27 Aug Tips for Okra and Garlic Okra

Tips:

Look for smooth, unblemished pods. Green okra should be bright green with a bit of fresh, even dewy fuzz on its surface. Purple or red okra should similarly look fresh. The brighter and greener the ends are, the fresher the okra is. Avoid pods with significant brown spots, dry looking ends, or any shriveled bits

Most okra is harvested when the pods are between 1 and 4 inches long. Pods longer than 4 inches tend to get into the tough category, which can be fine for stewing and gumbos but not ideal for quicker cooking.

Okra is best fresh. Eat okra within a few days of buying it. Store okra loosely wrapped in a plastic bag in the refrigerator

Okra contains a clear, somewhat thick liquid that is how it stores water in the hot climates where it thrives. Leaving okra whole and quick cooking methods – sautéeing, grilling, frying – bring out the crunchy, rather than the slimy, side of okra. Cooking okra with plenty of acid – vinegar, citrus juice, tomatoes – is another way to keep its slippery nature in check.

Garlic Okra

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. Okra
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 2 tsp. Canola Oil
  • Sea Salt to taste

Directions:

1.  Trim, rinse, and pat Okra dry. Set aside. Peel Garlic Clove, cut in half lengthwise, and slice as thinly as possible.

2. Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until it shimmers, about 30 seconds. Add Garlic and let sizzle until just starting to turn golden, about 1 minute. Add Okra, stir to combine, and cover. Cook, shaking pan frequently, until Okra is starting to brown on the edges and tender to the bite, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle with Salt to taste and serve.

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20 Aug Cantaloupe Salad with Basil, Fresh Mozzarella & Onions

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium Cantaloupe, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 10-20 leaves of sliced Basil, (reserve a few whole leaves for garnish)
  • 10 Green Olives, sliced
  • 1/4 Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh Mozzarella Balls, sliced into quarters
  • 1 ½ tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Lime Juice, from 1 Lime
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

1.  In a large bowl, toss the Cantaloupe, Basil Strips, Olives, Red Onions and Mozzarella Balls together. Lightly dress the salad with a long pour of Olive Oil and even longer drizzle of Red Wine Vinegar. Toss with the Lime Juice. Generously Salt and Pepper the salad and taste.

2.  This Salad is great straight away but even better chilled for a few hours before serving, to allow the flavors to really meld.

 

Choosing a Cantaloupe:

Look for a fruit that is light tan with green lines across it. Avoid melons with mostly green or white underlying color. The melon should be heavy for its size, and firm but not rock hard.

Sniff the spot where the melon was severed from its stem. The melon should smell fresh and fragrant with a hint of sweetness. If you can’t smell anything, it’s under ripe. An unpleasant smell means it’s no longer good to eat. Push your fingers on the round section where the vine was attached. It should be slightly soft.

Shake the cantaloupe next to your ear. If you hear seed rattling about inside, it’s ready to eat.

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14 Aug Watermelon Cooler

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups (1/2-inch) watermelon cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups ginger ale
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 (6-oz.) can frozen limeade concentrate

Directions:

1.  Place watermelon cubes in a single layer in an extra-large zip-top plastic freezer bag, and freeze 8 hours. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

2.  Process half each of watermelon, ginger ale, water, and limeade concentrate in a blender until smooth; pour mixture into a pitcher. Repeat procedure with remaining half of ingredients; stir into pitcher, and serve immediately.

 

How to Choose a Watermelon

Look for uniform shape. Look for a firm, symmetrical watermelon free from bruises, cuts or dents. If the watermelon has any lumps or bumps, this may mean that it received irregular amounts of sunshine or water during growing, causing dryness or inconsistency

Lift it up.The watermelon should be heavy for its size, as this indicates that it is full of water and therefore nice and ripe.

Look for the field spot. The underside of the watermelon should have a creamy yellow spot, known as the field spot. This is where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun, so the darker it is the better.

Inspect the color. A perfect, ripe watermelon should be dark green in color and dull in appearance, rather than shiny. A shiny watermelon will usually be under ripe.

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25 Jun Tips for Buying and Storing Blueberries, Peaches, Squash, and Tomatoes

Blueberries

Look for dark blue blueberries that have a slight white-silvery bloom on them. Avoid purplish or green. Refrigerate fresh blueberries, either in their original plastic pack or in a covered bowl or container.   Do not rinse or wash blueberries until you’re ready to use them – the moisture will shorten their storage span considerably!

Peaches

Buy ripe or nearly ripe peaches. If they’re very hard, they are likely picked green and won’t develop the right taste or texture. A split or bruise means the peach will go bad quickly and ruin any peach it touches. Eat or preserve these right away. Peaches can be stored touching other peaches, but they shouldn’t touch other types of fruit.  Put the peaches until a paper bag until they are soft enough to eat. They should give to very gentle pressure. Remove from bag and store in the refrigerator.

Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes should have taught, shiny skin that is a uniform red color. The skin should give a little when squeezed, but not feel mushy.  Choose a tomato that is heavy in comparison both to its size and to other tomatoes.  Ripen at Room Temperature, do not refrigerate

Squash

Look for squash that are tender and well developed, firm, and fresh-appearing. You can identify a tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead of dull, and it is neither hard nor tough. Avoid stale or over mature squash, which will have a dull appearance and a hard, tough surface.  Also avoid squash with discolored or pitted areas.

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26 Aug Tips for Grilling Chicken

Close the top: If your grill has a cover, always cook your chicken with the cover down. It will make your grill more oven-like, and your food will cook more evenly. Also, because the cover cuts off some of the oxygen, you’ll have fewer flare-ups.

Be patient: Resist the urge to continuously move the chicken around while it cooks.  Use long-handled tongs-Poking chicken with a fork will cause precious juices to escape.

Test for doneness: Make a small cut into the thickest part so you can be positive that it’s no longer pink inside. You can also use a meat thermometer to check if your meat has reached a safe internal temperature: 180 degrees F. for whole chicken, and 170 degrees F. for breasts.

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20 Jul Tips for Buying and Storing Blueberries

Choosing Blueberries
Even perfectly ripe blueberries don’t have much of a scent, so use your eyes first.
First- Look for dark blue blueberries that have a slight white-silvery bloom on them. Avoid purplish or greenish berries and pint containers that include them since it’s a sign that the blueberries were picked indiscriminately and not at their peak.
Second- Use your hand. Blueberries should feel heavy for their amount.
Third- Give a few berries a taste. They should burst when you bite them and be tart but sweet.

Storing Blueberries
Pick through the blueberries when you get them home and remove any smashed, cut, or damaged blueberries (they will mold quickly and damage the other berries). Blueberries are best used as soon as possible. Store them on the counter in a colander over a bowl with an ice pack in it to help keep them cool if you’re going to eat them within a day or two. Otherwise, store them in an air-tight container in the fridge, but not in the drawer where it gets too humid. Just-picked blueberries will keep up to a week properly stored.
Note: Do not rinse or wash blueberries until you’re ready to use them – the moisture will shorten their storage span considerably!

Freezing Blueberries
Freezing your own ample blueberry harvest is easy. Rinse blueberries and pat them dry. Lay them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Put them in the freezer until frozen solid, usually overnight does it. Transfer to resealable plastic bags, squeezing out as much air as possible, and keep frozen until ready to use. For most baked goods, you can use the berries straight from the freezer – they’ll defrost as the pie or tart or cake bakes.

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29 Jun Tips for Storing Peaches

Store peaches on the counter at room temperature until they are the ripeness you prefer. When ripe, peaches should be stored in the crisper bin of your refrigerator where they will keep for up to five days.

Freezing-Peel and slice them, lay them on a baking tray and stick in the freezer for a few hours until they’re frozen through. Transfer the peach wedges to a resealable plastic bag and freeze until ready to use. They’ll keep at least 6 months (longer in a free-standing freezer) and are perfect to use in baking.

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29 Jun Tips for Preparing Tomatoes

Ripen at Room Temperature -let your tomatoes ripen at room temperature so that none of the wonderful flavor is lost. In a hurry? A tomato will ripen faster when you pair it with an apple in a covered bowl.

Peel Easily – If a recipe calls for peeling, plunge tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for a few seconds and remove. Place in a bowl of ice water until cool. The skin will come right off.

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22 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Peaches

  • Buy ripe or nearly ripe peaches. If they’re very hard, they are likely picked green and won’t develop the right taste or texture.
  • When you get home, inspect each piece of fruit. A split or bruise means the peach will go bad quickly and ruin any peach it touches. Eat or preserve these right away.
  • Peaches can be stored touching other peaches, but they shouldn’t touch other types of fruit.
  • While peaches can keep on the counter for a few days, buy only as many as you can eat (or preserve).
  • To prolong freshness, you can store peaches in the crisper, but only for a few days. Just put them directly in the crisper. Don’t put them in a bag.
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08 Jun Tips for Buying Fresh Squash (Summer)

Summer squash includes those varieties which are harvested while still immature and when the entire squash is tender and edible. They include the yellow Crookneck, the large Straight neck, the greenish-white Patty Pan, and the slender green Zucchini. Some of these squash are available at all times of the year.

Look for squash that are tender and well developed, firm, and fresh-appearing. You can identify a tender squash, because the skin is glossy instead of dull, and it is neither hard nor tough. Avoid stale or over mature squash, which will have a dull appearance and a hard, tough surface. Such squash usually have enlarged seeds and dry, stringy flesh. Also avoid squash with discolored or pitted areas.

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