Wednesday, December 7, 2016

FARMERS MARKET FAVORITE | Sweet Potato Bacon Chowder

BRRRRR! Soup weather has arrived with a vengeance! Keep your kitchen AND your tummy warm with this quick, seasonal soul satisfier. It's packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and high in fiber to keep you healthy, warm, and full.

Sweet Potato Bacon Chowder
by Market Chef Maggie Perkins

1 pkg. Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen Bacon
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed well and cubed
1 bunch scallion, minced, whites and greens separated
1 pint Belle Vie Farm & Kitchen duck bone broth
1 pint water
16 oz unsweetened almond coconut milk
In a heavy dutch oven or saucepan, render fat from bacon over medium heat. Add cubed sweet potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until edges slightly brown. Stir in minced scallion whites, then add duck bone broth and water. Cook, covered, over medium high heat until sweet potatoes are slightly tender.
Meanwhile, fry bacon in a small saucepan, turning frequently until slightly crisp. Drain on paper towel, crumble and reserve.

When sweet potatoes have softened, reduce heat to medium, add remaining scallions and bacon, and cook for 10 minutes longer.
Finish by stirring in nut milk (or substitution), season with sea salt and coarse pepper to taste, slowly warm to serving temperature.
Note: Suitable substitutions for duck bone broth would be chicken, turkey, or vegetable stock. Whole cow’s milk, half and half, or your favored milk replacement may be used in exchange for almond coconut milk.
Serves 4.

Read more about the nutrient dense sweet potato here
Disclosure: Recipe prepared for and originally posted with Texas Farmers Market. Thanks go to Belle Vie Farm and Johnson's Backyard Garden for food and produce provided without charge for market promotion.

If you find yourself in the Austin area this weekend, I'd love to see your smiling face! Stop by the Texas Farmers Markets at Lakeline on Saturday and  TFM Mueller on Sunday for a hearty, seasonal bite, advice on what to do with your seasonal market haul, and a stroll around Austin's bustling favorite community markets.

And STAY WARM out there!

Wishing you a delicious day!


Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Holiday Tamales with Maggie C. Perkins | December Classes & Events

It’s a Texas tradition, y’all!

Holiday tamales grace the countertops and tables of traditional Texans at potlucks, company dinners, glittering soirees, and Christmas Eve feasts alike during this season. Learn how to make your own and bring this tamalada tradition to your own family and friends.

Over the last decade plus a few, I've produced holiday tamales for hundreds of Central Texans, both solo, and with the help of many friends, and have shipped to returning customers from outlying states, as well. I'll bring stories, recipes, techniques and tips to the table in this intimate hands-on class where you will learn to make tamales from the husk up, and bring home a dozen of your own to share-- or not, heck I won’t tell.

Your tamalada tradition recipe packet will include recipes for each filling below, as well as for traditional and vegetarian masa, a list of resources, and tips for pulling together a holiday tamale feast.

Grab a spot quickly in one of four December classes-- space is limited and, well, TAMALES.

Find complete class listings at Kitchen Underground, or click on the links below to go straight to that class's ticket page.

Wednesday, December 7 | Green Chile Chicken

Thursday, December 8 | Red Chile Pork

Wednesday, December 14 | Smoked Brisket

Thursday, December 15 | Black Bean & Cheese

NOTE: Does this mean I'm selling tamales this year, again, finally? Why YES, it DOES. A small batch (NOT the hundreds of dozens my friends and I handled one year) of tamales will be sold and available for delivery, pickup, or shipping on December 16-18. To inquire or place an order, shoot me an email, and I'll get back to you regarding pricing and availability. 

Tamales not your thing? I'm offering the last beginning bread baking classes of the year on Tuesday, December 6, and Tuesday December 20. Space is limited so grab your seat fast! Learn class details by following the links, or referring to this Kitchen Underground class listing roster.

And should you find yourself at Austin-area farmers markets in December, stop by for a tasty fresh bite and a visit at chef demos for Texas Farmers Market Lakeline on December 10, and Texas Farmers Market Mueller on December 11. I'd love to see you there!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Tips for Tuesday | Roasted Shrimp Powder | Maggie C Perkins

I think it was probably that stash of used aluminum foil, carefully ironed out by hand and folded only enough to fit properly in its quarter of the drawer. Next to its drawer mates, all of the rubber bands collected from the morning newspaper. The third quarter housed reusable plastic bowl covers. I believe the fourth quarter had some other repurposed purpose, but the particular item escapes me (and my brother won't answer my text.)

Granny Mac also had plastic bottles into which the leftover restaurant condiment packets were emptied. She had an entire bottle of Roy Rogers' barbecue sauce in the fridge, yet I never remember actually going to Roy Rogers. She handed over aluminum pot pie tins for my brother and me to create a backyard 'kitchen' of creatively garnished mudpies, and near-emptied dish detergent bottles were our bubbles. And then our squirt guns.

We used old furniture casters as cars, and our racetrack was the oval, braided rug in the back room. When clouds loomed, she set out large empty tubs in the back yard to collect rainwater (back before air pollution was even a thing) for soft hair and softer clothes.

So when folks ask me why I resist just throwing stuff away, well I trace it back to that stash of aluminum foil. My grandmother grew up in the depression-- the big one before the others, and she was clever and practical. There was no reduce reuse recycle in her homekeeping lexicon. She needed no ad campaign to encourage her thrift. She learned it from her own mother, a widow farmer raising two children in tight times.

I doubt shrimp was on their menu very often, if at all, but thanks to the thrifty ways she handed down to her granddaughter, I can justify the budget splurge by not wasting one. little. bit. Beyond stock and bone broth, which shrimp shells will find their way into frequently, I have another little trick to help shrimp yield its full flavor, and value.

Roasted Shrimp Powder

On their way to a Shrimp and Mirliton dressing (that I hope to share before the next big holiday feast), these shrimp were deveined with shells on by simply using a sharp paring knife along the curve of the shrimp's back, and removing the black trail of....stuff, without disturbing the shells.

I laid them out on a cast iron, or other oven safe pan in a single layer and seasoned them lightly with my go-to homemade seasoning salt. Use your favorite blend like Tony Chachere's or any other Cajun seasoning, or go rogue and sprinkle on your own mixture of salt, pepper, spices, etc, or use none at all.

In a 350℉ preheated oven, roast shrimp for 3 or so minutes or until shells remove easily from shrimp flesh. Let cool to handle, then peel shrimp, reserving shells. Send your peeled shrimp off to their final destination for cooking, concentrating on the shells, only, at this stage. Return shells to pan in a single layer, reduce heat to 300℉, and roast about 45 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 5 minutes.

When cool to the touch, transfer shells in small portions to an electric spice or coffee grinder. (Additional tip: keep flavors clear by cleaning your grinder frequently-- I grind rice and discard, and wipe any additional residue with a slice of bread.)

Collect your shrimp powder in a clean, reusable jar. Keep refrigerated and use within a few months for the sake of freshness.


Besides being a jarful of briny beauty, shrimp powder, or rather the shells from which it is made, is primarily chitin, also called chitosan, which is a source of organic fiber. Along with other purported benefits, chitin has been suggested as a food supplement to control cholesterol and triglycerides.

Use your roasted shrimp powder anytime you'd like a little taste of the sea. It seasons soups, stews, curries, and stir fries. It punches up bone broth and stocks for a quick snack. It tastes great simply sprinkled over salads and sides. It creates unique flavors for sauces, and can be used to make compound butters with the addition of your favorite herbs, or simply solo.

So tell me, what are your favorite homemade thrift tales? What do you use/do/create to extend value and save the budget? I'd love to share your suggestions in upcoming Tips for Tuesday posts. Comment below, reply via social media, or shoot me an email. I can't wait to hear your hints and tips!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

In the Garden: July
Monthly guide for gardening tasks, forecasts, and more

"Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability." 
- Sam Keen  

Fertilize: Give annuals a complete fertilizer. Water well before and after application. Deadhead and fertilize roses. Fertilize young fruit trees (except pears) with a 3-1-2 ratio product at 1-2 cups per inch of trunk diameter.

Water: Water all planted areas deeply but infrequently during dry periods. Outdoor container plants need daily watering. Consider landscaping with drought resistant native plants in the future.

Soil: Mulch all bare soil. Turn compost pile and add new ingredients. Clean up spring vegetable gardens and replenish with compost.

Lawn Care:   Mow every 5-7 days and leave the clippings on the lawn. Watch for take-all patch. Set mower higher in shady areas to promote denser turf.

Diseases/Pests to Look for: 
spider mites, leaf rollers, lacebugs and aphids, chinch bugs, fleas, ticks, chiggers and grubs in lawns;
scale insects on euonymus, hollies, peaches and plums;
webworms in pecans and persimmons;
powdery mildew on crape myrtles and roses;
aphids on crape myrtle, roses and Mexican milkweed;
scale on peaches and plums.
Remove any diseased leaves from beds; do not add to compost.

Prune:   Remove vigorous growth from center of peach and plum trees to prevent shading of fruiting shoots. Tip new blackberry canes at 4’ to force side branches. Prune dead and damaged wood from trees and shrubs as needed.

Things To Plant In July:

Flower Plants:
ageratum, ajuga, alpine aster, balsam, blue daze, boltonia, cockscomb, silver dollar plant, periwinkle, portulaca, purslane, gloriosa daisy, mexican bush sage, sedum, stoke's aster, wax begonia, wishbone flower, vinca, zinnia

Flower Seeds:
ageratum, balsam, castor bean, cleome, cockscomb, cosmos, four-o'clock, gaillardia, impatiens, marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, portulaca, tithonia, torenia, vinca, zinnia

autumn crocus, liriope, lycoris, monkey grass

  • Early—Mid Month: Pumpkin, Sweet Potato    
  • Mid—Late Month: Corn, Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes
Additional to-dos:
  • Gather herbs and flowers to dry.
  • Preserve the bounty by freezing, canning or drying vegetables and fruits.

  • Plan fall gardens and prepare beds by removing perennial weeds before tilling

  • Add compost and fertilizer.

  • Drink lots of water,

Gardening tasks courtesy of the Garden Guide for Austin & Vicinity, published by the Travis County Master Gardener Association, copyright 2000-2002

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Farmers Market Favorite
Summer Tomato Ratatouille

Ratatouille is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. Though referred to commonly as ratatouille niçoise, ratatouille is popular among the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish. Wikipedia

Summer Tomato Stovetop Ratatouille
Serves 6

All vegetables sourced from Texas Farmers' market vendor Johnson’s Backyard Garden.


¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided
1 large clove elephant garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 leek, sliced, separated into ringlets, rinsed thoroughly and dried by squeezing in paper toweling
1 medium eggplant, peeled and diced
4 sweet peppers, sliced thinly (we used banana peppers, bell peppers, and Italian peppers)
Assorted in-season tomatoes, chopped, to yield 4-5 cups
1 small bunch fresh basil, minced
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large, heavy saucepan, heat a small layer of oil over medium, to medium high heat to shimmering. Add garlic to heated oil and sauté, stirring constantly, about one minute.

Add sliced leeks to garlic in oil. Sauté, continually stirring, for about a minute, or until limp.

Add diced eggplant to mixture. Stirring frequently, cook until eggplant is tender. (Eggplant will soak up oil. Add oil as needed to prevent ingredients from sticking to the pan.)

Add sweet peppers and tomatoes to tender eggplant. Continue cooking over medium heat as tomatoes release juices and peppers reach tender-crisp stage, about 15 minutes.

Add minced fresh basil to pan, tossing to incorporate. Season well with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Reduce heat to medium low and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until all vegetables are soft and seasonings are well-incorporated.

Serve warm as a side dish, sandwich filling, pizza topping, or complement to meat, poultry, seafood or cheese.

This dish was prepared as a Chef Demo for local Texas Farmers Market, where I work as market chef, preparing seasonal dishes with best of the market ingredients monthly at both TFM Lakeline and TFM Mueller markets. All vegetables were donated by Johnson's Backyard Garden

If you find yourself in the Austin area next month, I will be at the TFM Lakeline market from 10-12noon, August 13, and the TFM Mueller market from 11-1pm, August 14. Bring your seasonal food questions and an appetite! I'd love to chat.

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