Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How to Buy Chicory, Endive and Escarole

These vegetables, used mainly in salads, are available practically all year round - but primarily in the winter and spring.  Chicory or endive has narrow, notched edges, and crinkly laves resembling the dandelion leaf.  Chicory plants often have "blanched" yellowish leaves in the center which are preferred by many persons. Escarole leaves are much broader and less crinkly than those of chicory.

Always look for freshness, crispness, tenderness, and a good green color of the outer leaves.

Avoid plants with leaves which have brownish or yellowish discoloration or which have insect injury. 

Note - Witloff or Belgian endive is a compact, cigar-shaped plant which is creamy white from blanching.  The small shoots are kept from becoming green by being grown in complete darkness.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

In Honor of our Vets.

A Poem Worth Reading

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
Al l his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Soldier died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young
But the passing of a Soldier
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Soldier,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever waffling stand?

Or would you want a Soldier His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Soldier,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Soldier,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Soldier's part
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:


Monday, May 27, 2013

How to Buy Chinese Cabbage

Primarily a salad vegetable, Chinese cabbage plants are elongated, with some varieties developing a firm head and others an open, leafy form.

When buying look for fresh, crisp, green plants that are free from blemishes or decay.

Avoid wilted or yellowed plants

Friday, May 24, 2013

How to Buy Celery

Celery, a popular vegetable for a variety of uses, is available throughout the year.  Production is concentrated in California, Florida, Michigan, and New York.  Most celery is of the so-called "Pascal" type which includes thick-branched, green varieties.

When buying look for freshness and crispness.  The stalk should have a solid, ridge feel and leaflets should be fresh or only slightly wilted.  Also look for a glossy surface, stalks of light green or medium green, and mostly green leaflets.

Avoid wilted celery and celery with flabby upper branches or leaf stems.  You can freshen celery somewhat by placing the butt end in water but badly wilted celery will never become really fresh again.  Also avoid celery with pithy, hollow or discolored centers in the branches.  Celery with internal discoloration will show some gray or brown on the inside surface of the larger branches near where they are attached to the base of the stalk.  Avoid celery with 1.  "Blackheart," a brown or black discoloration of the small center branches.  2.  Insect injury in the center branches or the insides of outer branches. and 3. long, thick seed-stem in places of the usually small, tender heart branches.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Freeze Fresh Summer Vegetables: Smart Storage

Sent to me by a friend I thought this worth sharing.

Written on August 27, 2012 at 11:00 am, by Ruth Cousineau

The freezer is our friend. It operates at its most efficient when filled. So treat it nicely and fill it up with lots of summer-ripe veggies.

Vegetable flavor is at its best during summertime, and trust me, you’ll be happy mid-winter when you can pluck some frozen veggies out of your freezer instead of paying sky-high prices at the store for so-so quality.

There are a few instructions that you must follow to freeze vegetables properly. First, you should cut vegetables into uniform pieces. Green beans are fine whole, as are snow and snap peas, and okra. Cauliflower and broccoli are better if cut into florets. Bell peppers can be diced or cut into strips. Lima beans and other shell beans (butter beans, black-eyed peas, etc.) also freeze well.

All these vegetables need blanching. This is simply plunging them into boiling water for 2–3 minutes, then draining well. Lay the vegetables in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels. Once they’re completely dry, put them in plastic freezer bags and seal them, forcing all the air out. You can also use a vacuum food-saver or rigid plastic containers, but if you use the latter, be sure to leave an inch of headspace in case of expansion.

Tomatoes can be frozen in many ways, too. The easiest way is to cut them in quarters, bag and freeze. I prefer to blanch them whole for one minute to slip off their skins, then seed and freeze in usable quantities of 2–4 cups. Even more useful make a big batch of tomato sauce, divide it into individual portions and freeze the portions in separate bags.

Winter squashes taste better if they are cooked thoroughly before freezing. I like to roast and then purée them for best flavor. (It’s easy to make a pie when you have a stash of already cooked filling!) Personally, I don’t care for freezing summer squash, eggplant, or potatoes. They get soggy and are best eaten freshly cooked.