Eating Local

My local food sources start with the ground I garden in and continue down the road to the closest source. Learn more at TwiceasTasty.com.
I’ve been thinking a lot about local food lately. With last week’s official launch of Twice as Tasty Live, I’ve been making the rounds of local purveyors of flour, milk, coffee, tea, fish, and more to find ingredients for the first two Twice as Tasty house concerts coming up in the next week. I’ve also been inspecting progress in the garden, keeping tabs on what will be ready to harvest and take straight to the host’s table for each event.

But how to define “local food”? Some sources define the local food circle as within 100 miles of where it’s bought or eaten, but many federal assistance programs extend that range to 400 miles. Some define it as food grown and processed within a state, whereas others define local food systems by regions rather than borders. Giant chain stores sell local food; so do farmers from roadside stands and weekly markets.

My local food sources start with the ground I garden in, extend out to local producers and locally owned businesses, and continue down the road to the closest source for any item that isn’t grown in my backyard. I love the way Barbara Kingsolver put it in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life: “Our highest shopping goal was to get our food from so close to home, we’d know the person who grew it.” It’s a lofty challenge, but this may be the month to work toward it.
Read more about eating local

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Quick-Pickled Beets

For any meal, refreshing, easy pickles take minutes to make and are gobbled up in as little time. Learn to make Get quick-pickle recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I spend much of my summer pickling produce; it’s my favorite way to preserve vegetables. As the harvest grows and I haul pounds of cucumbers, snap beans, summer squash, and more from the garden to the kitchen, my canning shelves fill with vinegar-preserved pickles and every other available surface holds fermenting ones. There they wait for weeks, if not months.

So for any given meal, you can also find me making pickles—refreshing, easy ones that take mere minutes to prepare and are gobbled up in as little time. Quick pickles are defined by their name. They won’t satisfy your pickle craving through winter or preserve the bulk of your garden, but they will extend shelf life a bit and give a new flavor spin when you tire of eating a particular fresh vegetable, like beets.
Learn to make Quick-Pickled Beet Snacks and Orange-Sweetened Marinated Beets

Raw Shrubs

When you offer to pour a shrub, clearly you’re not referring to the leafy bush. But what is a shrub? Get shrub and cocktail recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
Offering to pour someone a shrub usually requires an explanation. Clearly the noun is not referring to the leafy bush. But just what is a shrub? Why would you want to drink one?

The answer to the first question has a surprisingly long history. Mixologist Warren Bobrow calls drinking shrubs “the original energy drinks” and dates them back to the 1800s. The combination of vinegar, water, and sweetener gave farmworkers a refreshing boost while in the field. Then farmers discovered they could expand the range of flavors using their harvest and the preserving properties of vinegar and sugar. Add carbonated water, and the first soft drinks were born. But these aren’t our contemporary, corn syrupy sodas: shrubs, aka drinking vinegars, capture the bright flavors of fresh fruits and vegetables at the peak of their season.

Raw shrubs take little time to prepare but need a bit of foresight. The wait for cold processing means you don’t need to heat the shrub and lose some of its flavorful pop, a particular advantage with delicately flavored fruits like citrus and kiwi. They usually need 1–3 days to get to their final form but often taste best when left for at least a week. But shrubs last a long time too—I’m told up to a year, but I’ve never been able to keep one around that long.

This shrub recipe is a concentrate; you’ll want to dilute it to enjoy it. The simplest method is to pour 1/2 ounce of shrub into an 8-ounce or larger glass, top it with sparkling water or seltzer, and then add more shrub until you get a balance you like. Or upgrade your bar by using the shrub as the base for a cocktail.
Learn to make Raw-Fruit Shrub and Basic Shrub Cocktail

Mint

It’s Twice as Tasty’s birthday month, and what better way to celebrate than with cocktails? Get simple syrup and mojito recipes at TwiceasTasty.com.
I tend to be on seasonal quests for unbeatable mixed drinks, looking for, say, the bar that makes its own tonic for G&Ts or the bartender who concocts the perfect old-fashioned. Several years ago, it was mojitos, and a local bartender mixed my hands-down favorite: heavy on the mint, light on the sweet, with the perfect touch of lime. Mint grows like a weed in my garden, but my homemade mojitos didn’t show it. So I had to ask: What was her secret? She gave a simple answer: simple syrup.

I didn’t know it, but I’d been making simple syrup for years—to feed hummingbirds. The first time I dropped some mint leaves into the batch, I found a new kitchen staple. Simple syrups are as easy as they sound, and they can sweeten everything from beverages, with or without alcohol, to desserts. And since it’s Twice as Tasty’s birthday month, and what better way to celebrate than with cocktails?
Learn to make Mint Simple Syrup and Mega-Mint Mojitos