Southern Comfort | (Not) Fried Green Tomatoes

A healthier version of the South's favorite starter, these (Not) Fried Green Tomatoes are the perfect solution for those not-ripe beauties that fall off in a rainstorm, or perhaps when you get a little too antsy waiting for that coming tomato harvest.

Farmers and gardeners in the South know a thing or 10 about growing tomatoes. Once daytime temps reach 90 degrees, tomatoes will cease to flower, so tomato plants are set out the very first days after the last frost is expected, and sometimes earlier, relying on crossed fingers, the help of hothouses, and upturned milk cartons to protect the plants in case of a late frost. I've strung large bulb Christmas lights from the house, extension cord connected to extension cord connected to light string and strung down the rows close to the base of the plant, then plant and bulb covered with opaque overturned jugs. From the road, it looked as if miniature alien spaceships had taken over the tomato plot.

Plantings and harvests are staggered every few weeks, so as not to overwhelm the market, or the preserving farmer, as was my case. It's all over midsummer or so for the first tomato season in the South. As the mercury stretches toward 100 degrees, rangy plants produce little, and it's time to pull them to give room for more heat-friendly options, or to plant a quick cover crop-- but quick it must be for there are only weeks until time for the late summer planting seasoning. It sounds like a lot of work, and some complicated timing, and of course it is, but dang it, we get 2 seasons of fresh tomatoes down here and I can't think of a reward more precious for which to work.


I've got a thing for tomatoes, for sure.

Right now, you'll  find green tomatoes all around the country, and in many parts, the beginnings of salmon, pink, blush, orange, then RIPE. I love them all-- all colors and all stages from the tartest green to the deepest purples and black-reds, and I use them and preserve them in many ways. For that deep dark Cherokee tomato, it's Hellmann's mayonaisse, a Noonday onion slice, and homemade sourdough. For a year's worth of sauce, it's the bell-shaped, scant-seeded Roma. For tarts, tartines, gallettes-- heirlooms of every shape, size, color and variety. For the explosion of cherry tomatoes, a bowl on the table all day long-- they get snacked on often with a flourish-- tossed in the air and caught by my mouth. It keeps me agile.


Occasionally, I'll make a batch of fermented green tomato pickles or charred green tomato chow chow, but only occasionally because my one true love of green tomato prep is the darling of the Southern menu, Fried Green Tomatoes. Only Not. I mean they're still green tomatoes, they're just not fried.

But DANG, they're still as good.

Better, I might say. Better because they're easier. Better because they're tidier. Better because I'm inclined to make a custom-sized batch for one, where I might not bother with the traditional preparation. Better because taking a spin in the oven instead of a dunk in the fryer means less mess, less fat, and better flavor, I think. The delicate herbs in the breading, the layers of flavor in the tomato are all showcased best without having been drowned by hot grease. Save the bacon drippings for another day-- and enjoy this quick, wholesome option.


(Not) Fried Green Tomatoes
Yield: 4 servings

4 green tomatoes
Sea Salt
2 whole eggs
2 T water
1 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs (see note below)
1/4 cup Panko Japanese-style bread crumbs
2 whole lemons (see note below re: seasoned bread crumbs)
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated cheese, separated
Freshly cracked black pepper and sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. While silicone spray or a mat will suffice in a pinch, I've found parchment to work the best, without losing any coating, and clean up is a breeze, for extra benefit.

With a sharp knife, slice stem and blossom end of tomatoes and discard. Slice remaining tomato in 1/3" slices, approximately. Place in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan, sprinkle each slice with salt, and set aside for 10 minutes.

Whisk whole eggs, cracked, with 2 tablespoons tepid water in a bowl large enough to accommodate one flat slice.

Combine fine seasoned bread crumbs, Panko crumbs, and 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese in a larger bowl (see note, below, regarding bread crumbs). You'll need a little room to bread them well on each side.

Pat dry tomato slices. Transfer one by one to 1) egg wash, dipping each side in then, 2) transfer to breading, coating each side (use your fingers of one hand for egg, and other hand for breading, and you won't get all goopy like I did), then 3) transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan. Dribble tops with a few scant drops of freshly-squeezed lemon juice.

Place pan in middle rack of preheated oven for 20 minutes. Remove, gently invert each slice, top with a scattering of Parmigiano Reggiano, and return to oven for 10-20 minutes, or until golden brown, and fork-tender. Season with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, as necessary. Allow to cool slightly (the interior flesh can be napalm-hot when first removed from the oven), about 5 minutes, then serve.


I like mine drizzled with this Homemade Southern Buttermilk Dressing. LOTS of folks do. But these are equally as intriguing served with warmed marinara sauce, topped with a dreamy, creamy seafood imperial sauce, or even in their nekkids.

About seasoned bread crumbs: The bread crumbs I used for this dish were homemade, from a day-old loaf of Asiago Lemon Thyme foccacia I baked that was ground finely in a food processor. The bread was enriched with lemon infused olive oil, minced parsley, and fresh thyme. You could replicate those flavors with some dried thyme, dried parsley, grated parmigiano reggiano and lemon zest added to plain fine bread crumbs, or simply purchase seasoned bread crumbs available on store shelves and add the grated cheese to the mixture. Should you choose the lemon zest route, zest the whole lemons called for before cutting and squeezing lemons for juice.

I'm happy to be hanging out with the fine farmers, vendors, staff and shoppers of the Texas Farmers' Market this weekend where I'll be demonstrating how to prepare traditional Fried Green Tomatoes. Stop by TFM Lakeline on Saturday from 10-12, and TFM Mueller on Sunday from 11-1pm to learn more, grab a bite, and shoot the breeze. I'd love to see your smiling face among the crowd.

Well Dressed | Homemade Southern Buttermilk Dressing

Light and tangy, this Homemade Southern Buttermilk Dressing isn't anything like that bottle of shelf-stable ranch-style condiment with which so many drench so many foods. It's not a facsimile of it, either. But it's better. No gloppy, slimy, cloyingly sweet artificially preserved and flavored dressings are welcome at my table. I prefer fresh and real, to dress-up the fresh, real vegetables they'll enhance.

ENHANCE. Not overcome. Not smother. Not drown. Enhance.

If you're looking for something closer to the ranch you'll find in grocery stores, and even homemade ranch-style dressings, you'll probably want to look further. Likely, the addition of a healthy dose of mayonnaise is where to start. Believe me. I have not one thing against mayonnaise. In fact I love mayonnaise so much, I make it AND buy it and I use different brands for different foods. Hellmann's in the chicken salad. Duke's in the egg salad. Blue Plate in the potato salad. Homemade on the tomato sandwich.

But not in this dressing. Nope. It's a tad more delicate and refined than a glob of saturated fat (not that there's anything wrong with that). Oh it's not fat-free. Buttermilk is naturally lowfat (see more about buttermilk, below) but this recipe includes full-fat dairy as well, which experts have finally begun to tell us actually helps with weight loss, along with a host of other healthy benefits. So GET THE FULL FAT. You're welcome.

Homemade Southern Buttermilk Dressing
Yield | approximately 1½ pints
Supplies |  1 quart jar with lid
Ingredients |
1 pint buttermilk
8oz sour cream, full fat
Fine zest of 1/2 lemon
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice, to taste
½  garlic clove, minced finely
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1½ teaspoons fresh dill
1½ teaspoons minced parsley
½- 1 teaspoon onion salt, to taste
½- 1 teaspoon white pepper, to taste

Optional: fine sea salt

Combine all ingredients in order in a screw-top jar. Shake vigorously until well blended. Really shake. Shake it up. Like this.

Taste, and correct seasonings, adding fine sea salt if/as needed. 

Kitchen Hint: When using both lemon zest and juice, zest the whole lemon first, setting aside the amount the recipe requires. Wrap remaining zest in a small pocket of aluminum foil and tuck it into the freezer to store for a month or so. Then cut and squeeze the lemon. Even when a recipe calls for only lemon juice, I zest the lemon and store the zest-- it's powdered gold. The zest, where the essential oils are found, has a milder, sweeter flavor than the acidic juice. 

About Buttermilk....... As mentioned above, buttermilk is traditionally the byproduct of butter-making, and as such, is naturally lowfat. Cultured buttermilk, sold in America, is created by fermenting pasteurized lowfat or skim milk to create lactic acid, which gives the milk it's acidic sour note. 
"What we call old-fashioned, or churned, buttermilk is very different from cultured buttermilk. It is the thin, slightly acidic liquid left over after churning butter from full-cream milk. It is drunk or used in soups and sauces in northern Europe and South Asia but is not available commercially in the United States." Cary Frye, Fine Cooking

Tomorrow, I'll be sharing (Not) Fried Green Tomatoes to serve with this dressing alongside. A healthier version of the popular southern starter, perfect for tomatoes that hop off the vine a little too soon.  

Further along, we'll tackle a few ways to hack this dressing to create other favorites, like Blue Cheese Dressing, Green Goddess Dressing, and others. It's summer and that's what we do. We eat field-fresh vegetables and we dress 'em up right. 


If you've got a little time to spare, enjoy this excellent Southern Foodways Alliance spotlight on charming dairy farmer and buttermilk believer Earl Cruze of Cruze Farm Dairy. I sure would like a little of that buttermilk!



FARMERS MARKET FAVORITE | No-cook Summer Sauce with Tomato & Mozzarella



Kitchen gadgets can be a lot of fun, but when it comes right down to it, I believe the most important tool to have in a well-stocked kitchen is the best, sharpest knife you can afford. This weekend at the Texas Farmers' Markets, I had the opportunity to partner with Allan Hillegass of Padlock & Co to demonstrate proper knife skills, as Allan discussed the best ways to select, utilize, and care for good knives.

Well, I've been fan-girling on Padlock & Co's hand-forged Damascus steel knives since they joined the market over a year ago. Though I have a few nice, heavy German-made knives hanging on my knife rack, I have a little jar in my kitchen into which I tuck my spare change, saving up for the day when I can purchase my own heirloom quality tool like those from Padlock. So you can imagine how much I enjoyed using Allan's handiwork this weekend to create this No-Cook Summer Sauce with Tomato And Mozzarella. The secret to it's tasty success lies in the blade-- the better the knife, the better the sauce, in that small, uniform cubes of vegetables make this dish as pleasing to eat as it is to prepare. 


A gorgeous bounty of vegetables arrives this month at the market, and there's no better way to showcase their seasonal burst of flavor than to prepare them simply, and without a lot of fuss. This sauce is a great way to approach a meatless meal when tossed with warm pasta, but should you be avoiding wheat or carbs in your diet, it is equally as refreshing tossed with scallops, shrimp, shredded chicken, or any protein of your choice. I've also taken to just tossing the mix with freshly-picked arugula and a squeeze of lemon to make a substantial entree salad as well. 

Break out your best knife, to make preparation a breeze, and head to your local market for the best the seasons offer. You'll have meals from the bounty of the coming summer wrapped up with nary a bead of perspiration for the hot days ahead. 

No-cook Summer Sauce with Tomato & Mozzarella
SERVES 6

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds tomatoes, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 small sweet bell pepper (we used a medley of banana and purple bell peppers, but any sweet pepper(s) of your choice will suffice)
1/2 small red onion, cubed 
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 clove elephant garlic, minced
Kosher salt, cracked red pepper, to taste
1T apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Serve tossed with 1 pound prepared pasta, or over protein of your choice

PREPARATION

Combine tomatoes, mozzarella, peppers, basil, parsley and garlic. Season with salt and cracked red pepper to taste. Set aside to let tomatoes release their juices and flavors to meld for about 15-30 minutes. Add apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Mix well. Correct seasonings.

Prepare pasta (or protein of your choice). While still warm, toss with summer sauce, and serve.


NOTE: Sauce can be made ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before tossing with hot pasta or cooked protein of your choice.





Texas Farmers' Market vendors Johnson's Backyard Garden and Gray Gardens provided vegetables for promotion free of charge for this demo, and new cheese vendor, Full Quiver Farms, their own fresh mozzarella. If you're in the Austin area, stop by and pick up the best local farm and artisan food in Central Texas. If you're outside of the area, I'd love to hear about the sources you find in your region for fresh wholesome food, too. Drop me a line or comment below, and you may just find your name, your blog (if you have one) and favorite market mentioned in an upcoming post.

If you find yourself in the Austin/Cedar Park area in the month of June, please stop by the market on June 10 and/or 11 to discover The Season's Best, and learn tips for maximizing your wholesome market basket haul. I'd love to visit with you!


In the Garden: May
Monthly guide for gardening tasks and more

UPDATE: This In the Garden, monthly guide for May, has been updated with new gardening tasks and scheduled plantings for 2017

Thinking about starting a new hobby? Maybe grow a bit of your own food or flower this year? Get growing and going with this post from the archives, Preparing Your (New or Existing) Garden.



May, glorious May! This is the month that all your hard work begins to pay off. I've had dinners of spring greens, and green garlic, and sweet peas with caramelized onions. I've snacked on every cabbage imaginable, and sauerkraut was last weekend's project. Looks as if tomatoes and peppers and squash will be showing up at markets and on the table this month, so I'll add homemade pasta to the list of weekly kitchen to-dos for late Spring, which also include making mayonnaise, pesto, fresh french bread and herbed focaccia that will all highlight May's harvest. (I'll also be leading small classes for those tasks, so keep an eye open for tomorrow's updated Calendar of Events.)

It's going to get awfully sunny and steamy around these parts, every day, really soon. Shake out your swimsuit, air out the lawn chairs, bust out the sprinklers, unearth your straw hat.....Summer's right around the corner!


In the Garden: May
Monthly Gardening To-Do list

Collect seeds from spring flowers when the seed heads are brown. Clean them, dry them for a week or so, and then store in airtight containers or baggies in a cool spot.

Continue planting summer annuals like celosias, cosmos, pentas, angelonia, sunflowers, globe amaranths, and zinnias to attract butterflies and bees this summer. Pentas and Salvia coccineas brighten up partly shady areas and attract butterflies.

Lightly prune spring blooming plants to clean them up. Don’t do heavy pruning at this time.

Put out shallow bowls of water to attract toads. Small dishes filled with decomposed granite make good puddling spots for butterflies. Make your own hummingbird nectar for feeders with 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. Dissolve well. Be sure to change and clean your feeders on a regular basis.
Do clean birdbaths and other water bowls every few days to fend off mosquitoes and to keep the water cool and clean for your wildlife friends.

If fire ants are a problem, use fresh spinosad-based bait and an orange oil drench directly on the mounds.

Fertilize: Feed all spring-blooming shrubs after they have bloomed. Feed amaryllis after they bloom. Feed and mulch iris. Feed crape myrtle with 1/2 cup/sq. yd. of 3-1-2 ratio fertilizer beneath the branch spread.

Water: Water annuals as needed. Mulch all bare soil to retain moisture.

Transplant: Container-grown plants can go into the ground now.

Lawn Care: Mow every 5-7 days, leaving the clippings on the lawn. Keep St. Augustine grass at 2 1/2" to 3" height. Apply 1/2’ to 1" of water as needed to wet soil thoroughly. Don’t water more often than every five days.

Diseases/Pests to look out for: Check for aphids and spider mites. Look for tobacco hornworms, spider mites and stink bugs, especially in vegetable gardens. Spray peach and plum trees for curculio weevils. Spray blackspot-susceptible roses with fungicide every 7-10 days.

Prune: Prune spring-flowering shrubs and trees after they bloom. Prune climbing roses and other "once bloomers" as soon as they finish flowering. Divide chrysanthemums and pinch tips for bushier growth. Pinch back leggy annuals to encourage branching. Deadhead plants to encourage blooming. Prune frost-damaged trees and shrubs. Remove sucker shoots from tomato plants to get earlier, larger fruit.


Things To Plant In May:

Flower Plants:
Ageratum,  ajuga, amaranthus, balsam, begonia, blue dze, blue cardinal flower, boltonio, scarlet bouvardia, calico plant, chocolate plant, cigar plant, cockscomb, coleus, columbine, copper plant, coreopsis, cosmos, dahlia, daisy, feverfew, geranium, gomphrena, hibiscus, hollyhock, impatiens, jacobinia, lantana, marigold, nierembergia, penta, periwinkle, persian shield, plumbago, phlox, portulaca, purslane, purple coneflower ,rudbeckia, salvia, sedum, stokes' aster, sunflower, wishbone flower, yarrow, zinnia.

Flower Seeds:
Ageratum, balsam, castor bean, celosia, cleome, cockscomb, coleus, coral vine, cosmos, cypress vine, dahlia, echinacea, feverfew, four-o'clock, globe amaranth, gourd, impatiens, linaria, nasturtium marigold, moonflower, morning glory, periwinkle, petunia, pinks, portulaca, scabiosa, sinflower, sweet pea, tithonia, torenia, vinca, zinnia.

Bulbs:
Acidanthera, amarcrinum, amaryllis, caladium, canna, giner, daylily, gladiolus, liriope, monkey grass, neomarica

Vegetables:
Amaranth, Jerusalem Artichoke (Sunchoke), Jicama, Malabar Spinach, Okra, Southern Pea, Peanut, Pumpkin, Sweet Potato, Tomatillo, Watermelon.

Herbs:
Anise, basil, bay, borage, bouncing bet, caraway, catnip, chives, comfrey, costmary, cumin, fennel, fenugreek, scented geranium, germander, horehound, horseradish, lamb's ear, lavender, lemon grass, lemon verbena, mexican mint marigold, monarda, oregano, perilla, rosemary, sage, santolina, summer savory, winter savory, sesame, sorrel, southernwood, tansy, tarragon, thyme, wormwood, yarrow

Fruit:
Container-grown plants can go in the ground.


Stay cool out there, friends!

For more tips, visit Central Texas Gardner for a wealth of information for Zone 8 gardens, and the Farmers Almanac, for weather forecasts, moon calendar and much, much more.

Additional sources: Garden Guide for Austin Vicinity, Travis County Master Gardener Association, 2002.


Farmers Market Favorite | Yucatan-inspired Spring Shrimp & Lemon Soup | Market Chef Maggie Perkins


It was one of those gorgeous spring weekends of which dreams are made at the Texas Farmers' Market at Lakeline and Mueller. We celebrated Earth Day with activities like the new composting program, and even over at the chef demo tent, where I tackled the issue of food waste, and shared a few ideas for using those parts and pieces we often discard.

This crowd-pleasing Yucatan-inspired Spring Shrimp & Lemon Soup used stock made from shrimp shells and the fibrous green tops of leeks, along with a few additions, to replace the usual store-bought chicken stock used in the traditional recipe, and to utilize what others may often consider 'garbage'. One man's trash is another man's treasure, as they say. The result is a light and flavorful soup with half the sodium of the soup from which it was inspired.
Read more about reducing, reusing, and recycling, including one more use for those discarded shells, here
Low sodium, low fat, low calorie, this simple soup is a Maggie favorite during warmer days and as a bright beginning for summer dinners. Served cool, room temperature, or warm, it's a versatile workhorse of a dish, and I think you'll like it, too.


Yucatan Spring Shrimp & Lemon Soup
Market Chef Maggie Perkins

This light soup serves 4 as a full course or 6 as a first course. If serving as an entree, perhaps a few slices of perfectly ripe avocado might add to the satiety of the dish, served with steamed corn tortillas.

1 pound raw shrimp, (26-30 per pound), shells on, peeled, shells reserved

1 small bunch leeks, greens and whites separated, whites thinly sliced, washed well and strained

2 carrots, sliced into chunks

6 cups water

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

2 4-inch cinnamon sticks

4 whole cloves

½-1 tablespoon olive oil

2 jalapeƱo peppers, thinly sliced

1 large Meyer lemon, juice and zest (see note, below)

1 bunch cilantro, stems minced, ½ leaves chopped, separated

1 tsp salt, or to taste

1 small bunch radishes, thinly sliced

Shrimp stock: In a large saucepan or dutch oven, cover shrimp shells, green tops of leeks, and carrots with 6 cups of water. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a rolling simmer, covered, for 30 minutes to an hour.

Toasting Spices: In a small skillet over high heat, toast cumin, cinnamon, and whole cloves until they begin to release their fragrance, stirring constantly and taking care not to scorch. This should take no more than 2 minutes. When toasted, add to simmering stock, above, for 30 minutes to an hour.

To spice toasting skillet, add just enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan. Over medium high heat, saute leeks until limp and slightly golden. Remove and reserve.

Remove stock from heat and remove solids by straining through a fine mesh strainer. Return strained stock to pot.


Over medium heat, bring stock to a rolling simmer, adding sliced jalapeno peppers, minced cilantro stems, the zest and juice of 1 large (2 small) Meyer lemon, toasted sliced leeks, and salt, to taste. Simmer 15 minutes, covered.

Add shrimp and heat through until shrimp are completely opaque. Remove soup from heat and serve, garnishing each bowl generously with sliced radishes and chopped cilantro.



 


Substitutions: Meyer lemons have a unique sweet floral fragrance and flavor that is unrivaled, however they are only available late winter and early spring. To substitute, try a combination of fresh orange and lemon juices and zest, or simply go with sweet limes (small key limes) as the traditional soup uses. In absence of leeks, try spring onions or large scallions. And should you wish to skip the shrimp shelling, try clam juice and/or low-sodium chicken broth in place of the homemade shrimp stock. But do it at your peril! Because it's just not the same.

Make ahead preparations: You can make the stock, strain, and freeze for up to 3 months for optimum freshness. You'll find you can let it thaw in the pot over low heat, then proceed with the soup, above.

Disclosure: This soup was prepared for the Texas Farmers' Markets where I am contracted as Market Chef. The following items were provided by market vendors for use in promotion:

Fresh Gulf Shrimp-- K and S Seafood
Leeks, Carrot, Radish, Cilantro-- Johnson's Backyard Garden


If you find yourself in the Greater Austin area in May, I will be at TFM Lakeline on May 13 and 27, and TFM Mueller on May 14 and 28. Stop by for a bite and let's chat about FOOD.

Farmers Market Favorite | SESAME BROCCOLI STIR FRY WITH MUSHROOMS & LEEKS


For this Meatless Monday, reap the rewards of more moderate climates with the first burst of early Spring, and green, green, green at the farmers markets.

A plateful of nutrient powerhouses, learn more, including nutrition profiles, about
This weekend at the Texas Farmers' Markets, I found the best and brightest the market had to offer in broccoli, from Yummy Farms, leeks from Johnson's Backyard Garden, green garlic from Hairston Creek Farm, and crimini mushrooms from Kitchen Pride Mushroom Farms.

SESAME BROCCOLI WITH MUSHROOMS & LEEKS
YIELDS 4 SIDE DISHES

INGREDIENTS

1 large head broccoli
1 small bunch leeks
1 bunch green garlic
1-2 cups sliced crimini mushrooms
coconut oil
Stir Fry Sauce and Dressing (below)

Prepare vegetables prior to cooking time--

Slice large broccoli florets in half lengthwise. Peel large stems of broccoli, and slice all approximately 1/4” slices. Chop any broccoli green leaves. Keep separate.

Slice whites of leeks thinly. Separate into ringlets. Rinse under running water well (leeks, by nature of the way they grow, are notorious for hiding dirt between the ringlets and require thorough rinsing).


Mince green garlic, both whites and greens, if tender.

Wipe mushrooms with a paper towel. Trim stems. Slice lengthwise into thin slices.

In a wok or large skillet over medium high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, and add broccoli stems (only). Stirring frequently, cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Cover with foil or an upended bowl to keep warm.

Add coconut oil if/as needed. Transfer leeks and green garlic to pan. Stirring constantly, saute until transparent, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towel-lined plate with broccoli stalks. Keep warm.

Maintaining about 1T coconut oil in pan, transfer mushrooms to pan. Continue to stir over medium high heat until slightly browned around the edges, about 4-5 minutes. Add sliced broccoli florets, and toss to combine. Stirring frequently, cook until florets are slightly wilted. Return stalks, leeks, and green garlic to pan. Toss lightly to combine.


Season with Stir fry Sauce, below, by tablespoon, adding, tossing, tasting, correcting as necessary, adding more until seasoned as desired (anywhere from 3 Tablespoons to  to ¼ cup). Warm through, then serve.

STIR FRY SAUCE AND DRESSING
The basic starting point for a tweak-your-own versatile sauce and dressing you'll be putting on ERRYTHING this week. Add and/or subtract according to your own tastes, and make it your own.
INGREDIENTS
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
¼ c seasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon tamari sauce
1-2 teaspoons honey
½ c grapeseed oil 
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
Optional: Juice and zest of 2 mandarin oranges, toasted sesame seeds, and/or minced cilantro stems
PREPARATION
Place all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse on low speed until well-blended. 
Note: This will yield more than required for this dish, alone. Reduce as desired, or make the full batch and use as a salad dressing, or marinade. This dressing keeps up to a week refrigerated. 

Disclosure: This dish was developed and prepared by me in my role as Market Chef for the Texas Farmers' Markets. All vegetables were provided free of charge for promotion by market vendors.

Questions about what do with your seasonal market selections? I'll be back at the Lakeline market on March 25, and the Mueller market on March 26, 2017. I'd love to see you there.


For an in depth class on making the most of your CSA share or local farm bounty, join me in Austin in partnership with Johnson's Backyard Garden for The Seasonal Plate| March 28 for dishes, demos, prep tips and more, and take home a full CSA share of your own. 



Mornings After | Days Like This


Mornings after big cooking classes are usually spent recovering-- getting my little old home back in order, giving my ornery back a rest, and in the case of morning after bread-making classes, baking off loaves for the neighbors.


I kept this small loaf today-- it's a smoked pepper and salt flake olive oil bread that I've eaten for breakfast and lunch with butter and fresh rosemary. For dinner I'll add sliced cherry tomatoes, radish, maybe hastily mashed and salted avocado instead of the butter. Or in addition to.

Butter. Mmmmm..



Van Morrison serenades me over the comforting hum of the (new!) dishwasher from the living room, keeping me company along with Jack, my dog, who waits for errant crumbs with the rapt attention of a soldier on sentry duty.

Perhaps it's maturity. I don't know. But in this little home, as I learn to focus on my passions and shut out the noisy din of the nothing sometimes said out there, I've found peace in the simple. It comforts me. I wear a serene smile for no one but me as I reflect on my blessings. This is bliss.

As Van sings, "Well, my mama told me there'll be days like this".


Want to learn how to bake bread? Check out March's bread baking classes here


Classes & Events | March 2017 | Maggie Perkins



Welcome to a new feature on Notes from Maggie's Farm-- an entire page devoted to Classes and Events. Below, find out what I'm up to in the month of March, then check back by clicking on the link in the navigation bar, above. You'll find featured monthly events and my calendar, updated as classes and demos are added. Thank you for keeping up with all that's going on with Notes from Maggie's Farm. 

I appreciate your support!
Maggie

Learn to Bake Bread 
Tickets & Info ---> March 7, 2017
Tickets & Info ---> March 21, 2017

Southern Comfort series | Creole Shrimp Etouffee
Tickets & Info ---> March 9, 2017

The Season's Best series | Texas Farmers' Market Chef Demo
Info ---> TFM Lakeline March 11, 2017
Info ---> TFM Mueller  March 12, 2017
Info ---> TFM Lakeline March 25, 2017
Info ---> TFM Mueller  March 26, 2017

Learn to Bake Bread | No-Knead Caraway Rye
Tickets & Info ---> March 14, 2017

Home Fermenting | Sauerkraut
Tickets & Info ---> March 16, 2017

Southern Comfort series | Gumbo YaYa | Chicken & Andouille
Tickets & Info ---> March 23, 2017

The Seasonal Plate with Johnson's Backyard Garden
Tickets & Info ---> March 28, 2017

Sustainable Seafood | Crawfish Boil!
Tickets & Info ---> March 31, 2017


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