Tag Archives: farmers markets

10 Strategies to Eat Local

There are ways you can eat healthier and inexpensively this year. Michigan produce will be available soon. Asparagus, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, sweet corn and apples at peak freshness bring smiles to our faces. The smells and taste keep us coming back for more. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have those great flavors all year long? Well, you can! Michigan State University Extension recommends several strategies you can use to plan for local food all year long that will help you eat healthier and save money.

1) Plant herbs in small amounts in windowsill gardens every three to four months and use in meal preparation. Dill, Basil, Parsley, Rosemary, and Thyme can be used fresh or dried.
2) Preserve food in a variety of ways starting with making small batches of jams or jellies. Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and cherries can be made into jam and then used as toppings on ice cream, desserts and on muffins and toast.
3) Freezing vegetables and fruits can be a quick preservation method if you have freezer space – I prefer this method for making strawberry or raspberry jam, tomatoes and peaches. This method is especially quick if you have a large quantity of ripe produce that needs to be preserved as soon as possible and does not require a lot of equipment. Freezing vegetables for soups, sweet corn, and broccoli after blanching can give you a variety of produce to eat next winter.
4) Canning tomatoes, salsa, spaghetti sauce and green beans are great ways to enjoy the bounty of summer when you follow approved home canning methods (see the National Center for Home Food Preservation for the latest guidelines).
5) Try your hand at drying vegetables and herbs. Vegetables that are dried can be stored in glass jars or plastic bags which could save valuable freezer storage.
6) Explore making pickles, pickled beets, and relish which are all great additions to any meal.
7) Grow your own vegetable garden in large yard or small spaces. Find great resources at MI Garden.
8) Find a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in your area and sign up to receive a weekly share of produce that a farmer grows and you pick up once a week. Check Local Harvest.
9) Shop at the local Farmers Market or find a farm stand near you. Locate one at Local Harvest.
10) Pick Your Own orchards and farm operations are a great place to show the kids how food is grown and harvested. Visit Pure Michigan to find one near you.

Choose one strategy or a couple of these ways to get one step closer to eating local.

Thanksgiving Feast with Local Food

Fall Vegetables

Local farm stands and farmers markets can help you make sure your Thanksgiving Feast supports local farmers.

The Thanksgiving feast is the perfect time to purchase local food for your dinner table. There are so many fresh vegetables, sguash, pumpkins, potatoes and turkey available locally – you won’t have any problem cooking up that traditional feast with farm fresh food.
Locally, you can find fresh turkeys from RC Organics near Richmond or Falker Family Farms near Romeo. But you need to call them right away to make sure they have enough turkeys on hand.
The Mt. Clemens Farmers Market and others are still open on Friday and Saturdays as is the Detroit Eastern Market, Armada on Sundays, and others you can check out on the Michigan Farm Market Association website to see if they are still open.
For the first time I am trying the blue Hubbard squash. The sheer size has scared me off from trying to cook the thing but then I read “how to” for these giant but flavorful squash. The secret is to dropping them onto your concrete driveway or patio to break them open rather than cutting yourself or losing a finger in the process. Once you have it smashed into smaller pieces, place the broken section after you have cleaned the seeds out onto an oiled baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes at 350-375 degrees. With the Hubbard, I don’t plan to do anything fancy other than baking and adding a little butter, salt and pepper and maybe some brown sugar after I have tasted it to see if it needs it. Not all squash needs to be served “sweet.”
Am I only eating squash for Thanksgiving dinner – no way – but I usually do the squash a couple of days ahead of time so I am not using up my oven space. You can then reheat it in the oven or use your microwave.
Let me go back a minute to the actual planning of the big event. I sit down a couple of weeks before the Holiday to plan out my menu – which can be really hard as I love so many of the traditional foods but just don’t need all of them at the table at the same time. When it comes time to choosing the dessert, I am in big trouble because I want to taste the traditional pumpkin pie, have my mom’s pumpkin roll with the cream cheese filling, have apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and I could go on and on. Then there is the stuffing, the vegetables, the potatoes, and what we will drink. So anyway, write down all of the foods you want to have – then start narrowing it down to a “realistic” menu.
Next, make your grocery list – and the reason to PLAN AHEAD is to take advantage of your local farmers market if it is still open. There is a strong possibility that your local grocery store may be purchasing squash and pumpkins from a local farmer. What a great time to plan a trip to Detroit Eastern Market also – as a day trip, or your first trip now is the time to go and see this historical market!
Next, I make decisions on when or what time I need to be cooking some of the foods. Again, I have real issues with the size of my oven, refrigerator and stove top. So I try to make a couple of things the weekend before like the cranberry relish, squash, pies and appetizers (if needed). This way you are spreading out the baking over several days. Oh and I almost forgot about the sweet potatoes! yum, my kids favorite!
The other thing I do contemplate, is whether I want to try a new recipe. Every couple of years I change up the stuffing – and Yes, I do stuff some stuffing into the bird, but I use a baking dish for more.
So look up the recipes you want to use, find your turkey if you want a fresh turkey and look for the farmers markets to purchase your brussels sprouts, squash, pumpkin, potatoes, onions, rutabagas, and kohlrabi. Yes, try a new vegetable!
Did I mention that also on my food bucket list is to make a pumpkin pie from scratch! So rather than wait until the weekend before, I am going to experiment this weekend with baking the pumpkin and seasoning it for that perfect pumpkin pie. Pictures to come!
What will you try this Thanksgiving? Where can you find local produce in November near your home?

What are Brussels Sprouts and What Do I Do With Them? Try them and you may like them.

Have you walked through a farmers market and caught sight of these cute little cabbage-like miniatures and shied away from purchasing them because you didn’t know what they were? People often think they are cabbage but in fact are the Brussels Sprout. Maybe you have never tasted a Brussels Sprout before and don’t know how to cook them? If so, you are not alone. Like a lot of fellow shoppers, you may be afraid to try something you are unfamiliar with.

Some farmers bring Brussels Sprout vegetables to the market on a large stalk, while others may trim them and have on display in quart baskets. Purchasing the stalk just means a little extra preparation on the part of the shopper to cut them off.

Unfortunately, the Brussels Sprout tops a lot of lists as the most hated vegetable. Learning some quick and easy preparation methods may make you a lover of this vegetable. Eating vegetables can help you to lose weight, eat healthier and when you shop at farmers markets you are supporting the local agricultural economy.

The Brussels Sprout is a great source of vitamins A, B, and C, niacin, iron and calcium. This vegetable is similar to cabbage in taste but has a milder flavor.
At the farmers market or local grocery store, purchase sprouts that are bright green and make sure they are small, firm and compact as they will be the freshest.
When you purchase Brussels Sprouts, it is a good idea to NOT wash or trim before you store them in the refrigerator and use within a week of purchase. To protect yourself and family from a foodborne illness it is important to wash the vegetables just before preparing your recipes.

This vegetable can be prepared by steaming, parboiling or over roasting with olive oil – you don’t want to overcook them as they will become stronger in flavor. Cook until they turn a brighter green and are tender but still firm.

For more information on preparing and preserving Brussels Sprout go to Michigan Fresh on the MSU Extension website. Visitors to the site have an opportunity to complete a survey that is collecting information on future uses of the information and other topics to be developed.

I have to add to this article I wrote – on a personal note we held our meeting at THE MITT Restaurant in downtown Mt. Clemens yesterday and the chef had Brussels Sprouts on the menu as an appetizer – we ordered them to share with our table and they were awesome!

Detroit Eastern Market Saturdays

 

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My first Saturday visit this season to Detroit Eastern Market.  I was helping out at the Michigan State University Extension Kiosk and of course packed my coolers and shopping bags for my tour of the market. I was delighted to see so many St. Clair, Sanilac, and Macomb county  farmers selling produce, breads, beef, pork and poultry, flowers, landscape shrubs and cheese!  My daughter came to join me on my break and for lunch and we were just in awe of all of the diversity of products, the wonderful smells of basil and rosemary and the colorful array of produce.  My list was long when I finally could shop.

Detroit Eastern Market has many stores and restaurants surrounding the sheds and you are right off the expressway – very easy to get to – but you have to get here early for a good parking spot.  I was glad I brought several shopping bags but so jealous to see the really smart people who had wheeled carts and wagons to carry their precious cargo.  There was also the Burger Brawl going on which looked like lots of fun and very tasty things to eat.  It was good to see so many people experiencing the Detroit Eastern Market.

 

 

 

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Meal planning is so easy when all of these vegetables and fruits are staring you in the face.  We bought heirloom tomatoes for BLTs and I often make an appetizer from tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella cheese (just add balsamic vinegar, olive oil and S&P).  I purchased a chicken (at the end of the day 2:30 pm) so I could go to the car and put it right on ice in my cooler to take home safely.  I also bought carrots, redskin potatoes, fingerling potatoes and onions to roast with the chicken.  Beets I will roast in the oven one night and just add rice for my meal.  Michigan blackberries I could not resist so took some of them home too.

People think it is too difficult or not fast enough to cook from scratch or cook with fresh ingredients from the market.  The reason I decided to do this blog was to share with people how easy it can be to cook using local, fresh ingredients.

Today, I roasted the chicken with potatoes, carrots and an onion – with lots of salt and pepper.  I just spread olive oil all over the outside, added a sprig of rosemary, sage and thyme from my herb garden, arranged the vegetables around the chicken in the roasting pan, added 4 cups of water, put the lid on the roaster and cooked the chicken for an hour and 30 minutes.  It was tender and delicious.  I saved half the breast meat to make chicken enchiladas later this week and the bones and juices (with the water) I am saving- freezing to make stock and soup later this fall.  While the chicken was in the oven, I had taken out a sheet of puff pastry to thaw (I try to keep a box in the freezer for SIMPLE desserts like this!).  For a quick dessert, I used 3/4 of a package of cream cheese and mixed it with 3 tablespoons of sugar.  I folded and rolled the pastry to fit a tart pan, baked it beside the chicken for 15 minutes.  When it cooled I spread the cream cheese mixture and after washing and drying the blackberries – arranged them on top for a delicious and light dessert!

Farmers Markets can create and inspire us to make great healthy meals!

 

 

 

 

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