Market Fresh: Keep it fresh during winter

During the cold winter months, it can be hard to find fresh, locally grown food.

During the cold winter months, it can be hard to find fresh, locally grown food.

While the bounty is nowhere near what it is in July and August, the market still provides us with options.

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Let’s have a look at what there is in abundance.

Forstbauer Farms has beets, lots of beets. If you are not fan, perhaps it is just because you have never had good, fresh beets. I know I wasn’t until I tried them.

When I was growing up, my mom made pickled beets, which is why I wouldn’t eat them. Ever. It has only taken me 50-plus years to realize there is more to beets than that. And while I will never be a fan of borscht, roasted, caramelized beets in a salad of greens and feta is aces in my books.

Beets can be eaten cooked, raw and (for those so inclined) pickled. The entire vegetable can be eaten. The leaves are great sautéed in a bit of olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, or served raw in a salad. A simple beet salad idea involves nothing more than steaming beets and slicing them about a quarter inch thick.

Lay them on a plate, top with crumbled cheese from Tesfa Farms, a bit of orange zest, some chopped nuts and a drizzle of honey from Vlad’s Apiary — simple and so delicious. You could even roast the beet slices if you wanted to. Switch things up with golden beets or the candy cane ones.

On a side note, Tesfa Farms is new to the market and they raise water buffalo. They milk 30 water buffalo that give pure white milk that is 7.25% milk fat — excellent for making cheese. The milk is more digestible due to the protein casein A2 that is also found in goat milk. Most traditional cow milk is A1, which our bodies have a hard time digesting.

Potatoes are next on the list. Too numerous to count here, the uses for potatoes are amazing.

They can be prepared as simply as boiled and served with butter and salt or as complicated as a Spanish tortilla. One of my favourite ways to prepare them is Hasselback style. Simply slice across a potato, cutting it into very thin slices without cutting through the potato (stop half an inch from the bottom). Soak it in ice cold water for an hour, remove from the water and pat it dry. Place it in a baking dish, drizzle it with a good olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and your favourite herbs, then bake in a 450 F oven until the potato is easily pierced with a knife. You could also sprinkle some cheese on top toward the end of baking time. As for the nutritional aspect, potatoes are a surprisingly excellent source of vitamin C and have more potassium than a banana!

Another vitamin C powerhouse is kale; four ounces of kale will give you 200% of your daily allowance. Crisp Organics have plenty on hand and as many as three types.

You can do the easy kale thing and buy kale chips from The Raw Guy or you can make your own. Sautéed kale is wonderful, especially with some garlic and bacon.

Add that to fried sweet potatoes and top it with a poached egg from Rockweld Farms or Central Park and you have the breakfast of champions! Take that Wheaties.

We all need a bit of sweetness. Even in the winter you can get locally grown fruit. Mandair Farms bring their frozen blueberries, raspberries and strawberries every Sunday.

Karen Curtis is the Lemonade Lady (www.kicslemonade.ca and kicslemonade.blogspot.ca) at the Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam farmers markets. Her column runs monthly.

 

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OVERNIGHT FRUITY FRENCH TOAST
 

Try this great recipe that’s perfect to make up the night before and pop in the oven in the morning and uses great ingredients from several vendors. Thanks to wishesanddishes.com for the recipe inspiration.

12 slices day-old bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups frozen blueberries or fruit mix
12 eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup water
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
1 tbsp butter

Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange half the bread cubes in the dish and top with cream cheese cubes. Sprinkle 1 cup blueberries over the cream cheese and top with remaining bread cubes.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, milk, vanilla extract and syrup. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes. Press down the cubes a bit to soak them and make them French toast-like. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.

Remove the bread cube mixture from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking 25 to 30 minutes, until centre is firm and surface is lightly browned. Enjoy warm.

In a medium saucepan, mix the sugar, cornstarch, and water. Bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, cook 3 to 4 minutes. Mix in the remaining 1 cup blueberries.

Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, until the blueberries begin to burst. Stir in the butter, and pour over the baked French toast. Enjoy!

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