Category Archives: Farmers' Market Favorites

Banana Wraps, Granola and Chocolate Chips

What some people won’t do to get their kids off to a school on time!  Today started with a TV spot on WHAS-11.  A tweet from Rachel Platt ended the segment where you can see some of the breakfast ideas for kids on their first day back to school.

Back to school breakfasts are very much like weekday dinners, in that you surely must have your pantry stocked in order to pull them off with grace and speed.  Take the Banana Wrap.  Not an original idea by any means, but one worth visiting if the concept is new to your family.   A child of primary school age can certainly make their own Banana Wrap along with yogurt and granola.  And, they will love the idea of holding the banana in a wrapper and enjoying it like, well, a monkey. Maybe we should call them Monkey Wraps!

Ideas for your breakfast pantry – they’re not just for kids.

Peanut, almond or sunflower butter

Whole Grain Wraps/Tortillas – great for lunches too.

Fresh whole fruit

Bananas – when too ripe to eat, slice and freeze for smoothies.  Frozen bananas make the thickest, richest tasting smoothies

Granola – home made is best or visit a Farmers’ Market near you for a great, local selection from Full Heart Farms

Milk, Soy or Almond Milk

Eggs

Dried Fruits, peanuts, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips for trail mix

Whole Grain Breads, Pita – keep in the freezer to prolong life

Salad greens – yep, salad greens – if your kids eat salads, breakfast is a great time to add in more veggies to their diets.  Stuff a salad into a pita and add some fresh minced strawberries or peaches and skip the dressing.

Yogurt, skim milk or almond milk for smoothies

Banana Wraps

For each wrap, you will need:

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 whole grain tortilla
  • 2 Tbls peanut butter, soy butter or sunflower seed butter
  • 1 Tbls or so chocolate chips, dried fruits, etc.

Place the tortilla on a cutting board and spread with the nut butter.  sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Lay the banana on the tortilla and wrap it up.  Cut in half, if desired.

Enjoy!

Pasta e Fagioli

The other day, I had the chance to sit in one of my favorite lunch places and reminisce  about a bowl of Pasta e Fagioli.  Sipping on a hot, fresh cup of coffee, the question that was pressing for me was; “What’s the soup of the Day?”  When the returned answer was Pasta e Fagioli, my menu choice was made.  I smiled, asked for crusty bread to accompany the soup and settled in to recall my first trip down Zuppa lane.

A few years into my experience of teaching cooking classes, I looked at every opportunity to partner with other small businesses to bring a new concept to our collective publics.  Working at the Farmers’ Market in St. Matthews, my next booth neighbor was Justin Gilbert of the locally famous Gelato Gilberto.  We talked about his experiences in Italy and before you know it, we’d agreed to partner in offering a few Italian Cooking Classes in his home.

Justin’s home just wasn’t any home, but a three story, cozy condo in Norton Commons.  Above his Gelato Gilberto business, his family enjoyed their perch above the little village in Prospect.  We tried a few classes in his shop and a few in his and his family’s cucina at the top of the stairs.

It was up those winding stairs that the magic of food and friendship took place.  We began the evening with some antipasti, the details, I don’t remember.  What sticks in my mind and what I thought quietly about that day last week in Blue Dog Bakery and Cafe was the Panzanella Salad, the Pasta d Fagioli and the Gelato.

Patricia Wells, one of my favorite cookbook authors says: ‘there are about as many versions of pasta and bean soup as there are cooks…varies from a broth-like bean soup to a creamy bean puree…’  The one I had at Blue Dog, and the one that I make (although different) are of the brothy variety.  Tonight, we are sharing my version, along with a homemade loaf of bread and, I am sure a few glasses of vino.

Pasta e Fagioli

  • 2-3 oz. of finely diced Pancetta
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2-3 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup or more diced carrot
  • 2 Tbls olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 cup, or more diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup uncooked pasta, or two cups cooked pasta
  • 3 cups cannelini beans, undrained – if canned*

Begin by preparing the diced vegetables.  Drizzle the olive oil into a stock pot.  Add the onion and Pancetta and begin to saute.  Once the onion has softened, add the celery and carrot and cook until the onion is translucent and the celery and carrot have begun to soften up a bit.  Season with salt and pepper and add the pinch of crushed red pepper and bay leaf.  Add the stock and tomatoes.  Bring to a simmer.  Add the pasta and cook until al dente.  add the cooked beans.

Heat the soup until completely hot and the pasta the perfect consistency.

For, me, I love a sprinkling of fresh Parmigiano cheese, fresh grated black pepper and some basil chiffonade.

*It’s easy to cook beans from their dried state, but they do take a bit of a watchful eye and time.  See my blog post about cooking beans, January 12, 2009.

Enjoy!

Summer Sings with Tomatoes

It might seem redundant, but another post about Tomatoes seems altogether fair to me.  Tomatoes from the farmer’s market have come in by the box full.  My favorite dish was the fresh tomato marinara that I made for my son’s 18th birthday.  I am not sure which of these two salads that I made recently was best; both are worth trying.

For a business meeting at my home, I prepared a BLT salad. Complete with colorful greens, heirloom tomatoes and a simple dressing, it was sort of a play on the sandwich of the same name, but made much ‘dressier’ presentation.

BLT salad

Another rendition of the classic ‘Caprese’ salad was included in my dinner with friends last night.  A base of fresh, baby arugula topped with a collection of my neighbor’s tomatoes and some from my yard too.  The bright yellow and green tomato taking center stage is the ‘Green Zebra’ plucked right from the vine yesterday afternoon.  ‘Juliet’, ‘Sungold’ and a handful of tiny red grape tomatoes rounded out the mix.  Normally, I would serve a balsamic vinaigrette (Cook With Mary brand of course), but last night, I opted for the ultra simple 18 year old balsamic vinegar and a bottle of walnut oil that I received recently as a gift.  Wow!  What a flavor combination.  I topped the salad with some fresh Feta cheese rather than the usual fresh mozzarella.  It is amazing to me how such a simple salad can have such a wide range of tastes just by changing up the  cheese and dressing choices.

Caprese Salad

Let me know what your favorite version of a classic summer tomato dish might be.

BLT Salad Dressing

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbls vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh herbs: chives, parsley, tarragon – to taste

Mix all ingredients together and serve with a platter full of lettuce leaves, sliced fresh tomatoes and crisp bacon.  Bread is optional!

Enjoy!

Review

OK,  I’ve been really, really lazy about my blog this month.  I just looked back and it’s been a month since I sat down and put thoughts together.  But, I’ve been busy, really busy thinking about my readers, cooking, photographing and intending to write.  For today, just some review.

It’s almost 9:00 AM and I am eating my breakfast.  I am feeling sort of indulgent today, and am having a BLT for breakfast.  An incredibly beautiful pink tomato, tangy bread, crunchy lettuce and a slathering of mayo makes for a perfect breakfast.

Last night, I practiced making Margaritas, and revisited my Tortilla Soup recipe.  Lots and lots of tomatoes coming in from the garden and from friends kind enough to share were calling out to me ‘don’t waste me’!!  So I looked up last year’s post for this soup and begin the roasting process.  The soup was wonderful with freshly made salsa from yellow and red tomatoes, and a bowl full of guacamole.  Yum!

Tonight, I am off to Dinner with a Farmer where we’ll be making Ratatouille, Spaghetti Squash and Cantaloupe Sorbet.  If you’re not planning on joining the class, you can still see and try the recipes right here!

Go on, get out there and grab some fresh produce from the Farmers’ Market or perhaps your own back yard!

Enjoy!

Cheese so good, you can eat the wrapper!

I love Kenny's Cheeses!

Touring the Farmers’ Market a few weeks ago, I saw this little girl walking away from the Kenny’s Cheese booth.  Obviously, this cheese was just too good to wait to get it out of the wrapper, she was going for it right there!  I captured this picture before she could stop and pose – caught in the act of appreciation!

If you’ve taken the time to try any of Kenny’s cheeses, you might be tempted to eat right through the package too.  Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese is located in Austin, Kentucky.  The selection of cheeses is mind boggling; from Gouda to cheddar to Asiago and all points in between.   Once you taste the quality of these cheeses, you’ll be back for more and different cheeses. Kenny’s cheeses are a huge part of the local cheese market, so much so that you can find them in nearly every grocery and specialty store in town.  But the most fun place to purchase Kenny’s cheeses is from the St. Matthews Farmers’ Market.  Neil Callendar is on hand every Saturday to offer samples and talk about Kenny’s cheeses.  I can tell you that it will be difficult to choose between the options.  Remember you have all summer to eat your way through the varieties.

My first option was probably Gouda, but that was long ago.  I still love Kenny’s Gouda, but choosing between that and Havarti, Asiago peppercorn, Chipotle Colby and Kentucky Bleu is just too hard.  I’d eat cheese for every meal and in between too, but you have to stop somewhere!  Use the Colby in your next batch of Mac N Cheese, paired with some of the Aged Cheddar and topped with shredded Asiago and bread crumbs.    I’ve used the Kentucky Bleu as an appetizer, drizzled with local honey and sprinkled with toasted walnuts.

I love to eat Kenny’s cheeses straight up, maybe with a handful of crackers, and most decidedly with wine in hand.  Kenny’s website will offer you a ‘Pairings’ page to give you their opinions about what with what.  But maybe you think that only Kraft cheeses can be used in recipes.  When doing a class focused on local foods, I borrowed a recipe from Katie Lee, and put together a rendition of her Goat Cheese Pimento Cheese with great success.  I paired Kenny’s aged cheddar with Capriole Farms Chevre, with fabulous results.  Here’s the recipe for that.

Goat Cheese Pimento Cheese

  • 8 oz fresh goat cheese, preferably Capriole Farms
  • 8 oz Kenny’s aged cheddar, crumbled
  • 4 oz jar diced pimentos, drained or 1/2 cup diced fresh pimentos
  • 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper
  • 2 Tbls sweet pickle relish
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste
  • 2 small scallions, minced
  • freshly grated black pepper to taste

Mix everything together and allow to rest, refrigerated for an hour or so.  I love this served with really crusty bread or crisp crackers.  Try it on a grilled cheese!

Enjoy!

Inspired by flowers

When I met Kirby Bachman four years ago at the St. Matthews Farmers’ Market, I thought, “how cool, this lady raises and sells flowers”.  As the weeks went by, I watched her bringing bucket loads of flowers.  Dozens of bucket loads.  Every week.  With each customer, she and her assistant, David, gathered, arranged, wrapped and sold hundreds of blossoms.  Large and small, bright and subtle, the blooms were each carefully laid on the work table, a wet towel around the stems, a packet of flower food tucked into each bundle, then each bundle wrapped with love for the ride home.

Kirby and David have a smile for each of their patrons.  The lines at Kirby’s booth sometimes snake out into the middle of the market pathways.  People wait in line, chatting with other customers, perhaps grabbing a few more blossoms for their bouquets as they wait for their turn to be gathered, arranged, wrapped and smiled upon by Kirby. My booth was across the main width of the market, but I always had a secure line of vision to Kirby’s booth.  Busy.  She is always busy.  Gathering, arranging, wrapping and smiling – and inspiring.

The patrons at the market would walk by my booth, their flowers nodding and wagging along.  The more flowers I saw, the more flowers I wanted.

Now, I love flowers.  If you know me well, you’ll know that ‘love’ doesn’t really capture the breadth of my feelings for flowers.  Addicted might better describe my relationship with blossoms.  My neighbors might just call it crazy.  My family just shakes their collective heads.

I have been flower gardening for over 23 years.  Years of  browsing through garden magazines or books, I frequently came  upon the term ‘cutting garden’.  To have a cutting garden where you’d walk out to gather an armful of zinnias or snapdragons or daisies to grace the dining room table or take to a neighbor or friend, well, that would be a luxury.  I’m known to have cut a few flowers for inside the house, but was always fearful of taking too many blooms from any one plant.  Stealing the show from the garden to bring them inside – I just never did that too much.   Until I met Kirby.

Kirby inspired me to plant that cutting garden.  Three years ago, I planted a patch of zinnias and cosmos.  A big patch.  About 8×12 ft of zinnias and cosmos.  Lots.  That summer, I took flowers to my neighbors, my mom, to friends on their birthdays, and picked bunches of flowers for anyone who might have visited me.  What a glorious summer that was!  The pleasure that I derived from practicing arranging flowers and seeing the appreciation on the faces of my friends was so moving.

Things in my garden are constantly in a state of flux, and the next two years’ crops of flowers paled in comparison to that first.  That is about to change.  I have installed another bed this year.  It’s only about 2×12 ft, but it’s planted with zinnias, sunflowers and belles of Ireland.  It should be a good year.  I know that anything that is lacking in my own backyard can be augmented by a trip to Kirby’s booth each Saturday morning.  My yard may be filled with yellow and red, and I’ll ask Kirby for something blue or purple to complement my own gathering.  White is always soothing in a bouquet and Kirby will fill in the missing links in my arrangements.

Kirby isn’t the only flower show at the market, and others specialize in hydrangeas and beautiful ready made bouquets that are the perfect answer to someone needing flowers in a hurry. Kristine McNiel and Beth Brandenburg are at the ready to bring you flowers too.   And Les Snider has gorgeous sunflowers – even early ones this year.

Come out to the market this Saturday, there is so much to see!

It’s the Berries!

Strawberry Season is in full swing!  I lucked out last week when a friend of mine called to see if I wanted some strawberries.  Sure, I said.  How many was the next question.  I scored 4 gallons of luscious, red berries and have been jammin’ ever since.

May Strawberries

I couldn’t begin to count the number I ate as I was capping the berries.  I washed and froze a gallon whole for smoothies, made 2 batches of Strawberry Freezer jam, and served fresh strawberries with vanilla pound cake on Saturday night.  Packages of crushed berries are on their way to my freezer for late summer daiquiris, sorbets and perhaps some more jam making.  Barbara Kingsolver is whispering in my ear to ‘eat local’.  And, with the year nearly half over (I know, don’t remind me), I am thinking that strawberry jam and a fresh loaf of bread or some scones would make a great Christmas gift!  So, I’d guess I’d better stop sharing the jam now and stock the freezer for winter.

If making jam seems a bit archaic, too homey for you, or just too much trouble, I beg you to give it a try.  Just once will be all it takes to convince you that not only do you have time, but there really is no fresher tasting jam than freezer jam.  Both Ball and Sure-jel make a powdered pectin product that can be used with the freezer method.  A quart of strawberries, 4 cups of sugar and a package of powdered pectin is all you need.  So, for less than $10, you can freeze 6 6-oz jars of strawberry jam. Find bargains on jars at yard sales, the Goodwill and more places.  New ones will be about $7 for a dozen.

You don’t have time, right?  How about 30 minutes?  Do you have 30 minutes?  You can do it!!

Get this process down, and you’ll be chomping at the bit to make blueberry jam.  Peaches will follow, then plums.  Before you know it, you’re an expert.  You don’t have to tell anyone else how easy it is.

You can visit my website for class information, or email me for details.

Enjoy!