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Archive | Bloomin’ Summer

Blueberry cheesecake for carb counters

From the U.S. highbush blueberry council

Ingredients

2 tablespoons dry breadcrumbs*
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese
2 eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2⁄3 cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Sour Cream Topping, recipe follows
Blueberry Sauce (recipe follows)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375°F
Spray bottom and side of a 9-inch pie plate with vegetable cooking spray
Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and tilt to cover evenly
In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, eggs, milk, granulated sweetener and vanilla until smooth
Carefully pour into crumb-coated pie plate
Smooth top
Bake until set in the center, 18 to 20 minutes
Cool 10 minutes
When pie is set, spread the Sour Cream Topping over the top
Bake 7 minutes longer
Cool to room temperature on a wire rack
Chill until cold
Serve with Blueberry Sauce

Sour Cream Topping

In a small bowl, stir 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup granulated non-nutritive sweetener and ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Blueberry Sauce

In a medium-size saucepan, over medium heat, stir 2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries with 2 tablespoons granulated non-nutritive sweetener and 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and water until berries are soft, about 5 minutes
Chill

Quick notes

Per portion (including 1-½ tablespoons blueberry sauce): 413 calories; 13 g carbohydrate; 36 g total fat (22 g saturated fat); 1 g fiber
* Note: Breadcrumbs are optional If made without breadcrumbs, subtract 1 gram carbohydrate per portion

Number of servings (yield): 8

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July is national blueberry month

We are just heading into July, but it’s not too early to enjoy some fat, juicy, delicious blueberries for national blueberry month! Did you know that over 18,000 acres of blueberries are grown in Michigan, the largest blueberry-producing state in the U.S.? Michigan grows more than 20 varieties. They are a favorite at farmer’s markets, and in regular grocery stores, too. They came in early this year, and Post Farms had 1,000 pounds ready to pick as of Monday.

Blueberries are considered a super food. They are the fruit that is highest in antioxidants, and are an excellent source of Vitamin C and fiber. They are also a good source of Vitamin A and iron.

Eat fresh blueberries within a week after purchasing. Store berries in the refrigerator in a covered container. Do not wash until ready to eat. For long-term storage, place completely dry berries on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to a plastic freezer bag or container.

To take advantage of the plentiful blueberries, raspberries and strawberries that are out right now, try the recipe on this page for a luscious Fourth of July dessert!

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Red, White and Blueberry pound cake

From the U.S. highbush blueberry council

Ingredients

1 package (10-¾ ounces) frozen pound cake

Raspberry-Orange Sauce (recipe follows)

1 container (8-ounces) whipped cream cheese

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

2 tablespoons orange juice

1-½ cups fresh blueberries, divided

1 cup sliced fresh strawberries

Instructions

Slice frozen pound cake lengthwise in three layers

Arrange in a single layer on a cookie sheet with top layer cut side up

Pierce layers with fork tines

Spread each with 2 tablespoons of the Raspberry-Orange Sauce

Let stand 10 to 15 minutes so that the cake absorbs the sauce

Meanwhile, in a bowl stir together cream cheese, sugar and orange juice until well blended

To assemble cake: Place bottom layer on a serving plate

Spread evenly with a third of the cream cheese mixture

Arrange a third of the blueberries evenly over cream cheese

Drizzle about 1 tablespoon Raspberry-Orange Sauce over blueberries

Repeat with center slice of cake

Place top layer cut side down

Spread with remaining cream cheese mixture

Decorate cake to resemble an American flag using remaining blueberries and the strawberries

Serve with remaining Raspberry-Orange Sauce

Number of servings (yield): 8

 

Raspberry-Orange Sauce

Instructions

Stir together until smooth ¾ cup seedless raspberry jam and 6 tablespoons orange juice

Quick notes

Yield: about 1 cup

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“One swipe” farmers market pilot program in Kent County

from the Kent County Health Department

 

Eating more fruits and vegetables just got easier for clients of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children (WIC). One swipe of a WIC Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card can be used to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at participating farmer markets this summer.

The Michigan Department of Community Health WIC Division selected the Kent County Health Department as a pilot site for a new project, allowing WIC participants to use their Cash Value Benefits (CVB) to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables from participating farmer markets.  Previously, WIC participants needed a coupon at Farmers’ Markets to make purchases there, and could only use their electronic cash benefits to buy fresh produce in local grocery stores.
“Employees of the KCHD WIC office were instrumental in our selection as the sole pilot agency for this program, thanks to past successes in piloting and initiating new programs and changes, such as MI-WIC and EBT,” said Cathy Raevsky, Administrative Health Officer for the Kent County Health Department.  “It’s an honor to be the first in the nation with this great program.”
The pilot project runs June 1 through October 31, 2012.  During 2011, the KCHD WIC Program issued over $1,955,701 in Cash Value Benefits to WIC participants.  “This is money that goes back into our communities to our farmers, their employees and their families,” Raevsky added.
In addition to the Cash Value Benefit Farmer Market Pilot Project, the KCHD WIC Program will also be piloting an enhancement to the already successful WIC Project FRESH program.  Through this pilot, WIC participants will now receive their Project FRESH benefits electronically via their WIC EBT card. In the past, participants of Project FRESH were given coupon booklets, containing 10 individual coupons worth $2 each, which can only be spent to purchase fresh, locally grown, fruits and vegetables.

In addition to receiving their WIC Project FRESH benefits electronically, those participating in Project FRESH this year will also receive $30, an increase from $20 last year. During the 2011 Project FRESH season, the KCHD WIC program provided $12,720 worth of coupon vouchers to eligible WIC participants.

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Berries survive killer spring

Unseasonably warm weather in March and killer frosts in April have decimated cherries, apples and juice grapes statewide. But blueberries seem to have escaped with minimal damage, and all signs are pointing toward near-normal production for the year or better—just ask Merrill Post.
“If we can get the size, it looks like we will have the biggest or second biggest crop we’ve ever had,” said Post, owner of Post Farms, 9849 Myers Lake, in Courtland Township.

He said that last year he put in 500 more blueberry bushes, and brought in bumblebees. “Every blasted blossom must have pollinated,” he remarked. “They are really thick.”
Post said he frost-protected the blueberry bushes with water. “When the water freezes, it protects them,” he explained.
Michigan is the no. 1 blueberry-growing state in the nation, producing more than 100 million pounds of blueberries each year, which is 30 percent of the national crop.
Post, who has put in an average of 500 bushes each year for the last few years, said he will continue adding bushes for another three or four years. “I can’t seem to grow enough for people,” he noted.

Raspberries are another popular item at Post Farms that are just starting. “They were hurt a little, the canes got touched a bit (by frost),” he said. Last year was his biggest raspberry crop to date, but he said he hasn’t really made money on them yet because he hasn’t had the volume he needs. Post said he plans to beef up his raspberry production over the next few years.

Post said he will have more corn than he’s ever had this year, including the standard corn, super sweet corn, and a new early corn, which he expects to harvest mid to late July. “I’m continually upgrading to increase my volume,” he explained.

Check out the Post Farms Facebook page for more information on what produce is ready to pick, and for pricing on both u-pick and pre-pick produce. You can call for availability at 874-7569.

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The public has voted and the results are in

Rockford’s Farm Market stands atop the nation

Cliff and Nancy Hill were volunteer campaign managers during the farm market contest. Using the tried and true “hunt and peck method,” Cliff laboriously inputs one of the 3,405 farm market contest votes collected Saturday mornings during the 13 weeks of the America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest. Rockford won with a total of 6,083 votes.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill

When the online polling site closed last Wednesday evening at midnight, the Rockford Farm Market found itself atop the leader board in all market size categories in the 2011 America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest.

The online contest is an annual nationwide challenge, sponsored by the American Farmland Trust, a pro-agriculture organization with headquarters in Washington D.C.  More information and complete rankings across the country can be found at www.farmland.org .

With 6,083 votes, Rockford found itself in first place nationwide in the small market size category (16-30 vendors), followed by the Venice Farmers Market of Venice, FL some 475 votes behind.  Our little sister, the Manistique, MI farmers market (up in the U.P., eh) finished second nationwide, with 3,208 votes, in the boutique market category (2-15 vendors) to another Florida farm market in North Port, FL.

All Michiganders have much to be proud of with two small-town farm markets, strictly vending locally harvested and fresh from the field Michigan produce rising (as cream does) to top rankings.

The Rockford Farm Market has actually pulled off a trifecta in this contest. First, our Farm Market claims the prize as Michigan’s Favorite Farm Market.  Second, our Farm Market claims the prize as America’s Favorite Farm Market in the small market category.  And third, market categories aside, having polled higher vote totals than any market nationwide, our Farm Market has earned the right to claim it is truly, “America’s Favorite Farm Market”.

Each week the swell of media coverage of Rockford’s lead brought new visitors to Rockford and its Farm Market seeking to discover what all the “buzz” was about.  They loved the “charm” of our town and its “Pure Michigan” farm market and added to our vote totals at the market’s polling site. A big thanks to the readers of the Cedar Springs Post for your help in making Rockford America’s favorite farm market!

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More wildlife photos

Sue Harrison, of Nelson Township, sent us these photos of wildlife that were taken in her yard. “I saw this ‘hummer,’ the butterfly and the praying mantis all in the same day as I was watering my potted flowers,” noted Sue. “I thought they were each beautiful in their own way.”

According to Sue, the praying mantis was stalking a small spider on the handle of her planter and he was successful!

She said the hummingbird and the butterfly were both after the nectar of the Rose-of-Sharon flowers on the bush next to their house.

Great photos! Thanks, Sue!

If you have wildlife photos you’d like to send, email them to news@cedarspringspost.com with a short summary or explanation.

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VOTE

Even if you’ve never been to farm market or hate vegetables

Picture perfect setting: A recent Saturday morning at the “soon-to-be” (hopefully) America’s Favorite Farmers Market in downtown Rockford, MI.

by Cliff and Nancy Hill

Listen up people. When the fat lady sings next Wednesday evening (Aug. 31) at 12:00 p.m. midnight, the America’s Favorite Farmers Market contest will be over.
Rockford’s Farm Market has been clinging to the lead in this nationwide contest for the past 8 weeks. Not only do we lead overall in all market size categories, more importantly, we also lead in our small market size category.
Our opponent, Venice, FL, is wily. Their strategy in this contest has been to hang just behind Rockford in vote totals and then overnight close the gap. We are fearful of what might occur in the final hours of voting on August 31. Remember we are talking about Florida, the state of the “hanging chads.”
To those of you who have already voted, we thank you! However, your support is still needed in these final days and hours of the contest. We ask you to use your considerable social media networking skills to reach out to any and everyone to also cast their votes for Rockford’s great farm market.
This contest has become somewhat more than farm market vs. farm market.  It has somehow morphed into a state vs. state competition of bragging rights. With two farm markets in Michigan (Rockford and Manistique, in the U.P.) vying for titles in their respective market size categories against two farm markets in Florida (Venice and North Port). We ourselves like to think of this as a contest between “Pure Michigan” and “Alligator Alley.”
Now for one very last time let’s win two for Michigan. If you haven’t voted, go online to: www.farmland.org/vote or simpler still, visit the Rockford Farm Market this Saturday (your last opportunity to vote in person) and add your vote to the more than 4,000 that have already been cast. We need your vote to prove that Rockford’s Farm Market is truly America’s Favorite Farmers Market.

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments (1)

Colorful caterpillar

We recently received a photo of an unusual looking caterpillar that was found by Wendy Conely, of Solon Township. She wondered what type of caterpillar it was.

We guessed it to be a cecropia moth caterpillar, and naturalist Ranger Steve Mueller, of Cedar Springs, confirmed it is indeed a cecropia moth larva. “If it was crawling about, it is probably looking for a place to spin a cocoon,” said Steve. “It will over winter and emerge in May if kept outside. If the cocoon is kept indoors it will emerge as an adult early and will not find a mate for reproduction.”

Ranger Steve is the state coordinator for Michigan and Utah for the national database of Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA), a citizen science website. He said it was a good year for the silk moths, and he received several photos of adult moths that people submitted to document the species for their county.

“When people submit a butterfly or moth record, I verify the identification and then it is posted on the national database,” he explained.

Anyone can take photos and submit them to BAMONA, no species knowledge necessary. To learn more, or to get involved, visit www.butterfliesandmoths.org.

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Mushrooms!

David Marin took this photo of mushrooms on his property, southeast of Cedar Springs, along a woodland lane.
“With the recent rains and cool nights, mushrooms are popping up everywhere around the woods,” said Marin. “I found this particular group of boletes unusual and engaging. Does it remind you of a dog with a litter of new pups? How about a mom trying to keep her kids out of the rain? A hen and chicks?
“Remember to be absolutely sure of their identity before you eat any wild mushrooms. This type of bolete would taste fine but would soon make you regret having eaten them!” he warned.
Send your wildlife or nature photos to news@cedarspringspost.com.

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