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Know Your Produce: Dragon's Tongue Beans

Dagon Tongue beans are an open pollinated heirloom variety originally cultivated in the 18th Century in the Netherlands. The bean has a warm cream color with vivid violet variegations throughout its stringless pod. Its shape is broad and the bean measures to an average of six inches in length. The pods are crisp and succulent and bear four to six plump bone white seeds with pink to purple stripes that turn tan with age. The fresh seeds are firm, slightly starchy, nutty and sweet. The entire bean can be eaten raw or cooked. When cooked, the bean loses its variegated colors.

Store: wrap in plastic; refrigerate. Use beans within one week for optimum flavor and texture.

Prep: Wash in cool water. Remove the tips of the bean with a paring knife.

Use: Best raw, Dragon Tongue beans are also excellent steamed, but the color fades during cooking. Perfect for pickling with spices, adds its naturally good flavor to bean salads and stir-fries. Serve simply as a delicious side dish. Its unique color makes this bean an attractive edible garnish and an interesting conversation piece when served to curious guests.

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Raw Beet Salad

Ingredients

1 to 1½ pounds beets, preferably small

1 yellow onion or 2 large shallots

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, or to taste

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons sherry or other good strong vinegar

1 sprig fresh tarragon, minced, if available

1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves

 

Instructions

  • Peel the beets and onions/shallots. Combine them in a food processor and pulse carefully until the beets are shredded; do not purée. (Or grate the beets by hand and mince the onion/shallots, then combine.) Scrape into a bowl.
  • Toss with the salt, pepper, mustard, oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Toss in the herbs and serve.

 

Variations

  1. Raw Beet Salad with Carrot and Ginger. Ginger and beets are killer together. Use equal parts beet and carrot, about 8 ounces of each. Treat the carrots as you do the beets (you can process them together), adding about a tablespoon of minced peeled ginger to the mix; omit the tarragon. Substitute peanut for olive oil, lime juice for sherry vinegar, and cilantro for the parsley.
  2. Raw Beet Salad with Yogurt Dressing. Replace the olive oil and one of the tablespoons of vinegar with 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk or low-fat.

Recipe adapted from http://markbittman.com/recipe/raw-beet-salad/

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Freezing the Summer

The Klesick family has been in full freezing mode for the last few weeks and will probably continue here for the next few as well. Years ago, canners (those people who canned fruits and vegetables) would put up lots of jars for the winter food supply.  People canned meats, veggies, fruit and sauces when the items were plentiful and in season. The canners, for the most part, are a very small component of food buyers today. I know that a few of you still exist, so you can relate when I say that I can barely find a freestone peach to can anymore. Pickles have bucked that trend, however, and are still made every year, but most other canning items have fallen on “hard times.”

Ironically, the practice of canning has declined with our prosperity, stable electricity to run refrigerators and freezers, and a plethora of fruits and vegetables widely available all the time. Except for opening a can of black beans, I hardly even remember using a can opener—and we don’t even own an electric one—but when I was growing up it was the main kitchen gadget. I Still remember watching that can go round and round!

Today the Klesick family freezes and freezes and freezes. We freeze lots of berries, mangos, nectarines, peaches and grapes. The freezer has replaced the shelves of cans! It is not a perfect system – when the power goes out we NEVER open the freezers, and if it looks like it is going to be an extended outage we will fire up the generators.

The Klesick’s cannot be the only family in the off-season that enjoys a splash of summer on pancakes, or in hot cereal, or as a frozen treat. Joelle and I enjoy a green smoothie every morning and those frozen berries with fresh greens transport your taste buds right back to those “chin dripping” juicy peaches and nectarines of summer.

So, from now till the end of August, Klesick Family Farm is running a “Freezing the Summer” special! Check out the offerings in your email inbox, on Facebook and our website, and order a case or two of local summer goodness for your next delivery and start looking forward to winter

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Know Your Produce: New Potatoes

New potatoes are freshly harvested young, or small, potatoes. They have paper-thin skins and lots of moisture inside, and they tend to be sweeter than older potatoes (in much the same way that freshly picked corn is so much sweeter than cobs that have been sitting around for a few days). New potatoes are pure perfection in potato salads or simply boiled with a bit of butter and a few chopped herbs. Skins that are starting to flake away from the potato are fine – that’s the price of such youth and delicacy! New potatoes are freshly harvested and a bit of dirt just shows that they really are new potatoes and not just small potatoes.

Store: Because they have such thin skins and high moisture levels, new potatoes don’t keep as well as more mature potatoes. Keep them in a paper bag or loosely wrapped plastic in the fridge and use new potatoes within a few days of buying.

Don’t fall prey to the temptation to wash new potatoes before storing them. That bit of dirt clinging to their skins will actually help keep them fresh and any water on the outside will hasten bruising and softening.

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Drinking In Summer

When I think of summer, I think of long days by the beach, sandy hair, afternoon naps, cozy evenings by the bonfire, and laughter, much laughter. Summers in Peru were always filled with family, simple meals and refreshing aguas frescas.

If you never had agua fresca (Spanish for fresh water), it is a light, kid-friendly fruit drink served by street vendors, in bodegas, and at eateries throughout Central and South America. They are made by combining fresh fruits with sugar and water. Sometimes grains, seeds, and even flowers can be added.

Common fruit and vegetable versions include cantaloupe, watermelon, berries, cucumbers, and lime. The flavor of fresh fruit, by blending it with water and straining out the pulp, results in basically everything you’ve ever wanted fruit juice to be: a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink that actually tastes like fruit. Anything with melon was my favorite!

They’re perfect for this time of year because they practically beg to be sipped outside and they are very easily scaled up to make a refreshing pitcher drink. This lovely refreshing drink is the perfect alternative from the norms of ice water, lemonade and soda. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can be so good!

With this week’s box of good menu, the options for aguas frescas are endless: melon-nectarine, apple-grape, and apple-kiwi, to name a few!

Regardless of the fruits and vegetables available at the local market, our summer menus growing up always included a salad. The schedule goes: soup and entrée during fall and winter, salad and entrée during spring and summer. And to this day, it remains the same. I recently spent two months back home in Peru and was glad to see that some things never change. Meal schedules are the same, people take naps, families gather together for tea time, and going to the bakery to get fresh bread at 6:00 p.m. feels like going shopping during Black Friday.

One particular salad was always present during our summer family gatherings: grape and cabbage salad with a light creamy vinaigrette—a nice combination of sweet, salty, tart, crunchy, and creamy all in one bite. What else can you ask for from a salad? Serve it as a side with grilled meats, in tacos or tostadas, or use it in sandwiches and wraps. Crisp, fresh, delicious and easy to make!

I am always amazed how food can evoke so many memories. I hope you have time to partake of a few mementos this summer, from family favorite foods, to outdoor walks after a summer rain.
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador
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