Certain Produce Shouldn’t Be Stored In The Refrigerator
With some fruits and vegetables cold temperatures can lead to unsavory textures and flavors. Let tomatoes sit on the counter at room temperature, and store onions, garlic, and potatoes separately in a cool, dark place in perforated baskets or bins to allow for good airflow. Make sure to keep all fresh produce away from direct sunlight.
Onions & Garlic can lose crispness and become moldy when exposed to the refrigerator’s moisture. They can also impart their flavors on foods stored nearby.
Tomatoes flavor often diminishes when they’re chilled, and the texture can turn mealy as the cold temperature breaks down the membranes inside the fruit.
Potatoes starch content converts to sugar when cold, which leads to an unpleasantly sweet taste and discoloration when they’re cooked.
“Work With What You Got!”
© Victoria Hart Glavin Tiny New York Kitchen All Rights Reserve
Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part V
In her food preparation and preservation, the early American housewife was tied tightly to the calendar and the clock – much more tightly than today’s homemaker is. Local availability of foodstuffs and the limitations of existing food preservation techniques meant that nature largely called the shots on timing. Fruits and vegetables had to be picked at the right moment and processed quickly. Animals had to be slaughtered at their peak to keep best, and the peak varied from animal to animal. Even cheese and butter had a better likelihood of successful preservation depending on the season of the year in which they were processed.
Weather conditions played a major role: herbs had to be picked on a dry day to retain color and flavor; slaughter had to be done in cold weather to allow the carcass to cool rapidly; milk winters produced little ice for the following summer.
Also, once begun, preservation techniques sometimes had to be carried uninterruptedly through a long and tedious series of steps. There was no turning back – or time for vacations. Hams being cured had to be turned regularly, fish being dried had to be restacked four times a day, pickles had to have their brine skimmed and changed – or the product would be lost.
The labor involved in such food preservation was frequently heavy, but the routine of the rest of the house went on as usual. Organizational ability and endurance were essential, and woe betide the housewife who didn’t “keep up appearances” with her neighbors.
Just as the make-up of the early American’s diet varied with his geographic location, so did his needs – and abilities – in food preservation.
For example, the southern areas had access to a more varied food supply over the course of the year and consequently had less need to provide stores for the hard winter. At the same time, it was more difficult and expensive to get ice for short-term protection against the warmer climate. Ice was actually shipped from Massachusetts to the Southern states and to Cuba and Jamaica in the early 19th century, but it was obviously only available to the wealthier residents. The ice-box itself didn’t become popular until the mid 1800’s.
The shorter growing season in the North reduced the variety of produce available, but it also made cold storage in root cellars practical in small towns and rural areas. Above-ground ice houses and ice-saws, invented in the mid-nineteenth century, drastically reduced the cost of storing ice into the summer, and simplified storage of dairy products, fish and meat.
In many respects, the northern colonies had the greatest difficulty in providing a nutritious, varied diet throughout the year. Although fruits, berries, and summer vegetables were plentiful from the midsummer to early fall, proving vitamin-rich foodstuffs, during the winter and spring took special care. Many food items, of course, could be stored in relatively simple root cellars – where winter temperatures hovered between 30 and 40 degrees. In especially cold weather, a large tub of water was placed on the floor. This water gave off heat as it froze, which kept the vegetables safe. Turnips, beets and squash were kept in the driest areas. Carrots would keep anywhere. Cabbages and celery were buried in sand, cauliflower was set in holes and covered with straw, while cranberries were floated in water in a tub. Other crops were arranged loosely on slatted shelves for free air circulation, sometimes lying on straw.
Some vegetables, such as summer squash and potatoes, kept better at somewhat higher temperatures, and these were usually stored in the dark basement of the home. Temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees were ideal.
Eggs could also be stored in the root cellar, or in the basement of the house. Two methods were common. In one, the eggs (which the housewife was instructed to collect “in fine weather”) were dipped in boiling water for 20 seconds, then coated all over with butter or “sweet oil” (glycerin) and packed in sawdust. They would keep this way for some two to three weeks. Other housewives kept their eggs in crocks, submerged in “water glass” (sodium silicate). In this technique, it was important not to wash the eggs first, since their shells possess a natural coating which prevented the water glass from penetrating through the shell and ruining the egg. Even stored at room temperature, such eggs would keep for several months, while the hens sulked through the dark winter days.
If a family didn’t have room for a root cellar, it could accomplish somewhat the same effect with a pit, with the vegetables in layers separated by straw, and the whole covered with earth. Obviously, retrieving vegetables thus buried was a messy chore, and needed careful planning.
Under either type of storage, frequent examination was necessary, in order to detect spoilage and eliminate those items of fruit or vegetables which had gone rotten. The proverb about “one rotten apple spoiling the barrel” was not taken lightly! In fact, many housewives wouldn’t put apples in barrels, but spread them out, in order to “pick them over” more easily as the winter progressed. Spoiling apples were cut up, and the good parts made into applesauce as the winter progressed. Early cookbooks instructed the housewife to add a teaspoon of tartaric acid to the apples when making sauce late in the winter, as the apples lost their flavor. New Englanders even had a name for the period after the vegetables had spoiled or been used up, but before the dandelion greens appeared. They called it “the six weeks want.”
In the South, storage of this sort was less necessary, and the typical New England vegetables such as Hubbard squash and turnips were rarely seen on Southern menus.
To Be Continued…
The abundance of meat in America was a major change in the diet of the early settlers. Rabbits and squirrels were available year-round nearly everywhere, plus deer and other large game in many regions. As settlers moved west, buffalo gained importance in the diet. Fish, shellfish and wild fowl became common food, and they were all essentially “free.” The existence of these various forms of game was a literal life saver in times of uncertain crops and unbroken land. The game gradually diminished, of course, as the population expanded and settlers pushed west, but it provided a large share of the diet in early and frontier days.
Ham, of course, appeared on almost every settler’s table, rich or poor. It might be the only meat served at a meal or it might appear in company with more exotic roasts and fowl, but it was always there – breakfast, dinner and supper.
Corn was also a staple of the colonists, either fresh in summer, or as hominy or corn meal all year. Corn was also put to another use by an early Virginian, Captain George Thorpe, who may have been the first food technologist in America as he invented Bourbon whiskey shortly before he was massacred by the Indians in 1622.
Meal patterns for working people in rural early America were very different from those common today. Breakfast was usually early and light which consisted of bread, hominy grits, and sometimes fruit in season. Coffee, which was a new beverage at the time, was popular that is if it was available. A drink made from caramelized grain was sometimes substituted. Chicory was popular in the South, either alone or used to stretch the coffee. Tea was often made from local leaves such as sage, raspberry or dittany. Alcohol in some form was often served.
Breakfast in more elegant homes or large plantations might be later in the morning, and include thinly sliced roast and ham.
Dinner was served somewhere between midday and midafternoon, depending on the family’s circumstances, and was the big meal of the day. There was almost always ham, as well as greens (called sallat), cabbage and other vegetables. In the proper season, special dainties would appear – fresh fruits and berries, or fresh meat at appropriate butchering times.
Desserts could be simple such as a scooped out pumpkin, baked until done and then filled with milk, to be eaten right out of the shell. Or dessert could be more complex such as ice cream or other fruit flavored frozen pudding or a blanc mange. Blanc mange was prepared from milk and loaf sugar, flavored with a tablespoon or two of rosewater, thickened with a solution of isinglass (derived from fish bladder, soaked overnight in boiling water). This mixture was boiled for 15 to 20 minutes, then poured into molds to set.
If isinglass was not available (most was imported from England), homemade calves foot jelly could be substituted, but eh dessert was not as fine.
Various alcoholic beverages, including wines, applejack, “perry” (hard cider made from pears), or beer were commonly consumed.
In winter, peaches and other fruit disappeared from the dinner table, to be replaced by dishes made from stored apples and dried fruit of various sorts. Soups or broths also took their place. Milk grew scarce as cows “dried up” in the short days. Vegetables gradually decreased in variety as stored crops wilted.
Apples quickly became a staple in early America. Orchards were easy to start, required a minimum of care, and apples stored well. Housewives devised a multitude of “receipts,” including sauces and butters for off-season, as well as many using dried apples.
Supper was late and a light bread and butter, some of the left-over roast from dinner, fruit (fresh if in season, pickled and spiced otherwise), and coffee or tea.
To Be Continued…
Summer is officially here and Farmers’ Markets are in full glory! Here is a list of a good number of Fairfield County Farmers’ Markets. No doubt I may have missed a few, but here is a good guide for some farm to fork eating.
Bethel Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9am to 1pm, From June 29th to November 2nd, Location is Fairfield County Extension Center, 67 Stony Hill Road (Route 6), Bethel, CT. For more information go to www.bethelfarmersmarket.org.
City Center Danbury Farmers’ Market: Fridays 11:30am to 5:30pm, From June 28th to October 25th, Location is at Kennedy Park on Main Street (across from the bus station), Danbury, CT. For more information go to www.citycenterdanbury.com.
City Seed Farmers’ Markets: Multiple New Haven Locations: Wooster Square, Saturdays 9am to 1pm, From May 4th to December 21st, Location is at Russo Park (Corner of Chapel Street & DePalma Court), New Haven, CT. Edgewood Park, Sundays 10am to 2pm, From May 5th to December 22nd, Location is at Corner of Whalley & West Rock Avenues, New Haven, CT. Downtown, Wednesdays 11am to 3pm, From June 19th to November 27th, Location is at New Haven Green at Temple & Chapel Streets, New Haven, CT. Fair Haven, Thursdays 2pm to 6pm, From July 11th to October 31st, Location is at Corner of Grand Ave & Poplar Street, New Haven, CT. The Hill, Fridays 11am to 2pm, From July 12th to October 25th, Location is at Connecticut Mental Health Center (Corner of Park & South Streets, New Haven, CT. For more information go to www.cityseed.org.
Darien Farmers’ Markets: Wednesdays 11am to 4pm, From May 29th to Christmas, Location is in the Municipal Parking Lot off of Mechanic Street which is behind the firehouse on Boston Post Road, Darien, CT. For more information go to www.darienfarmersmarket.net.
Fairfield-Greenfield Hill Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 11am to 4pm (Rain or Shine), From May to October, Location is at 75 Hillside Road (Between Hillside & Bronson), Fairfield, CT. For more information call: 203-259-8786
Georgetown Farmers' Market: Sundays 10am to 2pm, From June to October, Location is in the Village of Georgetown, 4 Old Mill Road, Georgetown, CT. For more information go to www.georgetownctfarmersmarket.com.
Greenwich Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9:30am to 1pm, From May 18th to the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Location is at the Commuter Parking Lot (Corner of Arch Street & Horseneck Lane), Greenwich, CT.
John Jay Homestead Farm Market: Saturdays 9am to 1pm, From June 22nd to October 12th, Location is at 400 Jay Street, Katonah, New York. For more information go to www.johnjayhomestead.org.
New Canaan Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 10am to 2pm, From May 11th to November 23rd, Location is at Old Center School parking lot at South Avenue (Maple Street & Main Street), New Canaan, CT. For more information go to www.newcanaanfarmersmarket.net.
Old Greenwich Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays 3pm to 6pm, From May 29th to TBD, Location is at Presbyterian Church in Old Greenwich at 38 West End Avenue, Old Greenwich, CT. For more information go to www.oldgreenwichfarmersmarket.com.
Rowayton Farmers’ Market: Fridays 12pm to 5pm, From May 31st to TBD, Location is at Pinkney Park, 177 Rowayton Avenue, Rowayton, CT. For more information go to www.rowaytonct.com/farmersmarket.
Stamford Farmers’ Market (French Market), Saturdays 9am to 3pm, From June to October. Location is at Bedford Street at Forest Street, Stamford, CT.
The Farmers’ Market at Fairfield Hills: Tuesdays 2pm to 6pm, From June 18th to Oct 22nd, Location is at Fairfield Hills Campus @ Wasserman Way, Newtown, CT. For more information contact Mary Fellows at 203-313-9908.
Village of Devon Farmers’ Market: Sundays 10am to 2pm, From July through October, Location is at 120 Bridgeport Ave (Route 1), Milford, CT. For more information check their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-of-Devon-Farmers-Market/308864369173448
Weston Farmers’ Market: Saturdays 9am to 12pm, From Mid-June through October, Location is at the Weston Historical Society at Weston Road (Route 57) & High Acre Road, Weston, CT.
Wilton Farmers’ Market: Wednesdays 12:30pm to 5pm, From June 5th to September 25th. Location is at the Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road (Route 7), Wilton, CT. For more information go to www.wiltonfarmersmarket.com.
Farmers’ Market at Gossett’s Nursery: Saturdays 9am to 1pm, Location is at Gossett’s Nursery, 1202 Old Post Road (Route 35), South Salem, New York. For more information call 914-763-3001.
Sunday Farmers’ & Bakers’ Market & Second Sunday Antiques Market: Sundays 11am to 4pm. Location is at Antiques & Tools of Business & Kitchen, 65 Westchester Avenue, Pound Ridge, New York. For more information call: 914-764-0015 or 914-764-5122.
**Make Sure To Check Listings Before Heading Out As Things Are Subject To Change!
Here are some super easy, but versatile Pasta Salad Ideas from Tiny New York Kitchen. All you need to do is add 3 cups of cooked & chilled pasta (of your choice) and 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to one of these inspiring combinations. Try them all throughout the summer for a whole treasure trove of side salads. If you want to make any of these a main dish then add 1 pound of protein such as grilled chicken breasts, grilled flank steak, grilled shrimp, grilled tuna (or canned tuna) or tofu. All recipes below serve 4.
For the Pasta: Cook 3 Cups of Pasta, Toss With 1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Then Chill Until Ready To Use. Add the Pasta to One of the Salad Combinations Below.
Nutty Beans & Greens
1 Cup Trimmed & Steamed Haricot Verts
1 Cup Baby Arugula
3 Tablespoons Toasted & Chopped Walnuts
1 Ounce Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Snow Peas & Carrots
1/2 Cup Grated Carrot
1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Snow Peas
1/2 Cup Shredded Red Cabbage
1/4 Cup Dry Roasted Peanuts
Cheesy Chickpea & Pesto
1/2 Cup Cooked Chickpeas
1 1/2 Ounces Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 Cup Halved Grape Tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Prepared Pesto
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Thinly Sliced Cucumber
1 Cup Halved Cherry Tomatoes
1 1/2 Ounces Crumbled Feta Cheese
1 1/2 Ounces Sliced Kalamata Olives
Peppery & Nutty
1 Cup Arugula
2/3 Cup Thinly Sliced Radishes
3 Tablespoons Toasted & Chopped Walnuts
2 Ounces Crumbled Goat Cheese
Melon, Mint & Parm
1/2 Cup Fresh Cubed Cantaloupe
2 Tablespoons Fresh Mint Leaves
2 Ounces Thinly Sliced Prosciutto
1 1/2 Ounces Shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Freshly Ground Pepper
Cherry Almond Crunch
3/4 Cup Pitted Halved Fresh Cherries
1/4 Cup Toasted & Thinly Sliced Almonds
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
1 1/2 Ounces Crumbled Goat Cheese
1/3 Cup Sliced Avocado
1/4 Cup Red Bell Pepper Strips
1/4 Cup Fresh Corn Kernels
2 Cooked Crumbled Center Cut Bacon Slices
2 Ounces Quartered Fresh Baby Mozzarella Balls
Summer is here and why pay top dollar going out when you can make delicious hot dogs at home? Here is a guide to the different ways Americans make their frankfurters around the country. I had the Sonoran style hot dogs while I was in Tucson in February and absolutely loved them.
New York Style
Served with brown or German mustard and sauerkraut or onions cooked in tomato paste.
Served on a poppy seed bun with mustard, pickle relish, sport peppers, onions, tomatoes, dill pickles and celery salt. Pepperoncini can be substituted for sport peppers.
Kansas City Style
Served on a sesame seed bun with brown or German mustard, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.
Atlanta “Dragged Through The Garden” Style
Serve topped with coleslaw.
Detroit “Coney” Style
Served with chili, onions, mustard and cheddar cheese.
Served with cream cheese and grilled onions.
Phoenix/Tucson “Sonoran” Style
Served as a bacon-wrapped hot dog with pinto beans, onions, tomatoes, mustard, mayo, jalapeno peppers and cheese.
Austin “Tex-Mex” Style
Served with queso, guacamole and crushed tortilla chips.
San Francisco “Wine Country” Style
Served with red wine caramelized onions and goat cheese.
Miami “Cuban” Style
Served with mustard, pickles and Swiss cheese.
June 8th is the Feast of Saint Medard.
“Should Saint Medard’s day be wet
It will rain for forty yet;
At least until Saint Barnabas
The summer sun won’t favor us”
This is a saying in France, and in particular in Picardy, where Saint Medard was born in Merovingian times. He was bishop of Noyon and a great missionary who worked for the conversion of the Franks. When Queen Radegunde left her murderer husband, King Clotaire, she fled to Saint Medard for refuge and was clothed by him in religious habit.
There are many varied stories of how he became a “weather saint.” Legend has it that one day Saint Medard gave away one of his father’s finest colts to a poor peasant who had lost his horse. Immediately after giving away the colt there was a torrential rain and everyone was soaked to the bone except for the generous Saint Medard.
“It’s Saint Medard watering his colts,” say the French farmers when the June rains come and help their fields. Later, when Saint Medard became bishop whe was known for his immense kindness to the farming people and especially to the poor among them.
Saint Medard set aside the income from twelve acres of his own land to be given to the most virtuous girl of his diocese, and it was he who started the “feast of the rose queen.” For many centuries in French churches a crown of roses was placed upon the head of the girl who had most edified the parish. The custom of crowning the rose queen still exists in some of the working districts in the suburbs of Paris, but the feast has become a secular one and takes place in the local sale des fetes with the mayor and civil officials in attendance.
“Food, one assumes, provides nourishment; but Americans eat it fully aware that small amounts of poison have been added to improve its appearance and delay its putrefaction.” – John Cage
There has been quite a bit of controversy these days about eating organic. Recent studies state that it really doesn’t matter if you eat organic foods or not. When something is labeled organic, it usually means that a farm has not used pesticides and has taken considerable care to avoid any cross-contamination. Producing organic food undoubtedly costs more money which is passed on to the consumer. Buying organic tends to be quite a bit more expensive than buying non-organic.
Honestly, I don’t care what the studies are saying about eating organic versus eating non-organic. I would rather not put pesticides into my body as well as wanting to support farmers and food companies that are not using pesticides. I love going to farmers’ markets during the spring, summer and fall and when I am shopping in the grocery store I am willing to pay a bit more for organic food.
If you have decided not to buy organic here is a list of foods that have found to be the most and least contaminated.