Corn off the cob.

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My husband has a beard.  He has for forty five years.  My husband loves sweet NJ corn smothered with butter and sprinkled with salt.  BUT he won’t eat corn on the cob because he hates getting butter in his beard.

So, because I’m nice that way, and because I hate for anyone to give up delicious food without a fight….I make corn OFF the cob.

First buy six to twelve ears of delicious sweet NJ corn from your favorite farmer (or farmers).  At the Collingswood Farmers’ Market, A. T. Buzby and Les Viereck both had beautiful white corn for the first time this week!  Each showed an ear for their patrons.  And it was beautiful!

(a word here…..one should not shuck (peel) the corn until one is ready to use it.  The husk keeps the corn moist and fresh and when you break that seal by  pulling down a piece or even completely shucking it (our local supermarkets have garbage cans next to their corn displays so one can peel and toss …terrible!).  And, if one pulls down the outside to check the inside, and then tosses it back on the table…one has just ruined a piece of produce for the next guy.  The green on the outside of the corn cob keeps the corn fresh and moist.  Right now I have a dozen ears of corn in my refrigerator still in their fine greenery.

When I shop at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market, as I have done since it’s beginning, I simply ask the farmer for what I want.  I may request big or small (usually small) but I trust the farmer has brought his best produce for me to feed my family.  When asked to choose what cucumber I want or zucchini or ear of corn I simply say “you pick, I trust you”.  I’ve never ever been disappointed. Do not hesitate to take that prepackaged bag of corn…it is prepackaged for your convenience. Everything sold by our farmers is awesome!)

Back to the corn…This is what to look for, beautiful green on the outside.  The only thing dry should be the silk at the very top.  That’s it.  Inside will be a beautiful and delicious ear of corn.  (Did you know that you can eat corn raw?   Those are teeth marks.  I tasted the corn because it smelled so sweet… Like candy my husband agreed).

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When I cook corn I shuck it, and cut the kernels off the cob with a small knife and a big bowl.

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Then I put a generous hunk of Hillacres Pride unsalted butter into the pan to melt.  Once melted I toss in the corn.  Stir the corn around in the butter for five minutes or until it is to your liking (taste it!).  And it’s done!  Sprinkle with some salt (and pepper if you like). Serve.

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You can add diced zucchini to this…or diced peppers…or a dollop of heavy cream.  This preparation is easy and delicious and, more to the point, doesn’t leave butter in your beard!

 

Recently my family has discovered a barbecue restaurant that serves Cheesy Corn.  The above corn off the cob can easily be turned into Cheesy Corn.

Ingredients:
six ears of corn cleaned and with kernels cut off the cob
1/4 cup butter, melted

(for cheesy corn)
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese

After you’ve cooked the corn in the butter, drop  four ounces of cream cheese and eight ounces of grated cheddar cheese into the corn and butter mixture.  Stir.  Put a lid on the pan.  Turn off the heat.  Let the cheeses melt.  Stir again.  Serve.

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Enjoy!

 

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Jersey tomato sandwich. OMG!

At the Collingswood Farmers’ market this week two farms had VINE RIPENED JERSEY TOMATOES.  Springdale Farms and Viereck Farms.  Springdale offered boxes of neatly stacked small tomatoes and Les Viereck offered small, medium, and large priced by the tomato.  I, of course, bought some of all.

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My father (one of eight children raised during the Great Depression!) talked about baked bean sandwiches, ketchup sandwiches, and onion sandwiches.

I often eat a salad sandwich.  That is a sandwich, usually on a roll, of lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red or green pepper, a piece of cheese, and mayonnaise.  For those sandwiches just fresh everything is good enough.  But to make a Jersey tomato sandwich one must have a JERSEY TOMATO.  Nothing in the world tastes like them.

So here we are.  It’s lunch time.  And I have fresh, vine ripened Jersey tomatoes picked and purchased this morning.

Ingredients: one sliced vine ripened Jersey tomato, mayonnaise, fresh soft bread (wheat or white, but white is traditional), and a sprinkle of salt.

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Directions:  Slice the tomato as thick or thin as you prefer. Spread mayonnaise liberally on soft bread. Layer on the sliced tomato.  Sprinkle with salt.

Heaven!

If you are a New Jersey native  you don’t need these directions.  You just need to know where to get those tomatoes.  If you are not a New Jersey native and have never eaten a true Jersey tomato sandwich prepare to be delighted!

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Simple summer salad.

My younger daughter named this Summer Salad.  Before that is was that tomato and cucumber salad.  Summer Salad is much more appealing.

Rick Hymer of Monroeville is one of my favorite farmer’s at the Collingswood Farmers’ Market.  He starts slow and finishes with a bang!  When the market opens Hymer Farms’ stand has plants.  Beautiful hanging plants, bedding plant, vegetable plants for your home garden, and, my favorites, herb gardens and patio tomatoes.  I have  a shady property and the herb garden I buy every year from Mr. Hymer sits right by my back door for easy picking.  And the patio tomatoes grow perfectly in the small spotlight of sun I have on the kitchen side of my house. Of course I buy my tomatoes at the market, but there is something very special about a tomato picked and eaten still warm from the sun.

Currently the tomatoes sold at the market are hot house grown tomatoes.  That means they are grown right here.  But inside greenhouses.  They are still Jersey tomatoes and they taste delicious after a long winter.  We’ll talk again when the field tomatoes ripen but don’t shy away from the hot house ones.  Delicious.

This week Mr. Hymer had vegetables!  Potatoes, onions, cucumbers, peas, and hot house tomatoes.

I had picked up some green onions (or scallions) and when I saw the beautiful tomatoes and cucumbers I knew what I was making as a side dish with my dinner.  Summer Salad!

This recipe is super easy.  You can make it in the morning and it will be ready for dinner.  You can make it and eat it right away.  You can make it and take it along to a friends or for a picnic.

Take a cucumber, a green onion, and a large tomato.  IMG_3797Cut the ends off the cucumber.  (Did you know if you slice the cucumber stem to flower it will be sweeter.  I didn’t believe it either…).  Slice both the white and the green of the onion into tiny rings.  Cut the stem out of the tomato and coarsely chop.  Put the cucumber pieces, tomato pieces, and green onion pieces into a bowl.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt over all.  Pour two to three tablespoons of your favorite vinaigrette into the bowl and stir to coat.  Let it sit a while.IMG_3802

Finish preparing your dinner.  Go sit under a tree with a cool drink.  Do the crossword puzzle.  Spoon the salad into a pretty dish and serve.

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Zee Bread (for John Willis)

It’s mid June and already my favorite Collingswood  Farmers’ Market farmers are selling zucchini…small, medium, and LARGE.

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Everyone who loves zucchini knows that the frighteningly large ones come later and are wonderful for zucchini bread.  Already Les Viereck had large ones!  Ask him why…he’ll tell you.  That man knows his stuff and loves his farm.

Decades ago husband and I had a friend who loved this particular bread and lovingly called it Zee Bread.  Once he said it we changed the title to honor and remember him.

This particular recipe has been modified from the original but only in good ways!

This recipe makes two large loaves.  Pans must be greased and floured.

Ingredients:
4 cups grated zucchini (4 little, 3 medium, 2 large, or 1 gigantic)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/ teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins (I use golden, but any will do)
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
2.  Grease and flour two standard (8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″) oaf pans
3.  Grate zucchini

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4.  Beat together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla
5.  Mix together, in another bowl, the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
6.  Mix together the sugar and egg mixture, the flour mixture, the grated zucchini.  Alternate the flour mixture and the zucchini.

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7.  When the batter is completely mixed, stir in the raisins and nuts
8.  Pour batter into greased loaf pans and bake for one hour at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (until tester toothpick comes out clean)

Delicious for breakfast with cream cheese and a cup of hot tea.  Or as dessert with cream cheese and a glass of iced tea.  Either way, zucchini bread always tastes better on the back porch.

There you have it.  Easy. Delicious.  And it uses 4 CUPS OF ZUCCHINI!

 

 

I’m feeling beet.

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Collingswood Farmers’ Market.  Early morning.  Stroll the avenue.  Things that are waning…asparagus, strawberries.  Things that are making their first appearances…zucchini, summer squash, cherries, beets.

Beets?!

Yes.  Beets.

Here is an easy, delicious, and (dare I say) elegant way to eat your beets.

At the most recent market many of the farmers had beets.  Golden are a beautiful addition to the party.  Red is standard and rich.  But DanLynn had a mixed bunch of organic beets that came in three different colors.

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First scrub your beets to get all the dirt off.

Next cut off the top and trim the bottom. (Tops can be eaten too).

Wrap each beet in its own piece of foil.  Put on a tray and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.  Check to see if the beet is done by squeezing the foil ball.  If there is some give in the beet, it’s done.  If not…bake a little longer.  You’ll know by squeezing if the beet is done (similar to baking potato).

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Unwrap the beet and peel it with your fingers or a knife.

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Slice into thin slices and drizzle with your favorite vinaigrette dressing (your own or bottled).

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Delicious on a salad or as a salad or side dish.

These are great to take to a picnic.  Pop them in a jar with the vinaigrette and chill.  They keep for days.

My mother’s carrot cake.

 

Forty five years ago my mother adapted a carrot cake recipe she’d been given reducing the oil by half and adding applesauce to make up the difference..  That may not seem like such an innovation right now, but when my mother did it, it was inspirational.  And delicious.

What follows is the recipe for my mother’s carrot cake.  It is a little bit of work, but, truly worth the effort.

A couple of things before you get started.  One, grate your carrots first.  Two, allow an hour to bake and twice that to cool.  Three, this is a BIG cake. (I once tried to make cupcakes, at my husband’s request.  This recipe makes 4 million cupcakes.  Don’t do it.  Save yourself!) And, finally, this cake  is delicious the day it’s baked…but it makes your knees weak the next day.

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INGREDIENTS:
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs beaten.
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups of fresh grated carrots (straight from your farmer are the sweetest!)
8 ounces (1 cup) apple sauce (homemade with apples fresh from the orchard is great!)
1 cup of golden raisins (but any raisins will do)

Electric mixer.

13 x 9 inch pan.

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grate the carrots and set aside.
3. Mix together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. Beat together the oil and sugar.  Add the eggs.
5. Spoon the flour mixture into the bowl with the oil, sugar, and eggs.  Beat together until blended.
6.  Slowly add the grated carrots, apple sauce, and raisins…alternating until all are added.
7. When all ingredients are combined, pour batter into a greased and floured 13 x 9 inch pan and bake in a 350 degree (F) oven for an hour or until done (when a cake tester or toothpick comes out of the cake with nothing or a crumb on it).
8.  Cool for 90 minutes to two hours before you ice.  Don’t skip the icing.  Really, don’t .

Ice with butter cream icing:  Beat together a stick of good quality salted butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons milk (or more to get the desired consistency), and nearly a pound of powdered sugar (or less, to get the desired amount and consistency).  This icing is delicious but is a feel by recipe.  No exact amounts.  Try it.  Work our your sweetness and texture.  It will be one of those recipes you just know how to do.  And one you will return to often.

 

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Frozen strawberries and what to do with them.

Strawberry season in NJ is winding down.  Some farmer’s at the market are already out of berries.  The berries are even looking a little ragged.  And they don’t last very long in the basket.  What to do?

I simply clean, cut, and freeze.  It is a very simple process that allows you to have strawberries all year.

I intend to use mine in the strawberry muffin with the chocolate surprise recipe (previously published).  But you can use them in pancakes, in quick breads, or simply thawed over ice cream or sponge cakes (have you tried the heart shaped sponge cakes from Springdale Farm…delicious…and you can freeze them too and have strawberry shortcakes to celebrate the first snow)!

First I spray washed and cut the strawberries.  Not too small, you can mash them or chop them smaller when you thaw them.  I added just a tiny bit of sugar.  I cleaned and cut 2 quarts and used two tablespoons of organic sugar.  Give the bowl of berries a quick stir.

Spoon the berries into freezer bags in an amount that would be useful for your recipe.  I put about 1 1/2 cups worth in each of my bags.  Then I sealed the bag and stacked them in the freezer.  From two quarts I got six bags of frozen strawberries to be enjoyed all year!

It really is a treat to eat NJ fresh/frozen strawberries with whipped cream in the middle of winter.  And so easy.