A Quick Pickle

One of my most-used recipes from culinary school actually came from one of my classmates. I’ve used it often at home and have shared it with friends. After making some modifications to suit my tastes, I also submitted the recipe to the first cookbook for the Harvard Farmer’s Market. I hope it gets published. This will be my first recipe published.

Using pickling cucumbers from our garden (more on our garden in a future post), I cut them up into appropriate sizes. The cucumbers were cut off the plan at different sizes so I could test what made the tastiest pickle and also see how they compared texture-wise.

Here are some pictures.

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Pickling Recipe & Method:

Food preservation through pickling is a great way to keep fresh delicious food available long after it’s in season. This simple pickle recipe works with a variety of foods to produce a slightly sweet and sharp pickle. Try it out with cucumbers, red & white onions, beets, carrots and other fresh items out of your garden or from the farmers market. For best results, let it sit for 12 hours. This pickle can also be stored long-term using a canning method.

Base Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 C White Vinegar
  • 2 T Sugar
  • 2 t Kosher Salt
  • 2 C water

Optional Ingredients:

  • 1 t of mustard seed or ground mustard 
  • Red chili flakes
  • Fresh dill

Equipment:

  1. Large non-reactive pot
  2. Wooden spoon
  3. A heat-safe large bowl for cooling or heat-safe canning jars

Method:

  1. Cut the food you would like to pickle into your desired size
  2. Fill the bowl or canning jars with the food to be pickled. Yield will depend on the density of your food items. Scale the recipe as needed keeping the ingredient ratios in tact.
  3. Combine the base ingredients in a large pot
  4. Bring the pot up to a strong simmer and stir ensuring the sugar and salt are dissolved
  5. Pour the pickling liquid over your pickling items in the bowl or jars ensuring that they are fully covered 
  6. Allow the liquid to cool to room temperature, around 70 degrees
  7. Place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or longer
  8. Enjoy!
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Cooking Fresh Food From The Union Square Farmers’ Market

Union Square Farmers' MarketI can’t keep using my tiny NY apartment kitchen as an excuse for not cooking. It’s not ideal, but it’s not the worst I’ve seen in the city either. One great thing about New York is that while most living quarters may be smaller than the rest of the world, just about everything else is bigger, this includes farmers’ markets such as the Union Square Farmers’ Market.

The selection can be overwhelming. I spent Monday meandering through the different stalls wondering what to pick up to cook for dinner. I was lucky enough to come across a stall where they were cooking some of their vegetables for people to taste. In New York you need hustle and showmanship and as a result they won my purchase of garlic, sweet peppers and purslane, an ingredient I was not familiar with.

Purslane

Aside from being exposed to new ingredients and supporting the local community, a key benefit to shopping local and at a farmers’ market is that you can talk to the farmers themselves and also learn about how they grow their crops.

Clean Food

At home I tested out cooking the purslane as I had seen demonstrated through a quick sauté in olive oil, along with garlic, onion and the peppers, a little salt and black pepper. The garlic from the farmers’ market is very different from that which you find in the supermarket. This one in particular was sweeter and had a more delicate flavor.Purslane, Peppers, Garlic

I was pretty happy with the result, a repeated this on Tuesday, cooking the purslane a bit longer to get a softer result.Cooked Purslane, Peppers, Garlic, Onion

Wednesday’s farmers’ market in Union Square allowed me to get a fresh zucchini and some cherry tomatoes.Fresh Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

I happily cooked these down in olive oil over low heat with some salt and pepper and garlic.

Fresh Cooking Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

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When cooked through I added this to some penne pasta for a late pasta primavera style (it’s summer) meal.

Pasta Primavera, Fresh Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

I feel bad that I used boxed pasta and hope that I can make some from scratch next time. I’m lucky to work so close to the farmers’ market and will make it a point to try out new ingredients as much as I can.

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Food Bring Me Home

It was another hot day today. Everyone kept talking about it and yet the heat did not bother me. My training must be making me immune to hot temperatures. I have enjoyed a relaxing weekend with family, filled with great meals and conversation. I wondered how I could top it all off.

Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA
Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA

My friend Jenn started the Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton Ma. A few months ago I had helped her work on the farmers market web site and being Sunday and in the area, I had the perfect opportunity to check it out while also picking up some nice seasonal fruits and vegetables.

Farmers markets are great for what they allow you to do. They give you the opportunity to pick up fresh local food at a fair price while helping support the local economy. One thing that struck me about this particular market was the willingness of people to provide free samples of food.

Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA
Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA

The vegetables in particular were diverse and some unknown to me. I often try new foods on recommendation, but allowing me to taste the food allowed me to evaluate it’s freshness as well as gain a better appreciation for what it was, how it tastes and how I might cook it. Everyone was more than willing to provide simple cooking suggestions as well as full fledged recipes. The community feel and friendly atmosphere are hard to come by at the mega-grocery store and a welcomed change.

Live music, artisans and friendly volunteers all contributed to a fun environment.

Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA
Acton-Boxborough Farmers Market in Acton, MA

Not wanting to end my culinary tour and trip down memory lane, I also stopped off at Westward Orchards in my hometown of Harvard, Ma. on my way back to the city.

The farm is owned and run by the Green family, the family of one of my High School classmates Stephanie. As I pulled in, the sign for fresh peaches called my name; I parked my car and headed to the farm stand building.  I grabbed a bag of peaches and walked around the store. I was greeted by her parents, then almost not recognizing her, was greeted with a cheerful hello. It’s amazing how after years (11 in this case) you can pick up some things in life with ease almost as if no time had passed at all. I learned of her recent engagement, talked about business, my new found love for food and cooking, old friends and generally just caught up. Noticing the bag of peaches in hand, she assured me that they were delicious and that I would be hooked. I would definitely be back, and back in less than 11 years for sure. I had no doubt she was right.

Westward Orchards of Harvard, MA
Westward Orchards of Harvard, MA

Though I longed for life in the city when I grew up, this weekend served as a reminder of how lucky I was to grow up where I did. Access to local fruits and vegetables and those who produce it is to some extent a luxury few have. The “apple town” I once scoffed at isn’t so bad after all. Don’t get me wrong though as  I do enjoy living in the city and what it has to offer, but the quaint contrast of small-town life is fun to partake in when given the opportunity.

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A Sign of Summer: A Trip to a Farmers’ Market

Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Tents
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Tents

Summer is finally here. With the first sunny day in recent memory, I took a trip during my lunch break to the Kendall Square Farmers’ Market in Cambridge, Ma. It opened up a few weeks ago and I have been wanting to go, but wasn’t able to find the time during my work day until today. It’s only about a ten or fifteen minute walk and well worth it. It’s nice to see fresh, sustainable and locally grown vegetables from farmers coming from the surrounding communities. They are eager to talk, answer questions, talk about their farming methods and the in-seasonal vegetables at their stations. Bakeries, dessert companies and artisans also complete the scene adding to a really enjoyable experience. I picked up some really great looking golden and green zucchinis  that I’ll use to accompany a meal and to make bread as well as some lettuce for a fresh salad to accompany my often lonely meat creations.

Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Zucchini
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Zucchini
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Lettuce
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: Lettuce
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: More Greens
Kendall Square Farmers' Market: More Greens
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