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Archive | Home and Garden

Getting the most out of farmers markets and seasonal produce

BLOOM-Getting-most-out-of-farmers-market

(BPT) – Warm weather months bring an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables, and for those who enjoy buying local, farmers markets are popular destinations. Produce choices available at farmers markets are now reaching their peak. So how can you make the most of this seasonal bounty?

Chef Daniel Reyes, culinary faculty member at The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, a campus of Argosy University, believes that it’s important to know the difference between buzz words common at markets.

“If you have questions about how farmers do something, they are more than happy to talk to you and educate you about sustainable and organic farming,” he says.

Reyes explains that while some produce may look unfamiliar, a good market salesperson will provide tips on how to use the items. Farmers markets are not just great places to buy, they’re also great places to learn new culinary techniques and food pairings.

Another tip? Shop early—that’s when chefs at are the markets. “Chefs are usually there early in the morning. See what they are buying,” says Reyes. And remember to bring bags to carry your items home—cooler bags are especially helpful when you’re buying delicate goods such as locally made cheeses, eggs or meats.

A sense of community

Farmers markets allow people to gather in a common place to meet neighbors and make friends who share a passion for locally grown food. The markets build a sense of community, according to Reyes, that contributes to a stronger local economy and smaller environmental footprint.

“Get to know your purveyors. See where they come from,” Reyes advocates.

This sentiment is shared by Chef Elizabeth Thompson, culinary arts faculty member at The Art Institute of California—Inland Empire. Thompson recommends asking farmers what’s best to buy right now.

“They grow whatever they sell, which makes them experts. Ask to put be put on their email list. They may send out information about what is in season and what to do with it,” she adds.

Thompson makes it a point to try something new each time she visits a farmers market. “Sample everything! That is how the farmers sell their products, and you will know what you like.”

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture

In addition to visiting the farmers market, many people are choosing to become CSA shareholders, paying in advance for weekly boxes of produce.

CSAs create a direct relationship between farmer and consumer, according to Thompson. CSAs allow busy people to pick up their share boxes at a convenient location, and teach them how to use what’s inside.

For those interested in supporting local farmers, CSAs provide a critical influx of cash to farmers during the off season, helping them to better prepare for the planting season ahead.

Whether shopping weekly at the farmers market or picking up a CSA box of fresh produce, buying local allows consumers to taste fruit and vegetables at their peak flavor. From striped heirloom tomatoes to strawberries picked fresh just hours before, farm fresh foods provide a burst of flavor and a connection to the community that cannot be found within a large supermarket.

 

The Art Institute of California – Inland Empire, a campus of Argosy University, is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. 

 

 

 

 

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Veggies galore? Make the most of your garden goodies

BLOOM-Veggies-galore

(BPT) – You’ve spent the summer tending and nurturing vegetables that have flourished, and now you have such an abundance of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and leafy greens, your home is starting to resemble the produce section of a grocery store.

Some people think harvest season is when the work stops for growing fresh fruits and vegetables in the backyard. If you want to be able to enjoy your hard work all year long and incorporate your vegetables into meals throughout the winter, though, there’s still some work to be done.

Here are some ways to preserve and share the bounty you’ve grown in your backyard:

* Host a canning party – Canning is making a comeback, even for urban families who grow their vegetables in container gardens. If you have tomatoes, peppers, berries, beans, carrots and even peas, canning and freezing are two ways to preserve these items for use throughout the winter months. Both options preserve the nutrients of the fruits and vegetables, and most canning and freezing processes don’t require any additional ingredients to be added to the product. If you’re looking for a way to add more variety to your pantry, chop tomatoes, peppers and onions into a salsa mixture to be canned.

If you have friends in the same situation with an abundance of food, host a canning party. Ask everyone to bring extra pots, hot pads, stirring utensils, knives and cutting boards so you have enough equipment to keep all hands busy.

* Pickle your veggies – All pickling recipes are different, and it’s fun to experiment with different seasonings and techniques. To get started, try this basic pickling spice recipe from Frontier Co-op. It features a balance of flavor that blends several different responsibly sourced seasonings:

 

Balanced Basic Pickle Seasoning

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 teaspoon granulated onion

1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon turmeric root powder

 

For other recipes for preserving your vegetables and incorporating them into delicious dishes all year long, visit www.frontiercoop.com.

* Gift your garden goodies – Ask your coworkers, neighbors and friends if anyone would be interested in some of your fresh produce. Or, better yet, can some of the produce in smaller batches to hand out as gifts. Everyone loves a batch of raspberry jam or a jar of homemade salsa in their holiday stocking or as a thank-you gift. To make the gift look nice, decorate the jar with ribbons or wrap it in a pretty gift bag.

* Make fun drinks – If you grow herbs in your yard, you can either freeze or dry the leaves to preserve their flavors for future use. Or try making herbal soda, which is usually a mixture of lemons, herbs, soda water and simple syrup stirred together for a refreshing summery drink on ice. Invite guests over for a relaxing afternoon on the patio and impress them with your simple, tasty drinks. Your family will also love them for a way to cool down after having fun in the sun.

* Share your harvest – Families that are food insecure appreciate the fresh produce found at harvest season. Contact your local food pantry to ask how you can share your harvest with others. They may require specific kinds of produce, or need vegetables to be harvested in a specific way.

You can use your vegetables and fruits in meals all year long, and these tips also provide you with great ideas for sharing what you’ve grown with friends and family. As you reap the benefits of summer’s growing season and the care you provided your garden, consider these ways of making the most of your crop.

 

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Fresh Market—Saskatoons

 

BLOOM-Fresh-market-Saskatoon-berries

By Vicky Babcock

 

Saska—what?  If you’ve never heard of the Saskatoon berry you’re in good company.  Few of us have.  Yet the berry—also known as the Juneberry or Serviceberry—is native to North America and has been harvested by Native Americans and, later, settlers for hundreds of years.  Similar in appearance to the blueberry, Saskatoons are more closely related to the apple tree; both belong to the rose family.  The berry was prized for its nutritional value as well as it heartiness—Saskatoons are resistant to low temperatures and drought and they grow in a wide range of soil types.  The berries are sweet and tasty, but try to pin down the flavor and you get, “nutty”, “somewhere between a blueberry and a cherry”, “a hint of apple”.  The fact is, each berry packs its own unique mix of flavors and berries from the same plant may not taste exactly the same.  One person even described the taste as, “similar to a peach,” a unique opinion.

Saskatoons are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, copper and carotene.  Per pound higher in vitamin C, potassium and iron than most other berries, Saskatoons should easily qualify as a super fruit.

Due to recent cultivation of the bushes in Northern Michigan, the berry is starting to find its way into area farmers’ markets and groceries.  But the berries’ demand continues to exceed supply, even in Canada where it’s been cultivated for about thirty years.

Saskatoons, or Juneberries played an important role in survival for victims of drought and depression in the 1930’s.  For more on the berries or to purchase the bushes, check out Saskatoon Michigan online.

Fresh Berry Cups 

Shortbread cookies (about 6-8)

2 cups fresh berries

Crumble cookies and divide between 6 to 8 ramekins.  Divide berries equally between ramekins.

For filling:

2 T. cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

2 cups fresh berries

Jello™

Whipped topping

Bring to a boil water, sugar and cornstarch—stir in 1 sm. box blueberry Jello™ .  Gently stir in 2 cups fresh berries and pour hot filling over the top of each ramekin.  Cool.  Top with Cool Whip™ or other whipped topping.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Fresh Market: Zucchini

 

BLOOM-ZucchiniBy Vicky Babcock

 

Save your grocery bags.  Practice your stealth.  It’s nearly upon us!  August 8 is “sneak some zucchini onto your neighbors porch day”.   Non-growing neighbors are likely to appreciate the shared largess—-that first time.  Okay, maybe the second.  Wait!  They’re locking the car and leaving the light on.  And they’ve just acquired a big dog.

All kidding aside, this prolific grower is a tasty and nutritious treat.   One medium fruit provides about 58% of your daily requirements of Vitamin C and about 14% of potassium.

Small, tender squash are best and can be consumed uncooked in salads and cut into sticks for dips.  Or skip the dip—it’s not needed.  And one medium fruit contains only 33 calories, a dieter’s dream!  Leave the skin intact for a healthy snack—much of the nutrition is concentrated within the peel.  It can be sliced and stir-fried for a tasty side.  (I use salt, pepper and garlic)  But pick often.  Larger fruit are only good shredded for breads, cakes and soups, as the skin becomes tough and the fruit seedy.

Zucchini fruit is more versatile than most people realize.  It can be fried, baked, broiled or consumed raw.  Try zucchini fries or quiche, cookies or pancakes.  Zucchini fritters are another way to use up the squash.  For some tasty zucchini recipes, check out www.MomOnTimeout (Google zucchini recipes)

Zucchini is Native American and was cultivated by the Indians long before Columbus set sail on his monumental voyage.  Much lore abounds with its medicinal value.  Toothache suffers could chew on a piece to find relief and it was said that a paste of the boiled fruit could sooth the sting of running eyes.  Consumption of great quantities, it was said, would prevent the deadly consequences of snakebite.  To remove a troublesome wart, touch the affliction with the cut end of a zucchini by the light of a full moon and bury the squash in a field that faces north.  While we can’t guarantee the results, you’re likely to get a good crop of zucchini!  Linda Jean Morris— The Times Weds. 9-2-1987.

That excess of squash can be shredded and frozen for later use.  Or maybe its time to start a new tradition.  How about, “bring some zucchini to work, day.”

Easy Garden Lasagna

1 lb. Italian bulk sausage

3 1/2 cups chopped zucchini

1 cup chopped onion

2/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup chopped fresh basil

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup flour

3 cups skim milk

1 cup ricotta cheese

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

8 or 9- no-boil lasagna noodles (such as Barilla)

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. In a large skillet, cook bulk sausage until browned through.  Pour off excess grease—remove sausage and set aside.  Add zucchini, onion, and carrot to the pan; sauté over med-high heat about 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in reserved sausage, corn, basil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

3. In a large saucepan, combine flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.  Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in ricotta cheese, Parmesan and nutmeg.

4. Spread 1/3 of the sausage mixture in the bottom of an 11×7-inch baking pan.  Layer half the noodles, 1/3 sausage, ½ white sauce, remaining noodles, remaining sausage and remaining white sauce.  Cover tightly with foil and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with mozzarella, and bake an additional 25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

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Bringing life back into your yard and garden

BLOOM-Bring-life-back-to-garden

Return of the green: Get your grass and garden growing again

 

(BPT) – Spring season is a time of regeneration and renewal as you prepare to bring life back to your lawn and garden. Taking the proper steps after seasonal changes or severe weather conditions can prove to be the difference between creating a breathtaking landscape or an outdoor space with unsightly mishaps. By following a few simple steps, you can take pride in your backyard year after year.

Inspect and replace your tools of the trade

The first step to creating an outdoor masterpiece begins with the proper equipment. You can’t very well dig, rake or mow with broken or dull materials, so now is the time to inspect each of your tools. Check your lawnmower and other garden essentials for signs of damage or rust. Making sure that your garden tools are in good condition at the start of the season will help establish the right foundation for a successful planting and growing season. “The right tools can make all the difference in creating a lawn that leaves a lasting impression,” says Alan Luxmore, host of A&E’s hit television show Fix This Yard. “Arm yourself with tools that are not only durable, but easy to use. Complete watering systems such as LeakFree by Nelson, offer a turn-key watering experience from start to finish, allowing gardeners more time to revel in their landscaping successes.”

Bring new life into the garden

Once your soil is permeable, it should be prepped for the upcoming planting season by removing dead leaves and plants that may have been left over from the previous season. Use a rotary tiller to break up and aerate hard soil. Once the old material has been removed from the work area and your soil is ready, begin planting your new plants, flowers, vegetables and grass. You can also help your trees, bushes and even certain plants have a more robust look by trimming them back to encourage new bud growth.

Establish a regular watering regimen

One of the most important steps to maintaining a healthy lawn and garden is providing it with the proper nutrients. Using a hose for daily irrigation seems simple but without the proper watering set up, your efforts could be futile. A proper watering guide and the following tips from the watering experts at Nelson can increase efficiency and bring you one step closer to creating a yard with envious curb appeal.

* Give your greens a thorough soaking once in a while to produce extended and robust roots.

* The best time to water is in the morning, when the air is cool and moist. The warmth of the sun and the rising temperature gently dries the grass and the leaves on the plants. And since morning air is damp, you don’t waste water through evaporation.

* Follow a regular watering schedule to discourage bugs by providing them with an inhospitable environment. Insects, with the possible exception of the water bug, aren’t terribly fond of water.

* To be certain your lawn is hydrated adequately when it has failed to rain, the standard rule of thumb is to sprinkle one inch of water per week.

* Use a complete guaranteed leak-free system such as LeakFree by Nelson in order to conserve water in drought conditions, save money and stay dry.

For additional watering and gardening tips, and to learn more about LeakFree technology, visit www.facebook.com/NelsonWateringAndGardening.

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Fresh Market: The Peach

 

By Vicky Babcock

 

BLOOM-fresh-market-peachesWho can resist the lure of a ripe peach on a summer afternoon? Not I, and certainly not my three-year-old grandson, who gorged himself on peaches while helping me pick and suffered not a whit. The sight of a peach still brings to mind that perfect summer day—Bryce’s face with bulging cheeks, the fragrant juice dripping slowly down his chin. He must have thought he was in candy heaven! He’s not alone—peaches are prized throughout the world.

Alexander the Great is credited with bringing the fruit to Europe after conquering Persia. Although peaches get their name from ancient Persia, they almost certainly originated in China, where they are highly prized. Peaches were brought to America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, although they were not commercially grown until the 19th century.

The Chinese held the peach tree in awe. It was considered a ward against evil spirits and an aid to immortality.

In Korea, the peach is seen as the fruit of happiness, riches, honors and longevity. The rare peach with double seeds is seen as a favorable omen of a mild winter. It is one in ten of the immortal plants and animals. (Wikipedia)

In Vietnam, where it is recognized as a sign of spring, it plays a part in their celebration of Tet.

Peaches are a low calorie choice, providing about 30 calories per medium fruit. A medium peach provides eight percent of RDA for vitamin c and about 140 mg. of potassium. If you can tolerate the fuzz, leave these lovely treats with the skin intact, as much of the nutritional value is contained in the peel.

All parts of the peach have their place in American folklore and folk medicine. It was thought that a baby that refuses to be birthed could be brought at once if the mother drinks tea made from bark scraped downward from a young peach tree. Peach tree bark scraped upwards is said to be a cure for vomiting and/or diarrhea.

A magical cure for warts involved cutting as many notches in a peach tree branch as one has warts. Peach tree wood is a favorite of many for making dowsing rods.

Kentucky lore holds that rubbing warts with peach leaves, then burying the leaves, will remove the warts.  Peach leaves were also used in Colonial times as a cure for worms and Hohman recommends the flowers for the same. According to lore, eating a peach that has been pecked by a bird can lead to poisoning. Peach pits were used as a cure for “gravel” (kidney stones), to stimulate hair growth and as a remedy for drunkenness. Charms can be made from the carved stones as well.

Note:  I include the folklore for color only. Consumption of peach pits strikes me as highly risky as peach pits, like many of the rose family seeds, contain traces of cyanide.   If you plan to plant your own trees, you might want to consider this bit of folk wisdom shared by Vance Randolph. “In planting peach trees, it is always well to bury old shoes or boots near the roots.” He goes on to state that not far from Little Rock, Arkansas, he has known farmers to drive into town to search refuse piles for old shoes to bury in their orchards.

Okay, I’m hooked. Does anyone have an old boot?

Peach & sweet onion salad

6 ripe peaches peeled and sliced
1 medium Vidalia onion, cut across the center and sliced thinly
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
6 cups mixed baby salad greens, rinsed and crisped
2 cups fresh arugula, tough stems removed, rinsed and crisped

In a large bowl, gently combine the peach and onion slices.  In a small cup, whisk together the lemon juice, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper.  Pour over the peach mixture and toss lightly to coat evenly.   Set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to combine.When ready to serve, combine the baby greens and arugula.  Divide among 6 salad plates and top each portion with the peach and onion slices.  Drizzle with some of the juices from the bowl and serve at once.  Makes 6 Servings.

Per Serving:  66 Cal; 0.0 g Total Fat; 16 g Carb; 0.0 mg Cholesterol; 17 mg Sodium; 449 mg Potassium; 4 g Dietary Fiber; 2 g Protein.

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Create an outdoor resort in your backyard 

34_6008_WH.tifBLOOM-BackyardResortC(NewsUSA) This year, many people will spend vacations at home instead of traveling. According to the American Lighting Association (ALA), with a few updates to your outside lighting, you can enjoy a mini vacation at home. Believe it or not, it’s easier and less expensive than you might think to transform your existing patio, deck or pool area into a lovely retreat. Rather than buying a costly designer patio set or lounge chairs that will lose their luster by next season, invest in a new lighting scheme that will enhance your existing outdoor furniture and amenities.

“Creating a beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be expensive,” says Rick Wiedemer of Hinkley Lighting. “A few well-placed, low-voltage path or accent lights can make a huge impact on a well-manicured landscape.” No lawn is too small. “Even modest homes or those with limited yards or gardens can benefit,” he says.

All that is needed are some basic tools, a transformer (which reduces standard 120-volt household current to the safe 12-volt level), outdoor low-voltage copper cable and low-voltage lighting fixtures—all of which you can find at your local ALA-member lighting showroom.

“The best thing about using low-voltage lighting outdoors is you don’t have to do everything at once. I recommend purchasing a transformer that is larger than you immediately need,” says Lew Waltz of Philips Hadco. That way, when you are ready to install additional lighting, the larger transformer will already be in place and ready to handle the task. “You only pay for the energy consumed by the fixtures,” says Waltz. “In other words, a 600-watt transformer that only has 200 watts of fixtures on it, uses 200 watts of energy, not 600.”

When laying out your project, remember that a little light goes a long way outdoors. Consulting with a lighting professional at your local ALA-member lighting showroom can help you avoid making the common mistake of too many fixtures in one area. To find more information about lighting all areas of your home, go to www.AmericanLightingAssoc.com.

 

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Fresh  Market: Raspberry—Food for the gods

*BLOOM-Raspberries

By Vicky Babcock

 

It’s raspberry season! We can thank the Olympians for this flavorful fruit. Greek mythology credits the Olympians with the discovery while foraging for food on Mount Ida—so named for the nursemaid of Zeus. The nymph is said to be responsible for the rich red color—the berries, once white, were stained by her blood when she pricked her finger picking berries for the young god.

To dream of raspberries is a good sign as it means success in all things, happiness in marriage, fidelity in a sweetheart and good news from abroad (Elsevier’s Dictionary of Plant Lore).

Some European cultures believe that hanging raspberry brambles over windows and doors will offer protection to the house and its occupants. The practice is also used when a death has occurred in the family to prevent any wayward spirits from entering and stealing the soul of the dearly departed.

Raspberry leaves have been used for centuries as an aid to pregnancies. It is said that red raspberry leaves tone the uterus and the muscles of the pelvic region, ease morning sickness, ease the pain of childbirth and aid in the production of breast milk. While I found no scientific evidence to support these claims, red raspberry leaf tea continues to be used in homeopathic medicine today.

Raspberries are high in manganese and vitamin C, providing 62 percent and 51 percent of our RDA per cup respectively, as well as 33 percent of our dietary fiber. Research shows that raspberries are an antioxidant food, containing ellagic acid, which helps to prevent unwanted cell damage by neutralizing free radicals. Research also suggests that raspberries may have the potential to inhibit cancer cell growth and the formation of tumors (Elsevier’s Dictionary of Plant Lore).  A study in the June 2004 issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology suggests that eating three or more servings of raspberries a day may lower age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) by up to 36 percent. ARMD is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults.

Nutrition aside, these little jewels are a treat to eat, sun-warmed fresh off the bush or cold from the fridge. But don’t wait—raspberries are fragile at best and do not keep well. Try them on cereal or salad.  Or try our fresh raspberry pie. To prolong your enjoyment, spread the berries out on a cookie sheet to freeze and then bag them up for the freezer for later consumption.

 

Fresh Raspberry Pie

For crust:  Stir together

1 ½ cups flour

½ cup vegetable oil

2 T. sugar

½ tsp. salt

2 T. milk

Stir ingredients together. Pat into pie plate, prick with fork. Bake in pre-heated 450-degree oven about 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as this burns easily. Cool. Prepare filling.

For filling:

2 T. cornstarch

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4 cups fresh raspberries

Jello™

Whipped topping

Bring to a boil water, sugar and cornstarch, stir in 1 small box raspberry Jello™. Gently stir in 2 cups fresh raspberries. Spread 2 cups of fresh raspberries into cooled pie crust and pour hot filling over the top.  Cool. Top with Cool Whip™ or other whipped topping.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

 

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Fresh Market: Cherries

BLOOM-Fresh-market-cherries-webBy Vicky Babcock

 

“Cherries on the ryse,” or on the twigs, was one of the street cries in London during the 15th century. These cherries likely were fruit from the native wild cherry, as the domestic cherry, introduced into Briton around 71 BC, disappeared sometime in the Saxon period.  It was not reintroduced until Henry VIII’s reign in the early 1500’s. Ancient lore holds that the Virgin Mary—prior to the birth of Christ—once wished to taste some cherries that hung high above her head. She asked Joseph to pick them for her but he refused saying, “Let the father of thy child present thee with the cherries.” As the words left his lips the branch of the tree bowed to the Virgin’s hand, allowing her to gather the fruit and thus, silently reproaching Joseph for his surliness. Thus, the cherry is dedicated to the Virgin Mary (Plant Lore, Legends, and Lyrics: Embracing the Myths, Traditions, Superstitions, and Folk-Lore of the Plant Kingdom, Richard Folkard, 1884).

The ancient Lithuanians believed the demon, Kirnis, to be the guardian of the Cherry. In Germany and Denmark, tradition holds that evil spirits often hide themselves within old Cherry trees, causing harm to anyone who comes near. Folkard’s book also says that to dream of cherries denotes inconsistency and disappointment in life.

A relative newcomer to the States (1600’s), cherries have likely been consumed since prehistoric times.  Romans and Greeks prized the fruit as did the Chinese. Its royal color and its tart flavor likely earned it a place on the tables of nobles and kings.  The cherry tree probably originated in the territories of Asia Minor near the Black and Caspian Seas.

It turns out the sandy soil along Lake Michigan, as well as the tempering effects of the lake on the arctic air, create an excellent growing environment for cherries in our state.   Michigan has the honor of being the leading producer of the tart cherry crop in the United States, with about 75 percen of the nation’s production, which is almost exclusively centered in the Traverse Bay area. Most of these tart cherries find their way into pies and pie fillings, in addition to preserves, jellies, juice and dried fruit. We are also a big producer of sweet cherries and farmer’s markets and roadside stands are rife with these beauties in July. Peter Dougherty, the first European settler in the Traverse Bay area, is credited with the introduction of the tart cherry tree here. In 1852, he planted a cherry orchard on Old Mission Peninsula. Much to the astonishment of the natives and settlers, the grove thrived.

Consumption of cherries has been linked with reduction of uric acid in the body, bringing great relief from the pain associated with arthritis and gout. In a study done by the USDA, it was discovered that consumption of 2 cups of Bing cherries reduced uric acid by as much as 15 percent. Cherries also help reduce inflammation by reducing the amount of C-reactive protein produced. Powerful antioxidants in cherries—especially the dark sweet variety—help keep cancerous cells from growing out of control. They are an excellent source of potassium, which can help reduce blood pressure by keeping sodium and potassium in balance.  One cup of cherries contains as much potassium as a banana. Trouble sleeping? Tart cherries contain melatonin, a sleep aid, and in studies, two tablespoons of the juice were found to be just as effective as a melatonin supplement.

A cup of cherries comes in at less than a hundred calories, making it an excellent choice for your diet. Cherries contain many B-vitamins as well, which are essential for metabolism. So for a skinny choice, choose cherries!

 

Fruit Crisp

2 tart pie apples such as Granny Smith or Spies, peeled and chopped

2 Anjou pears, peeled and chopped

1 cup pitted dark sweet cherries

¼ cup sugar

3 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. nutmeg

1/3 cup quick cooking oats

1/3 cup flour

½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup butter

½ cup pecan pieces

 

Combine fruits and ¼ cup sugar; spread in buttered 8×8 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients except for pecans. Work together until crumbly. Stir in pecan pieces. Sprinkle mixture over fruit layer.

Bake in pre-heated 350 ◦ oven 50 minutes or until crisp is golden and bubbly.  Serve warm with ice cream if desired.

 

Fresh Market is brought to you by Solon Market located at 15185 Algoma Avenue.  For more information call 616-696-1718.  Like us on facebook for updates.

 

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Top tips for growing tasty tomatoes

Homegrown tomatoes like this giant SteakHouse can be both tasty and budget friendly.

Homegrown tomatoes like this giant SteakHouse can be both tasty and budget friendly.

(NAPS)—Americans are crazy about their tomatoes! Tomatoes are the #1 vegetable grown in gardens all across the nation.

More and more, they’re grown at home—for a number of reasons. Not only is homegrown produce tasty and fresh, it could save you thousands in grocery bills every year. Fortunately, it’s easy to grow tomatoes, even if you haven’t got a green thumb, with these simple tips:

Plant

1) Sow seeds indoors, into individual containers, 1⁄4” deep and one to two seeds per cell. Keep moist and under good-quality light. Seedlings emerge in seven to ten days at 70 to 75 degrees F. When seedlings have at least two pairs of leaves, acclimatize in a sheltered place outside for a week.

2) Pre-grown plants are a great alternative to homegrown seed-lings. Grown and nurtured by trained horticulturists, plants should be available at the optimum time for planting into the garden.

3) To reduce disease, set plants 1-1⁄2 feet to 2-1⁄2 feet apart if a bush or compact variety, 3 to 4 feet if a full-vining garden type, in a sunny area with average soil. Tomatoes are vines and can be planted deep, up to the two topmost sets of leaves.

4)Water thoroughly but not too often, early in the day so that plants will dry off before evening; 1 to 2 inches per week is best during the growing season.

5)Mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. Use newspaper, grass clippings, salt hay, or straw to a depth of 3 to 4 inches.

6)Use slow-release fertilizer at planting time to nourish young tomato plants and again when first fruits form.

Protect

7)All tomatoes benefit from staking and caging. Emerging fruits gain improved air circulation and reduced ground pest problems.

8)Scout plants for harmful insects and disease often. Remove insects simply by picking them off or use natural soaps and beneficial insects.

Pick

9)Pick tomatoes when fully colored and soft to the touch. Pick regularly to keep plants productive. Almost-ripe tomatoes can be ripened in brown bags or spread on newspapers at room temperature.

10) Exciting new varieties, such as Burpee’s SteakHouse tomato, can be enjoyed with any meal and to flavor cooked dishes, soups, sauces, stews, ketchup, paste, juice, quiche and pies. You may care to try them in curries, casseroles and chutney, too.

Learn More

For more information, gardening ideas, videos and non-GMO seeds and plants, visit www.burpee.com or call (800) 888-1447.

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