Posts Tagged ‘produce’

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Eggplant Gender

January 10, 2017

Two Eggplants in Round Bowl, High Angle View

Today’s tip comes from a client of mine who shared a tidbit learned when he studied at the CIA.

( The CIA he is referring to is the Culinary School of America, where he studied to be a chef, not a spy, he quickly pointed out.)

It seems there are both male and female eggplants, and the taste is different among the two genders. Who knew?!

via Plant-based Paradise

via Plant-based Paradise

The female eggplant has a long brownish slit-like indentation at the bottom. The male’s marking is more round. The male eggplant has less seeds and tends to be less bitter, making it a better choice for cooking, especially for dishes that are not heavily sauced.

Thanks for the tip, Bob!

photos: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Visit our shops on Gourmly ,EcohabitudeChocolate.org and Etsy

Advertisements

Washing Produce

April 18, 2016

4466200224_comp

The annual produce “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists have been updated, and there are a few changes in rankings. Below are the latest results, and our take on what to do about it to keep you and your family safe from toxins and contamination.

The Dirty Dozen: These are the fruits and vegetables that contain the highest levels of pesticide contamination, as stated by the Environmental Working Group ( EWG):

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet Bell Peppers
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

The Clean Fifteen: The following are the groups foods that have the lowest level of pesticide contamination:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet Corn
  3. Pineapple
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen Sweet Peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew Melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

It is interesting to note that a large portion of the Clean Fifteen are encased in nature’s own packaging which gets peeled and eliminated before consuming.

While the recommendation is to purchase organically grown varieties of the Dirty Dozen, there are also some precautions that can be taken to make the conventional versions safer to eat. These tips are common protocols that should be used on all produce, regardless of the method of farming.

Wash your produce. This may seem like a no-brainer, yet I see people that are sampling unwashed items at the farmer’s markets all the time, and someone once told me that if I wasn’t watching, they wouldn’t bother washing the salad greens at all. Shudder!

Rinse produce under cool running water. Extra sandy items can be soaked in a strainer set into a bowl of water, or a salad spinner, and then rinsed under running water afterwards to rid it of debris. This will help any “sand” settle to the bottom of the bowl, making it easier to rinse off. Harder produce can be brushed with a produce brush to remove excess dirt. While some people add soap, the FDA does not recommend it, citing that it is just adding even more chemicals to the cocktail. A little vinegar or lemon juice has an astringent effect which can aid in the cleaning process naturally. Just be sure to wash the items afterwards to avoid an unpleasant taste.

Be sure to start with clean hands so you don’t end up spreading the bacteria on them to your food.

Even if you are going to peel the produce, wash the outside well before cutting. If there is bacteria or pesticides on the outside, you will draw them through the food on your knife, essentially distributing it throughout the food.  This includes things like lemons and limes, which often get tossed into drinks, rind and all.

Dry it. Gently wipe the produce with a clean towel to dry it and have one more opportunity to wipe off any excess dirt or chemicals.

Avoid bagged salad mixes and commercially cut fruit: Those pre-bagged and pre-cut salads, vegetables and fruit are a great convenience, but with that comes added risk. The more people and machines that touch your food, the more risk of contamination there is. Many food-borne diseases are actually a result of food handling. If you must buy packaged produce, please take extra time to wash it according to the processes outline above.

While rinsing your produce is not a 100% effective in preventing food borne illness, it is the best protection we have to reduce the risks. And in this case, the benefits of eating a plant based diet, and a rainbow of fruit and vegetables drastically out weighs the risks.

Photo: Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

Visit our shops on Gourmly EcohabitudeLemonbar and Etsy

Download the HOMEMADE app

Kitchen Tips Tuesday: Storing Produce

June 9, 2015

 

3555600993_comp

Summer time is produce time. Our cravings turn to green market fresh vegetables, and cool juicy fruits which grow at this time of year. What happens when the abundance of the season gets wilted and moldy before we have a chance to enjoy it?

Here are a few tips to keeping produce fresh:

Buy the freshest fruits and vegetables you can find. The farmer’s markets are a great source, since the produce is local and comes to us directly from the farm, rather than traveling for a week before it gets out on the floor of the grocery store. The fresher it is at the time of purchase, the longer it will last.

Keep produce dry. Many experts suggest washing and thouroughly drying fruits and vegetables, and storing them wrapped in paper towels to absorb any additional moisture. Strawberries can be either be washed and hulled before storing in an airtight container, or can be laid on paper towels in a single layer in the refrigerator, for those lucky enough to have the real estate.

Certain foods give off ethanol, which causes food to ripen. Keep those ripe bananas away from other fruits and vegetables, to keep them from over ripening and molding. Avocados are a prime candidate for going from rock hard to mush, missing that window when they are at their peak.

One bad apple, (or tomato, berry etc.) can spoil the whole bunch. Pick through and toss any soft or moldy items and rinse the rest well to keep it from spreading.

When the week is nearing an end, and there are lots of leftover vegetables sitting in the refrigerator ready to “kick the bucket” at any time, try making soup. Saute a diced onion in butter or olive oil. Add diced vegetables, and quickly brown them. Cover with broth ( vegetable or chicken) and simmer until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper, and herbs of your choice. Puree until smooth, and enjoy!

Photo:  Glasshouse Images

Check us out at indigojonesnyc on instagram.

Want to see what we have been pinning? Take a look at our Pinterest page!

Tweet along on Twitter.

Take a peek at our Tumblr.

To keep up with the latest, show us some “like” by liking our Facebook page

Check out our new site Indigo Jones Eats

CSA Tuesday: It’s a Wrap!

December 20, 2012

This week marks the end of our CSA series for the season. I have mixed reviews about it. On one hand, I did become acquainted with a few new vegetables, and I did need to flex a little culinary muscle to use some of the items I received.

On the other hand, there was a lot of waste. Things that went bad before I could get to them, and things I just didn’t like that much that kept on coming.

This week we received more beets ( yum), lettuce, spinach and pumpkins (hence the things that just keep coming!). We also got butternut squash and garlic.
I have 4 day weekend coming up, so I hope to be creative and use it all up.

Spinach…That’s an easy one! Saute with garlic. ( 2 items used already!)

photo-3

I love beets!

photo-2

Roasted beets in a salad? That’s a no-brainer!

photo-4

People were leaving the pumpkins behind…they are heavy to carry, and harder to prepare. Late in the season pumpkins are not always so tasty. I will give them a try, one last time!

photo-1

photos: Spencer Jones / Glasshouse Assignment

CSA Tuesday

December 5, 2012

It’s that time of the week again; CSA Tuesday!
Today we got golden beets, potatoes, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cilantro and celery.

photo

Brussels sprouts, still on the stalk!

photo-1

Fresh cauliflower.

photo-2

Golden beets.

photo-3

Cilantro.

It’s been so busy, that it may have to wait until Sunday to get cooked and eaten. We still have leftovers from last week’s haul!

photos: Spencer Jones

CSA Tuesday

November 13, 2012

Today is CSA Tuesday, and our selection is a bit Thanksgiving- esque in nature.

We got sweet potatoes, white potatoes, onions, thyme, turnips and several bunches of kale. We also got more radishes, to add to the 2 bunches that we didn’t eat last week.

Turnips look like big radishes, but have a much different flavor!

Potatoes and onions in various shades of reds and browns.  Perhaps I will roast them with the turnips and some herbs for a comforting winter dish.

Fresh herbs never seem to last very long, so I think I will try this trick I posted a while ago, for frozen herb butter:

https://indigo-jones.com/2012/07/18/herbal-essence/

I will to roast the radishes, for an another interesting side dish, as previously posted last summer:

https://indigo-jones.com/2012/07/02/unrecipe-of-the-week-47/

I’m off to saute some kale for dinner…that should pretty much take care of this week’s inventory!

CSA Tuesday

November 7, 2012

It’s CSA day today.  Since fresh food is still not fully available in downtown Manhattan since the storm, this week’s produce share was highly anticipated.

We got a butternut squash, 4 onions, lettuce, collards, red radishes, black radishes, and sage.

I am not familiar with black radishes, so I am looking forward to experimenting with them.

Since the storm forced me to throw away several weeks worth of CSA soups from the freezer, I will be happy to make my next batch this weekend. Unless the squash becomes ravioli first, which would be lovely with a little sage butter. A lettuce salad with mixed radishes perhaps? That would leave just the collards, which are not a favorite around here.

Let’s see what happens as the week wears on..

CSA Tuesday

October 17, 2012

After last week’s bitter greens extravaganza, it was nice to see a more balanced assortment of produce from my CSA.

We got 2 butternut squash, an eggplant, a carnival squash, arugula, celery, radishes and collard greens.

There is easily the makings of a salad for the uncreative nights, and perhaps some butternut squash ravioli if the weekend is not too crazy.

I have been taking whatever is leftover at the end of the week and making “CSA Soup.” So far, they have been interesting, filling and very low calorie.

CSA Soup:

Dice a small onion and saute it in a little olive oil. Add chopped up “whatever is left” and add it to the pot. Add enough broth ( chicken or vegetable) to the pot to fully cover the vegetables.  Cover the pot and allow it to simmer until the vegetables soften. Puree the soup until it is smooth. Season according to taste.

I have used roasted butternut squash and kale, and spinach and  tat soi so far. You really can’t go wrong.

I have frozen the soup in individual containers, and taken them out for an easy, nourishing lunch.

Enjoy!

Community Supported Agriculture

September 12, 2012

I just got my first CSA package and I am so excited!
CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and each Tuesday between now and mid December, I will pick up a selection of produce, which comes from a local farm.

Today’s bounty was pretty straightforward:

6 potatoes

6 onions

4 ears of corn

1 head of lettuce

2 pounds of plum tomatoes

16 heirloom cherry tomatoes

1 bunch of lemongrass

Hmmm. Lemongrass. There is the challenge I have been hoping for!

When I signed up for this program last spring, my goals were to support a local farm, always have fresh produce on hand, and to expand my horizons by having to experiment with a vegetable or fruit I was not used to using.
I am going to spend a little quality time with my Asian-fusion cookbooks, and will share my recipe(s) using lemongrass with you shortly.

Organic Panic?

September 5, 2012

Health researchers at Stanford University released a study this week casting doubt on the advantages of organic meats and produce. While they concluded that most fruits and vegetables labeled organic were not more nutritious than the conventional versions, the jury is still out on whether or not spending extra for organic products is worth it.

Conventional varieties tested did have more pesticide residue on them, but the levels fall within the allowable limits set by the Environmental Protection Agency. The question lies in whether or not these levels are in fact safe for humans long term.

Many of the key motivators for buying organic foods are the stringent rules governing the farming of these items.

Organic chicken and pork were found to less likely to be contaminated by antibiotic resistant bacteria.

The study also found that organic milk contained higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to the heart. Organic produce also had higher levels of phosphorous, and phenols, believed to help prevent cancer.

Organic foods also have less environmental impact than large-scale conventional farming techniques.

More specific studies have found some added benefits to going organic.  A Washington State University study done in 2010 found organic strawberries contained higher levels of vitamin C than their conventionally counterparts.

Three other studies published last year, from Columbia University, The University of California Berkley and Mount Sinai Hospital, showed that children whose mothers ate organically during pregnancy had a higher I.Q. than those whose mother was exposed to higher levels of pesticides.

While this news is likely to spark controversy among farmers and nutrition experts alike, the facts are still somewhat inconclusive.

For children, pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems, the benefits may still out weigh the expense of purchasing organically grown food.

The choice, as always, belongs to the consumer.

photos:Glasshouse Images


%d bloggers like this: