Posts Tagged ‘potatoes’

Virginia Farmer’s Market Week is here!

Celebrate Virginia's Farmer's Markets!

Once you take a drive along Lankford Highway, also known as Highway 13, the nice scenic drive that follows the spine of the Eastern Shore of Virginia from the Chesapeake Bay into Maryland, you will notice during the summer the plethora of local farmers selling extra vegetables at roadside stands.

Some of the stands are permanent structures, often selling fireworks and Virginia hams in addition to veggies. Other stands are simply pick-up trucks, parked alongside the shoulder of the road, accompanied by a handmade sign planted about five feet in front of the lowered tailgate. One of my favorites is a guy who is selling 50 pound sacks of potatoes for about ten bucks. You just can’t get that kind of deal anywhere else!

I had mentioned earlier the “secret – locals only” market, known as the Fresh Market. This is the stand where you take what you want, and leave the money in a box. Totally on the honor system…and it works. See the pics above and below for a sample of their wares.

Since moving to the Eastern Shore, and getting to know many of the farmers, I have a new appreciation for how hard they work for us. One of the best things a parent can do is teach their kids that foods don’t just show up at the supermarket – they all start one way or another with the farmer. Willie Nelson knew this years ago when he started the Farm Aid concerts.

I know President Obama is quite busy these days, what with trying to solve the ills of Wall Street with a reorganization of the Health Care System, all the while trying not to slip on oil washed up from the BP Oil Spill, so I give two “green thumbs” up to the fine Commonwealth of Virginia for helping Mr. Obama out with this one.

That’s right, August 1 – 7, 2010 is “Celebrate Virginia Farmer’s Markets” week. No matter where you are, there is probably a Farmer’s Market somewhere nearby. I just spent a week up in the Shenandoah Mountains and saw plenty of them. For more information on Virginia’s Farmer’s Markets, check out http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/vagrown/.

Know your food – thank your farmer!

Baconfest 2010 – Bacon Hash

Bacon Hash - a little piece of heaven!

Today I start a cholesterol climbing, taste bud tantalizing 42 week culinary journey, cooking my way through a book. No, this is not a shameless take-off on the film Julie & Julia. THAT story featured a young lady cooking her way through a famous cookbook, one known throughout the world – Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Great story, excellent movie. See it for yourself if you are one of the seven people in America that hasn’t yet. Geez, see it just for Meryl Streep’s performance, if for nothing else! Are you on Netflix yet? Come on – what are you waiting for? Okay, finish this post first – then go add it to your list.

No, I have chosen a less familiar book. One most likely a favorite of those living in the upper Midwest, especially Michigan – Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon, written by Ari Weinzweig [ISBN 978-0-964-89564-5.] If you live up in that neighborhood, you know what I’m talkin’ about.

Note: I have not been to Ann Arbor, Michigan nor have I been to the second most famous institution there, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, but everyone that I meet from up that way tells me that Zingerman’s is THE PLACE. They use other words, but you get the idea.

Bacon. Can there be a better subject, foodwise? Chocolate, perhaps, and maybe that will be another fest for another time.

So here we go:

Bacon Hash – a fabulous concoction that is essentially potatoes in gravy, flavored with onions, peppers and bacon. Sounds simple, but ahhh…the taste… you just HAVE to try it.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
(I used green bell peppers – it’s what I had handy)
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
5 – 7 slices of bacon, lightly cooked and chopped.
2 pounds red potatoes, boiled, cooled, quartered.
(use any nice potato – just make the chunks bite-sized)
1/4 cup heavy cream
(I actually forgot to put it in, sorry!)
Salt / Pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large skillet…
- Cook the bacon.
- Place cooked bacon on some paper towels to cool. Crumble when safe to do so.
- Drain most of the bacon fat from the skillet. Make sure to leave about 4 tablespoons in the pan.
- Saute the pepper and onion in the bacon fat.
- Slowly add the flour, stirring to prevent lumpiness from occurring.
- Slowly add the chicken broth and Worcestershire sauce, stirring continuously.

You should have a savory, fairly thick gravy by now. If not, simmer some more, stirring to prevent burning.

- Add the potatoes and bacon, mixing it all with the gravy.
- Add the cream (see note above) stirring.
- Salt (not much needed) and pepper to taste.
- Cook for about 5 more minutes to allow the cream to fully meld with the gravy.

Serve in a bowl. Serve with scrambled eggs on the side. Serve with baked pork chops. The possibilities are endless.

It just tastes awesome! Probably even better with the heavy cream…oops. =8>)

Try it and see! Get the book, too. Or better yet, stop by Ann Arbor, Michigan and look up Zingerman’s Roadhouse. I can’t wait to get there myself!

Oh yes, read the disclaimer page if you are curious. No one pays me to say these things. If it’s good, I’ll say so. And this is GOOD!

Happy eating!

Can you find the Swedish Chef?

You can cook like a celebrity chef, too!

So we were about “turkey’d out” from Thanksgiving and with three out of four of us having various self-imposed meat restrictions, our Christmas dinner options were in short supply. What to do?  Hmmm…

Food Network to the rescue!  By spending just a few minutes searching the website, I created a dinner using recipes from some of our favorite chefs. Except for a fish substitution, followed the recipes exactly (for once) and everyone was thrilled with the results.

Here’s the WIIFM (what’s in it for me): If you can read a recipe, you, too, can be a celebrity chef in your own home!

The best part: fed a family of 4 for a total cost of… under $58.

Here we go:

Don’t get saucy with me, Bernaise!

Pickapeppa Sauce makes all the difference!

Sorry, couldn’t help it…

Tonight I used the old cook-dinner-in-shifts technique. I knew I would be short on time, having to run errands that would take me away from the stove, so I (gasp) planned ahead.

The menu:  baked chicken with BBQ sauce, baked potato and stir fried vegetables.

The chicken was simple. Free-range, non-hormone-enhanced skinless chicken breasts, lightly coated with plain breadcrumbs. A touch of salt and pepper for good measure.  Baked at 350 for about 35 minutes until they reached 185 degrees.  Play it safe – if you don’t have a digital thermometer, get one!

I baked the potatoes last night.  I used the residual heat from the oven to warm them up while I let the baked chicken rest and stir fried the veggies in a little olive oil. Again, nothing fancy.  Sometimes it pays to let the pure taste of the food do the talking!

The sauce was a little tricker.  I made a small batch, about a cup and a half worth.  Took a lot of adding ingredients in small doses until I got the taste just right.  Once I did, it was awesome!!  Here is the normal recipe I use. It makes about a dozen pints, give or take.  The recipe is adapted from Jesse’s Lip Smackin’ Sauce, which tastes suprisingly like the Bone Licking Sauce that you can get in your local supermarket.  But for fun, take a few hours and fill up some Mason jars!

Doug’s All-Purpose BBQ Sauce:

6 cloves garlic, pressed

128 oz ketchup (that would be two 64 oz cans for those who are math impaired, like me)

1/2 large Vidalia onion, chopped finely, sauteed in a bit of olive oil

4 TBsp soy sauce

6 TBsp yellow mustard

4 TBsp red wine vinegar

1/2 c. orange juice

1 TBsp lime juice

2 TBsp lemon juice

1 c. light brown sugar

6 TBsp horseradish

and the secret ingredients:  1 bottle of Pickapeppa Sauce and a can of Dr Pepper.

Put everything in a big stock pot and bring almost to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Tastes even better the next day!

As Chef Rudolf would say:  Happy eating!

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