Fruits of Summer

June has me craving garden sweets. Rhubarb has been gracing my table for weeks; now strawberries are reddening to join it. In warmer areas, you’re probably anticipating blackberries, blueberries, and tart cherries before the month is out. As we roll into July, raspberries, apricots, and early plums will all start to appear. It’s hard to resist summer’s sweet bounty.

It’s also hard to overcome the desire for fruit out of season. Although American grocery stores stock nearly every vegetable imaginable all year, some fruits can be harder to come by outside their harvest window. Those that do appear year-round, or close to it, lack that fresh summer flavor that makes them so appealing. How they are grown is also of concern; more than half of the Dirty Dozen list (foods with the worst pesticide residue based on USDA and FDA data) is fruit. These are all good reasons to grow—and save—fruit yourself.
Read more about preserving the fruits of summer

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Freezer and Storage Soups

One of my off-season joys is making an easy meal that tastes as though it took time and effort to create. Soup is among the easiest—and I’m not talking poured out of a can.

Sure, there can be a lot of time-consuming dicing and mincing for freshly made soup. By planning ahead, I eliminate nearly all of that effort at mealtime. I also ensure the produce carries all the flavor my garden can generate; with a little extra effort at harvest time, there’s no need to buy a mealy tomato or flavorless broccoli.

This week, I offer you two soup recipes that I can make on a moment’s notice because their ingredients are staples in my house in winter. They’re staples because during harvest, I dry-store potatoes, dry-store or freeze onions and garlic, dehydrate smoked chilies and herbs, and freeze cherry tomatoes, broccoli, and Vegetable Stock. Hopefully this list of links and the recipes that follow will inspire you to take similar steps as you grow or buy local food in the next few months.
Learn to make Spanish Potato–Garlic Soup and Italian Broccoli–Pasta Soup

Planning the Season

Seed catalogs have been arriving for weeks, making me think about planning the garden despite the 5 feet of new snow that buried our local mountains in the last few days. This past weekend only enhanced the spring fever: I led a workshop at the 2nd annual Free the Seeds event and was impressed by not just the four-digit turnout but also the number of booths, workshops, and talks. The local Farm Hands organization lists more than 110 farms, ranches, community gardens, farmers markets, and restaurants and grocers that emphasize local food for a county with a population of under 100,000; nationally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent survey found that 167,000 U.S. farms locally produced and sold food through farmers markets, on-farm sales, and other direct farmer-to-eater sales.

This means that no matter where you live, it should be possible to grow or purchase locally grown food and use it in Twice as Tasty recipes. Now’s the time to start thinking about what you want to grow in your new garden, add to your existing plot, or ensure will be delivered by your community-supported agriculture (CSA) farmer.
Read more about planning the season

Granola

Granola is a beast in the food world, racking up $2 billion in U.S. sales annually. But it can be easily made for a fraction of the cost of a 12-ounce package, and it’s endlessly adaptable to dietary needs or preferences or to what’s in the cupboard. It can be made in a low-temperature oven, which requires you to check and stir regularly to ensure even toasting. I prefer to dry it: Throw all the ingredients in a bowl, mix, spread on dehydrator sheets, and let it run overnight for a fresh morning batch.

Like salad dressings, all you need for granola is a basic recipe that gives ideal proportions. At last summer’s Montana Cup, Twice as Tasty recipes were featured in two batches of granola, one nut free and the other certified gluten free. Both showcased local and regional ingredients, and both versions were based on my basic granola recipe.
Learn to make Basic Granola and Nut-Free Gourmet Granola