web analytics

Tag Archive | "Vicky Babcock"

Fresh Market: The Pinecone


AWE-PineconeBy Vicky Babcock

 

Consider the pinecone. While not a viable food source for humans, pinecones are invaluable to birds and mice that eat the tender seeds when other sources of food are scarce. Dried pinecones make great fire starters, with or without candle wax. They are a crafters choice for wreaths, picture frames and candle rings. I’ve even seen them used to create charming baskets. A pinecone, a milkweed pod (split in two halves) and an acorn make a rustic angel for your tree.

Pinecones added to your greenery create interesting focal points and pinecones are the main base in many winter potpourris. Pinecones open when they are dry and close when they are wet, allowing them to distribute seed at the most opportune time for maximum travel. This phenomenon is the base for an interesting puzzle. While a pinecone is wet (tightly closed), push it into a narrow necked jar and allow it to dry. As it dries, it will open and expand, making it impossible to remove from the jar whole. Ask your kids if they know how you managed to get it into the jar.

Pinecone cows were a popular toy back in the day. These were made simply by sticking matchsticks into pinecones for legs.  In parts of the world they are still popular. In Finland there is a fairground with statues of pinecone cows for children to play on.

Nest a candle in a bowl of pinecones for a charming centerpiece. For an added touch, add a few glass ornaments or a string of dried cranberries. Never leave a candle unattended, as pinecones are extremely flammable.

An unopened pinecone is a symbol of virginity. Conversely, pinecones are symbolic with fertility and were often carved into bedposts as an aid to conception. The pinecone is considered a luck charm, favorable influences, protection from harm and sexual power. There are those who believe it promotes healing and inhibits negative influences.

Pinecone Firestarters

Pinecone Firestarters are easy to make and create charming gifts for those who have fireplaces. Gather pinecones and allow them to dry. Collect old candles or crayons for the wax.

Other optional ingredients:

Sawdust

Salt—yellow flame

Salt substitute—violet flame

Borax—green flame

Directions:

Melt wax in the top of a double boiler. This is necessary as wax is extremely flammable—do not heat directly on the stove. If you would like to create colored flames, mix sawdust with desired color ingredient (see above). Dip dried pinecones in the melted wax, then dip into sawdust mixture. These can be given in a pretty basket or a recycled onion or orange bag. Add a bit of greenery and a bow, and you have a charming gift for a housewarming or for Christmas. Just be sure the recipient has a fireplace.

The Pueblo story of the pine tree as told by the Quères is a detailed (and somewhat disturbing) tale in which a witch is tricked into eating magic pine seeds. The seeds sprout in her belly and turn her into a great pine tree that sways in the wind and moans and sobs forever—as all her pine children do to this day.

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.

 

Posted in Awesome AutumnComments (0)

It’s Only a Barn


The old Stout horse barn, behind Solon Township Hall. Should it be torn down or the roof repaired?

The old Stout horse barn, behind Solon Township Hall. Should it be torn down or the roof repaired?

By Vicky Babcock

There is a controversy brewing—a decision to be made, studies to be done, directions to be given. At the heart is the Stout horse barn. Its fate is in your hands.

Tucked away behind the new Solon Township offices, at 15185 Algoma Avenue, the barn is easily forgotten, hacked away by the needs of progress—neglected for lack of funds.  Yet, this barn has a story to tell.

Is it a historic presence? If time is a factor in writing history, one could argue that it is not. In the scope of time it is a young relic, dating back only some 30-40 years. But if love, ambition, memories, events and dedication play a part, it is pure gold.

It was somewhere around 1971, when Leon and Billie Stout purchased the old Mactavish farm, the land where the stable now stands. They had raised horses before, but traded country life for the city when daughter, Katherine, was conceived. That all changed when Katherine caught the (horse) fever. At age 9, she began taking riding lessons through 4-H and, through her enthusiasm, the bug spread to the rest of the family. Before long, a 23,000 sq. ft. breeding and conditioning facility, Katherine’s design, was constructed; the Stout Barn was the culmination of a dream.

Built by Standard Lumber, the facility became one of the leading breeders of quarter horses in the area, spawning champions such as Smooth Speed, Smooth Splendor, Comet’s Chip and Liberty Jet Line. The stable became a hub of activity in its heyday, for both horses and horse lovers. It hosted pig roasts and music, 4-H and Mountie training and one memorable auction. There were cattle as well, though these were likely not housed in the stable. And there were visitors from around the world.

Leon did not come late to horses; he grew up with them. He owned his first horse at age nine and he bought and sold horses as a boy. At one time, he even built and owned his own race track, through the combined efforts of a group of friends and a bottle of whiskey, the price for grading the track.  The site was the host for the Red Flannel Derby in the late 50’s.

The farm had peacocks at one time, escape artists who wandered to the western edge of the property on a regular basis. The tail of the peacock is another story—ask the barn—it knows. It was there when the prize bull went through two fences to visit the ladies.

That bull, a favorite, was one of the Galloways that the Stouts raised, beginning with 30 head of registered cattle purchased from a neighbor. At auction, that number totaled around 500. The quarter horses, numbering around 65 at one count, were sold off privately for the most part. It was a sad day for the Stout family.

For the barn itself, it was the beginning of an end. No longer in the Stout hands, its new stewards fell behind on its upkeep. Hard times and the economic downturn have taken their toll. For a brief time, it earned its keep as a rental, housing other people’s horses.  But it was not enough. With no funds to put back into its upkeep, the Stout Barn, once young and proud, was losing its battle against the elements. Time and apathy became insurmountable barriers—its fate seemed inevitable.

When the property—less than half of what it once was—came up for back taxes, Solon Township picked it up with a new township office in mind. Under the township’s stewardship, the stable and arena has heard the laughter of children once again. Horses—Ford and Chevy, enjoyed respite from the sun’s relentless rays in its vast shadowed interior. Solon Market had its birth there, and continues to use the stable for events today. It has seen a wedding, and it has sheltered a camper and a wagonload of hay. It is available for storage now. And still its roof continues to decay. Without some necessary repair, this chapter of history will end.

Only a barn? Some say so. But listen with your heart and you’ll hear a child’s laugh, the call of a new foal, the gentle wicker of its dam, the challenge of its sire. You may see the vibrancy of a young girl with determination and spunk as she graciously speaks of her passion—and of her champion horse, Big Boy—and of her crown. There is joy here and pain, life and laughter, smiles and tears and memories of a lifetime. There is pride and potential and hope. So much hope.

Vicky Babcock is a resident of Solon Township.

 

The Stout Horse Barn awaits the Township’s decision to either repair the roof (which the insurance company has agreed to pay for) or to tear it down. The Township needs your direction. Tear it down? Repair the roof and look into viable uses for it? It’s your call. Please come to the next Township meeting on Tuesday, October 14, at 7:30 p.m. and voice your opinion.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Featured, NewsComments (0)

Fresh Market: Is there fruit after August?


AWE-fresh-marketBy Vicky Babcock

 

 

Now that the kids are settled back into school and we are pushing into October, it’s time to address a few misconceptions. I’m frequently asked how long the (Solon) Market runs. People are quite often surprised when I tell them we are open through October. The question most commonly asked is this, “What kind of fruit (or vegetables) can you get in October?” Our minds take a turn once school starts. Our lives are consumed by back-to-school chores and football. For teachers, principals and other school staff, it is back to work. It’s like turning a switch. We forget that summer is not defined by the school schedule. Is there fruit (or vegetables) after August? I’m glad you asked.

Our state enjoys a fairly long growing season, spanning early May through late October and into November. Some of the most nutritious (and delicious) vegetables and fruits come late to the plate. Tomatoes are a popular fruit that can be harvested until the first frost. Most root vegetables enjoy a long sojourn into the fall season. Potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, parsnips and horseradish are some of the more common choices for fall roots. Winter squash—which should be harvested before the frost—will keep throughout much of the winter when stored properly.

Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and peppers are other examples of fall favorites. Kohlrabi and rutabaga are less common, but equally delicious.

It’s not just about pumpkins. Apples and pears, both popular Michigan fruits, make their debut in October. And cranberries are just beginning their bid to maturity. Cackleberries (produced by happy hens) are available year round. With the variety of produce yet available, there’s no excuse not to eat fresh.

Easy as—well, pie—Crustless Cranberry Pie

1 cup flour

½ cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

1 cup sugar

½ cup melted butter

¼ tsp. salt

2 beaten eggs

2 cups fresh cranberries

1 tsp. almond extract

 

Preheat oven to 350◦. In a medium to large bowl, combine first three ingredients. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Add butter, eggs and almond extract; combine. Spread in a 9-inch pie plate. Bake about 40 minutes or until golden and toothpick inserted in center is clean.

 

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.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, RecipesComments (0)

Fresh Market: Horseradish


 

By Vicky Babcock

 

AWE-horseradishWelcome to the American Bottoms, a Mississippi River basin carved out by glaciers during the ice age.  The soil here is rich in potash, a nutrient on which horseradish thrives. According to promoters, it is here where 60 percent of the world’s supply of horseradish is grown. It is home to the International Horseradish Festival in Collinsville, Illinois. Celebrated the first weekend in June each year, events include root tossing, recipe contests and horseradish eating contests. Please see more information at www.horseradishfestival.com. Yet horseradish is not native to the U.S. and was probably introduced to the Americas during European colonization. Horseradish is happy where winters are cold and has a wide range from zones 2 to 9.

Horseradish is not for horses. In fact, both the leaves and roots are toxic to livestock, including horses. It does, however belong to the Brassicaceae family, which includes mustard, broccoli, cabbage and yes, radish. The name, “horse” likely stems from its archaic form, meaning strong, coarse or large.

Horseradish is not for everyone. It is most often used as a condiment with beef and is closely related to wasabi. However, it gives a lovely bite to a jar of pickles and Blue Diamond™ makes a wonderful Wasabi Almond, one of my favorites. The leaves can be used in salads and have the same—though much less—bite as the root. It is often used as one of the bitter herbs eaten in observance of Passover.

The bite associated with horseradish occurs when the plant is oxidized by chopping the root. Chopping or grating the plant releases isothiocyanate, a volatile compound that when combined with oxygen, provides the heat. The plant itself uses this as protection from insects and animals and few critters are likely to taste it twice. It is nature’s own chemical warfare, but used for protection only. It is interesting to note that at least one U.S. facility uses gas masks in processing this bitter herb.

Once the root is chopped, it must be stabilized in vinegar to preserve the heat. Horseradish does not have a long shelf life, as it loses its heat rather quickly and can become bitter.  Store bought sauces are likely to be more mild than you will get if you make your own.

Fresh horseradish has antibacterial properties and it is high in vitamin C. Both its leaves and root were used medicinally in ancient times and were considered useful for urinary tract infections, kidney stones, fluid retention, cough, bronchitis, achy joints, gallbladder disorders, gout and colic.  I do not advise self-medicating, however. As always, check with your doctor before using in any sense other than culinary.

According to Greek mythology, the Delphi Oracle informed Apollo that horseradish was worth its weight in gold. It was prized in Egypt as early as 1500 BCE.

Horseradish is harvested in the spring and fall and will last for up to six weeks if properly processed, although some sources claim success up to one year. You might want to try freezing small quantities for later use. Enjoy!

To process your own horseradish, wash and peel an eight to ten inch root. Chop into pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor.* Add one to two tablespoons water and pulse until desired consistency. Add a pinch of salt and one tablespoon white vinegar.  Or try our cream sauce. Recipe follows:

Horseradish Sauce

1 cup sour cream

¼ cup grated or finely chopped fresh horseradish

1 T. Dijon style mustard

1 tsp. white vinegar

½ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

Whisk ingredients in medium bowl until smooth. Refrigerate for at least four hours to allow flavors to blend. Store in an air-tight container for up to three weeks. Use as a condiment with roast beef. Try with a red wine to balance the flavor.

*Always use care when cutting or handling fresh horseradish. While the intact root has little odor, cutting the root releases a potent compound that can irritate the eyes and nose. Use in a well ventilated area and avoid touching your eyes.

 

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.

 

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, RecipesComments (0)

Fresh Market: Beets


AWE-Beets

By Vicky Babcock

 

Favored by Aphrodite, these miniature powerhouses deserve a second look. Beets are older than dirt, a pre-historic root vegetable that grew wild along the African coastline and the coastlines of Europe and Asia as well, although at this time only the beet greens were consumed. It is commonly believed that ancient Romans began the practice of eating the root. What we refer to as beets are actually beetroot and both parts of the plant are edible.  The goddess was said to have consumed beetroots to retain her beauty and women used beetroot to color their cheeks. Beetroot was considered an aphrodisiac and was a popular offering to Apollo, god of the sun. The Oracle of Delphi proclaimed beets to be worth their weight in silver and second only to horseradish in mystic potency. Folklore holds that if a man and woman eat from the same beetroot, they will fall in love.

The natural components of beetroot offer a multitude of health benefits. Beets can help improve blood flow, increasing oxygen (and thus, stamina) and lowering blood pressure. Components provide anti-inflammatory properties and studies show a likely use to help ward off cancers. Beets are high in vitamin C, an immune booster, and fiber, potassium (heart, nerve and muscle) and manganese (bones, liver, kidneys and pancreas).  Beets contain the B vitamin folate, which can help reduce the risk of birth defects.  They have been used in detoxification programs and to help purify the blood and liver.

It has been used to color foods such as tomato paste and sauces as well as ice cream, jams, jellies and cereals; as fodder for animals; as a substitute for cane sugar (sugar beets); and to enhance the effectiveness of road salt. Both the greens and the root have medicinal value and were used as such by the ancients and by holistic practitioners today.

Beet greens are excellent sources of vitamins A, K and C, 220%, 821% and 60% RDA per 1 cup serving respectively. They are a very good source of potassium and manganese and a good source of magnesium and calcium. Per volume, beet greens are as high—if not higher—in iron than spinach and can be used in cooking much the same way.

Yet, like Rodney (Dangerfield) beets get no respect. Aside from the Russians, who love their borsht (beet soup) few people have a liking for the flavor of beets. Some describe it as earthy. Most red beets find their way into jars and cans as pickled beets.

Beet sugar from the sugar beet became popular after sugar cane was restricted by the British during the Napoleonic Wars and Napoleon decreed the beet be used as the primary source of sugar.  It was around this time that the beets were first introduced to the New World. By 1837, France had become the largest sugar beet producer in the world, a position it held until 2011 when it was eclipsed by Russia.  he U.S. ranks third in the world in sugar beet production.

Michigan’s beet sugar production centers around the Bay City thumb area. Michigan Sugar Company is the third leading producer of beet sugar in the United States, selling under the names Pioneer Sugar® and Big Chief®.

Beets can be baked, steamed or boiled—or they can be shredded and consumed raw in salads. Cooking greatly diminishes the nutritional value of beetroots so cook lightly—15 minutes or less to sauté and less than an hour of baking. Cooking times can be reduced by cutting beets into quarters. Wash gently before cooking and leave the “tail” and  a bit of the green end.  Remove the skin after the cooking process by rubbing with a paper towel. Gloves can be worn to prevent stained hands or use a little lemon juice to remove stains from hands. Salt will dull a beet’s color so only add salt at the end of the cooking process.

A few more interesting facts you may not know about beets:

•In England, mangel-wurzel (a beetroot used for animal fodder) hurling has become a team sport.

•Beetroot can be used as a measure of acidity.  When added to an acidic solution it will turn pink, whereas if it is added to an alkali solution, it will turn yellow.

•Beetroot contains “betaine” which is used in other forms to help treat depression and “tryptophan,” the feel-good chemical in chocolate.

•Beet juice is being used today to replace brine in loading tractor tires. It does not corrode like brine and does not freeze. However, if you get a flat tire, you will have to fight the wasps for control of the tractor.

 

Mama (In-Law)’s Harvard Beets

¾ cup sugar

4 cups cooked beets*

2 tsp. cornstarch

3 T. butter

1/3 cup vinegar

¼ tsp. salt

1/3 cup water

1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan.  Add vinegar and water; bring to boil and cook 5 minutes. Add cooked beets and simmer ½ hour.  Add butter, salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

*Remember—the less cooking the better to retain nutritional value.  For this reason we recommend steaming the beets prior to making the Harvard Beets

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.

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, RecipesComments Off

Fresh Market: Plums


Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

Photo from michiganplum.org. Check out their website for more info on plums grown in Michigan and to find recipes.

By Vicky Babcock

Plums may have been one of the first fruits cultivated by humans. It appears to have several origins and varieties. Prunus domestica has been traced to East European and Caucasian mountains, while Prunus salicina and Prunus simonii originated in Asia. The remnants of plums were discovered in archaeological digs dating to the Neolihic age (Wikipedia).

A relative to peaches, nectarines and almonds, the plum is a member of the rose family. It is considered a drupe—a fruit with a stone pit surrounding their seeds. Plum trees blossom in the spring and a healthy tree will produce an abundant crop in late summer to early fall. Asian varieties can be harvested much earlier, sometimes as early as May.  China is the leading producer of plums, with the U.S. lagging a distant sixth. Of the 50 states, California leads in plum production.

The plum tree is featured significantly in Chinese mythology. It is associated with wisdom and longevity, and blossoms from the plum tree are frequently carved in jade to symbolize resurrection. It is often represented in Asian art and is included among “the three friends of winter” and “the four gentlemen,” traditional groupings of plants which often appear in artworks. The three friends—pine, bamboo and plum—are associated with strength and endurance during the cold winter months, while the four gentlemen—plum, orchid, bamboo and chrysanthemum—represent the seasons, as well as noble virtues.

Plum varieties range from sweet to tart and the skin can be somewhat tart. They are featured heavily in much Asian cuisine, while Americans are more likely to consume them in their natural state. Plums are a good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, copper, fiber and potassium. With about 30 calories per fruit, plums are an excellent choice to round out your diet.

On a cautionary note, plums contain measurable amounts of oxalates. In heavy concentrations, these can crystallize and create health problems. Individuals with kidney or gallbladder conditions probably should avoid eating plums. If you have any concerns, please speak with your doctor.

Nana’s Plum Bread

1 to 1 ½ cups pitted, chopped plums

1 T. flour1 ½ cups flour

½ cup butter, softened½ tsp. salt

¾ cup sugar½ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. vanilla extract¼ tsp. nutmeg

1 tsp. orange extract2 T. sour cream

2 large eggs2 T. brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350º F. Butter a 9×5-inch loaf pan and dust with about 1 tablespoon of white sugar. In a small bowl, sprinkle plums with 1 tablespoon flour. Toss lightly to coat; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, ¾ cup sugar and extracts. Add eggs and beat until fluffy. In a separate bowl, stir together remaining dry ingredients except for brown sugar. Add to egg mixture, stirring until mixture is smooth and dry ingredients are incorporated. Stir in sour cream. Fold plums into batter, then pour into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake in pre-heated oven for 50-55 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 5-10 minutes before removing from pan. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: Baking times are approximate.

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.

 

 

Posted in Awesome Autumn, Featured, RecipesComments Off

Fresh Market—the Cottage Food Law


BLOOM-Fresh-market-Apple_pie-webBy Vicky Babcock

 

The scent of lavender and sun-kissed strawberries wafts upon the breeze; farm fresh eggs tempt the palate; an array of colors and textures delight the senses. Welcome to your local Farmers Market! Tickle your taste buds with samples of honey, fresh fruit and—wait—is that fresh bread I smell?

If you’ve come to Market lately, you may have noticed a trend—small start-up businesses offering a variety of breads, flavored oils, baked goods, jams and jellies and other delicacies. Prior to 2010, these goods were rarely seen at Markets. Start-up costs were counter-productive. State regulation required licenses, licensed industrial kitchens and inspections, drastically cutting into the bottom line of most hopefuls. A business began in the red—many stayed there until quietly packing up shop and eating the costs—until 2010. That’s when Michigan adopted the Cottage Food Laws. The relaxed regulations make it possible for farmers to expand their line of products and for others to test the waters without getting in over their heads. With a small grocery list of staples, a person can begin operations.

However, rules do apply. Sales must be documented. Individuals cannot earn more than $20,000 a year. This changes on December 31, 2017 to $25,000 per year. You need to maintain sales records and provide them to a Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) food inspector, upon request. MDARD has regulatory responsibility for the Cottage Food Law.

Products must be labeled with your name and physical address as well as an ingredient list with a note of possible allergens and the following statement, “Made in a home kitchen that has not been inspected by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development”—this last in 11 point font or larger (about 1/8” tall). Products must be produced in your own kitchen with no animals or pets in the room. You cannot cook for yourself and for sale product at the same time.  Hand-printed labels are acceptable if they are printed legibly in durable, permanent ink and equal or greater to the 11-point font size.

Foods that are allowed under the Cottage Food Laws include:

• Breads and similar baked goods

• Vinegars and flavored vinegars

• Cakes

• Sweet breads and muffins that contain fruits or vegetables

• Fruit pies (cooked)

• Jams and Jellies that have been processed to be stored at room temperature

• Dried herbs and herb mixes

• Dry baking mixes, dip mixes and soup mixes

• Dehydrated vegetables or fruits

• Popcorn and Cotton Candy

• Nuts (coated or uncoated)

• Dried egg noodles

• Roasted coffee beans or ground roast

• Vanilla extract or baked goods or that contain alcohol (be aware that these products require licensing by the Michigan Liquor Control Commission.)

Foods that are not allowed include:

• Meat and meat products

• Fish and fish products

• Raw seed sprouts

• Canned fruits or vegetables like salsa or canned peaches

• Vegetable or Fruit butters

• Canned pickled products

• Pies or cakes that require refrigeration

• Milk and Dairy products

• Hummus

• Cut tomatoes or chopped/shredded leafy greens

• Foccaccia style breads

• Sauces and condiments, including barbeque sauce, hot sauce, ketchup or mustard

• Salad dressings

• Pet foods or treats

All products must be wrapped or otherwise sealed. For example, you cannot sell slices of pie unless they have been individually wrapped for sale. Cottage Foods must be sold by the person producing it to the person consuming it face to face. You can advertise over the internet but you must do the actual transfer of product in person either at a Farmers Market or something similar or from your home.

For a more complete list of allowed or disallowed products or additional information on the Cottage Food Laws please Google™ Michigan Cottage Food Laws or check out the web page at http://www.michigan.gov/mdard/0,4610,7-125-50772_45851-240577–,00.html

Here is a sample label for home product:  note that sub ingredients are required and any nuts must be identified such as, walnuts, almonds, etc. not simply nuts.

Ready to give it a try?  Try out our recipe below for a starter. See you at Market!

 

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI  CAKE

1 cup vegetable oil

3 eggs

2 cups sugar

2 tsps. Vanilla extract

3 cups  grated zucchini

2 1/3 cups all purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 tsps . baking soda

1tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. baking powder

½ cup chopped nuts

½ cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°.  Combine oil, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and zucchini in a bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and baking powder.  Add zucchini mixture to dry ingredients.  Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.  Pour into 2 greased 5 x 9-inch loaf pans.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack and remove from pans.

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.

 

 

Posted in Bloomin' Summer, FeaturedComments Off

Basil—The King of Herbs


DIG-Fresh-market-sweet-basil-plantFresh Market

By Vicky Babcock

 

Ah basil. Its heady aroma, its varied and intense flavors, its striking foliage.  How could one not love basil? Its popularity is world-wide, yet none more so than here, with our blend of cultures and cuisines. America’s love affair with basil most likely stems from its association with Italian cuisine, flavorful sauces and pesto. Yet basil was not always loved and it is not native to Italy.

Some sources suggest that basil derives its name from the terrifying basilisk—a creature in Greek mythology, half lizard, half dragon, whose stare could cause madness and death. Perhaps this is the source of the belief, first recorded by scribes dating pre-206 BCE that basil “exists only to drive men insane.” It is also the first known written record of basil in any context. Both the Greeks and the Romans associated basil with hatred. Western European lore claims that basil belongs to the devil and for basil to grow well, one must curse the ground it is planted in. The French idiom, “semer le basilica,” to sow the basil, is synonymous with going off on a rant. Nicholas Culpeper believed it was poisonous. He also adhered to the belief that basil could produce scorpions and that smelling too much basil could create a scorpion inside the brain. Conversely, basil is held by some to protect against scorpions and the herbalist, John Gerard, noted that those who ate of basil would feel no pain from a scorpion sting. There are as many advocates of basil as there are detractors.

Native to India, the word stems from the Greek “basileus” meaning “king.” Jewish folklore suggests that it adds strength while fasting. It is sacred to the god Vishnu in its native country and the goddess of love in Haiti. In Hindu, holy basil, or “Tulsi,” is a symbol of love, fidelity, eternal life, purification and protection.

Basil is a member of the mint family. Its essential oils show both antifungal and insect repelling properties and components of the plant have been proven to be toxic to mosquitoes. The herb is an excellent source of Vitamin K and manganese, and a good source of Vitamins A and C. It is heart healthy, being a good source of beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against free radical damage and also prevents free radicals from oxidizing cholesterol in the bloodstream. Only after it has been oxidized does cholesterol build up in blood vessel walls. Because free radical damage is a contributing factor in other conditions, such as asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, basil may help to lessen the progression of these conditions as well. Studies have shown that components of the oil can act as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting an enzyme called “cyclooxygenase.” Many common over the counter non-steroid anti-inflammatory medications, including aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen work by inhibiting this same enzyme.

Basil is best consumed fresh, as drying changes the flavor. For cooked dishes, add this herb at the end of the heating process to maintain flavor and nutrition. For future use, try freezing basil in ice cube trays with water for soups and sauces. Or try our recipe for pesto below.

 

Pesto 

1 large bunch of basil, leaves only, (about 2 cups, packed) washed and dried

3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled

1/3 cup raw pine nuts

¾ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese

A few tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic and pine nuts briefly—do not over process.  Add cheese and pulse a bit more.  Blend in olive oil and add salt to taste.

Great on sandwiches or over pasta.  Refrigerate.

Makes about 1 cup.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Diggin' Spring, Featured, RecipesComments Off

Cedar Springs to open Farmers, Crafts and Flea Market


In a spin-off from Solon’s popular market, Cedar Springs Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Farmers Market beginning Monday, June 9 from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. and running every Monday through October. Many of the vendors will be ones you might recognize from the Solon Market, but it is open to everyone on a first come, first setup basis. Although Solon Market’s committee is helping to get this market running, Vicky Babcock, Solon Market Manager, stressed that this is not Solon Market.

“We are doing what we can to get the new market up and running, but we have enough on our plates with one market to manage,” explained Babcock. “Ultimately it will be up to the vendors to see that this market continues.”

The market will set up on Ash Street north of the Cedar Pub. For information, contact Vicky at 696-4227.

 

Posted in Arts & EntertainmentComments Off

Fresh Market: Rhubarb


By Vicky Babcock

DIG-Fresh-market-rhubarb

It is January. In an old shed near Wakefield England, a group of men move carefully among the rows of rhubarb, plucking the pink stems by candlelight.  Most of the shed is in darkness and the atmosphere is hushed.  There is an air of reverence here, as if some rude cathedral.  If one listens quietly, states the farmer, Janet Oldroyd-Hume, one can hear the rhubarb grow.  Is this some sacred rite from pagan days gone by—some obscure celebration of the solstice?  No.  It is the harvest of the forced winter crop, cast in darkness to encourage rapid growth.  Oldroyd-Hume relates the tale that led to this remarkable scene.  In 1817 or thereabouts, the legend goes, workers digging a trench in Chelsea inadvertently covered some rhubarb roots with soil. Upon removing the soil, they discovered that the rhubarb, seeking daylight, had grown long pink stems. “Luckily, it was Chelsea,” Oldroyd-Hume quips, “so they tasted them.”   Ian Jack-the Guardian, January 2008.

Welcome to the Rhubarb Triangle—a 9 square mile area between Rothwell, Morley and Wakefield famous for its forced rhubarb.

Most rhubarb, as is Michigan’s crop, is grown naturally and harvested in the early to late Spring.  The bright red stalks, native to China and dating back over 5,000 years, add a festive look to pies and jams and its tart distinctive flavor makes it an excellent choice for sugared desserts. Rhubarb was given the sobriquet, “pie plant” as it is a vegetable, but is treated as a fruit.

Before sugar’s introduction to the world, rhubarb was treated primarily as a medicinal plant—its roots are a powerful laxative that is still used today.  As sugar became more available and popular to Europeans, so too did rhubarb.   The vegetable lost favor during wartime sugar shortages—people grew tired of eating the plant with little or no sugar and so turned to other more costly fruits to round out their diets. It’s been reported that, for a brief time during WWI*, it was advised to use rhubarb greens as a food source in Briton—this was quickly rescinded as it became abundantly clear that the leaves are toxic to both humans and animals.

Ben Franklin was said to be responsible for the introduction of rhubarb to North America in 1772.  And Marco Polo wrote extensively about this medicinal herb.  In the late 1800’s, Russians brought the stalks to Alaska to treat scurvy as the plant is rich in vitamin C. Rhubarb is low in calories and high in fiber, making it a highly desirable plant for our diet as is.  However, few of us can tolerate the bitter stems without a touch of sugar.

*Note:  Although many sources state WWI, others state WWII.  I even found a reference to Americans being advised to eat the leaves as opposed to the British.  One of the sources that I would have trusted most contradicted itself within the same article.

Rhubarb Bread Pudding

3 cups bread cubes

3 cups chopped rhubarb

1 ½ cup sugar

¼ tsp. salt

3 eggs, beaten

1 stick melted butter or margarine

Combine—spoon mixture into 8×8-inch pan.  Bake at 375º 40 minutes.  This is delicious warm from the oven, but can be reheated or eaten cold.

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.

 

Posted in Diggin' SpringComments Off