What's Cooking With Kim O'Donnel

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Kim O'Donnel
Special to washingtonpost.com
Tuesday, July 22, 2008; 12:00 PM

Calling all foodies! Join us Tuesdays at noon for What's Cooking, our live online culinary hour with Kim O'Donnel.

A graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education (formerly known as Peter Kump's New York Cooking School), Kim spends much of her time in front of the stove or with her nose in a cookbook.

For daily dispatches from Kim's kitchen, check out her blog, A Mighty Appetite. You may catch up on previous transcripts with the What's Cooking archive page.

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Kim O'Donnel: Hey folks! It is now Day Four of the Mighty Appetite Eat Local Challenge. In today's blog space, we hear from ELCer Kelly Griffin, who's sourcing her local food shed outside of Boston. On Thursday, we'll hear from Alison and Scott in Dallas, Tex., and Claire in Auburn, Ala. Next Monday, Sheila reports in from Portland Ore., and we'll have a home-grown dispatch from Jon in D.C. Hope you're having fun with this and enjoying the conversation.
Wanted to give you heads up on what's happening over next few weeks: Next week, I'll chat with you as per usual, but the following week, I'll type to you on Mon. Aug 4 instead of Aug. 5. That's because I'll be hitting the road, beginning my cross-country trek in earnest. What that means for the blog is reports from across America. I'll be nibbling my way from state to state until I arrive in my new hometown, Seattle. Looks like I'll chat with you from Des Moines, Iowa and I'm working on a few cool things to supplement my text. I need your help, though: Anyone with food tips for Wyoming? I'll be passing through Cheyenne and Casper. Any tidbits greatly appreciated. Now, let's roll...

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi Kim -- I enjoyed the story today on your blog and it has pushed me further into purchasing more locally grown food than I do already. However, I did not join ELC because I spend most of my time during the week eating outdoors due to my schedule. However, my sister is coming into town this weekend for a wedding and I have decided to take advantage of that by cooking a special dinner for the two of us using ingredients from my farmer's market Saturday. My only problem is that I am not a very great cook and therefore, often need a list of items to purchase before I go shopping anywhere. However, what should I expect to find at the Silver Spring farmer's market and do you have any suggestions on what I can make for dinner and dessert using these items?

Thanks!

washingtonpost.com: ELC Guest Blogger: Kelly from Mass. (A Mighty Appetite, July 22)

Kim O'Donnel: Silver Spring: If there's any time of the year to get inspired, this is it. The variety is downright thrilling. You'll see eggplants, squash, corn, peppers, onions, garlic, snap beans, cucumbers, peaches, cherries, melons, apricots, tomatoes, blackberries...

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washingtonpost.com: ELC Guest Blogger: Kelly from Mass. (A Mighty Appetite, July 22)

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Philadelphia, Pa.: I'm excited about the Eat Local Challenge and have enjoyed reading about the 100 mile diet and other parts of it. I'd like to jump right in and live a local only lifestyle! But, I have a fridge and cupboards full of canned food and dried spices and salt and olive oil and all these things that are not from 100 miles away. So how to begin?

It seems like cheating to use the salt in my cupboard, but then it would seem really wasteful to let it sit for however long I could stick to the 100 mile plan. I'm not good at incremental changes so I'm just not sure how to get started. Guess this is a good reason to finally do that eat everything in your house "diet!" Thanks for any ideas and inspiring me to be more thoughtful about my purchases, I'm also thinking how much I can buy local non-food goods as well.

Kim O'Donnel: The couple who wrote "Plenty" which inspired me to organize the ELC in the first place were faced with this very situation when they set out to eat locally for an entire year. They decided exactly what you're suggesting -- using up what remains in the pantry and gradually incorporating the local foodstuffs.

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GAFF: Hi, Kim,

I had some recent kitchen adventures I'd like to share 'cause you were partially responsible for them (in a good way, of course).

I wanted to make some stuffed mushrooms, but I was out of bread crumbs and had already been to the store. I thought of your stand-by, "use what you have" and toasted a piece of pita bread and ran it thru my food processor. Perfect.

This weekend, I wanted to make something low-fat and healthy, but we're both a little tired of the constant fish and chicken. So without even googling a recipe, I came up with a delicious variant of the classic stuffed bell pepper using ground turkey instead of hamburger. By being liberal with the spices and other additions, they came out wonderful!

Recipes:

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

8-10 portabellos 1 piece of pita, toasted handful of parm tsp. to tbsp low fat butter tbsp garlic powder (or 2 or 3 cloves, chopped) 1/2 tsp cumin seed sprinkle of salt and pepper

Remove stems from mushrooms. Set caps aside. Chop stems and pita in food processor. Add butter, cheese, and spices and mix. Stuff mixture into caps Spray lightly with olive oil. Bake 425 for 15 to 30 minutes or until starting to crisp. (my oven is SLOW so my times are only estimates.)

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers (Note: I also used yellow but the red had a LOT more flavor. Neither of us like cooked green peppers but that's also an option.)

1 lb ground turkey 1 cup uncooked Jasmine rice 1 large Vidalia onion, chopped 8-10 peppers, tops cut off (dice the tops) and seeded. 1 apple (your choice) chopped fine 1 small can unsalted, no sugar added corn 1 large can mushroom pieces, chopped 2 tbsp garlic 1 tbsp oregano 1 tsp cumin seed 1 tbsp pepper 1 or 2 eggs salt, to taste

Cook rice according to package. Set aside to cool. Brown turkey. When nearly done, add onion, apple, and diced pepper tops. Add seasonings. Turn off burner and add rice. Mix well and taste for flavors and season as needed. (I may be forgetting some seasoning, but there's lots of flexibility. Use WHAT YOU HAVE or anything Kim mentions frequently.)

Allow mixture to cool to room temperature then add 1 or 2 beaten eggs. (eggs are optional but I wanted the mixture to be a little sticky)

Lightly grease a glass baking dish (I use spray olive oil; wonderful for a light touch.) Stuff peppers with mixture to top of pepper until all peppers are full. If you have mixture left, add to tops of peppers. Lightly spray tops and sides with olive oil.

Bake at 425 for 30 minutes to an hour (tops should start browning and sides of peppers should just start to look like they're roasting/peeling.)

Thanks again, Kim, from me and my partner (husband in California, New York, and Massachusetts.) After a year in this chat, my cooking has gotten a lot more exciting (and I wasn't boring to start with...)

Kim O'Donnel: Hey GAFF! Thanks for checking in. Love that you're tapping into your kitchen instincts and creating beautiful food. Nice going! Keep me posted of your adventures, please.

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Alexandria, Va.: Hi Kim:

Do you have any suggestions for how to use a couple of past-their-prime red peppers? They're not spoiled, but are sort of soft and wrinkly. Hate to throw away expensive produce.

Kim O'Donnel: Roast'em. Cut off tops, let them lay somewhat flat, place on baking sheet and roast at 400. Let them blister all over -- will take about 40 minutes.

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Boston, Mass.: Hey Kim! Looking for a little marinade inspiration. I have a beautiful steak at home in the fridge (the top round was on sale this week!) and I'm planning to throw it on the (indoor) grill pan for dinner. I have a pasta salad with zucchini from last night to go with. I have fresh thyme, rosemary and basil. Really nice balsamic (Trader Joe's has a fantastic 10-year aged balsamic). And I have time to stop at a grocery store. I usually do salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce and maybe oil and balsamic. I'm trying to mix it up. Any suggestions on a new marinade idea?

Kim O'Donnel: Garlic. That's what's missing. And instead of Worcestershire and balsamic, what about red wine, a smidge of sugar or honey, soy sauce and Dijon mustard?

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MoCo: Hmmm.... The eating local challenge is proving harder than I thought it would! Work was busy, so I wasn't able to scoot over to the farmer's market on Friday. Saturday I headed out to a local farm stand only to discover they were closed for the summer. At the Safeway, they mostly didn't say where their produce came from. I think I'll still be able to meet the challenge though. I'm just glad I budgeted a lot of time for grocery shopping on Saturday!

On the plus side, I found "Delmarva" chicken at Giant. MOST of that area is within 100 miles of me, but not all. But, they didn't say exactly where on that penninsula the chicken was raised.

Over in dry goods, it was even worse. I found lots of "distributed by" labels, but that didn't really tell me where the stuff within the packaging came from. For instance, I needed cornmeal. Washington flours and corn meal is based in Ellicott City, Maryland, well within 100 miles. But was the corn actually grown here before it was ground? I don't know. I bought it anyway, figuring the other stuff definitely wasn't local.

Kim O'Donnel: yeah, those dry goods are only distributed here, not coming from local sources. Thanks for sharing your report -- if you need more resources for local food in Montgomery County, please say so and we'll try to lend a hand.

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Silver Spring, Md.: Kim, I went to the Takoma Park farmers market last week and found the prices to be downright unaffordable. I want to support local farmers and eat organic...are there any other local farmers markets or vendors who provide more affordable options? I know local and organic will cost a little more, but paying 2-3 times as much as the cost of grocery store produce is beyond my means right now.

Kim O'Donnel: Here's one report re: cost of farm market goods being too expensive...what have others experienced? Silver: Tell me, where do you typically shop? You may be a candidate for a CSA.

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NoVa: Hi Kim,

It feels so much easier to eat vegetarian in the summer than in the winter, with all the lovely fruits and veggies (you think?), but still I have a question -- for someone who isn't too keen on the taste of zucchini (am I the only one?) would there be a semi-foolproof recipe that could convert me?

Kim O'Donnel: Hmmm...have you tried grating it? It's really nice mixed into a little fritter. Who else has thoughts on winning someone over with zucchini?

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Ice cream: Is it possible to make ice cream without using an ice cream maker? I think Indian kulfi is make by stirring a few times while it freezes, but I was hoping for something creamier.

Kim O'Donnel: Kulfi and granita are the only frozen treats I know of that don't require an ice cream maker. If you're on the fence about buying an ice cream maker, perhaps you could share it with a friend and split the cost -- about $25 for each person. It's a great tool -- and makes memorable ice cream, sorbet, fro-yo, the whole lot.

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Self-rising flour: Hi Kim,

Do you have any sweet recipes that call for self-rising flour? I just bought a bag on sale, and I've made pancakes with it, from the company Web site, but I'm looking for something more. Particularly, if I can add some berries. I don't suppose you have a buckle recipe using self-rising flour??

Kim O'Donnel: I don't, I'm afraid. But let's ask others if they use self-rising flour for anything other than biscuits....

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Centre of Nowhere: Hi Kim!

I am loving the ELC and have been taking mental note of the meals that incorporate local foods. It's been a lot of fun!

However, I have been having a small problem with keeping or storing the goodies that I obtain from our farmer's market to prevent spoilage -- it seems to happen very quickly. For instance, the beautiful heritage tomato that I brought home developed a small bruise on it that blossomed overnight into a moldy abscess. Into the compost pile it went, not a day after I purchased it. Similarly, the broccoli I bought wilted and turned a sickly yellow green within 24 hours, and I'd given it a new cut and had it standing in fresh water upon unpacking it. After cutting the stem again and standing it in fresh water, it perked up, but the yellowy color and the rather strong smell turned me off. Compost pile time.

I purchased both items from the same vendor, so I will ask her about this next weekend (she had told me that the broccoli had been harvested that morning -- and it was standing in water when I bought it). Are there any good rules of thumb for storing summer produce? I know that the tomatoes should not go into the fridge, but I can't eat all of them within 24 hours, you know? Thanks.

By the way, it HAS been pretty humid here... all of my bread molded over the weekend, too.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Centre: It's been blazing hot here in DC as well. That broccoli shouldn't have turned the way it did if it were freshly harvested -- you should def. talk w/ the grower. I know having central A/C in my place keeps everything cooler, but I also know that's not reality for everyone. Keeping produce dry is helpful -- and often washing, then drying then wrapping helps a bit. Other tips?

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Arlington, Va.: Local foods question. Besides asking are there any tell-tale signs that tip one off that a "growers" food is just re-sale that they picked up from a wholesaler and not truly local/farmer? I really want to get the good stuff!

Kim O'Donnel: Asking straight questions of the vendor like where are these beans from is your right as a consumer. A farmer selling his or her stuff has a lot of pride and will gladly tell you not only where the food was grown but how it was grown, what's on tap later in the season, and son on.

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Zucchini: This might help the chatter who's not excited about zucchini -- my friend just made me zucchini soup that was really, really good. She sauteed zucchini and onions and when they were about done she threw them in a blender with a bit of stock and a lot of basil. It was delicious! She swirled in some cream at the end, but I didn't think the soup need it at all.

Kim O'Donnel: Excellent -- and this does double duty for another reader who was interested in a zucchini soup. Thanks much.

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Cheyenne: I live about 40 miles from Cheyenne and travel up there a couple of times a year. In Cheyenne, there is a restaurant in the old train depot downtown. I don't remember its name but it is the only one there. Pretty good food but mostly your basic sandwiches, burgers and being Wyoming, steak. I think they also have buffalo.

Kim O'Donnel: Thank you Wyoming reader!

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Re expensive food: Hi Kim -- just wanted to offer another way of looking at the food prices at the farmer's market. I try to remind myself that the food I eat is one of the most important things I buy. Paying more to get the quality of the fresh food and support the local farmers at the same time is well worth it. If I have to sacrifice other things (a $4 cup of coffee several times a week, for example), it's worth it.

Kim O'Donnel: I'm with you. I was thinking last week how crazy it is that Apple made $300-some million in profits over three days when the new iPhone was released, yet we get upset when milk goes up by $1. This is a simplistic example, I know -- but it does point to how we like to spend our money. Just food for thought.

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Annapolis, Md.: For the zucchini question: My older sister makes a fantastic roasted zucchini and red pepper salad. She roasts the veggies in her broiler and dresses them with a vinaigrette and some feta cheese. I love love, love zucchini this way.

Kim O'Donnel: That sounds lovely, Annapolis. Thanks for sharing.

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Washington, D.C.: Do you think there will be a rebirth of the tomato given it's free of salmonella? I noticed at the soon to close Merkado Kitchen, they really laid on the tomatoes.

Kim O'Donnel: Tomato growers really got socked by this disaster, it's terrible. Local tomatoes are already here - and they are DYNAMITE. Really good season. I think if you go where chefs are sourcing locally, you'll see them in no time on menus.

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Washington, D.C.: Kim -- I just picked up 2 pints of beautiful blueberries at the farmers market. Some of them have already been eaten, but I'd like to try a new dessert to show off the rest. I've been thinking of a clafoutis, maybe, or a pound cake? I've done buckles and cobblers and pie but would love some new inspiration. Thanks!

Kim O'Donnel: Have you ever done a meringue shell? Really pretty presentation with berries. Do you have an ice cream maker, by chance? Best darn sorbet recipe, if you want it.

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Framingham, Mass.: Hey Kim! I broke out the zucchini "crab cakes" for the first time this year. Super yummy. But neither the BF or I are into tartar sauce. I usually just eat them plain, but he really wanted some sauce. Ketchup wasn't bad, so I was thinking about making a roasted tomato and garlic, well, mash I guess I would call it (chunky salsa, maybe?) to go with next time. Thought?

Kim O'Donnel: Hey there: What about an herby pesto?
Recipe details for zucchini "crab cakes"

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Silver Spring, Md.: Hi, I just wrote about farmer's markets being too expensive. We usually shop at Snyder's (a family-owned grocery) and Safeway (just items on sale), and get selected organic items at the TP/SS food coop. Any suggestions of more affordable local/organic options would be appreciated...maybe Wheaton's market would be more affordable?

Kim O'Donnel: Let's ask readers who live out that way. As I mentioned, you may want to look into a CSA for next year -- you pay in advance, but lots of folks find this a relief when growing season arrives. Have you looked into driving over to farm stands in southern Md.?

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Blueberry sorbet: Share please. That's sounds great considering it has been in the 90s for the past couple of weeks. I also have a quart of blueberries that I want to do something with before my kids eat them all.

Kim O'Donnel: This is the bomb diggety: Blueberry Sorbet

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Annandale, V.A:: I just wanted to thank you for inspiring last night dinner. I made a tomatillo salsa-- it was GREAT! so good I have a container here at work to snack with chips this afternoon.

For the zuchinni question, I usually don't like them either, but I have found I like them grilled (s and p olive oil and grated garlic). I made that last night to go along with flank steak and my salsa it was soooo good!

Kim O'Donnel: hey! so glad you're enjoying tomatillos! I agree -- the 'tillo salsa is great as a condiment. Keep up the good work!

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NoVa: Hey, it's me again...

Thank you Kim and chatters for creative ways to eat zucchini! I really appreciate the soup idea, roasting idea, crabcakes, etc. and will honestly try them.

R

Kim O'Donnel: Yeah for R! And if you don't succeed this time, move on. There are so many great veggies waiting for you.

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KitchenCat: For the person looking to be a zucchini convert, try slicing them into thin circles and placing the slices individually on a baking sheet. Then top with a tasty cheese -- I like TJ's quattro cheese blend, but Lapi and Havarti are good options, or even a M. Jack. Then toast in the oven to melt the cheese until bubbly.

As for the farmer's market prices -- it takes some time to target your shopping to adjust to the prices. Some of the produce is decidedly cheaper, but some you will pay for the organic factor. If you can't do organic, there are vendors at the market who aren't certified organic and are selling at cheaper prices as a result. I think berries are always more expensive than in season berries at the grocery store -- but the flavor is better. One strategy is too take the time to write a comprehensive list of everything you buy and the prices at the grocery store and at the farmer's market. You can then pick and choose. I also walk around the whole farmer's market every week to see who is there with what before I start making my purchases. Finally, I use the prices to force us to really eat what we buy and eat just what we need. So no more throwing out food because we didn't get to it in time or eating large servings when really our bodies would be happy with less. I actually spent far less than I expected at the market this weekend and I totally over did my shopping!

Kim O'Donnel: Hey KitchenCat: I agree -- a list is SO KEY when you're out shopping at market. Good call. When I went last weekend, I did just that and it helped immensely.
Thanks for the xtra zucchini tip!

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Re: ice cream w/o maker: The WP database has an instant strawberry ice cream recipe that doesn't need an ice cream maker.

Kim O'Donnel: Great. Do you know if it's creamy as the reader requested?

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Re: ice cream maker and have a tomato question: I love thrift stores and always seem to find ice cream makers in there. So if you don't want to spend the big bucks, swing by one. They always have fun quirky kitchen stuff.

Tomato question: now that they are safe, I'd love to buy a bunch to help the farmers. Any good recipes out there that use lots of them?

Kim O'Donnel: Gazpacho would be my first choice for using lots of tomatoes. I'm all about tomato and cucumber salads, tomatoes and feta, tomatoes on a BLT, tomatoes with my eggs. Let's hear from the crew...

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Baltimore, Md.: The new August issue of Sunset magazine had a great article about eating local, "The One Block Diet" I think it was called. They tried to create an entire menu, complete with beer and wine, using food they grew themselves (including eggs and milk from farm animals kept on the property, olive oil from olives grown, honey from bees, they made their own cheese even...). It really made me wish I was more self-sufficient. Of course, it helps that their land was in California. They might have earthquakes, fire, and floods, but they have a great climate otherwise!

Kim O'Donnel: Great to know, Baltimore. Your point about geographic location is well taken. But I'd argue, that no matter where we live, we all could take the extra steps to explore and do a little research on what really is available in our own regions. We might discover that it's a big waste of time, we might discover a great cheesemaker, we might discover that it's too much work. But at least you discover. If we allow ourselves to remain ignorant of what's in our own food sheds, we'll always think there are no options.

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Keeping produce fresh: There are two types of vegetables. Those that produce etheylene gas (apples, tomatoes, peppers) and those that spoil from ethylene gas (broccoli, eggplant, leafy greens). If you can, keep the two categories separate. This is why your mom always told you not to store potatoes and onions together. Do a Google search and you can find a list of the two kinds of vegetables to post on your fridge.

And if you're going to buy all your veggies at once, you have to develop a habit of using the spoiling things up first. If you notice a tomato has a small bruise, eat it immediately. Tomorrow, the bruise will be bigger, and it will make all your other tomatoes spoil faster.

Kim O'Donnel: Great points! Thanks for the reminder.

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Bethesda, Md.: Kim, local raspberries are in now, too. Peaches likely not local, yet, in quantity, but southern white peaches at Women's Market in Bethesda fantastic (let sit in a paper bag a day or two to ripen). Same with an incredible 8-1/2 lb cantaloupe I got there last weekend (from Georgia, but unreal sweetness and juice).

Melon, two pints of raspberries and 4 pounds of peaches were $17. In January, I'd spend twice that to get the quality.

Kim O'Donnel: Hey Bethesda: Local peaches are available! I've been seeing them at markets here in Northern Virginia -- from farms in Va as well as Pa. Wait -- 8.5 pound 'loupe? Holy smokes. I've slurping on an extraordinary 'loupe from Hanover, Va this week.

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Washington, D.C.: We made the zucchini "crab cakes" this weekend while trying to use up the monster zucchini from our CSA (It used less than half of it). We topped them with a yogurt-dill sauce we picked up at Whole Foods, but it would be easy to make yourself. It has yogurt, white wine, shallots, dill, garlic, and lemon juice, if I remember the label correctly. Also great on kohlrabi-celeriac "rosti"!

Kim O'Donnel: Yes, you're right -- that sauce would be oh so easy to replicate. Thanks for checking in.

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Blueberry sorbet: Any way to modify this for those without an ice cream maker? How different would it be to make a blueberry granita?

Kim O'Donnel: It would be a very different process. Not sure if blueberries would like being in a granita. I need to think about this.

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Re: farmers market prices: Hope this isn't too late! Was able to get all of this food for $15 at the 14th and U Farmers Market -- 2 apples, 3 peaches, a head of cabbage, a quart of cherries, 4 ears of corn, 2 tomatoes, and a bunch of spring onions. It can be done on a budget, that secret is shopping around, looking at what you really need/want, and not over-buying quantity wise.

Kim O'Donnel: Thanks for your first-hand report! And make that list before you go so you don't forget what you don't need...

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Frozen treats: Try using fruit to make a frozen treat you don't have to stir (seriously). My husband made papaya sorbet by just mashing up papaya, mixing it with frozen raspberries, lime juice and a little bit of sugar syrup. He froze it and we ate it the next day. Vegans do this all the time with fruit (like avocadoes). Surprisingly good!

Kim O'Donnel: Here's a take on freezing fruit...

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GAFF: Worcestershire in the stuffed bell pepper mixture! I forgot that in the recipe.

And to Alexandria roasting the red peppers, once they're blistery throw them in a brown paper bag to cool. Helps the skin come right off.

Kim O'Donnel: More from our friend GAFF....

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West R.I.: Hi. Need so help with a recipe my mother and I are evolving. It's a cole slaw...bag of cole slaw mix (cabbages, carrots) with apx .75 cup plain yogurt, apx .25 cup mayo, drained crushed pineapple, and a little reserved pineapple juice to thin the sauce. It's good -- tangy from the pineapple and yogurt but not very...complex. How could I jazz it up??

Kim O'Donnel: some cayenne, even some chopped ginger...and I want to see some julienned red bell peppers...some scallions, some parsley...

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Roasted Chicken: Hi Kim,

I roasted a chicken last weekend and, while the temperature at the inner thigh was 165, I found blood -- red blood -- at a part of the breast, near the bone. Is this okay to eat? I am assuming that the bird was cooked through (no one became ill after the dinner), but we avoided the bloodied bits.

This has happened to me a few times in the past and I've always wondered about it.

Kim O'Donnel: Always go with your gut, no matter what the tools tell you. if it was too bloody for your comfort level, you prob. should have kept in oven for a bit longer. Chicken is one of the easiest things to get wrong -- and it's not you, it's her. Trust me. It takes a long time to get it down. Hang in there -- and next time, keep it in the oven until you feel good.

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Olney, MD: I just read that the Super Fresh supermarket chain, operated here by A&P, is now the largest source in the North East/Mid Atlantic for locally grown produce.

They have signed a commitment for the rest of the growing season with Maryland farmers for corn, beans, squash, cukes, etc and Delaware/NJ farmers for tomatoes, melons, etc.

That said, the local sources are being expanded greatly to include Giant food as well.

I think that you can eat reasonably inexpensive shopping stores like SuperFresh as well as some local farmers markets as well as your own backyard. This is a challenge that I know I will enjoy.

Kim O'Donnel: This is great news, Olney. The more larger corps can offer in the way of local products, the better, methinks. I will look into this.

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Bethesda Mom: Hi Kim:

I've followed with interest your "eat local" challenge, and I haven't signed up officially, but I do try to incorporate more local produce etc. especially now in the summer.

I do, however, want to offer an "opposing view" of the benefits of joining a CSA--I don't believe that they save money in any realistic way. For example, you gave the good advice above that a shopped go to a farmer's market with a definite list; but with a CSA, you have absolutely no control over the food you have paid for.

I joined one two years ago--just in time for a drought. The first month, there were few goods in the box, I couldn't get them until after work, meaning they had sat outside in unbelievable heat all day and wilted, and the variety was either poor, or consisted of things no one wanted to eat.

A CSA is only a good deal if you can pick up the produce when it is delivered in the hot summer, are a very adventurous cook/eater, and have the time to spend researching your weekly produce. For most of the rest of us, the amount you throw away/don't use, negates any savings. I's rather use the money and buy items at a farmer's market that I like, have planned for, and know how to cook.

Just my 2 cents. . .

Kim O'Donnel: Yeah, CSAs are not for everyone, I agree. This is why I haven't joined one, plus I like the social interaction I get from going to the farm market. But...what all of this does is force us to come out of our insulated caves and spend some focused time on where our food comes from, what our shopping habits are like and what we can do, if anything, to become more mindful. Thanks for chiming in!

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Kim O'Donnel: It is time to run. Thanks for stopping by -- great conversation today about local eating and shopping. Come by and visit the blog space when you can: A Mighty Appetite and share your ELC stories! All best.


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