with a hint of spice, and easily finished in a matter of minutes. As their flyer says, ”Good luck not getting completely addicted.” Too late.

Sriracha Bacon: A close runner-up. Guess I just like bacon jerky.

Traditional Mojo Beef Jerky: My favorite of the beef jerky. Lime, cilantro, garlic and cumin are always a good combo. A little chewy but maybe it’s like apples, you burn off more calories chewing than you’re consuming (wishful thinking, right?).

Sweet Sriracha BBQ Beef Jerky: A close runner-up to the mojo. This has a little more spice, tempered by molasses and brown sugar.

Ghost Pepper Beef Jerky: If you’ve seen more than one episode of Man vs. Food on the Travel Channel, you’ve seen a restaurant where the challenge is to eat something loaded with ghost peppers. It’s very much a macho challenge. So I rose to it. It’s edible in small pieces, but I think this bag will last a long time. One of my house guests (always subject to random food tastings) suggested crumbling it into chili and I might also toss some into fried rice.

Sadly, I didn’t get my box until after Father’s Day and my brother’s birthday—it’s a perfect gift. Keep Carnivore Club in mind if you need a treat (always), something to send to someone at college (they’ll make friends fast) and the holidays (coming up faster than you think).

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Lamb and Green Beans

by Anne Maxfield on July 28, 2016

Accidental Locavore Trimmed Green BeansIf the idea of a lamb and green bean stew seems a little much for the extreme weather, you might want to think twice.

At my CSA, green beans are ripe for the picking.

And it cooks pretty fast.

Ditto cleanup.

So give it a try!

Accidental Locavore Lamb and Green BeansLamb and green beans recipe:

Serves 4:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ¾ pound boneless lamb, cut into ¾” cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, or 1 cup fresh, seeded and chopped
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2” lengths

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high heat. Add the lamb and brown on all sides.

Reduce the heat to medium-high, add the onions and cook until they’re golden brown. Add the spices, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the beans to the pan, and simmer until they’re crisp-tender about another 10-15 minutes. Serve with rice pilaf or couscous and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Prepping Lamb and Green BeansMy verdict: Growing up, this was a family favorite that my mother made fairly often. The Accidental Locavore isn’t sure where/how she always had a sweet spot for Middle Eastern food, especially Armenian, where this supposedly hails from.

I hadn’t even thought about lamb and beans in years but when I was picking green beans at the farm, suddenly I just needed to make it. It was really good, especially with fresh-picked beans and local lamb and comes together in under an hour. I always add more allspice, because it’s a flavor I love.

Going against tradition (and not really feeling like messing with pilaf), I served it with some couscous, which is always the quicker/lazier/healthier(?) way to add something to soak up all the delicious sauce!

Frank loved it too and we ate it all up so sadly no leftovers…

If you want the original cookbook, Word of Mouth, which it comes from, it’s still available on amazon.com or possibly there are still copies under my mother’s bed.

 

 

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