|This is the time of year I get to reflect and recharge. I love to pour over cookbooks and get inspired. I just opened Manresa; An Edible Reflection by David Kinch. This is a beautiful book. Although Kinch is located in California, and his focus is on the terroir of Northern California, there is a deep connection to the people, land and producers in every recipe. I am enjoying every page of this book.
I’ve also been working on gluten-free options in my kitchen. I am perfecting a few recipes as everyone has asked me for years to consider a gluten-free popover, and until I get something that is darn delicious, I am not ready to serve it. I also have a quick bread recipe that I am mastering. I have a basic batter recipe using bananas or rhubarb and strawberries or zucchini or pumpkin (depending on the time of year). I am working on several gluten-free/sugar-free (no chemicals!) recipes, but I need your help in perfecting them - the recipes themselves and also the way the recipes are written. If you would like to take on the challenge of being a "recipe tester", I invite you to email me at email@example.com. I will send you the recipe and you can try it at home and send me any comments and/or feedback. In exchange, I’ll send you one of my many spice blends – any one of your choice. I want to be ready to roll out my gluten-free popovers and breads this Spring at the Farmer’s Market.
This is also my time to drum up new ideas and recipes. We offer great sauces, dips and spreads that bring dishes to life and round out meals. I have a few new ideas, but I would love to hear from you. What would you like to see at the Farmer’s Market?
Okanagan Specialty Fruits, a small company, is trying to bring to market a genetically engineered apple that does not turn brown when sliced or bruised. The “Arctic Apple®” wasn’t designed to increase nutritional value. Its only benefit is cosmetic. Does a browning apple present a problem? Solutions, like applying lemon juice, is what most of us in the kitchen do to prevent browning. I have been telling participants in my classes that we have little to worry about GMOs when it comes to fruits and vegetables as most GMOs are found in processed foods, but this is changing quickly. The Arctic Apple® has been awaiting approval by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), since May of 2012. A comment period closed on 12/16/13 to decide whether or not to deregulate the first GMO apple.
Why muck with Mother Nature, I ask?
The GMO apple will likely contaminate conventional apple crops, in addition to introducing a whole new set of health concerns. I say “why bother?” If they must allow this into our markets, I say we must label it so we can make an informed choice. I read this article in The New York Times that highlights the story behind the Okanagan shenanagins of creating the apple that doesn't brown. It all sounds harmless; I am not in support of GMOs and I say until we have labeling that specifically identifies genetic engineering in our food, none of us have a choice.
I found a beautiful little apple called “pink lady” that a West Tisbury farmer named Vince grows. I love his apples! I decided to conduct my own little experiment. The crisper and the dryer the apple, the longer it takes to brown - ever notice that? I peeled this little apple and placed it in a Ziploc bag for two days. Yesterday I pulled it out and it was not brown. I left it out overnight and it got a little bit brown but mostly drier. Check out this photo. Now, perhaps our guy Vince is on to something and doing his own little modifications right here in West Tisbury? Perhaps he should share his apples with Okanagan Specialty Fruits, or perhaps we should just keep our little secrets.
As most of you know, I love the flavors of North Africa. I also cook lentils a couple of times a week. My dear friend Joan Nathan turned me onto a Middle Eastern eggplant dish topped with yogurt and pomegranates. The finish to the soup is inspired by her - Morrocan Lentil Soup.
Morning Glory Farm still has quite an abundance of vegetables and herbs. This week, I bought 20 lbs. of cabbage and 3 heads of Swiss Chard and shredded it all together. I sprinkled it with sea salt and massaged it until I had half a gallon of liquid. I added some ginger and seaweed and placed it in this large ceramic crock with weights on top. The weights hold the vegetables submerged under the liquid. I keep it in a room that is about 50 degrees so it will be fully fermented in about 10 days. Then I will put it in jars and place in the refrigerator and eat it daily.
I have a few plum puddings left for sale if anyone needs one. Call me and I will deliver to you if you are on Martha’s Vineyard. (Otherwise you may enjoy it for New Years)
I want to thank each and every one of you for reading this newsletter. I am so very grateful for all that I have. I love creating memorable events in the catering world, but I also get so much pleasure out of cooking and sharing what I know. I love offering classes and farm tours and writing about it all. If you’re looking to reboot your health for 2014, check out my upcoming workshops with John Bagnulo where we offer nutrition, detox, brain health and gardening. We have one room available for Costa Rica!
During these dark days of winter, I wish you the warmth of friends and family, the glow of candlelight, gaiety and cheer around your table, and of course, the very best of health, now and throughout our New Year!