Tis the season… for STRAWBERRIES!! From March to October. That’s when you can get your hands on fresh, ripe, juicy strawberries!
Interesting strawberry facts:
~ Strawberries are the only fruit with seeds on the outside.
~ If all the strawberries produced in California, in one year, were laid berry to berry, they’d wrap around the world 15 times.
~ There is a museum in Belgium just for strawberries.
~ Strawberries were a symbol of perfection and love: for instance, folklore says that if you split a double strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you’ll soon fall in love. Medieval stonemasons carved strawberry designs on altars and around the tops of pillars in sacred places such as churches, as a symbol of perfection.
~ Strawberries are low fat, low calorie; high in vitamin C, fiber, folic acid, potassium.
~ Strawberries, as part of a 5 a day fruit & vegetable program, can help reduce the risk of cancer & heart attacks.
~ Eating strawberries, which are rich in nitrate, can increase the flow of blood & oxygen to the muscles by 7%. This prevents muscle fatigue, making exercise easier.
So run out to your nearest farmers market and grab some of these fresh, juicy red jewels. For information on Bay Area farmers markets, click here.
**NOTE: This photo has not been altered in any way. When I cut the top off of the strawberry, this is what was inside. ^_^**
This is my first product post, but I hope to make it a regularity here on BFF. I’m always on the lookout for great organic products. I try to buy sustainable, seasonal, local and organic (SLO) as often as possible. I’m happy to say that this is about 90% of the time. Occasionally I will get a craving for something that isn’t in season, but for the most part I buy SLO . Today I was shopping at my local Mollie Stone’s Grocery Store. For those of you who don’t know about Mollie Stone’s, it’s a Bay Area grocery store that calls itself “The Best of Both Worlds” because they carry both organic and non-organic brands, some grass-fed meats and some corn-fed meats. It’s a decent little store that is a little bit more cost friendly than Whole Foods. Today they had a big display in the back by the cheese department of Santa Cruz Organic Tea. I’m a big fan of ready to drink, slightly sweetened bottled teas, especially since I like iced tea a lot more than hot tea. My favorite brand of bottle tea is Honest. They have really good flavors and none taste artificial. So when I saw the Santa Cruz teas, I decided to give it a try. Especially since the special was two 32oz bottles for $3. That’s CHEAP!!
So tonight with dinner I had a glass of the Mango Tea. From the very first sip, I fell in love with it. Yes, fell in love. It has a wonderfully balanced flavor and there is not even a hint of artificialness. That makes total sense since after reading the ingredients, there are no artificial anythings in this great drink.
BREWED TEA (FILTERED WATER; ORGANIC GREEN, WHITE AND BLACK TEA LEAVES), ORGANIC EVAPORATED CANE JUICE, ORGANIC WHITE GRAPE CONCENTRATE, ORGANIC MANGO PUREE, ORGANIC PINEAPPLE JUICE CONCENTRATE, ORGANIC NATURAL PEACH FLAVOR, CITRIC ACID.
If you like bottled teas, care about organic products and most importantly, can get your hands on this drink, by all means go out and get yourself some! It comes in four flavors at the moment: Lemon, Peppermint, Raspberry and Mango. Check out their website here.
Move over Honest. Santa Cruz Organic is taking over all the space in my fridge now.
If I haven’t mentioned it already, I LOVE one pot meals. This usually means that it’s a stew or soup of some sort. For this post, it’s 갈비찜, or Korean braised short rib stew.
Recently at work Troy, our fantastic soup chef, was trying to decide on a new soup to make. I immediately said 갈비찜!! Since he had never made nor eaten it before, I offered to make it so that he could taste it to get to know some of the flavor components that he’s never cooked with before, like chinese dates and ginko nuts. For the recipe, I decided to follow ThousandthDish’s 갈비찜 recipe. I followed his food blog way before blogging was even popular. Sadly, he doesn’t blog anymore, at least not that I know of.
As ThousandthDish mentions in his recipe, scoring the beef is really important. It helps to break down some connective tissue and allow flavors to really penetrate the meat. I picked up 4lbs of grass fed short ribs and had them cut into 1 1/2″ pieces. I scored them on all sides and seasoned them generously with salt and ground black pepper.
I followed the recipe to the very last detail and the outcome was purely amazing. I’ve cooked 갈비찜 at home before, following other recipes from various websites and/or Korean cookbooks, but nothing compared to his recipe. If you are going to take on this royal dish, I suggest you try his way first.
The outcome. Doesn’t it just look so delicious?!
In the past two deliveries from Marin Sun Farms, we’ve received a total of 4 very juicy looking steaks. 3 ribeyes and 1 NY strip. I wanted to grill these bad boys, but we currently don’t own a grill. I got tired of waiting and we had people coming over on Sunday, so I decided to just roast them instead. Well actually I roasted them, seared the hell out of them, then put them under the broiler to melt the blue cheese sauce. Now that’s cookin’!
I made an infused olive oil for marinating the steaks by putting crushed garlic, rosemary, sage, and thyme in olive oil and simmering it for 2 mins, then left to cool. After removing the herbs form the olive oil, I rubbed the steaks down and wrapped them individually and put them in the fridge for 4 hours. Later I roasted them at 450°f for 15 mins, then seared them in my Cuisinart Griddler. I topped them with the spicy blue cheese sauce made from danish blue cheese, cream cheese, minced shallot and minced jalapeño and put under the broiler to melt. Though a lot of steps to get to the end, it was all worth it. The steaks were delicious!
For sides we had roasted veggies and sauteed dino kale with fresh lemon juice and toasted pine nuts. The kale was fantastic and almost surpassed the steak as the favorite part of the meal.
Look how vibrant and green the kale is!
When I was signing up for the Marin Sun Farms meat club, the membership allows the buyer to opt out of receiving one meat. The choices were lamb, goat and pork. Opting out of pork was not even a thought. So it was between lamb or goat. I’m not a big fan of lamb. I’ve tried to eat it on several occasions, but it usually it just way too gamey for me. But I like goat even less, so I opted to not receive it. The first delivery box comes and there is a package of lamb stew meat and lamb sirloin. I contacted my friend to see if he wanted to take the lamb packages and explained to him my (and my boyfriend’s) dislike for the meat . He said that Marin Sun Farms carries a very yummy breed of lamb and that I should at least try it before I give it away. That sounded reasonable.
So one cold Sunday afternoon I picked up some cipollini onions, carrots and red potatoes from the market and went back home to give it a try. For the stew I used the basic method just like in beef stew. Diced tomatoes, tomato paste, beef broth and dry red wine (this time I used Raven’s Wood Pino Noir), simmering it for 2 hours with the lamb meat and added the veggies at the end and simmered for another 30 minutes. To go with the stew I cooked up some wild rice using beef broth instead of plain water for a tastier affect. The end result was pure delicious, tummy warming bliss. And guess what? Me and my boyfriend LOVED the lamb!! It was delicious, tender, flavorful and not at all gamey.
Marin Sun Farms raises Navajo-Churro Sheep. Unlike the ultra gamey lamb that is commonly found being imported from Australia, the Navajo-Churro lamb that we feasted on was sweet and had a very “clean” taste. I’d highly recommend it to anyone who is having a difficult time eating lamb.
Our friend Pearlie was visiting us from LA and I wanted to cook a warming comfortable meal for her on a cold SF Sunday night. So for dinner I picked up Little Neck Clams, calarami and shrimp from the local Whole Foods. For the sauce I used diced tomatoes, chicken stock, dry white wine, dried oregano and parsley, fresh lemon juice and crush red pepper and simmered it for about 30 mins.
On the side I served mini sandwiches on ciabatta of grilled portobella, arugula. Some of the sandwiches had fresh milk pepper jack cheese and others had one of my absolute favorite cheeses that Whole Foods carries. Sottocerene Al Tartufo Mitica. It’s a cow’s milk cheese with black truffle. So delicious. Melts wonderfully too if you like making grilled cheese.
I guess you could say that my clams dish was kinda like cioppino. In a way it was, but just slightly different. It was definitely a crowd pleaser.
Who doesn’t love a good piece of baked chicken? Especially the savory, crispy skin! I know I sure do! After seeing all those juicy rotisserie chickens on my trip to Costco yesterday I started to crave chicken. So I stopped by a local market and picked up a 5lb Petaluma Poultry whole bird, along with some fixin’s. Potatoes for mashin’ and green beans for sautein’.
After throughly washing the bird, I patted it dry with paper towel and set it on the cutting board to clean off some excess fat pieces. While the bird was resting, in a food processor I combined room temperature butter, coarse kosher salt, 5 cloves of garlic, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, parsley (all dried) and a little extra virgin olive oil and blended into a paste. With the paste, I rubbed the bird down completely. But the most important part, the one thing that will really make your chicken flavorful and oh so juicy is to separate the skin from the meat and rub whatever spices you are going to use under the skin too. So with the butter/garlic/herb paste I made, I rubbed it under the skin as well.
I put the chicken on a rack in a baking pan and baked at 400°f for 65 mins. After 65 mins I turned the oven off and let the chicken rest in the hot oven for 20 mins. The chicken came out SO JUICY! The meat was actually falling off the bone when I tried to separate the legs and wings. And the skin was so crispy and flavorful. Watch out Costco Rotisserie!! My bird is better than your bird!
Just look at that skin!