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Archive for the ‘FRUIT + VEG’ Category

Wild Ed's Mustang Grapes

Came across this wonderful blog by Wild Ed which has useful hunting info and unique recipes. His formula for mustang grape jelly/jam/preserves seems a winner, as I prefer my preserves a bit tart.  For hardcore mustangensis fans, you can also make wine from the drought tolerant grape resulting in a nice dry red. You can also save the ripe skins of the grapes and dry them for the winter. On a cold and stormy night, simply pour boiling water over the dried grape skins, add some sugar or agave nectar and ta da! A delicious hot grape drink.

I bet a little Tito‘s in there would go nicely.

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Amaranth Plant

Research what the native (South Texas) Indians ate way back when and amaranth keeps popping up. Wow what a weed. The leaves from the hardy (hardy may be an understatement, it will grow just about anywhere, under conditions that would kill any other food plant) Amaranth plant are not only an excellent source of calcium, iron and folic acid, but the seeds contain an important suite of amino acids, the building blocks for the synthesis of protein. The amino acid lysine is much more abundant in both amaranths and chenopods (any plant of the goosefoot family, which includes spinach, beets, and pigweed) than it is in the cereals (wheat, oats, and maize). About 3.5 oz of amaranth seeds provide 15% of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, 76% of the iron, and over 25% of the folic acid recommended in diets today. The amount of fiber in amaranth grain is three times higher than wheat . In a nutshell, Amaranth has all the proteins and amino acids the human body requires for maintenance.

Did I also mention it is gluten free?

If you are a farmer, Amaranth puts nitrogen back into the soil naturally, eliminating the need for artificial nitrates which run off and pollute the water ways. A field can be kept in good shape by rotating amaranth with corn without adding any artificial fertilizer.

Amaranth Grains

How to cook it? Holly Hirshberg’s very useful blog, The Dinner Garden,  has a simple recipe for the leaves. Just a flash in the pan will do. For the grains try this recipe. This is a close up of the finished dish – the amaranth grains look almost caviar.

I need to buy some today. If you are after the species name for edible form, it is Amaranthus cruentus. It is also called Huautli or Alegria in Mexico.

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Birthday Party at Four String Farm

We recently had the pleasure of throwing a birthday party with great friends at the Four String Farm in Rockport, Texas. This gorgeous creation is run by Justin Butts and sells pastured pork, poultry, and eggs as well as fresh herbs and vegetables throughout the year. No hormones, steroids or antibiotics are ever given to the animals and no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used on their plants. Turkeys are available by pre-order for Thanksgiving (yay!).

Beginning in Fall 2010, Four String Farm will host a series of eco-tours and special events on the farm.  In addition to the commercial farming operation, they carefully maintain a protected ecosystem on the farm that allows native animal and plant species to thrive.  The  eco-tours will feature this vast array of plant and animal wildlife.  Birdwatchers, nature enthusiasts, and visitors to the Gulf Coast will be able to view the bio-diversity at the farm.  Numerous educational and entertaining events, from cooking demonstrations in the farmhouse to classes on wildlife photography will be available.  Stay tuned!


How to Buy

* Look for Four String Farm at the Rockport/Fulton Farmer’s Market (Fulton Beach Road by Paws & Taws) on the first and third Saturday of month or at Rockport Market Days on the last Saturday of the month (by Rockport Beach and the Texas Maritime Museum).
* Call  361-688-3802 or e-mail justinbutts@clearwire.net.
* You can pick up retail orders from the farm by appointment only.
* Ask about customized volume discount orders.
* Visit www.fourstringfarm.com for more info.

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From Tom Norrington-Davies:

“There is one recipe I turn to every year when I get the first wild garlic, between late March and May. The leaves have a natural affinity with many soups, especially when you wilt them in, off the heat at the last minute. This soup is so unbelievably simple, it actually champions their flavor.”

Potato and bread soup with wild garlic recipe

1. 3 tbsp olive oil
2. 2 onions, finely diced
3. 4 large (about 800g) floury potatoes, diced
4. 600ml hot vegetable (or chicken) stock
5. About 100g stale rustic bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta, torn into pieces
6. 3-4 handfuls wild garlic, washed but whole
7. Extra-virgin olive oil (preferably a peppery one), to serve
8. 1 dried red chilli, crumbled, to serve (optional)

1. Gently heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until soft but not browned. Stir in the potatoes and a good pinch of sea salt, cover and reduce the heat to low. Sweat for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes start to look fluffy around the edges. Check they aren’t catching.
2. Add the stock to the pan, increase the heat slightly and bring the soup up to a simmer but don’t boil. Simmer for 6-8 minutes or until the potatoes are really soft. Add the bread pieces and mash them gently into the soup. You could purée the soup but I use a potato masher as this gives it more texture.
3. Check the seasoning and thickness of the soup. Remove from the heat and add the wild garlic to wilt, or line the soup bowls with the wild garlic and then pour in the soup. Put the extra-virgin olive oil and the chilli, if using, on the table for people to help themselves. You could also garnish the soup with a grated, crumbly cheese, such as Parmesan, Pecorino or even  a mild Cheddar.

**You can use more potatoes instead of bread. Don’t use stock cubes as these will fight with the subtlety of the wild garlic. Use home-made stock, if possible, or just water.

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Starbucks vs. Yaupon

Yaupon (Ilex vomitoria)  is a species of holly native to southeastern North America, including South Texas. 

According to wikipedia, Native Americans used the leaves and stems to brew a tea called asi or black drink for male-only purification and unity rituals. The ceremony included vomiting, and Europeans incorrectly believed that it was the drink itself that caused it (hence the Latin name). The active ingredient is actually caffeine, and the vomiting was either learned or as a result of the great quantities in which they drank the beverage coupled with fasting.

So when times get tough and you don’t want to shell out $5.25 for a skinny grande triple shot cinnamon dolce latte, reach for some Yaupon leaves and give ’em a good chew.

p.s. Watch out Starbucks

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1015Y Texas Super Sweet Onions

Dixondale Farms in Carrizo Springs is the U.S. largest and oldest producer of onion plants since 1913. They have a fantastic “how to” section on their website with info for which onions do best in South Texas.

Seasonal fresh produce can be purchased by mail order or walk-in. Visitors can tour the farm or packinghouse. Tour groups by appointment only. Open. Dec.–Jul., Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sept.–Nov., Mon.–Fri. 9 a.m.–4 p.m.; closed Aug. Call    830/876-2430 or 830/876-2430 for catalog. www.dixondalefarms.com.

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Les Dames d’Escoffier – San Antonio Chapter is proud to announce the Second Annual International Olive Festival of Texas 2010 on Saturday, March 27, 2010 from 10 AM to 4 PM.

The festival will be held at Sandy Oaks Olive Orchard located at 25195 Mathis Rd., off of I 37, near Elmendorf, Texas 78112.  (For directions, click here).

Everyone is invited to enjoy numerous vendors, gourmet food and Texas wine concessions, cooking demonstrations, health and nutrition seminars, entertainment and an olive buffet featuring olives from around the world to sample and compare.

Admission $10 at the Gate. Advance Tickets Also Available at San Antonio Area H-E-B Stores

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