Stuffed peppers in a slow cooker

When I was a child bell peppers came in one color and during one season.  Green.  Summer.  Occasionally someone would leave the pepper on the plant too long (or so we thought) and it would turn red.  But those were very exotic.

At the Collingswood Farmers’ Market there are green, purple, and white peppers for sale right now.  The red ones are coming.  It may be my imagination, but I think the purple and white peppers are milder than that traditional, old style green bell pepper.

This week I stopped at Muth Organic Farm to buy their white and purple peppers.  I wanted to make stuffed peppers.  The peppers were beautiful and the day was certainly hot enough to qualify as summer.IMG_8775

I learned to make stuffed peppers from my mother.  A traditional recipe to be sure.  Rice, meat, onions.  Stuffed in a pepper and put in a pot of tomato “sauce” and cooked on the stove top all afternoon.  I loved them.  But…as I grow older…this recipe is a little “harsh”.

What follows is an easy recipe that is mild and does not heat up the entire kitchen.  It takes about 15 minutes to prepare and stuff the peppers and to make a “mellow” tomato sauce.  Then everything is put into a slow cooker and cooked on low for 6 hours.  A perfectly perfect dinner for an extremely hot summer day.  While my dinner was cooking I was reading a book (…because I know you’re curious….the novel I am reading is the great historical epic Kristin Lavransdatter, set in fourteenth-century Norway, written by Nobel laureate Sigrid Undset, tells the life story of one passionate and headstrong woman. Painting a richly detailed backdrop, Undset immerses readers in the day-to-day life, social conventions, and political and religious undercurrents of the period.  It is an enormous book and perfect for drowsy summer afternoons.  Try it…you might like it!) …  in front of an air conditioner.

Ingredients for the stuffed peppers:
a slow cooker
4 bell peppers
1/8 to 1/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 onion6 button type mushrooms
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 pound ground beef
salt to taste

Directions for the stuffed peppers:
1.  Put the barley in a bowl and cover with water so that the water is about an inch above the barley.  Let soak while you are preparing the meat mixture.IMG_8815
2.  Cut the tops off each pepper and clean out the membrane and seeds that are inside.IMG_8812
3.  Dice the onions and mushrooms into small pieces.
4.  Melt butter in a frying pan and fry the onions and mushrooms for about 5 minutes (be careful not to burn them).IMG_8811
5. Drain the barley in a colander.
6.  Mix together in a bowl the ground meat, onions, mushrooms, barley, cheese, and salt.


7.  Stuff each cleaned out pepper.IMG_8821

Ingredients for the sauce:
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can tomato soup
2 soup cans of water
2 tablespoons dried parsley
the juice of one whole lemon
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions for the sauce:
1.  Mix all ingredients together and pour into slow cooker.

When the sauce is mixed and in the slow cooker, stand the stuffed peppers in the sauce in the slow cooker.  The meat mixture should not be covered with the sauce.  The filled peppers should be standing in the sauce.

Set the slow cooker to low for six hours.

Then go read a book.

When finished take the cooked peppers out of the slow cooker and stand up in a serving bowl.  Sprinkle some more cheese on top.  Serve with a bowl of the sauce on the side.

 

Peppers purchased from Muth Organic Farm (peppers are plentiful at the market right now)

Ground beef and cheese and butter purchased from Hillacres Pride

Onions purchased from Muth Organic Farm and ATBuzby

Mushrooms purchased from Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms

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Romanesco and gray zucchini ….treasures found.

I have written before about the idea of the treasure hunt at the market. There are dozens and dozens of beautiful varieties of fresh produce piled up at all the farmers tables lining the market pathway.  There are blueberries and peaches, corn and tomatoes, summer squash and green, yellow, and purple beans.  All old familiar sought after summer treats.  This week at the market (and for a few weeks to come) I found Romanesco and Grey Zucchini!  These are two delicious varieties of vegetables that, until a few years ago, I had never heard of.  Now, I seek them out.IMG_8652

These unique vegetables were found at The Collingswood Farmers’ Market at Springdale Farms’ table.  Right out in front!

Romanesco (also known as Romanesco broccoli, Roman cauliflower, or even Christmas Tree Broccoli) It is not a new vegetable.  This variety has been grown in Italy since the 16th century. It is uniquely shaped like fractals (which should appeal to your computer and math wizard friends) and is  light chartreuse (yellowish green) in color (which should appeal to your artist friends).  It is crunchy when eaten raw and mild when roasted.  My husband is not a fan of roasted cruciferous vegetables so I steam cook our romanesco and top it with delicious sweet butter and some salt.  Then I mash it!  (I made this recipe for cousins from Ireland we met for the first time….when I’m not cooking I am researching our family tree…and they loved it!  Such a unique presentation, they said!)  It’s easy and different. And my husband will even take seconds.

Mashed Romanesco

Ingredients:
a head of Romanesco
three tablespoons of sweet butter (or more to taste)
salt to taste

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Directions:
1. Cut the fractals from the core stem
2.  Fill a pot with a steamer basket and water up to the bottom of the basket.
3.  Steam the Romanesco pieces until soft.  Begin testing by sticking in a fork when you begin smelling the vegetable’s aroma.


4.  When the Romanesco can be pierced with a fork, remove it from the steaming pot and put into a bowl with the butter and salt
5.  With a large fork or potato masher (you could even use a ricer here), mash the cooked romanesco with the butter and salt.


6. Optional….at this point you could toss in some grated cheese or a tablespoon of cream cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt and mix.

 

 

The other exciting vegetable found this week was gray zucchini or Mexican Summer Squash.  This can be used in any favorite zucchini recipe.  The recipe spelled out here is for zucchini chips.  This variety of zucchini is mild and holds it’s shape.  It cooks up soft…but not mushy.

Gray Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:
2 small to medium gray zucchini squash
olive oil
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  Wash the squash (if you can’t find gray squash…but try!…you can use regular green zucchini) and slice into 1/4 inch rounds


3.  Pour olive oil in a bowl (you are going to dip the slices and coat the with the olive oil…a 1/2 to a whole cup).  Dip a slice of squash into the bowl.  Coat both sides.
4.  In a separate bowl mix the panko bread crumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper.
5.  Dip the olive oil coated squash slice in the bread crumb mixture.  Be sure to dip both sides.


6.  Place the breaded squash on a foil lined baking tray.  Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.
7.  Take the rounds out of the oven and put them on a plate.  Include a dipping sauce.

Dipping sauces:

…a bottled or fresh Ranch dressing is delicious

…or mix a tablespoon of basil pesto into a  1/2 cup of mayonnaise

Or…our new favorite…homemade Halal sauce (you know, the white sauce in a gyro…)

For Halal sauce mix together:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 single serving container of plain green yogurt
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

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Liz’s blueberry crumb bars

Blueberries are now in season here in NJ.  Every year when the market opens in May with strawberries and asparagus, I have to remind my husband that blueberries come in July…around the 4th of July.  And then he waits.  Not always so patiently.  He likes blueberries right out of the box.  When blueberries finally arrive at the market I buy six at a time (and hope I have enough).  Breakfast at our house starts with opening a pint box of blueberries, rinsing them, pouring them in a bowl, and setting them on the table.  My husband eats a pint at breakfast every morning in July.

My oldest daughter has two little boys.  They are not such big fans of plain bowls of blueberries.  But they do like cookies!  This is her recipe for a blueberry “cookie”.  It is very crumbly and is best served in a bowl with lots of ice cream!

Ingredients for the crust and topping:
1 cup all purpose flour
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup finely crushed graham crackers  (her substitution to please young palates….the recipe called for 1/2 cup finely crushed almonds)  If you don’t have already crushed graham crackers, just put the whole crackers in a plastic bag and crush them yourself…by hand, with a rolling pin, or, my favorite…the meat tenderizing hammer!


1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces

Ingredients for the filling:
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and drained (you want the berries to be dry)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

Directions:
1.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.  Line an 8-inch square baking dish with aluminum foil, leaving an overhang on all sides.  Grease the foil lightly with cooking spray and set aside.
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3. Make the crust and topping:  Put flour, oats, graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir to combine.
4.  Add the butter and using a pastry cutter, your fingers, or a large fork, mash the butter into the dry ingredients until there are no large pieces of butter.  The ingredients should look. crumbly and should hold together if you squeeze in your hand.


5.  Set aside one cup of the crust mixture.
6,  Dump the rest of the crust mixture into your prepared pan and press firmly and every into the pan.

7.  Making the filling:  Put the blueberries in a medium bowl.  Add the sugar, cornstarch, and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.
8.  Spoon the blueberry mixture over the crust.
9.  Sprinkle the remaining (the one cup you put aside) crust over the blueberries.IMG_8644

10.  Bake until the blueberries are bubbling and the top is golden brown.  40 to 45 minutes.

Let cool about 2 hours before cutting.

 

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Blueberries are plentiful at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market now.  You can purchase them from A. T. Buzby Farm, Brookeberry Farm, Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm, Fruitwood Farms, Hymer Farm, Muth Organic Farm, and Springdale Farms.

Quick collard greens

IMG_8566Many people avoid buying collard greens because they have a reputation for taking a very, very long time to cook (which is only partially true….sure, you can put them in your slow cooker all day…but that’s a different recipe).  This recipe will have you enjoying your collards as part of (or even as) a weeknight meal in about 35 minutes. Nutritious.  Delicious.  Easy!

My husband is not a big vegetable guy.  Loves his corn and tomatoes and carrots…but broccoli, cauliflower, even green beans, not so much.  But he eats these greens!  He likens the collard greens in this dish to a “hearty spinach”.  That sounds about right.   If you haven’t tried collards yet, now is the right time …fresh and tender from the farm.

This dish can be eaten as a side dish…we ate ours with ribs.  IMG_8606Or it can be the main dish….add beans (kidney, black, navy…) and pasta.  And it can easily be a vegetarian main dish by replacing the bacon with olive oil and adding beans and pasta.

But let’s start with the collards….

Ingredients:
A bunch of collard greens
4 strips of bacon, diced and fried crisp
1 spring onion
a lemon

Directions:
1.  Prepare the collard greens by cutting off the stems (they are edible but require a longer cooking time).  Cut the stem out of the leaf.  Roll some of the green leaves together and slice in thin strips.


2.  Fry the bacon in a large frying pan (use one pan to cook this entire dish) until crisp.  Take the bacon out and set aside.
3.  Dice the onion and fry in the bacon drippings. (I always fry on medium to medium high heat….that way things don’t burn…)


4.  When the onions are translucent (about 5 minutes), toss in the sliced collard greens.  Stir the greens around so they don’t burn.  They will cook down and they will soften.  About 15 to 20 minutes.  IMG_8595
5.  Squeeze a half lemon over the warm greens and stir.
6.  Place the cooked greens on a plate and sprinkle with the crispy bacon pieces.  Serve!IMG_8596

Like I said a great side dish that can easily become a main dish.

Collard greens and spring onion purchased from Muth Organic Farm.
Bacon (no nitrate) purchased from Hillacres Pride.

On the dinner plate….pork ribs (Hillacres Pride), corn (A.T.Buzby), yellow zucchini (Muth Organic), cole slaw (made from Muth Organic cabbage), collards (Muth organic), tomatoes (A.T. Buzby).

Gurkensalat (creamy German cucumber salad)

This is a simple salad that my mother used to make when cucumbers were plentiful.  I’m sure the recipe came from her mother who was of German descent.  My mother often remarked that her mother used sour cream in cooking and salad making and almost never used mayonnaise.  My mother liked sour cream so much that she would eat it right out of the container.  And, I confess, I do too.

My mother never had the benefit of English cucumbers which are now very popular.  They are sweeter.  Their seeds are much smaller.  And they are perfect for this little salad.

This is a salad that you can make ahead.  In fact, it must be made ahead.  But the timing is not strict.  This is a relaxing kind of summer salad.

Gurkensalat is a wonderful and different take on cucumbers.  One that will be a hit at a large picnic pot luck or a quiet summer supper on the porch.

Do seek out English cucumbers as they are delicate and delicious.

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These beautiful English cucumbers were purchased at Muth Organic Farm at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market.

 

Ingredients:

1 large English cucumber
salt
1 tablespoon of fresh dill or 1/2 tablespoon of dried dill
4 oz. sour cream

Directions:

1. Peel the cucumber.
2. Slice very thin.
3. Place the cucumber slices in a colander.  Place the colander in a bowl.  Lightly salt the cucumbers.


4. Allow the salted cucumbers to drain for 30 minutes (no more than an hour).
5. Take the cucumbers out of the colander.  Discard the liquid.  Pat the cucumbers dry. (slightly)


6.  Add the dill and the sour cream.  Stir together.  IMG_8559
7.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.  This salad can be served as soon as it is mixed but it also does well to rest in the refrigerator.
8.  Garnish with fresh or dried dill.
IMG_8561

Funny story.  I love fresh dill.  The way it tastes.  The way it smells.  Every year I buy a dill plant for my little back deck herb garden.  And every year my dill dies and gets sucked back into the earth.  And every year I feel like a failure.  (you have to know that my late father had an enormous green thumb and his dill would grow and grow and grow until you couldn’t use any more).  So recently I spoke with Rick Hymer (a farmer at our local Collingswood Farmers’ Market).  He sells herbs in pots, but no dill.  Why?  He explained that dill is a tall plant.  When it is planted in pots, as it would need to be to sold at the market, it grows tall.  And then it dies.  Not to disappoint me, but because it is done growing.  He went on to explain, with a smile, that the best way to grow dill is from seed.  He advised the $1.29 for a packet of seeds was a better investment than the plant.  So that’s why my father’s dill always grew better than mine.  Thanks, Rick Hymer, that makes me feel better!iu

a taste of summer

Summer is starting and with it the wonder of our Garden State is obvious once again.  On my most recent shopping trip to the Collingswood Farmers’ Market I found first corn, first eggplant, loads of beans and peas, greens, spring cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli, beets, and all variety of summer squash!  It has begun!  My favorite eating time of the year.

Dinner was a joy to prepare and a delicious taste of summer.

On my plate was a fresh and tender salad of oak leaf lettuce, English cucumbers, and red and yellow grape tomatoes tossed with a light vinaigrette.  A melange of summer squash, spring onion, sweet white corn, and tomatoes with a mixture of melted favorite cheeses.  And a bison petit tender sliced into medallions with fried maitake mushrooms.

This whole meal took about 30 minutes to prepare.  Great for easy summer dining!

Bison Petit Tender Medallions with Maitake Mushrooms

Ingredients:
1 bison petit tender (about 1 lb.)
salt
butter (for the pan)
maitake mushrooms

Directions:

  1. Thaw the bison petit tender.  Set the meat on a paper towel and let it dry for 15 or so minutes. IMG_8490
  2. While the bison meat is drying shred and fry the maitake mushrooms in butter.  I used maitake mushrooms but any mushroom you like will do.  I prefer maitake in this recipe because the small pieces of the mushroom fry up crisp and give a nice mushroom/onion taste and feel to the dish.
  3. Slice the whole piece of meat into 1/2 inch thick medallions
  4. Lightly salt and let sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Melt butter in a large frying pan
  6. Place medallions in the frying pan.  Fry each piece for 2 minutes.  Flip and fry one minute more.  Remember bison can easily overcook so watch your time and look at your meat in the pan.
  7. Add the mushrooms to the cooked medallions and serve.IMG_8499

    (I have researched cooking with grass fed/pasture raised meats.  I have found that butter is the preferred “oil” for such meats.  I’ve tried oil and butter.  I much prefer butter).

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A taste of summer and lovely easy meals to come.  IMG_8504

Where to purchase these ingredients at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market:

Grape tomatoes (yellow and red) – Fruitwood Farm
Corn – A. T. Buzby Farm
Zucchini and patty pan squash – Muth Organic Farm
English cucumbers – Muth Organic Farm
Maitake mushrooms – Davidson’s Exotic Mushrooms
Oak leaf lettuce – Savoie Organic Farm
Cheddar cheese and butter – Hillacres Pride
Bison Petit Tender – Buck Wild Bison

50 ways to eat your bison (well, not 50, but a lot)!

Did you know that a bison quarter-pounder burger has only about 124 calories with only 6 grams of fat and 17 grams of protein?

Did you know that bison are raised outdoors in their normal habitat and eat their natural diet?
bison_herd_large
Did you know that bison are a tremendous source of lean protein?

Did you know that bison is full of energizing B vitamins, selenium (which fights inflammation), zinc (which supports a strong immune system), and iron?

Did you know that shoppers at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market are fortunate to have Buck Wild Bison selling their wonderful bison meats every week?  Every week!

 

 

So….

That’s all good…but what does bison taste like?  Is is good?  How do I cook it?  Will my kids eat it?

Bison tastes similar to beef but it is leaner, lighter, and more luscious!  How can it be all that?  It just is.

Because bison meat is so lean and finely marbled, the cook must be slightly cautious when cooking.  Use a lower temperature and a shorter cooking time than when cooking beef.  Or, as my husband would instruct…”pay attention”.  Don’t throw that steak or burger on the grill and walk away!

Bison is a great alternative to beef, chicken, or fish.  It’s lower in fat than all three!

Try a “brick” (of ground bison)….or a pack or burgers or a steak, a sausage, a roast or…..

You can substitute BISON for any beef dish your create.

Simple instructions on how to GRILL a bison burger:

Cook burgers over no higher than medium heat to prevent the patties from drying out.  For a gas grill that would be 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  A charcoal grill has reached the correct bison grilling temperature when you can hold your hand about three inches above the grate for four or five seconds.

GRILL 1/2 inch ground bison patties with the lid down for about 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until an instant read thermometer registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit (a good internal temperature for all your bison cooks).

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Recently I made BISON BURGER CHEESESTEAK SLOPPY JOEs.  That is a mouthful of a recipe title and it was a delicious mouthful of bison ground meat.

Ingredients:
onions, mushroom, and red peppers chopped small and fried in olive oil.
ground bison ( 1/4 pound for each)
snowflake (or soft rolls)

Directions:
1.  Fry up your vegetables (add or subtract your favorite ingredients…be creative)!IMG_8223
2.  Form your patty.
3. Place your patty on a medium hot griddle or in a frying pan.
4.  Fry on each side for 30 seconds.
5.  Break up the patty with a spatula.  Add vegetables.  Continue chopping all ingredients together.  Add cheese.  Chop some more.

 

 


6.  Scoop up and slide onto a soft roll.  IMG_8233

 

REVERSE SEAR COLD GRATE GRILLED BISON RIB EYE
Also recently husband and I enjoyed a bison rib eye steak which he cooked using the Reverse Sear Cold Grate method (if you are interested you can find video on YouTube).  Essentially you cook the steak on the indirect (no heat underneath) side of the grill until it reaches an internal temperature of about 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  Take the meat off the grill…add coals to make a hot fire…put the cold grate on the grill and cook the steak on the cold grate for 1 minute, flip 1 minute more, flip 1 minute more, flip 1 minute more.
The method is a little more complicated than throw that steak on the grill but the results are delicious.

 

 

 

Buck Wild Bison sells their own chili.  Quick and easy for a week night dinner.

 

 

 

And Buck Wild Bison also sells their own hot dogs.  My grandsons love them!image1.jpg

 

And here are some links to bison recipes (from this blog) that are easy and delicious.

bison meatloaf

bison short ribs

Bison tomahawk on a summer afternoon

bison brisket tacos

bison chipped steak poutine

Petit Tender Medallions

 

With apologies to Paul Simon………

The problem is all inside your head
She said to me
The answer is easy if you
Take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle
With this meat
There must be 50 ways
To eat your BISON.

She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Further more, I hope my meaning
Won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being rude
There must be 50 ways
To eat your BISON.

Turn down the heat, Pete.
Grill it real slow, Joe.
Shoot for 160, Trixie.
And get BISON glee.

She said it grieves me so
To see you hesitate
I wish there was something I could say
To make you grill again.
I said I appreciate that
And would you please explain
About the fifty ways?

She said why don’t we buy
Some BISON from Wild Buck
I believe that over dinner
You’ll begin to taste delight
And I realized she probably was right.
There must be fifty ways to eat your BISON.

Grab  some chili, Millie!
Grill a steak Jake!
How about some hot dogs and beans Dean?
Or make a poutine Jean!

Make a new plan, Stan
Just listen to me
We don’t need to discuss much
Just buy a brick (of ground BISON) Rick
And get BISON GLEE.

 

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Elegant beet stacks

I was never much of a beet fan.  My mother never made them.  As an adult I stayed away from them because the first time I tried to cook them my hands were stained dark purple for days.  But the farmers at Collingswood Farmers Market continued to tempt me.  They grew and sold the standard dark purple burgundy.  But then they put out lighter red with a spiral colored interior and golden beets.  Golden beets.  That sounded like food of the gods!

Elsewhere in this blog is a post explaining how to roast beets.  It’s simple and your fingers do not get permanently dyed.  I will explain again quick and easy beet roasting.  But now….what to do with them?

Beets are easy, nutritious, and delicious…and now they can be a lovely addition to your elegant dinner table.  Yes, elegant.

To roast a beet….
Scrub the outside of the beet with water and a vegetable brush.  They grow underground after all.  Cut the leaves off (people do eat them…but that is not what we’re talking about today).  Wrap each beet in a small piece of aluminum foil.  Place each foil packet on a rimmed sheet pan.

Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.  You will start to smell them (very sweet) and some of the sugar may ooze out of the foil…done.  Let cool (so you can handle them).  When the beet is cool enough to handle, peel it.  IMG_8290You can use a knife, a spoon…your hands.  The beets will be soft and the outer skin will come off easily.

Slice each beef into thin disks.

Pour your favorite vinaigrette dressing on them and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.  (You can do this a day or two ahead and let them marinate for a day or two in the refrigerator.  I like to have a jar of them to toss on salads all week).IMG_8293

If you want to make a simple salad to brighten up the dinner table, stir up the bowl of beets with the marinade and top with small pieces of feta cheese.
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To make a more elegant dish place one slice of beet on a plate, top that beet with basil and feta soft cheese (from Hillacres Pride), place another slice of beet on top of the cheese, more cheese, a last piece of beet.  Three slices of beets makes a very nice presentation and, with the soft cheese, is quite the right portion.  Not to mention delicious.
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My husband, who is not always aware of elegance on the table, commented on the appearance (“wow”), and the taste (“good”), and the portion (“just enough”).

 

 

Beets can be found at Flaim Farm, Formisano Farm, and Muth Organic Farm (the beets for this recipe were purchased at Muth Organic Farm.

Olive oil to make your favorite vinaigrette  can be found at Villa Barone.

Pesto and Feta Soft cheese, and plain Feta can be found at Hillacres Pride.IMG_8296

Refrigerator strawberry jam without pectin

..or what to do with too many strawberries…again!

In my defense…it has been a long and bitterly cold winter and the strawberries are so fresh and new (and not soggy!) and there are so many farmers selling them at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market (Buzby Farm, Fruitwood Farm, Muth Farm, Springdale Farm!!!!) and they smell wonderful when strolling through the market.  Resistance, for me, is futile.

My husband and I started eating strawberries when I returned home from the market.  We hadn’t had breakfast so I rinsed and sliced a quart and a pint box.  And we enjoyed them.  Me in my vanilla Greek yogurt sprinkled with cinnamon.  My husband plain in the bowl.  A big bowl.

We had more at lunch.  With ice cream this time.

And even more at dinner. Plain. (well, a little whipped cream..).

When I put all my other purchases away (cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, asparagus, green onions, snap peas) I still had a counter full of strawberries in those innocent blue paper boxes.  I called my daughter and asked if she was missing some.  Had I taken a few of her quarts by mistake?  No.  They were all mine.  And after all we had eaten there were still four quarts of lovely, luscious strawberries left for me to clean and for husband and I to eat.

Enter refrigerated strawberry jam.  No canning required.  Simply cook down the berries until they are thickened, put the jam in jars, and refrigerate.  And my research tells me this jam will be good for two weeks in the fridge.

 

Ingredients:
8 cups of strawberries (rinsed, hulled, and mashed)
3 cups sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Directions:
1.  Rinse, hull, and mash your berries.  You can use a potato masher or an immersion blender…how chunky do you want your jam?
2.  Put the berries, sugar, and lemon juice into a large pot.  Stir until well combined.IMG_8208
3.  Bring the berries to a boil.  (I started on medium high…and stirred very frequently so the sugar wouldn’t burn).  This should take 10 to 15 minutes.


4. Boil the berries for about 15 minutes more.  Continue stirring to keep things from burning but not as frequently as when you started the jam mixture.


5.  While the jam is boiling, put a stainless steel spoon in the freezer.  When the jam mixture has reduced by 1/3 you can test for doneness by putting the cold spoon in the hot jam.  If the jam drips off the spoon in lots of individual drops, it is not ready.  If the jam drops off the spoon in big goops, it is almost ready.  If the jam comes off  the spoon in a sheet or doesn’t drop off at all, it’s ready.IMG_8217
6.  Take the pot off the heat.
7.  The jam will set more as it cools.
8.  Ladle the jam into clean jars.  When the jars are cool enough to touch, put lids on the jars and put the jars in the refrigerator.IMG_8220

This jam is very fresh and chemical free.  It will not be as thick as commercial jam, but it will be thick enough to put on pancakes and waffles and ice cream and cake and toast and…

By now there is a silly tune running around inside your head.  But not that version…click the youtube link (apologies for whatever preview you see) here Richard Thompson singing That Song…. 

Strawberry crumble

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I am always enthusiastic about strawberries.  The first berries of the season are always fresh, but not always sweet.  Their sweetness grows as the new spring progresses until suddenly their fragrance fills the air.  Walking through the farmers’ market I could smell strawberries!  And so I was delighted to buy those aqua boxes filled with firm red strawberries from every farmer who was offering them for sale.

The rest of the story is I bought too many.  Not a new story.  After cleaning and eating bowls of strawberries on yogurt, ice cream, cake, and whipped cream I had to go bigger.

This weekend is the un-official start of summer.  Picnics and pot luck dinners are filling our calendars.  So…what better way to use up my pile of strawberries (and be a pot luck hero!) than to bake a delicious dessert to share.  Hence strawberry crumble!

This recipe goes together quickly and easily.  And uses lots of strawberries!

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ingredients…for the strawberry filling…
2 quarts of fresh strawberries (cleaned and sliced)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup all purpose flour

Directions…for the strawberry filling…
1.  Put the strawberries in a 9×23 inch baking dish.IMG_8171
2.  Mix the sugar, vanilla, and flour together
3.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the strawberries.  Shake the dish to slightly mix in the sugar mixture.  Set aside.IMG_8174

Ingredients…for the crumble topping…
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cut into small chunks (I grate the cold butter on a cheese grater, large holes)
1/2 cup oatmeal (NOT quick cooking)
4 tablespoons sugar

Directions…for the crumble topping…
1.  In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2.  With a fork, mix the butter into the mixture.
3.  Next, again with the fork, stir in the oats and sugar.IMG_8176
4.  Evenly cover the strawberries with the crumble


5.  Bake for 30 minutes.

The crumble is ready when it is slightly golden and the strawberry juices are bubbling through the topping.IMG_8184

This is delicious served warm, at room temperature, or cold from the refrigerator.

It is likewise delicious served plain, with cake, with cake and whipped cream, with cake and ice cream and whipped cream.

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Strawberries purchased from A. T. Buzby Farm, Fruitwood Farms, Muth Organic Farm, Springdale Farms…all at the Collingswood Farmers’s Market.  And all delicious!