Eat Local – Save the Bay
It's official! CBF is now the coordinating organization for the Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL) Chesapeake chapter, one of 78 Buy Fresh Buy Local chapters throughout the country that promote and educate the public about locally-grown food. All BFBL chapters are part of the Food Routes Network.
By buying your food from local sources, you:
- Help "keep farmers farming" so the land is kept in agriculture, not sold to development, which is better for the Bay and the environment
- Support local economies because more of your food dollars stay in the community
- Provide your family with food that not only tastes better but is higher in nutrition since it's picked ripe and doesn't need to travel long distances to your table
CBF has long been making the connection between local sustainable agriculture and the Bay's water quality so it seemed natural that CBF's Maryland office would take on the BFBL chapter as a new project. With assistance from an expert steering committee, Marcy Damon will be managing the chapter's activities. Plans are underway to create an on-line Food Guide to link consumers with farmers' markets, CSAs (community supported agriculture programs), farm stands and local producers of grass-fed meats, cheeses, wines, fruits and vegetables. Initially it will cover Anne Arundel, Prince George's, and Baltimore counties, with the hope of expanding to include sources in southern and western Maryland and the Eastern Shore. To learn more, go to www.buyfreshbuylocalcr.org orwww.foodroutes.org or e-mail Marcy at BuyFreshBuyLocal@cbf.org.
Here are some 'Local food' happenings
On Saturday, July 24, a special event for Gardeners for the Bay was held at CBF, which included a tour of the native landscape and a local "munch" or tasting prepared by Rita Calvert, gourmet 'Local' chef.
CBF's Clagett Farm in Upper Marlboro has been practicing local sustainable agriculture for over 25 years. In the fall, they will be holding a Farm Festival, which is a fun way to learn where your food comes from. Details will be posted on our calendar.
When it comes to fresh from the garden condiments, creativity certainly does abound. Much of the new design results from the fired up interest in growing and preparing foods straight from your ground or your farmers’. That certainly puts the focus on tradition, but maybe we may want to enjoy this bounty in a new way or simply explore-such as adding a cultural flair, updating the recipe to be fresh or simply saving time.
We’ll explore more of this fun preciously preserved produce in the weeks to come but for today let's start with pickles.
Hot Stuff Moroccan Pickled Carrots
Makes 10 servings
With a taste of the exotic and a bit of fire, the carrots retain most of that beta-carotene glow. Now this is one healthy pickle!
1 1/4 pounds baby carrots
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 dried red chiles, cut into rounds
Peel of 1 lime, cut into strips
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, cracked.
Evenly divide carrots, lime peel, garlic and red chiles between 3 pint-size canning jars.
Combine water, cider vinegar, sugar, salt, coriander, cumin, sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 3 minutes. Pour over carrot mixture and let cool. Seal jars and refrigerate for at least 12 hours.
Curried Coconut Ribbon Pickles
Makes about 2 cups
These pickles are very progressive as they are a 'pickle nouveau' for those weary of the ‘same old’...I adore the ribbon style and use them to top seafood, poultry or meats, serve as a side dish or appetizer.
Green Curry paste is usually spicy so start with tiny amounts and add more as desired.
2 cups ribbon slices of fresh cucumber or yellow crookneck squash
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup Coconut milk
1/4 cup Seasoned Japanese rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon green Curry Paste (available at Whole Foods and International groceries)
1 teaspoon Thai Basil leaves (torn-not cut) or lemon thyme leaves
Place the ribbon slices in a colander and sprinkle with about 2 teaspoons salt. Let sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with cool water and drain.
Place the now wilted ribbons and remaining ingredients in a medium non-reactive bowl or container with a lid. Toss and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to season before serving.
Store refrigerated for 7-10 days.
A question came from a food compadre on how to freeze the jalapeno crop without those durn things getting mushy. if you want to keep the crisp texture of green/unripe thick-walled peppers, like jalapenos, hot cherry peppers, or Hungarian wax peppers, pickling is the way to go.
Makes 3-4 pints
The acidity of the vinegar is used to preserve the chilies and then you also get a fiesty vinegar as well. The choice of vinegar used comes down to personal taste. White vinegar will preserve the deep green color of the jalapeno, however white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar will add more flavor. Rice or malt vinegar can be used in a pinch - but it will affect the color and flavor of your pickles.
5 cups commercial 5% vinegar (white or cider)
1 cup water
4 teaspoons pickling salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 pounds fresh jalapeno peppers (or yellow banana peppers or pepperoncini)
(3-6 slices from a peeled carrot, optional)
(1/2 slice of onion, optional)
Prepare a boiling water bath for canning and keep hot while you prepare the jars of pickled jalapenos.
Make a brine. Place the vinegar, water, pickling salt, and sugar in a medium (2 quart) non-reactive (stainless or enamel) saucepan or kettle. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, and stir briefly to dissolve the salt and sugar. Cover and keep hot over low heat while you prepare the jalapenos.
Wash and slice the jalapenos 1/4-inch thick; discard the stem ends. If using the carrot and onion, place 1 or 2 pieces of each in the jar. Pack the jalapeno slices into the sterilized pint jars. 2 pounds of jalapenos should make at least 3 pints; pack the jalapenos tightly, but do not crush them.
Ladle the hot brine over the sliced peppers in the sterilized jars. Clean the rim of the jar with a clean towel and place canning lids securely on jars. Process pints in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Cool and store up to one year.
Leave your delicious pickles for at least two weeks before opening. Pickled jalapenos reach their peak of perfection about one month after pickling. They are safe to open and eat after any period, however they gradually become softer over time and are best eaten within a year.
After opening, store in the refrigerator. Once open, the pickling liquid will gradually become cloudy as a ‘mother’ forms in the vinegar, which is safe but unattractive, so your pickled jalapenos are best consumed within one month of opening.
Italian Pickled Onions
Makes one 16 ounce jar
1 medium sweet onion
1 cup of white Balsamic wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 bay leaf
Slice the onion very thinly and place onion in a clean jar.
Add the vinegar and spices. Swirl and shake and place in refrigerator
Onions should be ready in about two hours. The onions will keep for one month in the refrigerator.
Deal of the Garden: With the garden in and blooms everywhere, we're getting ready for canning season again. Canning is a great way to preserve fresh veggies for the winter and can save you money in long run. Amazon has this great basic canning set to get you started.