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Eat Seasonally: Sprouts | 12.25.2013
Sprouts are that rare superfood that hits the sweet spot between flavor and nutrition. In addition to classic alfalfa sprouts, look for zesty radish, peppery broccoli or savory onion sprouts, as well as crisp and crunchy mung bean sprouts.
At Good Earth Market, local producer The Growing Business, owned by Daphne Zortman, provides us these delicious greens. Daphne started growing sprouts with her sister back in 1984, and she’s still the type of person who likes to get in there and get her hands dirty. She enjoys eating her own sprouts and is convinced of their powerful health benefits. “They’re a powerhouse of nutrients,” she exclaims, adding that her sprouts are very natural, too, being grown in well water and then cleaned – there’s very little processing that goes on.
It’s hard to improve on the classic sandwich combo of turkey, avocado and sprouts, but how about radish sprouts, fresh goat cheese, and tomato on multigrain bread? Or onion sprouts, cream cheese and cucumber on rye? Sprouts go beyond sandwiches, too – use mild-flavored mung bean sprouts to garnish everything from stir-fries to soups.
Quick Vegetable Bibimbap
This recipe is a delicious signature Korean dish, literally meaning “mixed rice”.
Serves 6, ready in 1 hour
- 1 cup uncooked medium-grain brown rice
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1 c. carrots, cut into matchsticks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 c. zucchini, cut into matchsticks
- ¼ lb button mushrooms, thickly sliced
- 6 oz fresh spinach
- 4 green onions, sliced
- ½ lb baked or fried tofu, cut into 1-2 inch squares
- 1 c. cucumber, cut into matchsticks
- 2 oz mung bean sprouts
- Pinch of salt
- Pinch of ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs
- ¼ c. hot sauce (Gochujang, Sriracha or other hot chili paste)2 tsp tamari
- 1 T. water
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. rice vinegar
- ½ tsp sesame seeds
Start cooking the rice according to package directions. In a small bowl, mix together all sauce ingredients. Set aside.
In a wok or large skillet, heat the sesame and vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add garlic, zucchini, and mushrooms and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add spinach, and stir-fry just until it’s wilted and tender (about a minute). Remove from heat and toss the vegetables with the tofu, cucumber, bean sprouts, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside vegetables, and fry 6 eggs over easy.
To serve, place a scoop of rice in each bowl, top with some stir-fried vegetables, place a cooked egg on top, and garnish with sliced green onions. Serve the sauce on the side for drizzling.
Eat Seasonally: Sweet Potatoes | 11.20.2013
One of nature’s simple pleasures, the humble sweet potato brings healthy, wholesome sweetness to home-cooked meals. Sweet potatoes are nutty, smooth and full of beta carotene, vitamin C and fiber. Bake small sweet potatoes whole (like baking potatoes) and top with scallions, sour cream, crumbled bacon or sautéed mushrooms for a flavorful alternative to an old favorite; or try something new and add steamed, cubed sweet potato to a coconut milk-peanut curry over rice. For updated comfort food, try a Cuban-style pork stew with seared poblano chilies and chunks of rich sweet potato in place of, or in addition to, regular potato.
Go to www.strongertogether.coop for more tips and hints on using seasonal veggies.
Yam What I Am
Try this twist on a holiday staple. Spicy and tangy, this salad is ready-to-eat in our Deli Café!
Ready in 1 hour
- 3 lbs. garnet yams, peeled and cut into ½” to ¾” cubes
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1/3 c. olive oil
- 1 pinch dry chipotle pepper (or more to taste)
- 1/3 c. brown rice vinegar
- 1 c. pecans
- 3/4 c. dried cranberries
- 1 bunch green onions, diced
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine cubed yams, garlic and olive oil in a roasting pan and bake until yams are soft, but not mushy (about 40 minutes). Drain and retain olive oil and garlic cloves. Combine garlic, olive oil, and chipotle peppers in food processor or blender and blend until well-mixed. Add garlic mixture and all other ingredients to yams and mix well.
We still have lots of local squash and pumpkins rolling in of all sizes, shapes and colors!
Preserving Tips: Dehydration | 08.15.2013
No added ingredients necessary! Air circulation and heat—from the sun or a dehydrator—are all you need to dry many fruits and veggies for storage. The dehydrated product is easy to store, too.
Here are a few tips:
• You can make simple drying racks out of untreated wood and screen. The racks, which can be stacked, are designed to keep the food off the ground and allow air to circulate underneath.
• Placing cheesecloth on the screen under the produce will help absorb the moisture.
• When drying produce in the sun, also cover with cheesecloth to protect from insects and birds.
• You can purchase a dehydrator, which evaporates the moisture. These are made up of stackable trays that sit over a heating element. Stovetop dryers are also available. (While our ancestors would dry produce in the warming oven of a wood stove, using your oven isn’t an energy savvy method of dehydration, no matter how low the setting.)
• Don’t dry food in the microwave; the food will usually burn before it dries.
• To make fruit leather, dry thin sheets of fruit purée.
• Another simple dehydration method is to string and hang herbs, onions, and garlic.
• To dry veggies, blanch them first, then dry in the sun or a dehydrator.
• Store dried produce in an airtight container in a dark place.
For more information on dehydrating, check out the Yellowstone County Extension Service and download their preserving guides.
Dehydrating Vegetables (pdf)
Dehydrating Fruits (pdf)
Preserving Tips: Freezing & Blanching | 08.05.2013
Freezing is often the easiest method of preserving produce. It’s an especially good choice for asparagus, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, corn, eggplant (in a casserole), green beans, lima beans, peas, peppers, pumpkin (puree), raspberries, rhubarb, snap beans, spinach, strawberries, summer squash, and wax beans.
Here’s a few tips to get you started:
• Choose fully ripe fruit and vegetables that are slightly immature.
• Let cooked items (like sauce) cool to room temperature before freezing. When you first place in freezer, leave room around the container so air can circulate. Once frozen, stack with rest of items.
• To “flash freeze” berries, place on a metal sheet, freeze, and transfer when solid to freezer containers or bags. This method retains the shape of the fruit nicely.
• Prevent freezer burn by squeezing excess air out of freezer bags (but leave head room at the top of bags or containers for expansion of liquids).
• To freeze pitted fruit, rinse and gently dry. Cut unpeeled fruit in half, remove pit, and slice into wedges. Place in freezer containers or bags.
• Freeze fresh corn kernels simply by placing in a container or resealable plastic freezer bag.
• Freeze tomato sauce or juice (rather than tomatoes).
• To defrost fruit, run under cool water.
• Store frozen foods at 0 degrees F or less.
• Keep your freezer full for maximum energy efficiency (fill empty spaces with ice, if necessary).
• Blanch veggies before freezing by steaming or immersing in boiling water. This sets the color, retains vitamins, and stops ripening.
In the Co+op Kitchen:
Blanch & Freeze Fresh Vegetables with Hilah Johnson
Blanching is a great way to preserve peak color, flavor and nutrition in vegetables. Hilah Johnson takes us through the simple steps for blanching your fresh veggies. Once blanched, they can be added to salads or cooked dishes, or frozen for long-term storage.
Find more Co+op Kitchen videos featuring information and easy recipes for making delicious meals at home, as well as handy hints from chefs and food enthusiasts who love sharing their passion for great food.
NCGA Resources for YOU! | 07.25.2013
In the spring of 2011, we became a member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (a.k.a NCGA). Your little Co-op is growing up! Joining NCGA has given us access to numerous resources, helping our Co-op remain competitive in the marketplace.
You’ve probably noticed many changes already: more competitive pricing, new Co+op Deals sales program, an overall step-up in our operations, the little Co+op Stronger Together logo that peeked its little head and has now become a store foundation. The staff is working very hard to use the resources and implement the programs that work for the uniqueness and individuality of our own cooperative.
But along with the resources that have improved your shopping experience in the store, NCGA has numerous resources developed specifically for you, the member-owner!
NCGA’s consumer website. Check it out! You’ll find a plethora of helpful articles – seasonal recipes, how-to’s on gardening and making smart food choices, how to cook just about anything. For you travelers, you can search co-ops anywhere in the nation to ensure you get to eat the tastiest, healthiest food while on vacation. Visit www.strongertogether.coop and “Like” Co+op Stronger Together on Facebook.
A brand new NCGA release – 55 how-to videos by co-op experts from around the country, with more on the way! When it comes to cooking at home, choosing the right ingredients and understanding basic kitchen skills can make the difference between a good meal and an amazing one. In the video series, Co+op Kitchen, you’ll find handy hints from chefs and food enthusiasts who love sharing their passion for great food, plus easy recipes for delicious homemade meals.
And, be sure to check out the FREE Co+op Kitchen iPad app for iOs6 on iTunes.
Co+op Deals Ads
Two flyers monthly! Not only do these ads feature the top sales at your Co-op (with big savings!), look inside for tips and information on your food and where it comes from. Check out each issue for information on seasonal produce, cheese, cooking tips; as well as recipes!
NCGA is providing more resources all the time in an effort to support and build local food and local communities. At the heart of the mission is taking care of the individual member-owner, that’s you!, and building the value around your food choices at the Co-op and the impact it has in our community.
Solar Cooking | 04.10.2013
Nature has provided no better way to cook our food than with sunlight. That may sound like a pretty sweeping statement, but for almost everyone I know who has done a bit of solar cooking over time, the agreement would be nearly unanimous. Generally, the food just tastes better! A simple pot of brown rice or a chicken, for example, receive a unique transformation with a dash of sunlight added. You have to taste it to believe it.
I have solar cooked for twenty-three years and taught and demonstrated it nearly as long. I enjoyed it from the first time I did it.
I believe it is a gift literally “from on high” waiting to come into our experience to transform life. It already is doing just that in many parts of the world where countless daily lives are so much better for the entry of solar cooking.
There’s a touch of fun in taking a pot of food and putting it in a homemade or manufactured solar cooker and knowing that the only “fuel” involved for cooking is sunlight. Plus there’s no heat added to the kitchen, nothing added to the utility bill, no toxins for the environment, and delicious food added to the table!
There are very simple homemade cookers that can be constructed in 30 minutes with a dollar’s worth of materials and a Reynolds oven bag to insulate your pot while it’s in the cooker. You can see the easiest-to-make, the Box-Corner Cooker.
While this particular homemade cooker works well in mild to warm weather, there are more sophisticated designs which can provide for cooking even in freezing weather. I have done a lot of cooking in Minnesota and Montana in temperatures hovering around zero.
Generally speaking, if I have bright sunshine, I can solar cook.
A number of manufactured units are on the market, at least three made domestically. The “Sun Oven” is the most widely known followed by the Solar Oven Society “Sport“. Solarcooking.org is a vast resource to help you find your way into the world of solar cooking is. Almost every facet of solar cooking is covered in detail:
– endless ideas for constructing your own unit
– learning many of the finer points of cooking by sunlight
– seeing how this cooking method is transforming lives in many developing nations
– how you can help make the solar revolution real in the lives of others you may never see.
Youtube.com provides hundreds of videos related to solar cooking, to give you another huge resource. Many other online information resources are just a few clicks away when you plug “solar cooking” into a search engine.
Solar cooking is, I believe, a step into the future of food preparation that is available today. Make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to taste the future of food right now. Happy cooking!
Gregory Lynch believes every person should know the value of self-sufficiency. He will be demonstrating solar cooking techniques (weather permitting) at our Earth Day event on Friday, April 22 from 11am-2pm.
How to Keep Your Fruits & Veggies Fresh | 07.30.2012
I’ll admit I’m one to go a little crazy in the produce department and farmers’ markets. Especially this time of year, I’m enticed by the colors and freshness of all the local produce and end up with a little extra in my Market bag. I’ll find a way to work in that kohlrabi that just came in from Tom Kress or Danly Farms!
And my fridge looks beautiful! For a while. My plans to cook delicious meals all week long fade (as do my veggies!) when more summer outings with friends present themselves – events in Downtown Billings, baseball games, concerts – summer fills up fast!
So I was excited to stumble across this handy guide, “How-To: Store Fruits and Vegetables”, from the Ecology Center’s Berkeley Farmers’ Markets to keep my produce fresh a little bit longer, or at least until I can make time to cook them. The guide lists how best to store 60 popular fruits and vegetables – without using plastic.
A few tips from the guide:
Apples (I’m anticipating the delicious varieties from Ross Orchards in Fromberg) – Store on a cool counter or shelf for up to two weeks. For longer storage, they can be kept in a cardboard box in the fridge.
Stonefruit (apricots, nectaries, peaches, plums) – Store on a cool counter at room temperature. Only refrigerate when fully ripe!
Berries – Keep them dry (wash only before eating) and don’t stack too many high when storing. They’re very fragile.
Greens – Most greens should be kept slightly damp (not wet or they’ll rot faster) in an airtight container. The hardier greens, such as collards, chard, and kale, can be placed in a cup of water on the counter or fridge. Yes, please – I’ll put an edible bouquet on my kitchen table.
Tomatoes – Shouldn’t be refrigerated. Keep them on the counter until ready to eat.
Who you store the veggies with makes a difference in their longevity, too. Check out this guide from the Vegetarian Times to find out which fruits and veggies should and shouldn’t be neighbors.
Would you use plastic to store your fruits and veggies? Is there another type of container you use for produce storage? If you have any other tips, let me know!
Alicia Reyer, GEM staff member, can be found either dancing or at the Market, usually with a cup of tea on her desk.