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Kaidy’s Post: Food Safety Around the Holidays

As the holidays role around, lots of families and friends are coming together to enjoy large Thanksgiving feasts. During this time, food-borne illness also becomes of larger concern. Families are prepping, cooking and baking copious amounts of food for their guests allowing for more places for food-borne pathogens to arise.

The farmer’s market is a wonderful place to buy fresh produce, meats, and cheeses for your holiday meals. Buying food directly from the source limits the steps between the fruit or vegetable being picked to it being bought by you. This helps to prevent possible contamination that could cause a food-borne illness. Similarly, if an outbreak were to occur, it would be much simpler to find the source of the food-borne illness, compared to when food is bought in large grocery stores with hundreds of suppliers.

However, preventing food-borne illness is not only the farmer and supplier’s responsibility. And, some bacteria cannot be prevented from contaminating food even with safe farming practices. Once you bring the food into your home it is important that you practice safe handling, cooking and storing methods to keep your food free of pathogens.

Clean: Wash your hands, cooking surfaces and utensils often. Make sure you are washing your hands before and after preparing or eating food, after contact with animals, and after using the restroom. When your first bring home your fruits and vegetables from the farmers market, give them a good wash and scrub. This helps to remove any bacteria on the surface of the produce. You should even be rinsing off fruits and vegetables that you peel the skin off of, since when you begin to cut into the produce the bacteria on the skin’s surface can make its way into the portion you eat. DO NOT wash your meat and poultry items. The splashes of water can contaminate your cooking and prepping surfaces.

Separate: Do not cross contaminate surfaces and cookware. This means you should be using a separate cutting board for fresh produce and raw meats. If you do choose to use the same cutting board, make sure you give the board a scrub with hot water and dish soap in between uses. The same rules apply to using the same cooking utensils for raw meat and fresh produce.

Cook: Make sure you are cooking all raw meats, poultry and eggs to the proper temperature. Temperatures from 40°F -140°F are considered the danger zone for foods that are intended to be refrigerated or kept hot. So, when you are thawing out that large turkey in the days leading up to Thanksgiving you should not leave it out on the counter or outside. The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is to leave it in the refrigerator. Turkeys should also be cooked to an internal temperature of 165°F, with the oven set to a temperature of 325°F or higher. The best way to determine this is using a thermometer placed in the thickest part of the turkey, typically one of the thighs. There are also time guidelines for cooking turkeys based on their size.

Weight (pounds): Hours

  • 8 to 12 pounds: 3.00 hours
  • 12 to 14 pounds: 3.00 to 3.75 hours
  • 14 to 18 pounds: 3.75 to 4.25 hours
  • 18 to 20 pounds: 4.25 to 4.50 hours
  • 20 to 24 pounds: 4.50 to 5.00 hours

Chill: Refrigerate leftovers promptly. Leftover food should not be left at room temperature for longer than 2 hours. This length or time is shortened even more in hot and humid weather. All leftovers should also be eaten within 4 days from when they were cooked. If you do not think you will be able to eat the food within 4 days, freezing some your leftover is a good idea to prevent unnecessary food waste.

I hope you all have a happy and food-safe Thanksgiving!

 

Sources – http://www.fightbac.org/

Erika’s Post: 10 Quick and Easy Recipes using Preserved Foods

Just in time for Thanksgiving! Want to go all out for Thanksgiving main course, but take it easy with the sides? you can use your frozen or canned foods that you got from your farmers market! Did you can or freeze those green beans? Everyone will love slow cooker green bean casserole. Did you stock up on jam this summer? You may want a tasty breakfast or dessert with sweet orange marmalade cinnamon rolls!
Preserving foods from a farmers market is easier than most people think. It all depends on how acidic the food is on whether you need a pressure canner or not. Usually with most fruits, jams, and vinegar pickles (higher in acidity) can be canned by a boiling water bath! With most pickles you can ferment them naturally and they don’t need to be canned. This is called lacto-fermenting.
Typically you’d want to use a pressure canner for more alkaline or lower acidity foods including all plain vegetables (in water) and all meats. We use a pressure canner (very high heat that kills the bad stuff) or vinegar to preserve because botulism can’t survive in an acidic or too high of temperature environment.
Check out more information on canning and preserving here from our website.
Now that it is the biggest food holiday of the year, you can use up a lot of your preserved foods for some delicious recipes everyone will love. Without further ado, here are 10 recipes, 5 from frozen foods, and 5 from canned foods. Many of the food items can be interchanged for either canned or frozen! Enjoy!
Frozen Food Recipes:

Canned Food Recipes:

Sofia’s Post: Butternut Squash!

Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables in season right now! Butternut squash is technically a fruit because it contains seeds. They come in all shapes and sizes with a pale hard skin and bright orange flesh. At the Winter Farmer’s Market last week, I bought the cutest little butternut squash that was the perfect size for cooking for one person. This gourd is the perfect addition to a fall meal and can go a long way!

Health Benefits:

Butternut squash is low in fat, high in dietary fiber and a great source of potassium and foliate. The bright orange color signals that it is full of nutrients such as carotenoids, which protects against heart disease. With only a one-cup serving, you will be taking in about half your daily dose of Vitamin C.

How to buy/store:

Most winter squash is available late into the fall. Storing the squash in a cool, dry place could keep the squash good for a couple months. I like to cut up my squash so they are easy to cook, chopped squash can keep fresh for a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Butternut squash provides a cook with endless culinary opportunities. You could remove the skin and cut into chunks for roasting, steaming or sautéing. Add the butternut squash chunks to your favorite salad or mash it. Once mashed, you can add it to your favorite rice or pasta dish!

Creamy Butternut Squash Pasta  

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 12 ounces of your favorite pasta
  • 1 cup of water or vegetable broth
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the diced squash for about 12-15 minutes.
  2. Using a large slotted spoon, remove the squash from water and put pasta in the boiling water until cooked.
  3. Place the cooked squash in a large food processor or blender. Puree until smooth. Add water or broth until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  4. Sautee onion and garlic in the olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add the pureed squash and pasta and combine everything together. Top with Parmesan cheese.

 

Sources:

 

http://www.wholeliving.com/134734/power-foods-butternut-squash

https://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com/creamy-butternut-squash-pasta/

Erika’s Post: 4 Tips on How to Shop Smart at Your Farmers Market

When you’re headed to the farmers market, you want to shop local, sustainable, and smart, right? You know you can find sales at the grocery store or use all the coupons you’ve saved, but how do you find the best deals at your farmers market?
It’s a common misconception to think that food from the farmers market is more expensive, but you can actually get a better deal since the food is coming right from the farmer, is of high quality and you’re avoiding any additional fees it may take for the food to get into the grocery store. In addition, with Thanksgiving right around the corner, what better time to find fresh items at the farmers market for the tastiest recipes! Read on to find out how to find the best deals at your farmers market and save on Thanksgiving dinner.
1. Shop in season: Do your research before you go to see what is in season.  Cranberries are a wonderful cold weather fruit for making homemade cranberry sauce and chutneys and they store very well in your refrigerator for up to a month; or you can also freeze them for up to three months. Carrots, apples, root vegetables and squash are also plentiful this time of year.
2. Bring cash: It may be tempting to buy all the fresh, bright colored things, but bring smaller bills and cap your budget so you don’t spend over what you brought and you won’t have too much crowding in your refrigerator.
3. Take a loop: Walk through the entire market and take inventory of what everyone has. Sometimes if you stop at the first spot you see there is often a cheaper price at a different tent or a sale going on with a specific vendor. Compare prices before you buy to save. Taking a loop through the market will also help you create a mental shopping list and make choices between products if needed so that you can stay on budget.
4. Buy in bulk: Buying bulk can help you save big if you have the storage for it. If you have an extra freezer think about buying meats and vegetables in bulk to save. Larger sizes of items like honey or maple syrup are often a better purchase than smaller-sized containers. Often times farms will offer a bulk discount or package deal for items that can logically be bought this way.
Something else to think about when it comes to shopping for the holidays is keeping an open mind when you are going to the farmers market. Instead of going in for something specific, create a recipe based off of what you find to mix things up and try something new that your family will love!
Next time you go to the farmers market, make it a point to talk to your farmer. Ask about their produce and growing practices. Tell them about yourself and why it is important that you have fresh produce and continue to build those relationships.
Thanksgiving Recipe: Homemade Cranberry Sauce
1 lb Fresh Cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
Crockpot method – Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low or until berries start to pop. To freeze and cook in crockpot later – combine all ingredients and put in gallon sized freezer bag for up to 3 months. Thaw bag in water or overnight in refrigerator. Pour into crock pot and cook on low for 6 hours.
On stove: Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 15 minutes at a gentle simmer. Stir often (reduce heat to medium-low if needed to maintain gentle simmer). Cool completely at room temperature and place in airtight container and refrigerate. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Recipe adapted from Food Network and The Family Freezer blog

Kaidy’s Post: All About that Beet

Beets are part of the Amaranthaceae-Chenopodiace family, along with swiss chard and other root vegetables. Most of beets you find in the grocery are red in color. However, they can range in color from pink to red to yellow. Beets are well known for their sweet and earthy flavor, which many people have a strong liking or disliking to. Beets are in season in the seacoast area from end of June through the end of October. However, they are often available at the farmers markets through December.

In a 3.5 ounce serving of beets there are 44 calories, 2 grams of fiber, 20% fiber, 16% manganese, 9% potassium, 6% vitamin C, 6% magnesium and 4% iron of the daily recommended values. Beets contain high levels of organic nitrates, which have been shown to lower and stabilize blood pressure levels. The nitrates in beets have also been shown to improve athletic performance by improving the mitochondria’s ability to produce energy, therefore improving oxygen use and decreasing the amount of time it takes to get to exhaustion. Beets also contain the pigment betalains, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

 

Below is one of my favorite ways to incorporate beets into my diet, beet hummus! The taste of beets is more subtle in this dish, so it is perfect for people who are just beginning to eat beets. I usually pair this hummus with chopped vegetables, like carrots, cucumbers or bell peppers, or with pretzels!

Beet Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz. can garbanzo beans, drain and rinsed
  • ¾ TSP. salt
  • ½ TSP ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 cup sliced beets
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Wash and trim beetroot. Place beetroot in a large saucepan and cover with 2cm of water.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low heat, cover and simmer until tender (30-40 minutes)
  3. Drain and let beetroot cool. Peel and cut into slices.
  4. Pour rinsed chickpeas onto half a kitchen town. Fold the other half of the towel on top of the chickpeas and rub them so that the skins begin to peel off.
  5. Place the peeled chickpeas into a food processor, with salt, cumin, garlic and beets. Turn the food processor on to break up the mixture.
  6. With the food processor running, pour in lemon juice and olive oil. Let the processor run until the mixture is smooth.

Pro Tip: When you are washing and trimming you beetroot, trim off the leafy green tops. They are edible and a great substitute for spinach or swiss chard!

Sofia’s Post: A Farmers’ Market Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner! Do you think t the original 1621 celebration in Plymouth, Massachusetts included a trip to the grocery store? No, it was a local food feast, and you can have one too! Let’s give thanks to your local hard-working farmers who help bring food to our tables.

Luckily, there are some great finds at the farmers’ market that are perfect for your Thanksgiving meal. Stock up on your favorite humanely raised meats, fresh fruits and vegetables to fill up your Thanksgiving table. There are a few markets the weekend before Thanksgiving. Check out the Saco River Farmer’s Market and Rollinsford Winter Farmer’s Market on November 17th or the Kittery Winter Farmer’s Market (in collaboration with SEL) on November 18th.

Don’t forget to share with your friends and family where their food came from! This could be a great opportunity to discuss why you love the farmer’s market and why it is important to buy local foods.

Here are some items from the market that are must-haves for your Thanksgiving meal:

  1. Apples: Make a classic apple pie or check out Sofia’s recipe for Apple & Pear Crisp (right).
  2. Fresh flowers: Farmer’s markets have a great selection of fall flowers/foliage right now that can make a beautiful center piece!
  3. Beets: Simply roast them or Check out Sofia’s post on Fall Root Vegetable Salad.
  4. Broccoli: Try a broccoli casserole.
  5. Mushrooms: Switch up your gravy by adding mushrooms.
  6. Onions: Onions are great in almost everything!
  7. Potatoes: Mashed potatoes are a staple to a Thanksgiving feast.
  8. Sweet Potato: Make a sweet potato casserole or Check out Kaidy’s Post for a Thanksgiving breakfast. 
  9. Turnips: Roasted turnips are an easy side dish!
  10. Farm Fresh Eggs: If you are baking dessert, don’t forget eggs from the market.

 

AND.. turkey of course!  Check out this great resource for finding local turkeys near you!

 

Erika’s Post: 5 Great Ways to Enjoy the Market as a Family

One of the great things about farmer’s markets is that the whole family can participate and have fun. With all the different stands containing colorful fruits and veggies, music, or arts and crafts, its enough to make for a great outing for all! Here are 5 reasons why going to the farmer’s market with the family is a great day trip.
1. An interactive learning experience for the kids: Walking into the farmers market has lots of learning opportunities for kids. They can walk around and see all of the bright colors, meet the different vendors and talk with them (if they are old enough) about the different kinds of foods and where they come from, learn more about farm-to-table, and see all of the other people and families. They may be able to do crafts or talk with vendors about how they made their art like jewelry, paintings, wool yarn, etc. They may also get the chance to watch and enjoy some local live music!
2. A fun activity for the family to enjoy together: Going to the grocery store with kids can become overwhelming quickly when there isn’t a lot for them to do. The farmers market has a lot of action and things to look at, and people there are usually with their families so they can appreciate other little shoppers. It is lighter and brighter shopping outside and it changes the whole approach to shopping and cooking with the little ones when they can be involved and entertained.
3. Local food can create a smaller carbon footprint: You can talk with the farmer about how the food is grown and when all the different foods that are in-season, as well as enjoy the freshness to boot! Having it grown locally reduces the carbon footprint by reducing the miles and gas it takes to get to your plate.
4. Supports healthier, more sustainable growing practices: You can trust food coming from a farmers market. Yeah, sometimes the grocery store may feature a few items from local farms, but being a mom, its nice to be able to trust that everything is grown sustainably, the meat is humanely raised, and my kids are growing healthier and stronger because of that.
5. The power of choice: When it comes to food kids definitely have their own opinions! One way to get them to try new things is to have them pick out their own produce. Let them pick out one item to try at a time. That may be the best option because if they take a few bites and don’t want it anymore, it goes to mom and dad and there isn’t as much waste.
When you’re shopping with kids it is also nice to keep some things in mind to create a better experience. Reduce your carbon footprint further and bring your reusable shopping bags. Most stands will take cards, but you can help your kids do math by bringing ones or fives since most produce are at even price-points. Bring or buy a snack or treat while your there if possible so that the kids can taste the food  while they are there and associate it better. Also try to go to the farmers market often if possible to create and keep good habits.

Sofia’s Post: What is Tatsoi?

Tatsoi is a small plant that have spoon shaped leaves with short pale stems. This leafy green is a variety of Chinese cabbage that is commonly known as “spoon mustard”, due its leaf shape. This vegetable’s culinary roots originate in Japan, and the name tatsoi derives from the Japanese name tasai.

Why it’s good to eat: 

  • Good source of Vitamins A, C, and K
  • Good source of calcium and potassium

How to eat it:

The flavor of tatsoi changes depending on how it is served. Raw tatsoi has a sweet nutty flavor but when cooked, has an earthy taste similar to spinach. Tatsoi is very versatile and can be used similarly to spinach. It can be eaten raw, steamed, sautéed, or stir fried. In the easy recipe below, the tatsoi can be added to a stir fry or eaten as a side dish.

How to store it:

Tatsoi should be refrigerated. Tatsoi has a short shelf life and will only last a few days. Store in a tightly sealed container.

Easy Tatsoi Recipe:

 Ingredients:

  • 2 heads of tatsoi
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 5 ounces of mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Cut the tatsoi so you are left with just the stems and leaves. Chop into 1- inch pieces.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat while you dice the onion and mince the garlic cloves. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and sauté for a minute. Add mushrooms until beginning to brown (about 2 minutes).
  3. Add the chopped tatsoi and continue to stir fry for another few minutes, until the stems turn bright green.
  4. Serve as a stir fry with rice or as a side to a protein.

 

Sources:

Specialityproduce.com

Farmerfoodhsare.org

Kaidy’s Post: Sweet Potatoes are November’s Harvest of the Month!

The Harvest of the month for November is sweet potatoes. Despite potato being in its name, sweet potatoes are not part of the same family as traditional white potatoes. They belong to the Convolvulaceae family, along with morning glories. Sweet potatoes are commonly mistaken for yams. Yams are cylindrical, have rougher skin, and typically contain white-flesh. Sweet potatoes have tapered ends with smoother skin and can range in color from white to orange to purple. The most common varieties are Garnet “yam”, Hannah, Jewell, Japanese and Purple sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes are available in the Seacoast area throughout the fall time.

Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients. One cup of sweet potato contains 103 calories, 24 grams carbohydrate, 3.8 grams fiber and 2.3 grams protein.  One cup of sweet potato also contains 438% vitamin A, 37% vitamin C, 28% manganese, 16% vitamin B6, 15% potassium and 10% pantothenic acid of the daily recommended values. Due to its high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, sweet potatoes aid in immune health, helping to prevent sickness and inflammation in the body. Sweet potatoes are also high in the antioxidant beta carotene, which has been shown to prevent signs of aging, promote healthy vision and support the respiratory system.

Many of you have probably heard the controversy over potatoes and considered whether you should be consuming sweet potatoes over traditional white potatoes. While both types of potatoes contain different nutrient profiles the decision ultimately comes down to what you are looking to achieve in your diet. Both sweet potatoes and traditional potatoes are high in fiber and vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6 and potassium. Sweet potatoes have significantly higher levels of vitamin A and the antioxidant beta carotene. Although both types of potatoes have high levels of carbohydrate, sweet potatoes have more fiber which prevents blood sugar levels from spiking so high after a meal. Another component to consider is the meal you are trying to create. White potatoes are typically used in savory dishes, while sweet potatoes can be incorporated into both the main meal and dessert dishes. All in all, both types of potatoes can be incorporated into a healthy diet in moderation.

While there are lots of both savory and sweet ways to use sweet potatoes in your diet, below is one of my favorite sweet potato dishes.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash  

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato
  • ½ red onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 TBS fresh rosemary
  • 4 eggs

Instructions:

  1. Dice the sweet potato.
  2.  Add olive oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add diced sweet potato. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
  3. Dice and mince the garlic and red onion. Add to the skillet.
  4. Dice the bell peppers. Add to the skillet.
  5. Dice the jalapeno. Add to the skillet.
  6. Chop the green onion and rosemary. Add the skillet. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender.
  7. Create 4 wells in the vegetable mixture. Crack one egg into each well. Cover and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

Kaidy’s Post: Acorn Squash

Acorn squash has always been a fall staple in my house growing up. In the seacoast area, acorn squash are available from the beginning of the September through the end of October. The acorn squash is part of the family Cucurbita Pepo, which includes pumpkin and zucchini. The most common variety is dark green in color with a splotch or two of orange, however there are also yellow and white varieties as well.

Acorn squash contains 115 calories, 29.9 grams of carbohydrate and 9 grams of fiber in a one cup serving. One serving also contains 37% vitamin C, 26% potassium, 23% thiamin, 22% magnesium, 20% vitamin B6, 18% vitamin A and 10% folate of the daily recommended values. Although acorn squash has a high carbohydrate content, its glycemic index is relatively low, allowing it to actually help stabilize blood sugar levels after eating a meal. Also due to its high vitamin C and vitamin A levels, this vegetable helps to boost your immune system to help fight off sickness.

There are so many different ways to eat acorn squash. Although it tastes delicious on its own, one of the most common ways to serve this vegetable is to bake it in the oven and stuff the insides with a filling. Below is one of my favorite recipes for stuffed acorn squash.

 

Turkey and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 small acorn squash
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TSP salt
  • 1 TSP pepper
  • 1 TSP rosemary
  • 1 TSP fennel seed
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ lb ground turkey
  • 1 apple, chopped
  • 1 cup turkey ready to make stuffing
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Slice each acorn squash in half and scrape out seeds to created individual bowls for the stuffing.
  2. Drizzle each half of squash with olive oil, salt, pepper
  3. Roast squash in oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 40-50 minutes
  4. In a large fry pan add oil, onion, celery, salt, pepper, rosemary and fennel seed over medium heat. Cook until onions begin to soften.
  5. Add garlic and turkey. Cook until turkey has browned all the way through.
  6. Add apple and cook until slightly softened. Mix in ready to make stuffing and Parmesan cheese until incorporated. Remove from heat.
  7. Remove squash from oven when it has finished roasting. Fill each acorn squash half with the prepared stuffing mixture.
  8. Place back in oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese to the top of each squash for the last 5 minutes.