Tag Archives: farmers market

How to Make Your Own Healthy Baked Kale Chips

I’m on the path towards edible righteousness, attempting to cut out all the junk and focus on healthy, local food – but I have one serious obstacle that keeps bringing me down:

I love to snack.

I work from ‘home,’ which means one of two things: I’m either cooped up all day at the little wooden table in our kitchen, or I’m holed up for hours at a coffee shop. Either options inevitably puts me way too close to tempting munchies. And let’s face it, my willpower is weak.

Snacking is something that I simply can’t not do. I love to munch, my belly is always begging me for treats, and frankly, I just really adore food.

My first experience with kale came when my lady friend Teresa (who is a truly phenomenal gardener/baker, this chick defines “green thumb”) moved away to Texas. She bequeathed me one cherry tomato plant, one Tabasco pepper bush, a chard, and three little kale stalks. I had never eaten kale before, but had seen a few recipes for kale chips – so I decided to give it a try.

The first three batches were a complete disaster. I was using this kale chip recipe, which instructed me to bake them for 15 minutes at 375 degrees. I burned those poor kale leaves to an inedible crisp every time.

Eventually, I realized this recipe simply wasn’t working, so I decided to do things my own way – and now, I get perfectly crisp, perfectly flavorful kale chips. 

Here’s your seriously simple, seriously delicious guide
to baking your own batch of seasoned kale chips:

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What you’ll need:

1. KaleBonus if you buy it local at a farmers market or grow your own!
2. Salt and/or your favorite seasonings
I am all about garlic salt and black pepper; keep it simple.
3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4. A Sookie Sheet
Or, in my case, many cookie sheets. 

How to make ‘em:

1. Preheat your oven to 275 degrees.

2. Prep your kale. I buy mine from local farmers, so they’re often full of little caterpillar buddies – which means I have to take about 15 minutes to scrutinize each leaf and save any critters who might be snacking on my kale. Rinsing your kale is recommended, but be sure to properly dry it afterwards. I just got a salad spinner, and aside from being really fun, it’s really essential for drying out the kale.

3. Break up each big leaf into bite-sized pieces. Mine are usually about two inches long, with some smaller pieces mixed in. Tear the leaf along the thick spine, and toss that spine afterwards. It’s a bit tough to chew on compared to the flaky leaf parts.

4. Toss all the kale into a big bowl, and drizzle olive oil over it – the amount depends on preference and how much kale you’re cooking, but be sure that each leaf is slightly coated. Season to your liking, but don’t be shy with the salt! It really does a lot to overpower kale’s natural bitter flavor – and makes your kale chips taste just like potato chips.

20120912-114806.jpg5. Arrange the pieces on a cookie sheet. I try to get ‘em all pretty flat, but they inevitably overlap a little – which is fine, kale shrinks A LOT when it bakes. Just don’t make it a big jumbled mess; you’ll need to toss ‘em halfway through.

6. Put your cookie sheet into the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Halfway through, pull the tray(s) out, and flip each piece of kale to ensure even crisping.

7. After 20 minutes, check on your kale to see if each piece is entirely dried out. I often end up pulling out the majority of my kale chips, then putting a handful back in the oven to finish up – the pieces are never perfectly uniform, so some may take a little longer.

Final step: Devour your delicious kale chips, totally guilt free. In the rare event that you don’t finish your entire batch in one sitting, you can store kale chips for a few days in airtight containers. Just be sure that there is no moisture in any of the kale chips – that’ll make the rest of ‘em soggy. And no one likes a soggy kale chip.

Did you know kale is loaded with antioxidants, and provides 100% of your daily Vitamin A, C, and K in just one cup? Yeah, it’s that good.

Have you ever made your own kale chips?
Have any suggestions or tips to add to my how-to?
Do you love kale chips as much as I do?

For more delicious foodie recipes, and healthy eating tips (with a few totally not healthy indulgences mixed in), check out my For The Foodies board on Pinterest.

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I ate flowers for dinner last night – an adventure in cooking squash blossoms

About a month ago, Niko and I instituted what may be our greatest tradition of all time – Saturday morning dates to the farmers market at Tallahassee’s Market Square pavilion. Each week, we take a leisurely drive across town to the familiar covered gathering spot where a collection of local farms congregate to peddle their edibles.

This weekend, we made the ultimate discovery – well, I did. While scouring for fresh garlic, Niko guided me over to a smaller stand run by an unfamiliar woman I hadn’t seen before. Her table was heavy with winter melons, chanterelle mushrooms, fresh green onion stalks, and two baskets full of squash blossoms. I immediately bounced on the blossoms, while Niko looked at me with a very puzzled look on his face.

Uh, flowers for dinner?” is basically what his expression read.

Silly boy, Niko had clearly never experienced the tasty delight of noshing on an edible flower. I hadn’t eaten squash blossoms in years, let alone ever actually cooked it myself, but I was determined to make it work – so I paid the meager $3.00 for my basket of blossoms, and dumped the dainty flowers into my produce bag.

Read More…

Eating local in Tallahassee is easier (and tastier) than it may seem

Call it ignorance or naivety, but I always carried a stigma that Tallahassee simply wasn’t the place to indulge in a locally-minded lifestyle. Places like Chattanooga and Boulder are rampant with the local mentality, but Florida just doesn’t seem to have hopped on that train yet.

After checking out the Locavore Index 2012, a chart that ranks states based on commitment to locally-sourced foods, I was disappointed to see that Florida not only ranked poorly – we were at the very bottom of the list. Not cool, Sunshine State. So, to further my adventures in local eating, I journeyed to three different places this week that showcased some of the best locally grown and owned destinations in town. Check ‘em out:

The Cool Cow

The vacant space next to Fat Sandwich on Railroad Avenue has seen many eatery ideas, but it wasn’t until an ice creamery popped up that the void was finally filled. Walking into this joint isn’t exactly impressive – but the simplicity is part of the experience.

The Cool Cow offers six flavors daily. Chocolate and vanilla are always on the menu, but the four other varieties are swapped out every two days – a total of 200 flavors rotate through the soft serve machines. On the day of our visit, we were offered Georgia orange, kiwi frozen yogurt, berry sorbet, and mocha hazelnut.

I went for the mocha hazelnut – and it was outrageous.

Topped with rainbow sprinkles and marshmallows, my cup teeming with creamy mocha ice cream was beyond tasty, but Niko’s treat took the cake. He ordered a banana split, and got everything on it – which was a solid decision. His chocolate, vanilla, and mocha hazelnut ice cream plops were layered thick with hot fudge, caramel drizzle, waffle cone bits, fat dollops of whipped cream, and even a cherry on top. It was pure perfection.

The mocha oreo milkshake my buddy ordered also deserved an honorable mention, but the part of our cool experience that deserves the biggest ovation is the service we received. Our ice cream guru was not only a wizard with a can of whipped cream, he handled everything with the best attitude I have ever encountered in the food industry. He was kind, courteous, and complimented Niko’s choices of toppings. He’s the kind of guy you leave a 40% tip for. Kudos, Cool Cow – we’ll be back.

The Tallahassee Farmers Market

I am a huge fan of produce markets – so much so that I am dedicating a portion of the 2013 trip to exploring as many as I can. Niko and I have made a few trips out to the Thomasville Farmers Market in Georgia, but we had never taken the quick trip to the convenient one located in Market Square.

After a few weeks of failed Saturday morning attempts, we finally made it out to explore the covered pavilion loaded with local goods. Some of my favorite farms were in attendance, including Turkey Hill and Orchard Pond Organics. The pavilion wasn’t huge, but it was certainly big enough to hold every bit of produce I needed.

We strolled around the stands before making our final selections, feasting our eyes on a huge assortment of goods. There were plump peaches, thickly husked corncobs, freshly cut sunflower stalks, ripe heirloom tomatoes, and more. My bounty was a harvest of ripe blueberries, Japanese eggplant, okra, lemon and lime, and more tomatoes than I know what to do with – plus a little rosemary plant!
 Hands down, this is the best fresh produce market in town, with friendly farmers, great edible offerings, and unbelievably reasonable prices. Whoever said eating healthy and local is expensive clearly never stopped by a farmers market. Read More…

Paella, produce and local pride at the 4th Annual Turkey Hill Farm Heirloom Tomato Feastival

No, that’s not a typo – the tomato-themed celebration held each year at Tallahassee’s Turkey Hill Farm is aptly called a ‘feastival’ because it is just that. The entire day is dedicated to stuffing your belly full of everything fresh.

It started with the freshly plowed dirt road we followed off Baum Road towards the small farm. We entered the festival and had Sharpie tomatoes sloppily tattooed on our hands before venturing towards the table-clothed picnic tables of the farmers market. On the way to the produce, we passed by a row of wildflowers and strawberry plants that were teeming with little bug buddies.

Of course, there were the freshly plucked tomatoes, from golden cherries and black prince ‘maters to green zebra varieties and meaty, dry ones to make sauces with. The first stop I made during the feastival was at the stand manned by Pattie Maney, who grows delicious tomatoes with her husband when she’s not painting beautiful creature art. For $2, she made me the best tomato sandwich I have ever dug my teeth into. I invested in two pounds of her plump little goldens and fatter ones in hues of purple and green.

We met up with our friend Rachel, who is actually related to the owners of Turkey Hill Farm. She gave us a little tour of their impressive garden area, which included peppers, tomatoes, squash, little purple eggplants, and even a noisy flock of geese. We picked a few juicy blackberries, then I somehow ended up back at the market area to buy even more tomatoes. I know, I have a problem.

 

It was impossible to ignore the paella made fresh before our eyes by a true Spanish woman herself. They made two giant servings – one vegetarian, and one with toppings like mussels, clams, squid, and all the traditional fixings. I was tempted by the seafood option, but ultimately opted for the meatless paella.

The feastival was byop (bring your own plate, and utensils), because the most intense portion of the event was the covered dinner potluck. We were ill-prepared and showed up empty handed, but the other guests more than compensated for our lack of a contribution with towering mounds of homemade goodness.

My plate was smothered in food, and I honestly struggled to clear my helping. Some of my favorite edibles were the fresh pearl mozzarella balls, the gooey cinnamon bun cake, and the savory tomato pie. We all sat in the grass and swatted at bothersome ants while we gorged ourselves on a bounty that rivaled any Thanksgiving spread.

Throughout all of this, there were continuous cake walks that offered a chance to take home some unbelievable baked goods in exchange for a dollar ticket and parading around in a circle while the boys of Two Foot Level cranked out groovy bluegrass tunes. Check out the ultimate prize from the cake walk, a fluffy vanilla masterpiece smothered with fresh fruit and a pistachio crunch.

The 4th Annual Turkey Hill Farm Heirloom Tomato Feastival was one of the best events I have ever attended in Tallahassee. I had a serendipitous afternoon where I got to celebrate my favorite type of produce, and blow all my cash on giant heads of garlic, sweet tupelo honey, and unforgettable paella. If you’re in town, you’d be a sucker to miss the 5th year of this feast.

I leave you with a photo taken by my very own photography wiz, Niko. He probably takes photography more seriously than I do, and loves to snatch my camera to take some experimental shots of random objects. I loved this picture he took of me holding a handful of Pattie Maney’s snack sized tomatoes. The lighting was horrible, but the one of the little stems came out so beautifully. Enjoy!

It’s time to go local, and you should to! Support local businesses to support your community.

I’ll admit, pinching pennies at Walmart has been a budgeting tactic of mine for the past four years. It’s simply too easy to save money at Wally World, but the time has come to ditch my selfish habits. Yes, shopping locally doesn’t always bring the deep discounts presented by big corporations like Walmart, but spending a few extra bucks on groceries will benefit my community and my health.

Do you really think that Walmart is concerned about the quality of their produce? It’s cheap, but it’s also laden with chemicals, and probably came from a corrupt field of genetically mutated garbage picked by underpaid, unappreciated workers.

Produce is the first area where I plan on making the switch – and I invite you to join me. Farmers markets are popping up all over the place, and it’s a trend train that everyone should hop aboard. Get your fruits and vegetables from a local farm; this produce will be handled with love, and you’ll be able to see exactly where your money is going. Did I mention how much better local produce tastes? Plus, shopping in an open air market beats the overbearing fluorescent lights of Walmart any day.

Need advice on some great local places to pick up your veggies in Tallahassee? Consider these:

  1. Bread and Roses Food Cooperative on Railroad Avenue – Always a favorite stop for healthy munchies, I recently discovered that Bread and Roses also carries a great supply of local produce. They are entirely volunteer-run, and offer hearty discounts for members. Regular food shipments arrive on Mondays, and Thursdays are their local produce day. Plus, they’re connected to the Fermentation Market – another superb local business.
  2. New Leaf Market and the Lafayette Street Organic Growers’ Market – In addition to New Leaf’s constant supply of delicious health food, every Thursday from 3 – dusk, they host the Lafayette Street Organic Growers’ Market behind The Moon. The market supplies fruits, veggies, seafood, meat, baked goods and more. New Leaf also participates in Local Business Saturdays, offering great deals for patrons supporting local establishments!
  3. The Thomasville Farmers Market – Just a 30 minute drive to Georgia will take you to a sweet open air farmers market that comes complete with the Market Diner, which cooks up fresh food using local ingredients. Totally worth the drive, and a perfect opportunity to explore Thomasville. Check out my previous post about the market.
  4. This last one will have to be further updated in another post. While scoopin’ dinner last week with Niko at the shopping center on the corner of Apalachee Parkway and Capital Circle, we stumbled upon this newly opened produce market that appeared to be operated by a local farm. I have vowed to check it out after my Rocktown trip, and will dedicate an entire post to these guys – if it’s worthy!

The plan is to start featuring loads of locally owned markets, restaurants and shops on a frequent basis. If you’ve got any suggestions for a place I should feature, let me know and I’d be glad to check it out! I hope you all join me on this journey towards fully embracing local pride!

Get your guacamole, hot chocolate and bear beanies at the Pinecrest Farmers Market

For months, my mom kept bragging about the tasty treats she would collect every Sunday morning at the Pinecrest Farmers Market in my hometown of Miami, FL. Finally, over winter break, I was able to join her on one of these early morning excursions to the market at the newly renovated Pinecrest Gardens.

This place has everything you’d expect at a farmers market in a surprisingly small collection of vendors. I headed directly to Anita’s Guacamole stand, which I highly recommend. The fresh avocado tasted like it had just been plucked from the tree. Conveniently, the stand sat next to a Colombian pastry vendor who served me a fabulous empanada – two of my favorite treats within 5 feet of each other? Heaven.

The best find came when we stumbled upon this eccentric woman’s tent filled with felt and knit trinkets. She had rows of creature-inspired beanies, baby elf shoes, felt flowers, coin purses – you name it.

My sister and I fell smitten with the beanies. We tried on bunnies, frogs and pink pigs before Sarah settled on a lion hat and I opted for a golden bear beanie. My selection was a perfect fit for my lifestyle; the heavily padded ‘nose’ that sits directly on my forehead acts as the perfect little helmet for when I’m climbing.

If you are in the South Miami area on a Sunday afternoon, wake up a little early and check out this fabulous market held on the former grounds of Parrot Jungle, which is now known as Pinecrest Gardens. It isn’t huge, but it has everything you need – and a few treats you might not have expected. They had gourmet hot cocoa, eco-friendly soap bars, a wide selection of exotic plants, adorable cupcakes and more. Absolutely worth waking up before noon for.

Meet Lumpkin, the Ageless Pumpkin from Chattanooga

To celebrate my 22nd birthday in October, Niko and I adventured off to Chattanooga for a weekend of exploring, local eats and even a little climbing. We visited the Tennessee Aquarium, strolled the streets of downtown and spent a few hours at my favorite crag, Little Rock City.

The most lasting impression was made by a small, plump vegetable gifted to me by Niko at the Chattanooga State Farmers Market. Our trip occurred during the peak of autumn, so naturally I insisted on getting a pumpkin souvenir to commemorate my travels to a destination that experiences marked seasons.  I picked him out from a pile housing dozens of pumpkins. His perfectly round body and firm stem made him a perfect choice. He earned the name ‘Lumpkin’ during our drive back to Tallahassee, where we passed a ghost town bearing the appropriate name.

Months passed, and I sadly watched as pumpkins perched on doorsteps throughout Tallahassee became soggy with mold and were carelessly slumped into the trash. I refused to carve my darling Lumpkin, but considered painting him gold and dipping him in glitter a few times.

Lumpkin has traveled from Chattanooga, Tennessee to Tallahassee, Florida, and even made two trips to Miami, Florida for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. He’s a natural adventurer.

Today, little Lumpkin remains firm and hearty as ever. He bears a single little mark, where it appears that a fingernail pierced his thick hide, but his wound is entirely healed over and shows no signs of infection or impending pumpkin demise. It has been three months since I acquired my little vegetable buddy, and I reckon that it’ll be a few more before I am forced to abandon my prize to the inevitable decomposition that awaits him.

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