Grill Season is Here!

Summer is the time for firing up the grill and cooking some local food, because charred grill marks and a smokey taste makes everything better – and there are no pots and pans to clean!

Grilling a grass fed steak

At Valley Farm Fresh you will find great recipes (for grilling meat & veggies), a calendar for the Upper Valley farmers’ market season, and the Valley Food & Farm Online Guide so you can find farmstands,  pick-your-own, and more local food near you.

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And if you are a man who cooks with local foods (grill or otherwise) OR you know a man who cooks with local foods – enter our #MenWhoCookLocal summer competition for a chance to win an 8″ Japanese steel chef knife. Read about our celebration of Upper Valley men who are cooking local with our  #UpperValleyHotShots.

 

MWC: Recommended Recipes & Blogs

The Beeroness: Baking and Cooking with Beer

Grilled-Beer-Cheese-Stuffed-Bacon-Wrapped-Jalapenos2

From TheBeeroness.com:

Jackie Dodd’s beer infused recipes earned her a spot as a finalist for Saveur Magazines Best Original Recipes, 2014 as well as crowned winner for Best Beer Coverage in 2015. The Beeroness was also a finalist for Better Homes and Gardens Best Food Blogs, 2015. She has been seen on The Today Show, Lifetime Network, CBS News, as well as interviewed in print publications such as Imbibe, Bite and The San Francisco Chronicle. She also writes for Parade MagazineDraft Magazine and Whisk Magazine. She is also the author of The Craft Beer Cookbook and the newly released Craft Beer Bites Cookbook.


Smitten Kitchen: Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York

spiced-roasted-carrots-with-avocado-and-yogurt

From SmittenKitchen.com:

What you’ll see here is: A lot of comfort foods stepped up a bit, things like bread and birthday cakes made entirely from scratch and tutorials on everything from how to poach an eggto how to make tart doughs that don’t shrink up on you, but also a favorite side dish (zucchini and almonds) that takes less than five minutes to make.

What I’m wary of is: Excessively fussy foods and/or pretentious ingredients. I don’t do truffle oil, Himalayan pink salt at $10 per quarter-ounce or single-origin chocolate that can only be found through Posh Nosh-approved purveyors. I think food should be accessible, and am certain that you don’t need any of these things to cook fantastically.


Food Republic

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From FoodRepublic.com:

Food Republic was founded in 2010 by chef Marcus Samuelsson and the Samuelsson Group, and launched in April 2011 under the direction of Editorial Director Richard Martin. In a short time, it has become one of the foremost sources for news and commentary on food, drink, design, travel and more, published to a wide audience in the United States and abroad.

The site features a daily lineup of interviews with prominent chefs and personalities, stories about the lifestyle around food and drink, and recipes drawn from the Food Republic Test Kitchen, as well as from acclaimed chefs and cookbook authors. Most of the content is original and produced exclusively for the website by its staff and contributors around the world.


Fit Men Cook

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From FitMenCook.com:

Fitness is a lifelong journey and I could not imagine a life of eating boring, bland food just to be healthy.  Now more than ever, I firmly believe that healthier food options do not have to be boring. Ever. In fact, they are pretty tasty.  And even better, the lifestyle changed worked. As I saw my physique begin to change, I was motivated to push harder and set more aggressive goals.  Not only did I learn how to lose weight, but also I learned how to gain muscle, with small tweaks in both my diet and training.


The Kitchn

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From TheKitchn.com:

Helping everyone live happier, healthier lives at home through their kitchen. The Kitchn is a daily food magazine on the Web celebrating life in the kitchen through home cooking and kitchen intelligence. This is a site for people who like to get their hands dirty while they cook. It is for those who care about the quality of their food, and how it affects the health of themselves and the planet. It is for cooks who care about design and want to create a beautiful kitchen. It’s a place to dive in deep, and embrace the joy of one of our basic needs: Food, cooked at home, nourishing ourselves and our households.

 

Sausage Bean Stew for the Spring Doldrums

This easy recipe was a crowd pleaser at Flavors of the Valley on April 10, 2016. Nancy made 20 batches in five Crock Pots to sample to about 1,000 attendees that day! (In case you missed it, we also served samples of quick kimchi. I (Bethany) made five gallons of it the day before!)

I didn’t snag a bite of the Sausage Bean Stew during the event, but fortunately had a bowlful when Nancy made a test batch earlier in the week. It’s delicious!

I find April a tough time of year in the Upper Valley for eating local and healthy. I always freeze and preserve food in the summer, but at this time of year, the freezer looks pretty lean. I’m antsy for new local vegetables, and already ate my week’s worth of farmers’ market spinach. Plus the weather’s weird, and Daylight Savings came too early. All this is to say that I’m not really in the mood to put a lot of energy into a meal.

That’s why Sausage Bean Stew is perfect for early spring doldrums – it’s hearty and warm, yet bright and fresh, and best of all, so easy! The recipe calls for canned fire-roasted tomatoes, but if you canned or froze your own tomatoes, use those up, since summer’s on its way. You can get the garlic, onion, sausage, and dried beans at the winter farmers’ markets.

NOTE: don’t use red kidney beans in this recipe, as I explain later.

Sausage & Bean Stew
adapted from Food Network Kitchen

Ingredients

1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 ounces dried white beans (navy, cannellini, etc. picked over and rinsed)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 pound sweet or hot Italian sausage links (2 links)
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth or stock
1/2 cup ditalini or other small pasta
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated Parmesan and crusty bread, for serving

 

Photo (62)

Directions:

Spread the onions over the bottom of a 6- to 7-quart slow cooker and top with the carrots, garlic, white beans, thyme bundle and sausage links. Mix the diced tomatoes with the broth and 3 cups water and pour over the sausages.

Cook on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours; the beans will be tender and begin to fall apart. Uncover the slow cooker, remove and discard the thyme bundle and transfer the sausage links to a cutting board. Stir the pasta into the stew and continue to cook, covered, until the pasta is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat. Cut the sausages into bite-size pieces and add back into the stew along with the parsley and vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan on the side for sprinkling on top and crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

Notes:

Choose your beans wisely: all raw or under-cooked beans contain a small amount of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin that causes gastrointestinal distress. Red kidney beans contain more of this toxin than other beans, and since many slow cookers don’t reach the temperature needed to break down the toxin, it’s best to keep red kidneys out of the slow cooker.

Boost flavor with Parmesan rind: If you have it, add a 4 ounce chunk of Parmesan rind to the pot in the beginning and discard with the herbs at the end.

Use up leftover pasta: Substitute leftover pasta (or rice!) for the uncooked pasta by reducing the water by 1 cup and adding 1 cup of cooked pasta with the sausages at the end.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

By now carrot, parsnip and other root crop supplies are winding down for the spring. But before we say goodbye, why not use them in one creative, less obvious method? These muffins make a healthy breakfast option that could adapted to include additional nutritional benefits with ingredients such as ground flax seeds and golden raisins. Or, for a special celebration, turn them into cupcakes with a maple cream cheese frosting. For those of you who must hide vegetables to get picky kids or stubborn adults to eat them, this should help too.

Parsnip and Carrot Muffins

Makes 12 standard muffins or 24+ mini

Ingredients
1/4 cup chopped almonds
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 eggs
1/2 cup yogurt
1/4 vegetable oil + more for greasing
3/4 cups maple syrup + a splash more
1/2 cup grated parsnips
3/4 cup grated carrots

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a muffin pan with vegetable oil or use muffin liners.

Place the chopped almonds and the splash of maple syrup in a small pan over medium heat. Cook until the nuts are well coated then remove to a plate to cool slightly.

Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

Whisk the eggs, yogurt, vegetable oil and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the flour mixture, carrots and parsnips, and fold with a spatula until all of the flour is moistened. Divide the mixture evenly among the muffin cups.

Sprinkle the top of each muffin with the maple almonds (you’ll probably have to break them up a bit if they’ve cooled for long). Bake for 20 minutes for regular sized muffins or 8 minutes for mini, either way, checking and rotating the pans halfway through baking. Check with a toothpick for doneness. Cool for 10 minutes before removing. Serve warm.

Adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown

Starting the Day with a Great Breakfast in Hartland

Hartland Breakfast 1

The Friday before vacation the first and second graders at Hartland Elementary School participated in a nutritious cooking program. They were learning about chemical changes in science with Mrs. Cramer. This included, going from a solid to a liquid, liquid to a gas and physical or chemical changes. They also learned about important components of a healthy breakfast. They were taught that our bodies need fuel for the day to learn and that we need to start out our day with good nutrition for strong bodies, clear minds, and good moods! They made healthy banana pancakes, scrambled eggs, orange juice, butter, and smoothies.

Each grade made the breakfast and then they sat down together to eat. A great way to celebrate all that we learned!

Hartland Breakfast 2

Meet. Eat. Buy! The Flavors 2016 Vendor Line Up Is Here!

Check out the hottest new vendors and returning favorites at Flavors of the Valley 2016!

April 10, 11am – 3pm at Hartford High School

Special thanks to our amazing sponsors!

Mascoma Savings Bank, Co-op Food Stores, The Skinny Pancake

King Arthur Flour, Yankee Farm Credit, NH Dept. of Agriculture, Great Eastern Radio

Sufferin’ Succotash

My childhood memories of succotash are not good. I distinctly remember dumping my bowl of succotash in the bushes during an evening picnic when I was around six years old because the mushy tasteless succotash (likely canned) was standing between me and dessert. I discreetly dumped it in the bushes when no one was looking and innocently asked for dessert.

The dish that I couldn’t stomach way back when is a far cry from the hip and delicious take on succotash I served for dinner tonight. Succotash is Narragansett (an extinct Algonquian language) for “broken corn kernels” and is traditionally made with corn and lima beans. These days, creative chefs  have expanded the definition and have made a vegetable dish that is easy and versatile. Corn is still the star, but you can be really inventive by cooking corn with whatever vegetables you have in the freezer, in the refrigerator (great use of left over vegetable), or in the garden (we have a few more month for this to be an option). Tonight I pulled some garden corn and peas from the freezer when I got home from work, added some onions and herbs, and had an easy side dish in less than 20 minutes.

There is nothing like a sweet summer succotash made with corn just off the cob with it’s sweet sugar milk (this is a great use of leftover corn on the cob!) and an assortment of fresh veggies (zucchini, summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, etc.). This is an easy, healthy, and light side. I long for the days of walking out to the garden and picking dinner, but on this snowy January night cooking up some frozen and stored veggies made for a taste of summer on this cold evening.

frozen ingredients

Sufferin’ Succotash
Guidelines only, go wild and be creative

Corn off the cob (fresh or freshly frozen)
Sweet peas, edamame, lima beans, fava beans (fresh or freshly frozen)
Onion/leeks/scallions, chopped
Other veggies: zucchini/summer squash/broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, yams, tomatoes…anything you can think of
Butter, (3 Tbsp+/-) because everything is better with butter
Thyme & sage, fresh or dried
Salt & pepper to taste.

Defrost any frozen veggies, steam/boil any fresh veggies. Melt the butter in a pan, cook onions until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add vegetables and herbs and cook for 5-10 minutes and serve.

cooking onions

winter succotash

Below is a photo of a summer succotash I made last summer with fresh from the garden corn (off the cob), shell peas, sweet onion, and fresh herbs… yum!

Photo credit Julia A Reed

Photo credit Julia A Reed

Quick & Healthy Family Lunches

There are several options for providing mid-day sustenance for your school-aged children. Many schools have excellent school lunches, but packing a lunch to send to school is sometimes necessary. If packing an exciting, healthy brown bag lunch that comes home empty at the end of the day is one of your New Year’s resolutions – here’s some help. This blog post is from our Everyday chef partner, Elena Gustavson from RAFFL, and is filled with tips to becoming a better “lunch crafter”.

 

Lunch

The dreaded brown bag lunch of yesteryear, filled with bologna sandwiches and mealy apples is a thing of the past! There are blogs and articles everywhere filled with recipes for creative, healthy lunches and a booming retail industry that has cropped up around lunch bags and bento boxes. Nowadays, even the school lunch line looks different from 10 years ago, where Farm to School programs abound in Vermont and National School Lunch Program Standards have transformed frozen tater tots and cardboard pizza into vibrant salad bars and balanced main courses carried by smiling children.

 

Or has it?

 

Let’s face it. Nothing is perfect. As a nation, we are making strides in nutrition and health, but the strides are still uneven. Headlines have abounded in the last few years about children tossing their fresh fruits and veggies under the noses of their teachers or studies showing home packed lunches being less nutritious than the school. Add to this the time deficit that most of us seem to be working under and it seems no matter our good intentions, many of us struggle to model healthy eating for our children. Case in point, my kids have found a cold slice of cheese pizza in their lunch bags more than once this year.

 

And I would like to remind you that I am a professional cook.

 

So, in the spirit of “been there”, I offer a few tips that make “lunch crafting” easier on most days along with a tried and true recipe for a creamy chicken salad that with even a reluctant eater, won’t find its way to the bottom of a compost bin.

 

Or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

 

Tips:

  • Plan Meals: Yep, you know it’s true and I am here to tell you that it works. Nevermind that I am a menu nerd or that I have been known to make up fantasy meals for fun. Spending a bit of time in the beginning of each week to plan out lunches (and supper for that matter) is very helpful with time management, using up leftovers, creating balanced diets and saving money. There are millions and trillions (that is only a slight exaggeration) of free planners on the internet, from adorable printables to dense recipe databases on favorite food sites. And, when you are taking the long view of what your family is eating each week, the stress that can accompany serving a balanced meal 3 times a day, becomes less if your family is eating healthy over the course of several days instead.
  • Be Prepared: It is very difficult to make home lunches if your pantry is bare and there isn’t a container in site. Take the time to purchase the ingredients you need, stock your cupboards or shelves with containers and bags for carry-in lunches and send your family off with what they need to eat well. If you can, carve out a space where you can make lunches with relative ease because it is easily accessible and well stocked. In our house, there is a 2X2 foot counter sandwiched between a drawer with my containers, jars and baggies and a shelf with our lunch bags, napkins and non-perishable snacks.
  • Eat Seasonally: Even here in Zone 4 Vermont, there is a lot of fresh eating food available that is at the peak of its flavor (translating into “delicious”) and is less expensive than when you try to hunt it down out of season, (say, like, strawberries in January). Use the Vermont Department of Agriculture’s harvest calendar to help you know what is available locally.
  • Create a Habit: Get into a rhythm of planning and making lunches so that it becomes a part of your routine. Are the mornings usually hectic, then carve out a few minutes in the evening to start thinking about and setting up lunches for the next day. Are you an early bird? Take the quiet time in the morning to get lunches started and have them ready by the door before the kids head out for school. No matter how you do it, there are bound to be bumps along the way, but stick with it and before you know it, your consistency will give birth to a healthy habit!
  • Lean Protein + Whole Grain + Fresh Vegetable + Sensible Sweet. Pair a healthy protein with a whole grain option, using fresh from the garden veggies and add a bit of sensible, satisfying sweet to ward off less sensible choices. with a whole grain and fresh garden treats with a sensible sweet. Some quick ideas: +
    • Egg salad + whole grain crackers + chopped romaine lettuce + 2 chocolate kisses
    • Turkey breast + whole wheat wrap + mashed butternut squash + apple slices
    • Black beans + brown rice + pico de gallo salsa and/or guacamole + popcorn with cinnamon and maple sugar
  • Think Outside the Box: You do not have to eat a sandwich to have lunch. I have packed up meals that were re-purposed from supper two nights before or a very basic mix of cheddar cheese squares, sliced apples, roasted pumpkin seeds and whole grain crackers. It is easy to get caught up in the mundane of day to day, but try mixing things up a bit and offer your family some unusual choices. Their interest and desire to try new things just might surprise you!

rutabags HS Oct. 15 for website

Does all this mean that you will put together elegant, healthy AND delicious lunches five days a week, receiving rave reviews from friends and family?  Eh, probably not, but you can inch closer to lunch stardom if you plan ahead, create habits and persevere, even when you hit a bump in the road.

 

Helpful Links:

Lunch Planner Printable on Living Locurto: http://cf.livinglocurto.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Free-Printable-Weekly-Lunch-Planner.pdf

 

Eating Well, Healthy Lunches: http://www.eatingwell.com/search/apachesolr_search/healthy%20lunches

 

VT Dept of Ag, Harvest Calendar:

http://agriculture.vermont.gov/buy_local/harvest_calendar

 

18 Tricks to Make New Habits Stick, from LifeHack.Org: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/featured/18-tricks-to-make-new-habits-stick.html

Newbury apple joy

Recipe:

Creamy Dreamy Chicken Salad
Approximately 6 servings

Cook’s Notes: Including yogurt in the dressing, gives this chicken the slightest bit of tang, making the salad more interesting. The lower calories from the light mayo and yogurt means this is all about the chicken, the protein and the vegetables rather than the dressing. Pairs well as a sandwich filling or on top of greens or both!

Feel free to omit the nuts and dried fruit if you have a finicky eater and if you prefer a drier chicken salad, start with just a third of the dressing and add more as you like. Excellent recipe to make ahead and keep refrigerated for a few days. No time to poach chicken? No problem. Leftover chicken works fantastic!

Ingredients:

2lbs chicken breasts or chicken tenders (can substitute with two 10 oz cans of chicken, drained)

⅓ cup chopped celery

⅓ cup chopped bell pepper, green

2 tablespoons of red onion, minced

4 to 7 tablespoons of sliced almonds, roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds

¼ to ⅓ cup of dried fruit (cranberries and apricots are delicious)

 

Dressing:

⅓ cup of light mayonnaise

⅓  cup of plain low-fat or non-fat yogurt

1 tablespoon of dijon or whole grain mustard (can substitute yellow mustard)

1 tablespoon of lemon juice

1 tablespoon of cider vinegar

1 teaspoon or less of maple syrup or honey (optional)

½ teaspoon of salt (or to taste)

½ teaspoon of ground black pepper (can substitute ground white pepper to give it less “bite”)

 

Directions:

Fill a large pot ⅔ full of water and bring to a boil. Carefully add the chicken breast or tenders and bring back to a simmer over medium high heat. Cover and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes (breasts) or 15 minutes (tenders) or until a thermometer reads 165 f. Remove chicken from pot and let sit for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Shred the meat with a fork and refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cooled.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together the mayo, yogurt, mustard, lemon juice, vinegar and maple syrup. Add the salt and pepper to taste.

In a large bowl, pile the shredded chicken, celery, bell pepper, onion, nuts/seeds and dried fruit. Pour on the dressing and gently fold together until mixed. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

by Elena Gustavson, RAFFL

Caramelized Onion Dip

Root 5 onions

Caramelized Onion Dip

courtesy of Food and Wine

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1/2 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 25 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Let the onions cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
  2. Transfer the onions to a cutting board and coarsely chop. In a large bowl, mix the sour cream with the cream cheese, parsley, onion powder and Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Stir in the onions and season with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature with chips, crackers, or veggies.

The onion dip can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days.

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

Kale

Warm Kale and Cheese Dip

courtesy of My Recipes.com

Ingredients

5 bacon slices, chopped
1 pound fresh kale, stemmed and finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
1/2 medium-size sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (4 1/2 oz.) shredded fontina or Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Assorted crackers and crudités

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring often, 6 to 7 minutes or until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 Tbsp. drippings in Dutch oven. Sauté kale, onion, and garlic in hot drippings 7 to 8 minutes or until onion is tender. Add wine, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes or until particles loosen from bottom of Dutch oven.

2. Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in Asiago cheese, next 4 ingredients, and kale mixture. Spoon into a lightly greased 1- to 1 1/2-qt. baking dish.

3. Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until center is hot and cheese is melted. Let stand 5 minutes; top with bacon. Serve with crackers and crudités.

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