for the love of tomatoes
Conditions are finally perfect. Not only because the tomatoes are abundantly in season, but also because the weather has turned cool and comfortable - ideal for canning/preserving. Long hours spent over a hot stove in the kitchen is a much more enticing, and bearable, proposition after the sweltering heat of summer has been tamed by the first days of September.
Another pro? This time of year is also when you'll find the the best deals, Your local farmers market should be the first place you visit to purchase tomatoes in bulk. Quarter and half bushels ($15 on average for a quarter) are going to be most affordable and freshest, with a higher nutrient content than what you'll find at the average grocery store.
Each year, I make around a half bushel of tomato preserves in various forms: whole tomatoes, quartered tomatoes, peeled tomatoes. Hot pepper tomato jelly, and tomapple (tomato, apple) jam. And, of course, a few eaten fresh. It can take several hours to process tomatoes, but more than worth your time. Something new I tried this year: dehydrate the tomato skins and, then grind them into a powder. A dash of flaked lycopene (aka tomato skin) is a great addition to garnish soups, stews, grain bowls, even popcorn, or anything else that could use that little extra something.
And, while time-consuming, peeling tomatoes is super easy. It can be somewhat dangerous, however, if you're impatient like myself. The heat from the tomatoes after blanching is boiling hot. Wear gloves, tough it out, or wait until they cool down (can put in an ice bath)
How to peel tomatoes
1. Score the tomatoes by marking an 'x' using a knife on the butt of the tomato.
2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and blanche the tomatoes for 30-60 seconds.
3. Remove tomatoes from water, allow to rest and cool (optional).
4. Peel tomatoes from scored end towards the crown.
5. Dehydrate skins or toss
6. Process tomatoes
Once you've got those tomatoes peeled, you're ready for canning. It's super easy, but, as I mentioned before, is time consuming. The more often you do it, the quicker and more efficient you will become. There are two methods you can follow: One uses a boiling water method, and the second utilizes pressure canning.
Prepares 2 each 3/4 lb glass jars. Double, triple, multiply accordingly
what you need
This recipe is a modification of an original Ball® Fresh Preserving recipe.
Give it a try, and let me know what you think! Share pictures and all your stories here. Or have your own favorite way to use tomatoes during this perfect time of year? I'd love to hear about it as well.
And, if you're looking for ideas, check out my pickled watermelon rinds for another unique preservation recipe.
Juicing was all the rage last year. I still have clients who ask about juicing.
What are the benefits? Should I juice? Is it healthy?
My response? When in moderation, it can be part of a healthy diet, especially when you juice at home. It's not as nutritious as eating whole fruits or vegetables, though, as you don't benefit from consuming the pulp (fiber, vitamins, minerals) of the fruit and/or vegetable your turning into liquid. However, you can use the pulp, or produce scraps that separate from the juice. You can bake with them by incorporating into crackers (e.g. as I did in the recipe below), breads (e.g. in a banana or zucchini loaf), or pancakes. Making soup stock from your produce scraps is another great idea, and especially useful come cold weather.
One of my favorite homemade juicing recipes is made with carrot, turmeric root, orange, and ginger. It's not something I prepare often, but when I have the craving (and a refrigerator full of carrots), I dust off my juicer to quench my carrot juice thirst.
Note: You can swap out the carrots for just about any vegetable. Beets, zucchini, and squash are some of my favorite substitutes.
recipe: carrot pulp crackers
Makes about 50 thin crackers
2 cups carrot pulp
1/4 cup ground chia seed
1/4 cup buckwheat flour
2 teaspoon black peppercorn
2 teaspoon fennel seed
2 teaspoon sesame seed
Directions: Preheat oven to 325F
In a pan, toast black peppercorn, fennel and sesame until it begins to brown and becomes fragrant, about 3 minutes.
Grind in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder (I use a dedicated coffee grinder) until it becomes a powder consistency. Mix with carrot pulp, chia, and buckwheat.
Using parchment or two silpats, brush one side of a sheet with coconut oil using a pastry brush. Working in batches, about 3, roll between parchment (or silpat) using a wine bottle or rolling pin. Roll as thin as possible so that it still holds together, brush with more coconut oil, sprinkle lightly with maldon salt, and bake until golden brown and cooked thoroughly, about 20 minutes.
When it's cooled to room temperature, break into pieces and serve with meats and cheese, jam, mustard, pickles, or anything else your heart desires.
purple, yellow, or green: all snap beans are welcome
This side dish is a fantastic way to use up your green beans, and those spicy, sweet nasturtiums that grow without care for other plants. I used yellow wax beans here, but I've also experimented with young scarlet runner beans, and green string beans as well. No two bean varieties taste the same, but they are quite similar and can easily be substituted here, and in like recipes. And, as long as we are on the subject of substitutions, other edible flowers can take the place of nasturtiums in the same way: I recently discovered the lovely taste of pole bean flowers from turtle beans (soft violet) and scarlet runners (crimson red), and they are amazing. They lack the spicy, peppery punch that nasturtiums have, however, so add a few spicy greens (like arugula or mizuna) to round out the flavor.
Let's brush up on your bean-age, starting with the basics: All beans are legumes, and are further classified according to whether you eat the entire pod (called snap or green beans) or remove the shell to eat the seeds inside (called shell or dried beans). Only when the beans have a fibrous string running down the bean is it called a string bean. Dozens of green bean varieties exist, but the headliners include: green (or multicolored, snap) beans, haricot vert, scarlet runner, and yard-long beans. To be even more confusing, the yellow snap bean variety is also called a wax bean.
Nutrition-wise, all types of beans are good sources of protein, fiber, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, and iron. Try to get in 3 cups a week for optimum health.
Read more about a bean nutrition overview here.
snap bean & nasturtium salad
4 cups, string beans cleaned
1/4 cup fresh basil, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffonade (sliced thin)
1 cup packed nasturtium, flowers and greens removed from stem
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons champagne vinegar
Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil with a pinch of kosher salt. Add the string beans and cook (blanche) for 3 minutes. Immediately, remove from heat, drain, and cool down the beans under running water. You can add ice to help lower the temperature faster. When it's cool, add the remaining ingredients with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve and enjoy.
cabbage ins and outs
Cabbage varieties: bok choy, cannonball, choy sum, Chinese/Napa, green, Portugal, red, & savoy -to name a few
Season: summer - autumn - winter
Taste: bitter/sweet, pungent and peppery notes with crunchy flavor
Nutrition: 85% CHO, 12% protein, 3% fat
Volume: quiet to moderate
Technique: bake, broil, braise, grate, pickle, raw, steam, stuff [overcooking brings out pungent, sulphuric notes]
cabbage + apple
cabbage + carrots + ginger + mint + rice wine vinegar
cabbage + ginger + lime
cabbage + potatoes + turnips
Cabbage Pairings: build your own recipes by using complimentary flavors from these foods
APPLES, including JUICE & CIDER
OIL, especially OLIVE, sesame, vegetable, walnut
what I like to do with cabbage
How do antioxidant properties of raw and processed [i.e. fermented] cabbage compare?
The answer to this question is not simple nor clear, and like most nutrition recommendations, results may vary. Factors that influence the nutritional value of cabbage are based on season of harvest, cabbage variety [red vs. green], amount of salt and time spent in brine, & cooking methodology (Martinez et al., 2009; Chun et al., 2004). However, if one were to compare raw cabbage and sauerkraut using nutrition analysis, one would discover that raw has slightly higher, nonsignificant levels of antioxidants.
So, how does this all make sense? The key to understanding why the analysis shows a discrepancy is because they are not considering all the factors mentioned above, which can be time consuming, tedious, and maybe impractical.
Let me sort this out for you.
After a short review of articles, I can say a few things with certainty:
Food trucks trending
Food trucks are all the rage right now: Even in Minnesota, where the we spend half the year covered in snow, we’ve seen an incredible influx of new trucks hitting the streets.
This has not only created a convenient dining experience for consumers, it has also offered a new business opportunity for entrepreneurs (and particularly for those with a more plant-based mindset).
When it comes to ease of opening a food truck, Minneapolis ranks 16th out of the top 20 U.S. metropolitan areas (according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce): The study ranks cities according to scores based on ease or difficulty of obtaining permits and licenses, compliance to restrictions, and operating a food truck. In other words, it’s a ranking of the favorability of food truck regulations to food truck operators (288 owners in the most recent report). As each city has it’s own regulations, so it should come as no surprise that food trucks often find it difficult to operate in different cities.
MN was in the top five least-friendly food truck cities. This is not to say Minnesota food truckers are unfriendly; the report is saying that it’s more of hurdle and cumbersome for the entrepreneurs to do business and own a food truck. On average, in the city of Minneapolis, a food truck owner must complete four separate government procedures over the course of 37 business days and spend $28,276 on licenses, permits, and ongoing legal requirements within one year. That said, Minneapolis is unique amongst other cities in that there are one-stop-shops to obtain both licenses and permits, which makes it more convenient than other cities.
Click here to see the full report by city
Know where to go
Choosing from one of 116 MN’s food trucks (with more in the works) can be overwhelming, so how does one decide? Well, to make things easier, you can search by neighborhood, specific food truck, or by what you crave. Luckily, the internet offers an easy solution to plan or be spontaneous. Since I’m all about that veg, here are a few of my favorites around the metro offering plenty of delicious, plant-based food options:
Reverie favorites include:
Foxy Falafel favorites include:
Falafels (foxy, beet, & curry)
-you choose entree style, meat/falafel, & sauce-
Hot Indian favorites include:
Hi Flight (you choose 3 fillings, roti or brown basmati)
Spinach Paneer (filling)
Vegan Channa (filling)
Creamy Green (chutney)
Hi Heat (chutney)
-you choose filling, base, & chutney-